No. 1017A. Bowers Fly Baby 1A (N5775)
Photographed at Evergreen Airfield, Vancouver, Washington, USA, 1976, by Ron Dupas

Bowers Fly Baby 1A

Sign on wing says "Who me? Fly too low?"

01/28/2005. Remarks by Fred van Abkoude: "I built this plane in 1973/74. I kept it at the Scappoose Airport, Oregon, USA, and in 1976 the hanger burned with 11 airplanes, including 4 Fly Babys one of which was mine. What a loss! After N5775 was destroyed in the fire I built another Fly Baby (N4208N) which I fly today.

The first Fly Baby was built in my workshop at home. I constructed everything from plans, not a kit. The woods were spruce, fir, and mahogany, with birch plywood for the ribs and gussets. It was covered with Grade A cotton fabric. The fabric was cemented to the wood. The fabric was then doped with nitrate and butyrate. There were no seams because I used wide fabric on the wings and fuselage to make it seamless.

The stripes on the fuselage were the old Waco design of a half-arrow. The rudder's stripes were from the old Monocoupe design with seven three-inch stripes. I chose the colours from my Benson Poly Technic school colour aviation class. That is where I became interested in flying. It had a beautiful gloss finish and it won many prizes at air shows.

I used a sliding canopy so that I didn't have to wear a helmet and goggles. The engine was a 65 hp Continental, which I completely overhauled. (I have an A&P license.) I used a metal propeller instead of a wooden one. The plane had an 18 gal (68 l) aluminum gas tank which allowed me to fly four hours, but I never flew that long.

I received my first student license in June 1936 and am still flying today. I will be 86 next month. I have received several awards for being the oldest pilot to fly into the air shows. I am a member of the EAA Chapter 105, out of Scappoose, and also an active member of the Northwest Antique Airplane Club (NWAAC), the OX5 Club (Curtiss engine), and the United Flying Octogenarians (UFO).

I look forward to talking to anyone who is interested in Fly Baby's at the McMinnville and Hillsboro (both in Oregon, USA), and Kelso (Washington, USA) air shows. People can contact me at P.O. Box 1292, Scappoose, Oregon 97056, USA.

Created November 12, 2001