By Henry M. Holden
The Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum of New Jersey, at Teterboro Airport (TEB), held their annual Wings & Wheels Expo Sept. 15-16. According to Steve Riethof, the museum’s vice president, the weekend attracted between 3,800 and 4,000 people, the largest number of attendees in recent years.
The expo moved to a larger location at the north end of the field to accommodate the return of the Boeing B-17 Yankee Lady, the Douglas C-47 Yankee Doodle (both are stable mates of the Yankee Air Force), the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation’s Douglas C-54 Spirit of Freedom, plus other aircraft and vehicles.
“We had a great show this year,” said Shea Oakley, executive director of the AHOF. “The generally good weather, three warbirds plus a World War II AT-6 Texan and an assortment of unusual airplanes such as a gyrocopter, a Rutan VariEze and the only Electra Flyer in the world brought a good crowd out.”
The Electra Flyer
Experimental Aircraft Association member Randall Fishman, a local pilot from Cliffside Park, won the Gold Lindy Ultralight award at EAA AirVenture this year for his Electra Flyer (www.electraflyer.com). Fishman, a longtime hang-glider pilot, started hang gliding in 1973. In the early 1980s, he started flying ultralight trikes.
“I love flying, but I didn’t like the engine maintenance, and I especially didn’t like the noise,” Fishman said.
Fishman worked with lithium batteries for some time, eventually building an electric scooter, the Electrified Trike 8, using laptop computer batteries. The scooter was peppy and the batteries were long lasting. After researching efficient, high-power electric motors for months, another ultralight pilot suggested they make an electric launch system for an ultralight.
“I realized the laptop computer cells I used in the scooter had enough capacity per weight but wouldn’t be powerful enough for takeoff and climb for an ultralight,” Fishman said.
After more research, Fishman decided to make high-capacity and high-discharge-rate battery packs using lithium polymer cells, believing they would work in an ultralight. Some of the parts Fishman needed for his idea were off-the-shelf, but many had to be machined.
Fishman spent roughly eight months working to electrify his trike. In the process, he converted his noisy trike to a quiet “green machine” using efficient electric power. A recharge costs 60 cents for a full charge from a standard electric outlet, and provides 30 to 90 minutes of level flight, depending on battery pack size and the efficiency of the wing used. However, the batteries are expensive—$3,800 to $7,500, depending on size.
“The Electra Flyer has a high efficiency electric motor and controller and a folding propeller,” said Fishman. “It’s light; it weighs about 85 pounds without the batteries. It’s the closest thing to a magic carpet ride.”
The ever-popular B-17 Yankee Lady never goes out of favor, even at $425 for a 45-minute ride. The ride on a good day is breathtaking; during the ride, the flight offered a panorama of New York City and its northern suburbs.
With patchy cirrus clouds overhead and winds from the north, the lumbering bomber took off, circled the field and then headed south. It flew a lazy circle around the Statue of Liberty and then climbed to 1,500 feet. Heading north up the Hudson River, paralleling the island of Manhattan, the plane flew toward Tarrytown, the location of Washington Irving’s short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Once over the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown, Yankee Lady made a lazy turn west, then flew south over New Jersey and back to the field.
Each flight accommodated 10 paid passengers, and the airplane kept busy flying 81 sorties. The aircraft was built under contract by Lockheed/Vega in Burbank, Calif., and accepted July 1945, too late to see combat.
Port Authority puts on a show
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey base their Sikorsky S-76 helicopters at TEB. Early visitors on Sunday viewed the Port Authority’s first show at the expo: a thrilling 20 minutes with one of the big helicopters making several high-speed, low passes in front of the morning crowd. The pilots then ran the machine through several flight maneuvers—such as reverse and lateral flight—just a few feet off the ground. This unannounced show met with enthusiastic applause from the spectators.
Batman swoops in
Not everybody comes to the expo to see airplanes. Saturday afternoon saw Big Wheel races for the children. Each year the expo features a wide assortment of vintage cars, race cars and odd vehicles. This year, Batman swooped in. The Transportation Security Administration’s Customs and Border Protection borrowed the Batmobile from the Newark, N.J. DARE program. Batman delivered an anti-drug message to youngsters, posed for pictures and signed autographs.
For information on the Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum’s upcoming programs, visit [http://www.njahof.org].