Ike at Fantasy of Flight
A few months back it was my pleasure to take some photos of IKE, as Mr. Kermit Weeks flew it for the viewing pleasure of the several dozen people who were braving a very hot afternoon out on the ramp adjacent the hangar to watch this one of a kind airplane fly. These watchers were visitors to Kermit’s absolutely phabulous museum, “Fantasy Of Flight”, and as an added treat, got to watch a rare airplane fly. The Museum is in Polk City, Florida, about half way between Orlando and Lakeland on interstate four, http://www.fantasyofflight.com/ a visit that shud be on your bucket list.
He then executed a number of very smooth, tantalizing passes…
The original IKE was powered by a Menasco B6 and this “reproduction/replica” sports a Menasco D4-87. It really moves out at only 842 pounds dry weight.
You can actually see some of the mid afternoon heat being generated in some of the photos…
After communicating with Kermit’s staff, I wound up sending these shots (and others) to him. About a week later, I was contacted by Mr. Kim Kovach, of Michigan, who said he was now in receipt of the IKE photos also and that he was IKEs builder. Wow… in subsequent contacts Kim filled me in on the sort of stuff that the late Paul Harvey would have dug up and passed on to you.
He, with the assistance of his dad, did the sort of thing that we’ve all either dreamt of doing, or just read about. For starters, here are some shots that Kim took as he and his dad really got into it. They happened across the ‘bare bones’ of the original IKE airframe at Oshkosh, WI. in 1991 and since it was thought that there were no plans of it in existence, they had to improvise if they were in fact going to build one.
From a mere photograph, measurements, and cardboard patterns, check out the reproduction wing creation of the senior Mr. Kovach.
“I always loved the airplane so my Dad and I spent the week measuring, photographing, making templates on cardboard of actual shapes, etc. Because of this, we sometimes call it a “reproduction” rather than a replica.” “My Dad and I built the airplane in our garages. Dad did the wings and I did everything else.”
When the appropriate day arrived, IKE was trailer-ed to the Willow Run Airport for final assembly and ‘test’ flown by Kim – and you’ve already read his inner most thoughts about how that successful day unfolded, ATC clearances and all.
I also asked Kim about the four words printed on the starboard side of the engine cowl which reads: HOLDER INVERTED SPEED RECORD”
“Interesting story on the “inverted record holder” title. In the 1930’s, they were real hungry for money so in between air races they would “air show” the airplanes. Harold Newman dove the airplane to a high speed, rolled it, and flew past the crowd inverted going like the dickens. When he landed, his buddies were kidding him saying that they thought he achieved the record for the world’s fastest inverted flight. Now, knowing that there was no such record, he painted the proclamation on the side of the cowling as a joke – suspecting that lots of people would fall for it.!!! He was right!!!”
After landing, Kermit very generously stood on the baking concrete to tell his guests about the airplane and some of its history. I scurried back into the (shaded) hangar, climbed the stairs to the surrounding balcony, and shot his presentation with a longer lens from a somewhat cooler place – the huge bird almost visible on the left is the Short Bros S-25 Sandringham flying boat.
As Kermit stood there on the hot pavement (below), you had to wonder about his semi expensive modified flying shoes. No, that’s not a ventilation modification, but rather, the toes had to be cut off so that his feet would fit into the rudder pedal positions of IKEs not overly spacious cockpit. Kim described that feature in part: “The cut outs allowed the pilots heels to rest below the floor allowing a bit more room for the fuel tank.” “There is not much room for the pilots feet.” “I had special shoes with no heel to speak of and with the toes cut out so my feet wouldn’t drag under the fuel tank and interfere with rudder control. Kermit had to do the same!”
Note that the heels of Kermit’s ‘special’ flight shoes appear to have been ground down to fit into the “cups” easier?
Well earned kudos to Kim Kovach and his father for building an absolute Blue Ribbon beauty of an airplane – the product is obviously the result of very
thorough research, many obvious skills (including piloting), and perseverance.