Ecker Flying Boat - (scan - 1984)

Mr. Herman A. Ecker built Flying Boat 1910-12. Intended use is not clear although would appear he built it simply for himself. Resembles Curtiss E and F flying boats; wooden hull looks quite sturdy and was finished in high gloss gray enamel paint. In letter to Philip Hopkins, he stated, "I believe that my airplane represents pioneer days of aviation much as the covered wagon does to the present auto." Since there were no textbooks, detailed design, or aviation supply houses available, Ecker improvised throughout construction. For example, he used wallpaper sizing on fabric wing coverings until he learned the glue dissolved on rainy days and he could not get aircraft to fly (the fabric became porous and air would "leak" through to the lower wing surface thus reducing lift.) Engine was converted marine engine with few amenities. Each of its 6 cylinders had to be primed separately with raw gas. Often took 4 or 5 tries before engine fired; each try required another engine priming. Were no engine instruments or tachometer to measure engine output. In case of doubt, engine was tested by tieing aircraft to a strong point and inserting in the line a scale used to weigh blocks of ice; a reading of 265 lbs at full throttle was min for takeoff. Engine controlled by foot pedal which required constant pressure to maintain engine power which was almost always needed. In flight, carburetor control and magneto control adjusted until engine "sounded right." On hot days, aircraft would fly just above stalling speed; if a turn was necessary, was entered in slight dive to keep up airspeed and avoid stall. In flight, there were no instruments to indicate attitude. Pilot would watch outer wing struts and, if their alignment with horizon seemed right, he assumed he was flying properly. Experience taught pilot how much to tilt struts either way in a climb or descent. Ailerons controlled by shoulder yoke made of metal tubing with wires attached from yoke to ailerons. Pilot simply leaned sidewise to "balance" aircraft in either direction. For safety belt, Ecker used clothesline tied to shoulder yoke. He is believed to have flown aircraft extensively for about 3 years before storing it.

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