Sunday, April 22, 2012

Our Cornell is Flying

By B. Reid

Our Fleet Cornell is flying. Our Cornell is also smiling. She was not particularly happy for a while. How can you blame her when her annual checkup involved several talented maintenance personnel with cold hands poking a prodding her during the dreaded annual inspection. And then being forced to stand for weeks on end while only partially clothed in public waiting for some replacement parts to finally arrive.

But now her certificate of airworthiness is signed off and it is good for one full year, so now she can show off the shiniest paint scheme in the Vintage Wings Fleet. Sure she says, some of her hanger mates fly higher and faster but she, the Cornell has the brightest, glossiest paint job.

A brand new vacuum pump has brought relief to her internal air discomfort. Her voice is much clearer now that the excessive amount of lead on her spark plugs has been removed along with one of the intake valves being staked to remove carbon build up, restoring pressure to that cylinder. And those early morning start-ups are much easier now that the primer works. The original leather seals in it were replaced with rubber as it was getting annoying to have to pump the throttle for engine start. Despite these touch-ups, everyone remembers last year’s almost snag free Yellow Wings tour from Ottawa to the west coast and back via Oshkosh proving that she’s a low maintenance girl.

Our Cornell’s birth certificate shows June 29, 1943 as the date of first flight with her official maiden name of FC213(serial number). She has taken up several other names over the years. The RCAF gave her the nickname of 10712 while she spent her early years giving pilots elementary flight training in Regina during WWII. It was a glorious time of youthful exuberance, filled with adventure. Sometimes it is easy to reminisce about the good times while forgetting the hard work that was done day in and day out for the war effort. It went by so fast and before she knew it, it was all over.

After spending some lonely years, post WWII, considered as surplus, her hopes of re-living those glory years grew again when she was moved to and  purchased in Quebec. A lot of tender loving care was received from Paul Durand as she was brought to civilian standards along with several similar types Mr. Durand had purchased. She loved their house where she was restored and got on well with the family, but being young and a free spirit, she moved on and ended up in nearby Beloeil with a new name reserved  from Transport Canada of  CF-YAY, although it was never officially taken up. Unfortunately, that relationship was abusive with most of her years spent in a barn due to the excessive frugality of her acquaintance in avoiding airport fees. In 1998, she finally parted ways and moved to Albany, New York, having a brief fling with a insurance agent. However, she was quickly dumped and ended up with a group of Cornell enthusiasts called the Vintage Aircraft Group in nearby Albion, New York who renamed her N226PT and did some fixing up of her. But being dressed with the same outer covers as the group’s similar types was frustrating. When Vintage Wings made the moves on her in 2010 and swept her off her feet, she knew that this was the one and has finally settled down for good by returning to her roots in Canada and taking a new name of CF-YQR in honour of her early BCATP airport home in Regina.  As well, she has been given a complete makeover to restore her as to as close as can be to the way she looked back in her glory days of the BCATP when young men made her the centre of attention and spent countless hours studying her every detail.

As the days get longer, she can’t wait for this year’s Yellow Wings east coast tour with another summer of travel to faraway places with her four trainer friends, gossiping and showing off her sexy curves to her new audience. No doubt she’ll be playing hard to get, but if you have the desire, and are willing to make a commitment of at least one year with a Vintage Wings membership, you can spend quality time with her by sponsoring her for a flight. She promises you won’t be disappointed.

The Vintage Wings of Canada Cornell sits proudly on the ramp at the Ottawa International Airport, with canopies open awaiting her next sponsored flight. Both canopies are kept open for takeoff and landing to prevent them from being jammed closed in the unlikely event of rollover incident. There is no speed limitation for canopy operation.

The Cornell uses expander tube brakes operated by toe brakes on the rudder pedals, a great improvement over the heel brakes of the Finch or the hand brake of the Tiger Moth. Nine pucks operate against a drum. The ring is used on a regular basis for towbar attachment. When manouvering the aircraft on the ground, make sure that the control locks are off to prevent damage to the tail wheel lockpin when it attempts to swivel.

The tail wheel is backwards as the aircraft has been pushed back into this position. However, it is in the perfect position for jacking the tail up. You can see the jacking point just to the right of the tail wheel unit. All our landing gear have the standard canvass boot cover designed to keep the area free from dirt. The boot is darker at the front due to oil accumulation from the engine. The yellow rod that is exiting the fuselage area from the left is attached to an arm that actuates the rudder. Another arm on the other side of the rudder attaches to a rod running forward to the curved horn on top of the tail wheel unit for steering(difficult to see due to a yellow aircraft in the background). Above the tail wheel unit is the attachment fitting to the elevator from its green pushrod.

With the wing to body fairing removed, you can take a peek into the interior and see a bit of the steel  tubular structure. The lower brownish canvass boot is a cover over a rod that extends from the cockpit flap handle. It operates down to the left side flap. Another arm angles down and then forward to the front seat flap handle and the bar going across to the right crosses over to operate the right side flap simultaneously. Meanwhile the black walkway, is a reinforced area with an extra layer of wood on top and beefed up internal wing structure. At the front portion of the walkway is the original external power plug and engine fire extinguisher handle.


Looking inside the aft fuselage toward the tail. The central tube extends back to operate the elevator. You can see at the front end how it attaches to the top of a bell crank which pivots about a point on a fuselage cross member which attaches at its lower end to another tube running toward the control stick. Meanwhile, the control rod on the left attaches to a different style of bell crank which pivots across the upper fuselage frame to actuate a rod on the right side aft to the rudder. The cable operates the trim tabs.


A good view of the splined shaft for our Sensenich wooden propeller. The vertical tube houses a vertical driveshaft that is gear-driven from the crankshaft. It connects, as seen in the picture. to the camshaft drive gear. Part of the intake manifold can be seen on the right and part of the exhaust manifold on the left with the front cylinder in the center. The circular cover plate at the front of the exhaust would likely be removed when the intensifier tube for cockpit heat is installed.


Close-up view of the bottom of the engine with the gear-driven camshaft at the front operating the cam rollers further aft as part of the rocker arms. Unlike the inverted Gipsy Major engine, the Ranger engine on the Cornell has no pushrods due to camshaft location adjacent to the rocker arms.

Looking through the cooling air intake at the spark plug leads all lined up in a row for the 200 horsepower, 6 cylinder, inverted Ranger L-440 Engine. Earlier versions were 175 horsepower until domed piston heads increased it to 200. The inlet to the right provides air to the updraft carburetor through a filter, while the upper inlet ducts air to the oil cooler, if the pilot controlled flapper valve is open.

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