Bowers Fly Baby built by member Ron McPherson, owned and operated jointly by members Bob Grimstead and Rick Verwoord, and nick-named "Bristol Balderdash"
How can you recognize a happy Fly Baby pilot? From the squashed flies on his teeth!
Pete Bowers was a flight test engineer with the Boeing Airplane Company in Seattle. A renowned model aircraft builder, he progressed to making full-sized replicas of older aeroplanes.
In 1957 the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) held a design contest for an easily-built, low cost, simple-to-fly aeroplane that could be built with hand tools in a one-car garage, and towed to the airfield at forty mph. Bowers submitted his all-wood, folding-wing Fly Baby, which cost just $1,050 and took him 750 man hours to complete - that's two hours per day for a year. He won the $2,500 prize.
Later, he fitted wooden floats, making it a seaplane, and then two new wings, turning it into a biplane. Plans for these alternatives are still available. Even a two-seater was later developed.
The Fly Baby's simple structure uses spruce and eighth-inch marine ply with Dacron fabric covering. Its externally-braced wings hinge around a fitting on the rear spar to fold alongside the aft fuselage. The simple, wire-braced wooden undercarriage has no suspension. Instead big, soft 8.00 by 8 tyres absorb the bumps. The bracing wires are eighth-inch aircraft-grade braided steel cable. A locker behind the cockpit is big enough for a small tent and an overnight bag. Also a belly 'bomb' suitcase fits between the undercarriage legs. This example's engine is a 100 horsepower Continental O-200 from a Cessna 150.
The aircraft was recently sold to Shirley Harding and husband Andrew Morley, who plan to convert it to a biplane! Plans were available for a biplane version as well as the monoplane, so the idea is not as crazy as it first seems.