Stewart 51 Partner LLC

2015 Past News and Events

January 2015
Engine noise the second week of January!  Everything hooked up, checked, pre-oiled, we fired her up Monday evening January 12th.  The only question we ran into was the timing on the MSD ignition side.  We have some more internal work to accomplish with that system.  The Electromotive trigger coil side worked just right.
Notice in the pictures above and below the fan we set up to move air through the scoop through the oil cooler and radiator.  Notice and admire the custom paper shroud fabricated to channel that air flow!
New Fuel Pumps:  Photo below.

Part of the work accomplished lately was integrating new electric fuel pumps into the system.  Given we moved away from a dry sump configuration, we lost the belt driven mechanical fuel pump and had to replace the original electric backup boost pumps with the two higher capacity electric fuel pumps that are pictured below.

In the previous configuration, two lower capacity boost pumps had been installed where you now see the new higher capacity pumps.  You'd think slapping two electric fuel pumps back into the location where the previous elctric fuel pumps had been would be an easy trade.  Not so.  Harry had a lot of work to do in adapting and working around the small differences between the two installations.  In addition to the swap on the firewall, we had to rewire all the way back into the cockpit and install heavier circuit breakers due to the higher capacity, thus higher amperage requirement of the new pumps.  Harry and Hank are installing a change to the electrical system where we'll have one ignition system and fuel pump on one battery, the second ignition system and fuel pump on the second battery.
The pulleys and belts we have gone to are shown below.  Al Joniec really wanted us to get away from any extended shafts and pulleys as much as possible for longer term reliability.  The wet sump setup allowed us to have everything but the prop governor on V-belt pulleys.  The governor is driven by a cog belt pulley on a short shaft.  The photo below does not show the governor belt installed in that we ran the engine initially without the prop installed.  Looking closely in the lower right area of the picture, you'll see the cogged pulleys on the drive shaft and the governor.
By the end of this month, we'll hope to have made some ground runs with the prop installed, secured lines and hoses further, and made the changes to separate the ignitions and pumps between the two batteries.  After all those steps have gone well, we'll cowl up and start test flights in the Bartow area.

We'll post here again soon.
February 2015
Rod Dill is close to finished with his development of the wing in his SolidWorks program and is communicating with several fabricators who can quote hydroforming new ribs.  The two leading possibilities are both aerospace companies who do aircraft airframe sheet metal parts production and fully understand bend radius allowances, spring back allowances, heat treatment, and everything that goes with aircraft structures.  The new ribs will be of closer tolerance than prior ribs, which will reduce the amount of shimming a builder would want to do to get the wing surface finished to a higher degree.

The jpeg above shows the SolidWorks depiction of one of the new block/rib concepts.

The photo below shows one of the stretch form blocks we will use to manufacture larger curved components such as the cowling and belly scoop areas.  You won't believe how strong and heavy these blocks are, built to withstand tremendous pressure and force as aluminum sheets are drawn down over them.  We are close to sending drawings and dimensions of these blocks for quotes on the stretch formed parts.

Progress on Doll:  We made several runs on the new engine before and after reinstalling the prop, and are still having issues with the MSD distributor.  Given several factors we have uncovered with help from other builders and experts, we are 50 /50 on keeping it vs. replacing it with a newer electronic version.  We've run into one of those domino effects where changing one thing has trickled down into other items.  Basically, the present MSD distributor is apparently binding somewhere in the mechanism such that it is intermittent in retarding the advance when we throttle back.  Not the way to operate.  A couple of people have encountered this same symptom on other installations, so we have some good information for tracking it down.  Once we get this ignition question answered, we'll be into flight testing.

Regarding flight testing, we have decided that we would be prudent to have Eliot Cross, rather than me, perform the first few test hops with the new engine.  I flew Doll 47 hours on the previous engine and can perform the next flights, but good judgement does say that if we have a professional like Eliot, who has so much more experience and talent than I have, available to fly Doll in this phase, we'd be stupid not to.  We are planning to have him begin flights as soon as mid-March.

Sun n Fun:  We have reserved space at this April's Sun n Fun in Lakeland, and plan to have Doll, some airframe components and parts, and a couple of for-sale PSRU's in the booth. 

We'll keep you posted.

March 2015


UFO?  Almost!

The photo above is of the new Dampener Hub built by Cliff Fitch's company for our PSRU's.  So, it is now an Identified Component of a Flying Object, an ICFO!

Cliff and Jim Stewart collaborated to make a small change in the new hub design, that being to cap the end for oil containment by adding the solid steel cap rather than the spot welded / sealant plugged cap of the older design.  The workmanship on these parts is beautiful, and they fit just right with the original spec damper wheels and retainers.

Cliff also built a supply of new retainers and has providd a viable quote for more dampener discs when we need them.  For now, we are working out of the original stock on the dampener discs.

Cliff is getting pretty close to flying his own S-51, and has a goal of flying off his 40 and getting to OshKosh AirVenture this summer.  Dan McGarry has run his engine and is closing in on having his back up soon, too.
Down Lock Tested
We had recovered several downlock assemblies from the material in California, but don't know if they were built from proper materials.  The welding and craftsmanship look as close to perfect as you'll find, and we suspect these were crafted by Wayne Wall, an excellent machinist and welder, while PAE had the Stewart program.

We checked them, as you see above, on a Rockwell testing machine, and found they are below Jim's spec for hardness.  Two of them will go through heat treating the last week of March.  If they then test OK, we'll figure they were built well from proper materials but never got to the heat treating stage.  If they do not come up to proper hardness, we'll offer them as boat anchors.
Doll Update:

Through another month of fiddling with the MSD distributor off and on, Harry has concluded that we should can it and install a fully electronic distributor that will allow us to adjust the timing range electronically, instead of relying on the mechanical fly-weights and springs of the old technology.

In a nutshell, we thought following Jack Peck's setup would work right down the line for us, but it turns out Jack has a different distributor than we have.  With ours, adding the workload of the internal oil pump put enough extra pull down pressure on our distributor shaft such that we were experiencing a clamping of the components in the top section of the unit that we didn't feel great about trying to reverse engineer around.

We have Eliot Cross lined up to fly the week of March 23rd.

We'll keep you posted.

April 2015
Downlocks Heat Treated and Wrapped
The fellows at Gulf Tool in Pensacola ran two downlock assemblies through the heat treating process, and they did come up to Rockwell C 32, which is real nice news for the team:  We have about a dozen, which is enough for six new kits.  We also verified that the down tubes we have in inventory for the trunions are 4130, so we caught another break there.
Doll Update
Harry finally circled back and reinstalled the original mechanical distributor, putting us back with the original setup.  The photo below shows Hank Stenger at the tail as we tied her down to the big rings in the big concrete at the Bartow Airport and put a serious power run on her, checking one more time all the temps and pressures and pumps that we could check before the first flight.  Everything checked OK.
Finally, last Saturday April 11th, I ran her up and launched.  Eliot wasn't available, but coached me through by phone before the flight.  Doll did just fine.  I kept her down at 2,500 feet just south of the Bartow Airport and kept her in the air about a half hour.  The post-flight check and inspection showed no leaks or problems.
We flew again Sunday for over an hour, most of it cruising around at 7,500 feet.  The only parameter we don't have dialed in yet is still the doggone coolant temperature, which is still on the cool side, even with the termostats in the system.  Al tells us we have made the coolant bypass holes in the thermostat housing too large (we have 1/4" while he wants us down to 1/8").  We'll get that corrected soon.
Meanwhile, I flew Doll over to Lakeland this morning, April 19th, and got her into position at our spot in the north exhibit area for Sun n Fun.  Stop by if you make it this week.  I'll have Doll and some PSRU components on display.
More photos soon.
May 2015

We had a great week at Sun n Fun.  Some of the most fun was having people from the past come by.  Above, you have Mike Dacey and Carlus Gann.


Mike was, I think, the second person to finish his kit.  One of the photos elsewhere on this site is his plane in formation with Dan McGarry, the first kit finished, and Mr. Stewart's prototype.  It was great visiting with Mike and catching up on his recollections of flying the S-51.  Mike went on from his Stewart to racing Questair Ventures at Reno, placing first in 2010 or 2011.  He is one interesting fellow, and a cool part of the Stewart 51 family.


Carlus has owned two S-51's and was a past owner of Beautiful Doll.  His recollections and history on the plane filled in a few blanks for me and added to our understanding of Doll's evolution.

More photos and updates later.

 June 2015

The pilot in this picture is Bill Shepherd.  Bill had a long airline career, and was involved with a very significant chapter in the history of P51 Mustang replica development:


If you can, find a book entitled Of Men and Mustangs.  This book is the story of Dr. Thayne Short and his brother Tom, and their journey into developing a Mustang replica.  Bill Shepherd did the test flying on their prototype back in the 1970's, and consulted with Bob Hoover about that airplane.  Hoover himself later flew that plane.


Bill, today, flies the real Mustangs for people and museums, and is one helluva pilot and aviator.  True Believers?  Bill is one of 'em.  We had a great visit as he filled me in on some of the details about the Shorts and how their project concluded.  That book fascinated me years ago, and to get to actually meet Bill was a real honor for me.




Since Sun n Fun, we've had Doll in Bartow, doing a few small mods and maintenance items.  I was in the central Florida area on other business last week and managed to get by Bartow and fly Doll locally last Thursday morning.  It was a one hour flight, loitering south of the Bartow Airport at 2,500 feet to put a little more time on this new engine before ferrying her up to Pensacola.  Everything flew out fine.  I have to say again, Jim Stewart created a really fascinating airplane.  It is always a kick to fly.


Below, I photographed Doll and the Bonanza I fly.  Had to commute back up in the Bonanza, but it is a pretty nice ride, too.  No complaints about either aircraft!




We are in touch with two builders in Australia who need canopy bubbles and have been working with our supplier on an inventory of bubbles and windshield components.  The bubbles have been fabricated and are close to shipping.  We are tweaking the curved windshield pieces, as the original run back in the mid '90's wasn't absolutely on as far as total curvature.  We are trying to get this next run fitted a little closer. 


We're also close to commissioning the new wing rib tooling, and, I'll be shipping form blocks out to Mooney Aircraft in Kerrville to begin stretch forming cowlings, belly scoops, and other stretch formed parts.  Meanwhile, we are also in touch with one of the companies that built some of the original wing root and tail area fairings, and will be working through getting those parts supplied.

So, for all who are waiting for new production kits, take care of your health:  We are slowly getting there!

July 2015
You're looking at Doll with her new canopy bubble as she sits on the ramp in Pensacola before flying up to Oshkosh.

We had ferried her up from Bartow several days earlier, and departed Pensacola on Saturday July 18th for Muscle Shoals, Alabama for a great party in MSL that night.

Sunday morning we hopped up to Evansville, Indiana, one of our stops two years ago, then to Rockford, Illinois for fuel, then on into Oshkosh.  Doll flew fine, the new engine ran well, and we had great luck with weather for the entire run up there.  We taxied her over to and tied down for AirVenture with the Replica Fighter guys at our RFA site.  Son Charlie had to drive the pickup from Montgomery, but his party stops in Nashville and Chicago put him into OSH a little behind me.



Above, Bill Keyes, who owns the Walter Turbine powered S-51 "Little Stinker," Neville Barrett, who is in the final stages of updating his landing gear on "Deal with It," and Mike "Gorilla" Goransky, who is finishing up his plane in South Carolina, drink the pitcher down Monday evening.  We had enjoyed a great day of visiting at the RFA site with the airplanes and had worked up a thirst.  Also joining us for dinner that night  were son Charlie and Jamon Pruitt from Arkansas.  Jamon is building up two S-51's, and is planning to have one of them on the gear by the end of the year.  Jamon and his brother Duane had arrived via the Air Race to Oshkosh in their Meyers 200, and won their class.  Jamon thinks we should run Doll in the event next year.

Bill Keyes and Frank Zersky flank the man described below.


The fellow in the middle of the picture above walked up Wednesday afternoon and proclaimed, "I don't see why it's such a big deal:  I built two of 'em!"  I introduced myself and he introduced himself as Frank Yamrick.  I was amazed.  I had heard of him but had never met him.


You have to understand who Frank Yamrick is and the role he played in Jim Stewart bringing the S-51 along:  Frank Yamrick built and flew the very first aluminum Stewart S-51 from plans, and flew it.  I always wondered how in the world he had managed to build every piece from plans AND put the thing together.  His early flights and communication with Jim helped shape the final kit product Jim ultimately brought to market in the mid-1990's.  Frank's early reports and feedback to Jim made the kit what we have today, so we all owe a big Thank You to Frank Yamrick for the pioneering role he played in the airplane's development.  I can't tell you how interesting it was to listen to him about some of the early experiences he had with the plans-built version.  The ribs in every wing of every Stewart 51 kit so far were built on the form blocks Frank cut out for his early plans-built version.  His mark is on each one flying today.



Doll in Danville
This picture is special to me for two reasons.  First, Danville, Illinois is the home of Midwest Aero, the company that provided the builder assistance for Doll's construction.  Doll was built in Danville.  Second, and even more important in the larger sense, Danville is also the birthplace of Jim Stewart.
I landed in Danville for fuel on my way home from OSH on Thursday.  Mike VadeBonCoeur, the head man at Mid West, was at OSH, and the shop was closed (I landed at 6:00 pm), but it was nice to stop in the town with those Stewart 51 connections. 




To the West

Looking out the right wing Thursday evening on the way home at 8,000 feet.   Doll brought me on back through Muscle Shoals, then to Montgomery, then on down to Pensacola. 
A nice four days in OSH at AirVenture.  Got to see a good many people, and heard from others.  Cliff Fitch, who is about to fly his S-51's first flight, came up and stayed for a couple of days.  Cliff has been extremely important in our program to get these kits back into production.  His shop has already built several new components we needed for the PSRU's, and he is continuing to help with getting new landing gear parts manufactured for us.  He is an integral part of what we are doing.
Jack Peck, who flies Merry Mary, and his great wife, the original Merry Mary, came by for two days, also.  Jack's airplane, and especially his engine set-up by Al Joniec, is the model we are using in the engine we are currently flying.  It is a wet sump configuration, and it is running out OK so far.  Jack has 390 hours on his now.  We have about thirty.
Russ Knack, who was instrumental in helping Cliff Fitch and Dan McGarry build their planes, came by.  Russ has an absolutely perfect Midget Mustang he built back home in Lansing, Illinois.
Jim Czachorowski and Jim Stewart stayed in touch, as did Harry Stenger and Eliot Cross.
And, The Replica Fighter Association awarded Doll the 2015 Grand Champion Replica Award!  That was nice, too.
In a few days:  Kevin Armstrong flying his S-51 in England, Cliff Fitch's S-51, and more.
August News and Events
I have posted photographs of the partially completed kit we have for sale in Montgomery.  Please see the "Fast Build Kit for Sale" section.  Had a gentleman from California and a gentleman from Norway come to Montgomery to inspect.  More in the "Fast Build Kit for Sale" section.

After at least three years of study and debate and preparation, we cut our first new rib block tool the last week of August.  This photo was taken by Rod Dill, who developed the SolidWorks programming that fed the CNC machine that carved this block.


We have commissioned 52 new rib blocks.  These new blocks will be used in the hydro-forming process to manufacture our new kits and supply repair parts for those who might need them.  Cutting these new blocks is a real milestone for our bringing the kit back into production.


G Verification
We are taking Doll to Reno.
Dave Morss, who has more laps at Reno than anyone flying, has been talking with us about the possibility of taking Doll out to Reno for a run in the Sport Class.  The S-51 was not designed to be a race plane, and we don't anticipate setting any speed records, but we do think it will be a great learning experience for the S-51, and it sure will sound good!  There is some risk to running the plane in a race environment, but the other planes are airplanes, and the S-51 is an airplane, so we figured we'd try it.
Doll spent a good bit of time in Bartow off and on during August as we changed a few things in preparation for the Reno trip.  We put stronger brakes on her, leaned the seat back a little further, moved the trim switch, switched out some engine gauges, added some navigation equipment, and other items.
The photo above is a shot I took of the G meter, backing up the earlier (Oshkosh) 4.5 G pull executed by Dave as part of the criteria for qualifying at Reno.  I repeated the pull and photographed it as further verification.
Part of our prep for Reno involved going back through the control system, looking for any loose play or slack in the controls.  Here, we are checking the balance on the left aileron.
Here, Doll is torn down in Bartow as we go through the pre-Reno items. 

Harry Stenger has Doll out for a late evening run.



We got Doll put back together and ferried her up to Pensacola on Thursday September 3rd.  We'll leave PNS Wednesday morning, the 9th, headed west.  If we get there, and if we qualify to race, we'll be the first Stewart S-51 to make an appearance at the National Championship Air Races. 
September News and Events
See our RENO Section
Above, the view out the left side of the cockpit as I travel through West Texas on the way out to Reno on Thursday, September 10th.  Doll and I departed Pensacola that morning at sunrise, stopped in College Station, Texas then Midland-Odessa, then Albuquerque, New Mexico then on in to Prescott, Arizona.
Below, you see the terrain change as I approach Prescott.  Always looking for a road or plateau to put her down on if necessary.
That's Jim Gohm below with his S-51, very close to staging his first flight.  Jim and Mike Doyle and their crew of friends in Prescott took me in for the night, hangaring Doll in their "Squadron Hangar," complete with Ready Room and all the paraphernalia they'd collected over the years.  It really is a great place and a great group of guys with all kinds of cool airplanes and projects going on.
The Squadron Crew below.
The Ready Room.

Doll and I left Prescott Friday morning, next stop Bishop, California.  Passed just southwest of Las Vegas, crossed a few mountain ranges Jim Gohm and his buddies call "foothills," then dropped down into Bishop.


The landing at Bishop fooled me:  There are mountains on both sides as you land on the northwest runway, and I guess the mountains to both sides and the color of the terrain around the airport combined to affect my depth perception, but as I kept feeling for the runway, I got a bad feeling I was too low, that I should have touched down before I finally did.  I flew about halfway down the darn runway before I got her on.  Believe me, I looked more than once at the gear indicator lights and handle, making sure the gear was down and locked.

Las Vegas above, on the ramp in Bishop after a rather long landing below.
Compare the two photos above and you'll see a couple of differences.  The picture of Doll at Bishop lacks the "70" on the tail.  I had applied the "70" to the upper surface of the left wing before leaving Pensacola, but had not applied the other decals.  Arriving safely in Reno that Friday, we got her hangared with the other planes in the Sport Division and began the final prep for practicing and qualifying, which included getting the other "70" decals in place.
The other thing you'll notice in the Bishop picture is a little more haze to the north than you have right at Bishop.  That haze is smoke from California wildfires west of the route I am about to fly getting into Reno.
The picture just above was taken Sunday before Dave Morss's first practice flight.  The smoke had gotten so thick in Reno on Sunday, pilots were having trouble picking up the pylons as they flew the course.
October News and Events
Lined up for Practice
Monday and Tuesday were windy as a front came through.  The good news was that it rinsed the smoke from the California fires out of the area.  The bad news was that it was cold and turbulent.  Several Classes declined to fly that Monday.
You can see the polish job on Doll beginning to develop.  Kyle Roh really knew his stuff.  You'll see photos of Doll in the Reno section of this site and in this section that reflect the desert vegetation in the mirror of the fuselage.  Kyle is about to graduate with a degree in Aeronautical Sciences.  He is designing and flying UAV's and other craft already as part of his graduate program.  And, he can flat shine up an airplane!
That's me under the "69 Knotty Girl" black T-Shirt trying to see the telemetrics David Jackson had set up to follow the engine gages while Dave Morss flew, and that's me under the blanket doing the same thing once we figured out "Knotty Girl" just didn't have enough material to keep the sun and glare off the screen.  I guess we should have figured out a "69 Knotty Girl" would be a little skimpy, but many thanks to the crew of "Knotty Girl," a beautiful black Formula One Racer, for the shirt.
David had designed a camera and camera mount that was set up behind Dave's right side to transmit a live stream picture of the instrument panel.  As Dave flew the course, it was my job to let him know the engine situation.  All I really ever had to do was tell him "Green" every time he flew by, because the engine did great and the gages always looked fine.  As a matter of fact, we actually ran too cool the entire week, especially the oil temperaure.  We had modified the oil cooler duct and wound up with more air blowing through there than we needed.
This photo of Dave by Tyson Rinninger gives you a good look at THE MAN that made this whole Reno thing happen.  Dave and his wife Karen have more Reno experience than anyone going.  Dave officially has flown more laps in more different airplanes at Reno than any other pilot racing at Reno.  He has flown the big Unlimited's and the Fourmula One's, and he had won at every level.  I am hoping to get Dave into a supercharged Stewart S-51 next year.
Not the entire team, but most of us.
November News and Events
These are the first proof ribs we received from Mooney Aircraft International.  To review, Rod Dill has worked with Jim Stewart to depict the wing structure in SolidWorks.  Rod then took his software to Chuck Pyritz at TPR, Inc. in Milton, Florida to have two rib block tools cut and two sets of two each rib blanks cut.  We then shipped the blocks and blanks to Steve Castor at Mooney for hydroforming and heat treating.  The proof sets above got back to us for inspection.  We have a couple of fine adjustments to make, after which we'll send the next two blocks and more blanks out to Mooney for another proof set.  Once we are confident that the ribs are coming out dimensionally correctly, we'll commission tool and rib production for the new kit wings.





Below, You'll see two types of valve guide seals.  The seal on the right is more of a "wiper" than a seal, while the one on the left is more of a "proper seal."  Our engine was equipped with the wipers on the right, which are teflon and designed to allow plenty of oil to work down through the valve guides, lubricating the valve stems moving in the guides.  Our engine has been using more oil than we think it should, so Al and Robert recommended we install the "proper" seals in the heads, "proper" meaning seals with more of a defined lip that actually seals more than just wipe.  We'll track oil use now for a while to see if this change makes a difference. 


The next picture down is Robert working on the change out, while the next one down is a bird' eye view from the mezzanine level in Mike Goranky's hangar at the Twin Lakes residential airpark near Aiken, South Carolina.  I had flown Doll up on a Sunday into Mike's 4,000 foot runway.  Mike had wanted to be there for the Monday engine work, but, happily, had to report for school with American Airlines for initial 777 training.  Mike has been out for a while on a cancer issue, is cancer free now, and is getting back in the saddle with the big planes.  His project is on the right in his hangar.




Kevin Armstrong:  The Saga.

This story should be shared, I believe, and Kevin has agreed to share it.
You will recall that Kevin Armstrong bought a finished Stewart here in the U.S., shipped it to England, reassembled the airplane, and worked through the process of having the airplane approved for flight in the UK.  This process was necessary due to the classification system for aircraft in the UK, which put the S-51 in, basically, a certified category due to horsepower, weight, and speed.  The flight test report is in one of our sections, G-CGOI Flight Test Report.
Kevin patiently worked throughout the process with the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) and had his plane approved for flight.  Kevin finally got to fly it himself, and had a successful first flight off his sod strip in England.  He also had Mark Jeffries, a former British Aerobatic Champion, fly the plane in several airshows and exhibitions over there.  The photos below are Mark in the plane.  There is also a link on YouTube decribed as 80% Scale Stuart M1P-51D Thunder Mustang "Lil Darlin"Chevy V8 Power Plant Willis Warbirds Meet 2015.  Seriously.
And then, Kevin was making a takeoff on a Sunday  morning in August from his sod airstrip.  Kevin himself will tell you that he will not make his next flight in a Stewart S-51 from his 2800 foot grass strip again.
On this takeoff, he let the plane work too far to the left, could not get it corrected in time, allowing the left main landing gear to dig into the first furrow in the potato field alongside his runway, which cartwheeled the plane around to the left, damaging it as you see in the pictures below.
Kevin banged up his shoulder and was sore as hell for a while, but commented that the cockpit had stayed intact much like the cockpit of a Formula One Grand Prix racing machine.  As you think about the engineering that goes into the safety designs of those cars, and you look at the integrity on the S-51 cockpit with the damage all around it, you appreciate the safety Jim Stewart designed into the plane.  One critical difference between the real P-51 and the Stewart 51 is that the seat frames in the Stewart are attached firmly to the fuselage structure, while the seats in the full-size P-51 are attached to the wing.  In this case, the wings and the fuselage stayed together.  In another incident in the 1990's, the wing and fuselage separated, and again, the pilot survived, albeit banged up, because he stayed with the fuselage.
Since his August mishap, Kevin has been back over to the U.S. for a short visit and is contemplating finding another S-51 to take back to England.  He has been flying his Harmon Rocket, in the meantime.  He'll be back over here in late January, when we'll see him down in Bartow.
Kevin, again, says that, looking back, he should not have flown the Stewart out of his 2800 foot sod airport.  We have theorized that there could have been wet grass that morning, which allowed the plane to slide to the left, whereas on a hard surface, correction inputs might have been more effective sooner.  From the flying I have done, I have pretty well set a 4,000 foot minimum length for my airport criteria, having gone comfortably into and out of two 4,000 foot runways.  At any rate, Kevin is very candid about the incident and takes responsibility for the mishap.  He'll stay on longer, hard surfaces if he makes another go in an S-51.  He is a good guy.
A small milestone for me:  Before the trip from Bartow to Twin Lakes, I took a local test hop in Bartow and finally got to roll the plane.  Once to the left, and once to the right.  It was absolutely beautiful to see that big nose revolving against the horizon.
December News and Events

December's highlight was the entry of Ole Ringstad into the Stewart S51 builder's circle.  Ole lives and works in Norway, and bought the partially finished kit we had for sale.  He and his companion, Cecelie, had looked at the kit in the spring of 2015, stayed in touch, bought the kit, and traveled back over in December to help crate it for shipment back to Norway.  We had a great time working together and getting them set to build.  Ole is developing a BMW V12 engine for his powerplant, which will be a first for the S51.