A Man and His Magnificent Flying Machine
By John ErardiSpring Valley, Ohio, resident Jack Tiffany is credited with resuscitating the Pitcairn PA-18 autogiro aircraft, said to be the most unusual aircraft ever constructed. He served in the Army Special Forces during the 1960s and, when he returned home, performed 3,000 skydiving jumps. Tiffany's PA-18, which has a five-cylinder Kinner engine and four 20-foot-long rotor blades, recently flew three times over Andy Barnhart Memorial Airport in New Carlisle, Ohio. The PA-18 is considered to be the predecessor of the modern-day helicopter; and when it initially flew in 1923, it had a stall-proof engine. U.S. industrialist Harold Pitcairn created the Pitcairn-Cierva Autogiro Company in 1928 in Willow Grove, Pa., and by 1932, 19 PA-18s were constructed and sold. The PA-18 that Tiffany restored was Harold Pitcairn's own plane. Tiffany found a PA-18 selling for $65,000 and spent 8.5 years fixing it up. He hopes to fly the plane in an Oshkosh, Wis., air show during the summer of 2009.
November 12, 2008