Now that one of the first nine Windecker Eagles built has been restored for its Chinese owner, the company that restored it has announced the next phase—total redesign. The redesign effort will be led by self-taught airfoil designer John Roncz, designer of a sail that won the America's Cup sailboat race.
A restored 1969 Eagle is ready for shipment to China after testing at Statesville and New Bern, North Carolina. It was flown by an AOPA Pilot editor for an upcoming story. It will be used as a demonstrator for government and local officials in China who want to know about general aviation. Sites for manufacturing that original design have been chosen. It is likely the Chinese Windecker will be diesel powered, although a gasoline engine is installed for demonstrations.
One of the more important features lacking from the original design by Dr. Leo Windecker and his wife, Fairfax, both Texas dentists, was a footwell for backseat passengers. That will be among the first tasks for the design team.
The Mooresville, North Carolina, company, Windecker Aircraft, was located there to take advantage of land-racing designers and machinists. The company is headed by a motorcycle racer and builder, but representatives from car racing were there too, led by three FAA-designated officials. In all there were nine people on the team. The design will be a clean sheet effort for a composite, high-performance, low-wing, four-seat aircraft. While it will be similar to the one Windecker designed, it will take advantage of new materials. Dow Chemical made the material from which the original aircraft was constructed.
It may be several years before GA begins to stir in China—the piston-engine kind flown by a significant number of average citizens—but the Windecker company wants to be ready. Ted Windecker, son of the late Leo Windecker, is a technical advisor to the firm. In the meantime the rest of the world may soon see a modern version of the famous “plastic airplane” that was on the cover of every aviation magazine in 1970, including AOPA Pilot.