entire structure of The 1929 Hamilton H-47 is covered in
corrugated sheet metal, a texture more commonly seen as a part
of a building than part of an airplane. Photo by Mariano Rosales
A number of new construction techniques
came into vogue as airplane designs evolved from fabric-covered frames
into more durable metal structures.
One example of an interesting technique
is the 1929 Hamilton H-47 that came to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010.
Virtually the entire structure of the craft is covered in corrugated
sheet metal, a texture more commonly seen as a part of a building than
part of an airplane.
Corrugation provided strength and
stiffness qualities different from a flat sheet of metal, and the
Hamilton Metalplane Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, constructed 29
examples of the H-47 using the unique skins.
Now owned by Pole Pass Airways of Orcas
Island, Washington, the Hamilton here is the only remaining flying
example of the type. It is making its first AirVenture appearance since
1975, when it won Vintage Reserve Grand Champion.
Although now outfitted in Northwest
Airways livery, this particular airplane originally was delivered to the
provincial government of Ontario, Canada.
Immediately mated to a pair of EDO
YC-6400 floats, the craft flew exclusively off water until it moved to a
private owner in Alaska. Northwest did own and fly H-47s, just not this
As many airplanes that finish their
working career do, it fell into disrepair. A group of Northwest Airlines
pilots recovered it from Alaska, bought it to Minnesota, and began
restoration. Ultimately Jack Lysdale at Fleming Field in South St. Paul
completed the project.
The plane flew very little after its
award-winning Oshkosh visit. It was, however, impeccably
maintained-including continuous annual condition inspections-and was
Only a bit of carburetor and fuel line
cleaning and a replacement set of brakes were required before taking to
the air this past Sunday.
Plans are to put the plane back on the water. The original EDO floats
were located in Fairbanks, Alaska, and are currently under restoration,
with an expectation of water operations in the spring of 2011.
The airplane flies well behind its 525-hp
Pratt & Whitney Hornet engine, according to the Pole Pass pilot that
brought it here.
Expectations were that the hard-mounted
powerplant would create a lot of vibration, but that does not seem to be
It is, however, very noisy inside.
As is the case with any one-of-a-kind
flying artifact, much remains to be learned about power settings,
speeds, and other flight characteristics. Opportunities to practice
landings came at several airports along the route from Minnesota to
Once it leaves Oshkosh the H-47 will
travel to California, before making its way to its new home in