Fuselage Weldment Acquired

In my original plans for building my Skyotë, my intent was to scratch build the entire aircraft myself.  I had even planned to form my own aluminum ribs.  As life”issues” arose and pushed back the start of my work on the project I began to revise my building plan.  I bought hydroformed ribs from Pete Bartoe, had Murphy Aircraft in Canada shear my spar webs to size and press brake my spar caps, got in on a group buy of flying wires through Harvey Swack, and bought a set of waterjet cut spar drilling jigs from Johnathon Pritchard with John Roberts’ help.  (Incidently, these spar drilling jogs will be available for use by any Midwest-area Skyotë builders for the costs of shipping to your project location and return.)  I then ran into some good fortune while attending the Midwest Antique Aircraft Assn (MAAC) Grassroots Fly-in at Brodhead, WI in Sept 2008.

I was admiring a very nice Cessna 170A (OSH 2006 Classic Bronze Lindy award-winner) and noted the owner’s/restorer’s name was Mark Zilinsky.  I recalled a very nice SE-5a replica that had been featured on the cover of Sport Aviation about 20 years prior that had been built by someone named Zilinsky, and I wondered if these two Zilinsky’s were one and the same, so I hung around the airplane to meet the owner.  When I met Mark, I found he was the son of Bob Zilinsky, who had built the SE-5a that was featured in the January 1982 issue of Sport Aviation.  We got to talking about airplane projects, the Skyotë came up, and Mark mentioned that he had started work on a Skyotë about 20 years ago.  However he had gotten distracted by other projects after welding up the fuselage, so the Skyotë frame had been hanging in the hangar rafters for about two decades, and he was looking to sell it.  Since he lived relatively nearby, I made arrangements to visit and photograph the fuselage, with the intent of posting pictures of it on the Skyotë website and YahooGroup for anyone who might be interested in buying it.

When I got around to visiting Mark in Nov 2008, saw the outstanding welding that he had done, the virtually new condition of the tubing (very well preserved over the 20 years), the included landing gear and vertical tail surfaces, and heard the price he was asking, I knew it was time to act.  I drove back the next day with a check and hauled the lot home to my shop.  In one fell swoop, I had taken a huge leap forward in the progress on my project (and totally violated my original concept of scratch-building everything myself). I rationalized that as a novice welder it would have taken my welding the entire project to maybe (?) having gotten as skilled at welding as was evidenced in Mark’s work.  So, that is how I have a fuselage as you see it here.

Mark Zilinsky helping to load the Skyote fuselage in my truck.
Mark Zilinsky helping to load the Skyotë fuselage in my truck.
Skyote Fuselage in Mark's hangar
Skyote Fuselage in Mark’s hangar
Closeup of the weld quality
Closeup of the weld quality