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Missouri Double Eagle

By David Deweese, EAA 748952, davedeweese@hotmail.com

Leonard Milholland
Leonard Milholland beside his 11th design, the Double Eagle. Built as a trainer for his very popular (single-seat, Part 103 legal) Legal Eagle Ultralight. (Photo courtesy of Leonard Milholland )

The Double Eagle is a high-wing taildragger with a steel-tube fuselage and built-up wooden wings, covered in fabric and motivated by a four-cylinder Volkswagen powerplant. While there are many fine low-and-slow designs out there, this bird has a feature that my daughter, Danielle, feels is very important - side-by-side seating.
 
My own Double Eagle is definitely in the early stages - a full set of rib gussets and a growing collection of ribs. After receiving the plans from Leonard Milholland, I set about constructing my “hi-tech rib jig,” inspired by a link on WeeBeastie.com, the Hatz website. I’d been itching to give it a try even before selecting an airplane and discovered that, sure enough, T-88 (a high-performance, non-brittle, two-part epoxy adhesive) does not stick to acrylic, making it an excellent material from which an accurate and durable jig can be built, with a side benefit of easy rib construction and removal.

Rib jig
Rib jig made from acrylic.

Gussets
All of David’s gussets pre-cut and stored in a tackle box.

Wicks Aircraft Supply is within driving distance of our home in St. Peters, Missouri, so after a brief road trip I was the proud owner of several birch plywood sheets and a bundle of spruce sticks. My first workbench was a board and some sawhorses, and on a sunny fall day, you don’t need much of a shop to cut little ply polygons. The complete wing rib gusset collection fits nicely in a small tackle box.

Tub of gussets
The plans, some tools, and a tub ’o gussets.

Gussets
Creating gussets alfresco!

Rib construction
Workshop number two is a bench in the basement, not exactly spacious, but big enough to build ribs.

Stack of Ribs
The fruits of David’s labor - a stack of neatly crafted ribs.

Building flying model airplanes in my past provided adequate background for wood rib construction, but I have less experience with metal. Here’s where belonging to a local EAA chapter (in my case, Chapter 32) pays off. Steve Morse, chapter officer, Long-EZ builder, and Boeing engineer, teaches basic metal working. Under his instruction, I learned to make two pieces of metal into one. In the photo he’s helping a fellow member.

Welding
Chapter 32’s Steve Morse guiding the hand of a fellow chapter member during some welding tutelage.

The Double Eagle project, even in its early stages, is providing much amusement for a small cash outlay. Plenty of factors compete for my limited time and money, so while she won’t fly any time soon, I felt that the project that never gets started, never gets completed - so I just jumped in. Do not let limited budget, lack of skills, or lack of a full-sized workshop discourage you. Buy a set of plans and start building parts so that you can step up when someone asks, “What are you building?”

Specifications

Weight

385 pounds (dry)

Height

6 feet 8 inches

Length

18 feet

Wing Span

28’3”

Gross Weight

900 pounds

Wing Cord

55 inches

Useful Load

515 pounds

Wing Area

127 sq. ft.

Wing Stress Load

4 gs

Engine

60 horsepower (1835 cc Volkswagen)

The Names Legal Eagle and Double Eagle as referencing airplanes are trademarks and/or service marks or L. E. Milholland, LLC.

 
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