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Homebuilt Nugget Celebrating 50th Anniversary
By Megan Esau
July 27, 2017 - A one-off homebuilt, the aerobatic biplane Davenport Nugget, is celebrating its 50th anniversary at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017.
Designed by the late Brad Davenport to be a good mountain flyer, the Nugget was flown to Oshkosh by Herrill Davenport, EAA 301458, Brad’s son.
“The Nugget is a good, honest plane — similar in handling to a Super Cub without flaps and a stall warning system, and it goes upside down,” Herrill said of the Nugget’s qualities.
Brad first designed and built the airplane in 18 months from 1965 to 1967, after recovering from a heart attack. He had always been fond of the Great Lakes biplane, but decided to come up with his own design that would avoid the expense of a radial engine.
“The Nugget has very similar lines and a flat-top wing with a sweep and the rounded fin and rudder of a Great Lakes,” Herrill said. “It’s an all-year airplane. If it’s 15 degrees Fahrenheit outside, I will still go and fly; sometimes you wear more layers. I try and celebrate the Nugget’s first flight every February 2, Groundhog Day, every year. The Nugget has 3,943 hours on the airframe.”
Not all of those hours were logged by the Davenport family, though. Additional problems with his heart caused Brad to sell the Nugget in 1977, at a time when Herrill was unable to buy it for himself. In 1982, though, its owner at the time decided to move onto an airplane that would allow him to fly with his family, and he offered the Nugget to Herrill before putting it on the market.
“There are some black and white pictures in old photo albums that popped into my mind when I walked into the hangar on the day I bought the Nugget,” Herrill said. “It was almost like I had seen this view before.”
Since being reunited with the Davenport family, the Nugget has undergone a number of updates, including a replacement of the VOR receiver in favor of a Garmin 195 comm/GPS and a rebuild and reposition of the oil cooler, which allowed the airplane to pick up an extra 13 mph and 225 rpm.
Brad died in 1998, but Herrill has done a great job of taking care of his father’s legacy, and said his father would have loved to see his airplane celebrate its 50th birthday at Oshkosh.
Visit the Davenport Nugget at the special homebuilt parking Sand Box, a grassy patch just southwest of Homebuilders Headquarters.