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Group Donates Replica of First Fighter Plane to EAA

By Barbara A. Schmitz

July 28, 2017 - A replica of the first fighter plane is turning peoples’ heads as they walk by the Daher exhibit, located to the south of Boeing Plaza, and it will soon be turning heads in the EAA Aviation Museum.

About 20 volunteers of the Morane-Saulnier Heritage Association, who range in age from 26 to 90, built the 1914 replica of the Morane-Saulnier Type L/MS 3 and on Friday donated it to EAA, said Daniel Bacou, president of the association and Daher’s network development and marketing senior manager. It took six years and 15,000 man-hours to complete the replica, which was finished just in time to take it apart, box it up, and ship it to Oshkosh where it was reassembled, he said.

The replica couldn’t have been built without the support of Daher and the TBM Owners and Pilots Association, he said. Museum Director Bob Campbell said he was honored to receive the plane, which he said would be a great addition to the museum.

The replica is a two-seater with metal spar, plywood frame, and fabric cover. With a 110-hp engine, it has a 36.5 feet wingspan and has an empty weight of 925 pounds. Its maximum estimated speed is 74.5 mph.

Daniel said they didn’t have all the original drawings so parts of it had to be redesigned. “But it was built by a group who are enthusiastic to build, and they get joy out of putting things together,” he said. Although it was made to fly, it has not been flown yet.

Philippe de Segovia, also with the association and the TBM sales promotion director, said the Morane-Saulnier firm was created in 1911 and quickly developed a number of planes that were successful in racing. In 1913, the company put a wing on top of the fuselage on one of its planes, thinking it would be good for joy rides. It was in this configuration that it raised the attention of the French military.

Philippe said the MS Type L was originally a reconnaissance aircraft, and also the first airplane armed with a fixed machine gun that fired through the propeller arc. The British Royal Flying Corps also purchased the plane.

The MS Type L was eventually withdrawn from duties and was operated mainly as a training airplane. “Some of the most famous pilots of the U.S. military from that time learned how to fly on this airplane,” Philippe said, naming Quentin Roosevelt, the son of President Theodore Roosevelt, as an example.

Philippe said the response from AirVenture visitors has been tremendous. “We have dozens and dozens of visitors every hour asking questions,” he said. “There are so many questions that my throat is dry by the end of the day.”

In fact, it was the response of the people that made them decide to donate the replica to EAA, Philippe said.

Some of the builders are at AirVenture, including volunteers who are 77, 82, and 84 years old. “The people who built it are proud to leave it here, but also a little sad. It was their baby,” Daniel said.

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