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Final Push Is On for Bugatti 100P Racer Project

April 16, 2013 - About two and a half years ago Scotty Wilson, EAA 572551, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, traveled to Oshkosh to examine the original Bugatti 100P Racer that's on prominent display in the AirVenture Museum after being donated to EAA in 1996.

Since then he's been working continuously at re-creating the airplane, and with a little luck and some additional resources, it could hit the runway before the end of the year.

"Ninety percent done with 90 percent to go," Wilson said earlier this month - a statement many to which homebuilders can relate. "It's very close to done. We might be able to roll the plane out of the hangar in mid-June." He hesitates to pin a date to anything, but it's reasonably possible Wilson's airplane could do taxi-testing and even a first flight before the end of the year, but no earlier than the fall.

Wilson's first flight would be a true maiden voyage for the futuristic airplane. Designed in the 1930s by famous automaker Ettoré Bugatti and engineer Louis de Monge, the original Model 100P never got off the ground. As the German army advanced on Paris in June 1940, it had to be disassembled and whisked away so the advanced technology didn't fall into enemy hands. Wilson calls it "the most historically significant airplane that never flew."

EAA AirVenture 2011 attendees got an up-close look at Wilson's project when it was displayed at the EAA Welcome Center that year. Since then he's been toiling away, making steady progress. It's been painted in that distinctive and familiar blue, and he'll be covering the flight control surfaces in the coming weeks.

One of the plane's crucial - and most complex - components is the gear box, which has finally been finished after two and a half years of design, revision, and production. It is set to arrive in Tulsa the first of May fromS&J Engineering in Hinckley, United Kingdom, which agreed to take on the project after another firm pulled out.

Wilson hopes to have the 200-pound gear box installed and the propellers on soon, at which time the airplane will be pulled out of the hangar for the first time. The props were designed by Swedish propeller theoreticianJan Carlsson and fabricated by Rupert Wasey at UK-based Hercules Propellers.

Two 200-hp Hayabusa motorcycle engines will power the craft, Wilson said.

Wilson gave a shout-out to T.J. Balentine, who has volunteered all the complex tin work on the airplane. "He drives an hour each way per day just to come down and work on the aircraft," he said.

On the other side of the pond, credit goes out to John Lawson of J Lawson Modelmakers, who's mainly responsible for completing the gear box. "Without the gear box, it's just a glider," Wilson said.

Interest about this project is sky-high around the world, reflected by the numerous national flags seen in Wilson's Tulsa hangar.

"We are certainly in the final push," he said. "This airplane is an extraordinary machine. It really makes one appreciate the genius of de Monge. He did it himself - just one guy - which makes it all the more impressive."

Follow along as this project heads for the finish line at the Bugatti 100P Racer project Facebook page.

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