January 30, 2010

How to Research Vintage Aircraft

Using today's modern technology to research vintage aircraft has brought a lot of material to your fingertips.  In the past we have spent most of our time flipping through pages in books, magazines, manuals and photographs.  But unless you have access to a large collection of books and magazines you may never run across the details you were after.

Searching for specific aircraft types
May I suggest the simple Google search.  Open up your handy internet browser (we recommend Mozilla's Firefox) and type in www.google.com and a simple window will display on your screen.  In the box in the middle of the screen type in "Spartan Executive."  A list of web sites will show up on your screen.  Click on as many that look related to the rare aircraft you are searching.  (yes... my web site may come up on the Spartan Executive... enjoy!) Try typing in some other rare types and see what comes up.  You will be surprised how much material is on the internet.
While you are on the Google search page be sure to select "Images" in the upper left portion of your screen.  A page (or many pages) full of images will appear on what you entered in the search.

Looking for a specific aircraft
Visit the "Aircraft Information Center" at www.aircraftone.com and you will have the ability to search for the owner or N number of a specific aircraft.

Researching details of a rare vintage type
An outstanding resource for specification on rare aircraft types is available on www.aeroflies.com. Click on the image on the main page to enter.  I would start on "Aircraft A-Z" on the left hand menu.  BINGO!  Click on a manufacturers name and look up the type you are after.  Some rare types are listed here along with great pictures.  I use this site as a source of specs and pictures for my blog.

On the prowl for rare books
The internet is THE place to hunt for rare aviation books.  I would start at www.bookfinder.com.  The first screen comes up with a search box ready for you.  Author and title awaiting you entry.  I cant tell you how many times friends have mentioned books to me they say are VERY rare and that you will never find a copy.  Well... I find them and more of the time they can be found on Book Finder!

These few pointers I have recommended are just the begining!  I will post soon on where to search for vintage aircraft photos!  Forums, museums and a host of other resources are available... so, where do you do your research?  What web sites do you use?


On a Wing and a Whim said...

For many vintage aircraft, if there are still quite a few flying, there's an owner group swapping parts and copies of 337's. For example, the Taylorcraft Foundation has been an incredible resource in rebuilding my plane.

If the vintage plane you are looking for is a warbird, then check with the warbird restoration groups - they might not have an example of your plane, but chances are high they know someone who does (and quite possibly someone who flew one in the war). My T-crate was built before WWII, but the Alamo Liaison Squadron in Cannon Field, TX were incredibly helpful in showing and letting me get my hands on and in projects of the same era, and the during-WWII Taylorcraft L-2 Grasshoppers.

If you find one of the aircraft nearby, or even far away, don't be afraid to contact the owner and ask about their plane - the worst you can get is a "no."

If you are trying to restore a vintage plane, check with the FSDO - they may have handled another owner working on that or similar models, and still have copies of the supporting drawings, blueprints, and references for any 337's or STCs.

Also, if you're trying to figure out an engineering detail on your plane, the FSDOs do have engineers on staff - and despite all reputations of the FAA to the contrary, you'll find the engineers really just want to help you fly safely, and may be able to help you figure out whether or not you can make a modification or repair safely, or how to gather the data and where to look to determine the answer.

Dan Linn said...

Yes... great resources! Clubs, Associations and local owners can help! Thanks for commenting.

Richard Johnston said...

I love vintage aircraft

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