Sunday, October 14, 2018

My Dad - Robert Wesley Bushby

Robert Wesley Bushby
2-24-1927 to 10-14-2018

My dad really enjoyed aviation and helping everyone in aviation, both in and outside the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). He attended the EAA conventions from day 1 for 64 years in a row, not missing a year. (Most likely the person with the highest attendance record.) This is why I am dedicating this page to him and his aviation. If you have anything that you want to share, please send it to me.

Dad and his wife Sharon

The above three photographs were taken during my dad's induction into the EAA Homebuilders Hall Of Fame in 2005.

Bremer County Independent Newspaper, July 27, 1960

The Midget Mustang (or Long Mustang) was to become a production airplane made by Schweizer Aircraft, until the passing of designer Dave Long. My dad worked at Schweizer building production prototypes, the first one being the N35J. I do not recall the exact detail how or why the N35J was damaged, however after Schweizer dropped the production, my dad ended up with it and rebuilding it. (Mid Atlantic Air Museum [MAAM] who has the N15J updated me that the N35J may had been ground looped. Thank you! Click "here" for MAAM website.) Unfortunately the FAA came along and said he could not re-use the N35J registered number because it was reassigned it to a Beechcraft J35 Bonanza in 1958 (being the Midget Mustang did not have a production certificate), so he obtained N15J in its place. When you compare the N-numbers in the photographs, you can tell how my dad modified the paint job.

This next text is from a typed document that I believe was intended for advertising the Midget Mustang, circa 1960.

"Bushby Midget Mustang"

"The Bushby Midget Mustang is a modernized and updated version of the famous Dave Long Midget Mustang. This aircraft was originally designed in 1947 by the late Dave Long, who at that time was chief engineer for Piper Aircraft Co., as a high performance and fully aerobatic sport airplane. In 1951 all drawings, jugs, fixtures, and parts on hand were acquired by Dr. F. Torrey and R. Bushby. Their intentions being to develop a sport aircraft for construction by the amateur aircraft builder.

Although the Bushby Midget Mustang is identical in exterior configuration to the latest Long model, it does incorporate construction changes designed for the homebuilder and sport flyer. These changes include standardization of materials to make use of the new alloys that are readily available today; construction simplifications; cockpit and canopy changes for more pilot comfort.

The Midget Mustang’s 9G structural strength and low power loading give a true high performance and fully aerobatic sport plane, as well fast cruise speed for cross country flying. The Midget Mustang can be powered from 65 to 150 HP. Level flight speeds to 230 MPH with a rate of climb in excess of 3,500 FPM are possible. The most popular powerplant is the Continental 85 HP model, which can be equipped with fuel injection when an inverted flight fuel system is desired. Because of their low cost the Lycoming 125 HP G.P.U. engine is becoming popular.

Flight characteristics are very good. The low center of gravity and wide landing gear results in very ground handling, and visibility over the nose is adequate. Take off run is short and initial climb angle is steep. The different aileron travel used reduces the rudder requirement considerably, very good aileron rolls can be executed simply by raising the nose slightly and applying aileron pressure in the desired direction, with both feet on the floor, completely off the rudder pedals. Stalls are proceeded by ample warning in the form of the tail buffeting and reduced stick pressure. Recovery is rapid upon application of power or relaxing the stick back pressure. Full power on stalls however may alarm the novice pilot. The nose attitude with full power is very high and the stall quick, with engine torque tending to drop a wing. Stalling speed with full flap is 57 MPH, without flat stall speed is 63 MPH. Landing is very similar to that of a Piper Pacer. While on downwind leg at approximately 130 MPH the flaps are lowered to 2nd position. Full flaps are applied at 90, and an approach speed of 80 is maintained until “over the fence”. Flare out is executed at 70, and the plan will touch down nicely at 55 to 60 MPH. The flaps are very effective in eliminating any floating tendency.

Being of simplified all metal construction, the Midget Mustang is perhaps the easiest aircraft to construct that is available to the homebuilder today. Due to the great utilization of aluminum by industry today, and the resultant decrease in aluminum costs, the Midget Mustang is also the least expensive aircraft to construct. Stressed skin type construction is employed, utilizing flush riveting throughout. Although the dimpling operation for the flush rivets adds about 25 hours labor to the construction time it is more the justified by the performance gained. The fuselage is of full monocoque type construction employing seven bulkheads. Wings are full cantilever, employing a built up modified “I” beam type main spar, and ten ribs. A modern laminar flow airfoil is used. There are no complicated fittings or parts that the homebuilder would not be able to fabricate. Also, no machine work is required. The construction manual, which is included with the construction drawings, gives a step by step description of the construction process so that the inexperienced aircraft builder will have no great difficulty in its construction. The construction manual is fully illustrated with photos and sketches, and the drawings are very complete."

My dad's passion was aviation. It did not matter of what type. He enjoyed planes used in air races, which is one reason he picked up the "Long Midget" to build and to help others to build. In the 1950's the popularity of building your own plane became a reality for many. The EAA came along to help join the airplane designers with the builders, helping each other in the crusade of home built aviation, and to find a new path of certification from the FAA so that they could be flown. My dad obtained EAA membership #26, though that was because he did not decide yet to sign up the first day, and went back the second day to do so (or he would have had a lower number).

The next 4 pages are from the Sport Aviation magazine, dated May 1960. An article written by George Hardie, Jr. can be found starting on page 5. I want to thank the EAA for giving me permission to scan and load this article in my blog. This was the beginning of "Bushby Aircraft". You can find out more on the EAA by clicking "here".

I remember living in Dolton, Illinois, and watching my dad working on what I believe was prototype parts for the upcoming Mustang II. It was nice just to be there, let alone all of those mechanical toys I could play with (that I was told not to play with). We then moved to Glenwood, Illinois. Once the garage was built, I remember the prototype Mustang II center section being built in our garage. I was perhaps age 6 at the time. This began my remembrance of his devotion to the building of experimental aluminum aircraft, and supporting others no matter what type of aircraft they needed help with. (T-18s, Pitts, Fairchilds, and more.)

Starting with the April 1966 edition of Sport Aviation magazine, my dad published the first of five articles that would run through the August 1966 publication, on "Building The Midget Mustang". This was in conjunction with completing his Mustang II that was first flown to the 1966 EAA Rockford Fly-In.

The early days at Rockford were probably the best. That is when my dad held forums on how to form aluminum ribs and bulkheads. No fancy tools required. He would stand up in front of the audience and explain the technique as he formed. In the display tent we had, there was a mockup of a Midget Mustang bulkhead and spar that was laminated and riveted by hand. Rib blanks and all the stages to the finished rib were on display as well. Fluting pliers were made by hand using a standard adjustable wrench with brazed copper pipe contoured and polished for the flute. A brass bar with a slit was on display for forming the rib lightening hole flange. (A build from scratch approach, or a roots airplane build if you will.) All of which he had me use while in the tent to show others how easy it was. Later, my uncle made a composite set of fluting pliers that my cousins Harvey, David and I went around selling for my uncle. That, and we sold the back cutoff of the Midget Mustang bubble canopies as windshields for open cockpit planes. I think my cousins and I thought we were entrepreneurs, making sure we got our cut of the money, and we enjoyed spending it on sodas and burgers (squirt guns and balsa planes too).

One thing I enjoyed learning was forming the firewall. We would pack the stainless cut blank in dry ice, and after it cooled down, we quickly placed in on the form block and bent the flange with a plastic mallet as far as we could, then used a lead bar to wack the flange over the form block and into the flutes that were in the form block. No spring back for the most part.

My dad still had a day job (actually night job). He worked for Sinclair Research in Harvey, Illinios, which later became Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO). He then went to work at the Westinghouse armature rewinding facility in/near Chicago. Eventually he quit there and worked Bushby Aircraft full time.

First Time Flown to EAA Convention, Rockford, IL, 1966

I even had a chance to crawl into the tail cone of the prototype Mustang II to buck rivets on a modification. After a lot of Bondo on the wings to cover a poor rivet job (riveted by others, not my dad), I learned quickly that a good rivet job saves you a lot of time in the end, let alone saving a lot of weight for not using Bondo. The Mustang's performance is the wing. That is why my dad preached to start on the center section for the Mustang II. Get you practice in. There are a lot of rivets to practice on. By the time you are ready to start the wings your technique should be developed. A smooth wing is a fast wing, and is a low stall wing.

I still wonder the real reason for the Mustang II. Yes, builders were asking for two seat version. It could have been a tandem, but ended up side-by-side. What I thought was funny, even as a kid, was potential builders at the EAA convention would ask my dad to take their wife up, hoping she would be thrilled enough to allow her husband to spend the money, and time, to build the Mustang II. For the most part I believe it worked.

In 1971 I started making the fiberglass cowlings, wing tips, wheel pants for the Mustangs. I was getting more involved, and realizing that the Midget Mustang and Mustang II were a world wide popular airplane. Especially in Australia. One Australian builder changed the cowling to remove the "bug eyes" used to direct the air cooling over the cylinder heads, to a annular ring around the spinner. I asked my dad if I could modify his cowling to experiment and he said yes. The next photograph was the outcome. In the end I am not sure there was much gain in cooling.

Japan Article on Midget Mustang and Mustang II
(multiple pages)

We did a lot of trials on the prototype Mustang II. Builders who had a fear of a conventional aircraft (conventional gear or sometimes refereed to as a taildragger) wanted to know if they could add tricycle gear (training wheel as I called it). My dad said sure, and he went out to show how it could be done. I believe we used the Piper Tri-Pacer nose wheel system.

Another trail I remember was hurner wing tips. We flew one side with the standard wing tip, and the other with the hurner tip. We really did not do enough study, though my gut reaction was they seemed to give us a better turning rate of climb, perhaps because of the longer extension to the wing.

Shortly after that my dad finally remembered his dream that he kept beating his head about. That was on how to adapt a folding wing to the Mustang II. Many builders wanted to save space, or share space, especially in the winter months. By folding the wing you could either take it home, or park the Mustang II under a high wing in the hanger. I ended up creating the drawings for that after my dad prototyped the parts.

One of the proud moments my dad had with EAA was when he was honored with the August Raspet Award. The "Who's Who" of aircraft design as the EAA put it. You can read more about it by clicking "here". My dad won this award twice. I am not sure it was suppose to work out that way but it did. The first time was in 1967. I remember an EAA representative asking him in a stern voice, to be at the evenings festivities. So we went. My dad was totally unaware he had been selected. This one recognition wrote his story. Then in 1973 he won again. This time the EAA representative was not as stern in voice asking us to be there. My dad had been asked many times to attend, just to attend. That evening I asked if we could go get pizza in town. My dad had forgotten about the invite to the evening festivities, so he did not have the chance to receive the award in person. I think that would have been the icing on the cake. Thank you to all those present and past who supported him for both awards.

Planes my dad has flown:
(plane certificate numbers as noted in log books)
(Student Pilot 8/2/1943; Graduated High School 1944; Private Pilot 3/30/1945)
(solo in J3 Cub NC32731 8/14/1943 after 8h:10m accumulated flight time)

Piper J3 Cub 24764, 38302, 26845, 27156, 33138, 32731, 35511, 38302, 92396, 3437K, 1530N, 3200N (1943-74)
Piper J5 Cub 31225, 32573, 35181, 41220(J5A) (1945-58)
Piper J2 Cub 19556 (1948)
Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser 4052M (1948-50)
Piper J4F 28221 (1949-50)
Piper PA-11 78730, 4052M (1950-52)
Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer 1226C, 31410, 1314C, 6037D, 7343D (1955-81)
Piper PA-17 Vagabond 4881H (1957-60)
Piper PA-23 2108P (1964)
Piper PA 18 xxxxx (1966)
Aeronca Cheif 31700, 31917, 33802, 33807 (1944-55)
Aeronca 7AC Champion 81856, 84476, 85049, 85049, 85782, 92556, 1833E, 2349E, 2512E 2782E, 3551E (1947-87)
Aeronca 11AC Chief 1294H, 4270E, 9124E, 9444E (1949-64)
Aeronca 65CA Super Chief 36547, 36867 (1950-55)
Aeronca 2349E (1950)
Aeronca 65LB 34496 (1951)
Aeronca 15AC 1294M (1955)
Aeronca 11CC 42702, 4119E, 4270E (1955-66)
Aeronca 7FC Tri-Traveler 3551E (1961)
Taylorcraft BL 65 23818, 23626, 26678, 27517, 27518, 27627, 27592, 29458, 29583, 29725, 36085, 36179, 36365, 39192, 95145 (1944-62)
Taylorcraft BC 65 29725 (1947-50)
Taylorcraft 29583, 29750, 6635N (1955-60)
Taylorcraft L2 50767 (1994-98)
Luscombe 8B 39054 (1945)
PT-19 M62-175 46729 (1945)
Waco UPF-7 39370 (1948)
Waco AGC-8 66206 (1951-52)
Aercoupe 415C 94019, 99111, 2291H (1949-66)
Meyers OTW-145 34335 (1951-62)
Porterfield CP-65 25537 (1951)
Cessna 140 38743, 72558, 73000, 76780, 89435, 5343C, 2352V (1951-75)
Cessna 170 1292D, 3109D (170A) (1951-65)
Cessna 120 77317 (1954)
Cessna 195 9325A (1956-61)
Cessna 182 8437T (1962-63)
Cessna 180 3041M, 4301M (1963-65)
Cessna 172 98876(P), 7279A, 9802T, 7826X(B) (1968-96)
Cessna 175 6748E, 9408B (1982-95)
Cessna 150 60260, 60263, 61134, 7137F (1984-01)
Cessna 177 30564, 3497T (1998-2004)
Cessna 152 24947 (2000-03)
Culver LCA Cadet 37843, 34785 (1951-59)
Luscombe 8A 71819, 1394K (1952-1977)
Luscombe MBE 1560B, 2782K (1956-57)
Fairchild PT-19 54701 (1952)
Stinson 108-2 9743K, 6422M (1960-63)
Beech Bonanza G35 4647D (1961)
Global Swift GC-1B 80727 (1975)
Mooney M20C 9331V, 34BE, 84BE (1975-94)
Midget Mustang 7009S (1989-92)
Fairchild 24 77645 (1995-98)
Navion 4 4808K (1998-03)
Mustang II 24GL (2003-04)

Midget Mustang N35J July 4, 1955,
Rebuild test flight N35J at Morris September 12, 1959
N35J became N15J, first flown August 5, 1960
Last logbook entry N15J August 4, 1963

Mustang II N1117M test flight July 8-11, 1966
Last logbook entry N1117M March 28, 1992

Robert W. Bushby's Total Time Logged from 5/4/1943 to 12/18/2004
4,742.9 Hours

Lots to still write.  In the mean time you can find out more about my dad on Wikipedia of all things. Feel free to donate photographs and stories that you may have to: WesBushby[at]

Family Photos

This first photograph is of me standing on my dad's lap getting ready to take my first airplane ride at 17 months. (June 15, 1958, Piper PA-17 Vagabond.)

Dad working  at engine test lab, Sinclair Research.

Dad wanted me to wear his famous straw hat and to take a picture of me near this plane.

The above 2 photos were taken on my Grandmother's farm. My dad has a 2,000 ft sod strip, starting at the hanger doors. We always took off away from the hanger, and landed toward the hanger. Once while getting time in a Cessna 140, my dad had me land over the hanger. I thought for sure I was going to clip the light on top of the hanger, but no. With full flaps and just over stall speed, I flared out about 100 ft in front of the hanger and rolled out another 400 ft. Shortest landing I ever made, and over an obstacle. (Scared everyone inside the hanger!)

The J3 Cub to the right in the above photographs I believe is the Cub I did my solo in.

Me, Dad, and my son Nick

Bob's Grandson Nick - Circua 1990
Bob's Grandson Nick - Circa 1990

Dad in Dan McGarry's P-51 3/4 scale mustang.

My cousin's daughter Emily with my dad.


Char Friedlund said...

Proud documentation of a great man.
Can’t wait to read more....

Chris Kinnaman, Acro Sport Inc said...

Some years back I spent an enjoyable hour or so at Oshkosh with your dad discussing the Midget Mustang and homebuilding. He was one of the true pioneers of homebuilding and his dedication to the art will be missed.

Unknown said...

Great post Wes. Sorry for your loss. Happy you are able to post your fathers provenance.

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