By John Keast
The little Fokker was born is Missouri – but it will spread its wings over the Rangitata airfield and father and son Russell and Ross Brodie.
The three-quarter size Fokker fighter plane replica was bought as a basic-materials kit eight or nine years ago.
The Brodies and others did a bit of work on the plane, then it was put back in a shed as they became busy with flight training, other aviation work, and running a farm.
Then Ross decided the plane was no good half-finished, and a push was made to finish it.
It is fitted with a 52hp Rotax engine popular with builders of microlights, a mock machinegun – the Fokker was the first fighter on which a system to fire through a propeller was set up.
Ross, who has a strong interest in aviation history, said the Fokker was the first fighter plane, and one the English called the Fokker scourge.
Before the Fokker, light planes had largely been used for reconnaissance.
Ross said the plane arrived with basic plans and the engine and instruments were gathered separately.
The frame is made from aviation-grade aluminium covered with super-strong synthetic material tightened on the frame with dope.
The Brodies, with help from a small team of supporters, did the work themselves.
Says Ross: “A lot of it we had to work out for ourselves. There is a standard practice to follow and we have made it work.”
“Says Russell: “There was a bit of head scratching.”
The Brodies got close to having the Fokker ready to fly for the Anzac weekend commemoration event held every other year at the airfield.
The little plane, although it could not then fly, was pushed on to the airfield to be part of the display.
But after final checks, the plane now – as soon as fine weather returns – is ready for flying.
Russell and Ross will share the testing – and it will not be a fast flight, or a high one.
Ross estimates the Fokker will be lucky to fly faster than 100kmh – about as slow as a plane go can – and although it could fly high, he will keep fairly low.
The Brodies also have replica uniforms they can use for maximum effect.
“It has cost us some time. The big thing is the time. It took a long time as we had other projects, and we had to build other aircraft and flight training.”