A member of the project team grinds surface rust off the fuselage ahead of priming.
Nova Labs has launched a group dedicated to building a single engine, 2-seat aircraft, using the same techniques taught in our Metal Shaping and Fastening classes.
The aircraft being built (entirely from plans) is a Smyth Sidewinder, a prize winning side-by-side 2-seater from the 1960s. This aircraft is constructed of a welded steel tube fuselage skinned with aluminum and formed aluminum spars and ribs for flight surfaces. It is hoped that the aircraft will be completed, test flown, and finally made part of a group of aircraft flown by the very group that built it.
Sidewinder fuselage undergoing cleanup
The project is being led by Nova Labs member Samer Najia who also offers classes in aircraft construction methods using metal sheet, flat and angled stock. His classes cover multiple levels of complexity:
Metal 101: A basic introduction to structures made from metal, including how to size, space and drill holes; and fundamental cutting, bending and forming techniques (including the use of wood dies), clamping and securing, blind/Avex riveting and rivet removal techniques. This first level class builds a simple rectangular frame to illustrate that a small light structure can be built to hold a very large load with minimal effort.
Metal 102: This session extends what is learned in 101 and scales the metal frame up to illustrate the problems and their solutions with bigger components. We typically choose a structure whose central form is a large rectangle and build something useful out of it. In the past, students have built a table and a go kart.
Metal 103: In this class we introduce bucked/hammered/solid rivets and the use of air tools in the fastening process. This class discusses and works on structures that must be kept flat but are not allowed to bend. The class project includes is to creating a wing rib and introducing beads, tabs and stiffeners that turn a piece of sheet metal into a load bearing structure with minimal fabrication. As part of the exercise, we rivet the ribs to a spar to make a small winglet or airfoil using air riveting tools and techniques.
Metals 104: This class introduces the use of hammering techniques to turn flat sheet metal into curved surfaces (concave or convex). These specific sessions will begin to be offered once certain tools are appropriated for our metal shop (like an English Wheel and several mallets and shot bags).
Completion of these classes is excellent preparation for those who wish to participate in the Nova Labs Flying group. To sign up for these or any other Nova Labs classes, join our Meetup and keep an eye out for the next Metal Shaping and Fastening classes!