By Michael Stephan
Michael has penchant for building one-of-a-kind designs from EAA founder Paul Poberezny. The first was the Pober Pixie II, which was a two-seat version of the Pober Pixie. He spent a decade building the pixie II and it earned much attention the several times it has traveled to Oshkosh. The Pixie II was more than a plans built project, since there were very little in the way of plans. Paul abandoned the project after welding the fuselage, due to competition from other similar concepts. Michael picked up that fuselage and brought it back to Texas. With much consultation with Paul and many prototype parts, Michael finished the plane.
Paul and Michael have had a relationship ever since.
It was featured in the January 2002 edition of Sport Aviation in a 7 page article written by Budd Davidson. In the article, Budd describes building an airplane without a set of completed plans as, “Hard-core homebuilding!” And Michael is back at it again.
That leads to the Pober Speedster. Similar to the Pixie II, Paul had welded together a fuselage design that was to be a single-seat top strut-braced low-wing called the Pober Sportster. When Paul offered the fuselage to Michael, another trip to Oshkosh brought that design back to the hangar at Airpark East.
Without a set of plans, he bought a set of Acrosport I plans (another Poberezny design) to use as a guide to assist in making design decisions, since both planes had some similarities in structure.
While looking at the airplane fuselage, Michael noticed that it was very similar to the 1930’s racers, the Gee Bee Speedsters. That is what he wanted. An aircraft in the spirit of Gee Bee Speedster that he would call the Pober Speedster.
For the wings, he chose to use an elliptical wing to make the speedster look like the Gee Bee. elliptical wings are quite a challenge to build, which is why you don’t see them very often even though they are very efficient. The speedster wings tapers in two directions. After rib station 12 the spar starts its taper to the wing tip as well as the leading edge rounds to the wingtip. These two tapers cause every wing rib after station 12 to be a different shape. This complexity also extends to the aileron, which is part of the elliptical shape of the wing at the trailing edge. The spar of the aileron also tapers toward the tip as the trailing edge sweeps around to the tip. When looking at the wing structure, you first notice the aesthetic round shape. It is not until you get a close look at the details that you notice the complex shape. Working with these kinds of complex curves using wood is quite a task, and his wings are a work of art. The fuel for the airplane will be located in a saddle-type tank in the fuselage just above the rudder pedals and below the upper longeron.
That fuel will feed a Lycoming O-235 that is currently on the engine mount at the back of the Hangar. It is a used engine that Michael plans on overhauling and upgrading the cylinders. Since his Pixie II had a crankshaft journal oil feed plug up and cause complete failure of the piston rod, he wants to completely go though the engine before putting it in the air.
One of the departures from the Gee Bee Speedster is the landing gear structure. Those racers placed the gear out on the wing and had the gear’s forces travel through the wing struts to the fuselage. Not being interested in putting the stresses in the wing, Michael has opted for a more conventional piper cub style gear leg and bungie arrangement. It is a strong structure and is also what he used on the Pixie. The only drawback being the drag caused by the bungies under the fuselage.
While showing me the fuselage, Michael mentioned that all the control linkages will be cables, including the elevator, which is usually a push/pull tube in Paul’s designs. Due to the geometry of the fuselage and the position of the fuselage tubing, it takes a joint in the tube and a bell-crank to make the bend around the structure to the elevator horns. He believes that cables and pulleys are a simpler and stronger connection with fewer joints. The ailerons will also be controlled by a combination of cables and pulleys. The cables will be very visible in the fuselage revealing the makings of the machine.
The Speedster’s fuselage has been blasted and primed. When looking closely at the tubing junctions, you can see the how talented a welder Paul Poberezny was. Every cluster is beautiful. Those who think only TIG welds are attractive haven’t seen Paul’s work. He was a master with the gas torch.
There is so much about the speedster that is interesting, you just have to see it to experience the excellence. Pictures don’t do it justice. Michael hopes to have the project flying in a few more years. I look forward to seeing it in the display area at Oshkosh.
There are not many builders like Michael Hoye. The kit-built builder community can pound their chest and boast about the design, but they built someone else’s design. He is building his own. And even though it won’t be the fastest or the most sleek airplane on the field, it will be a one-of-a-kind airplane, just like his other one. Now that is hard-core.