Victor Serda, a carpenter in Argentina, built this beautiful replica of the Curstis Jenny, with his own hands.
You can read the original article that was published by a newspaper in Argentina by clicking this link
For those of you that would like to know more, but don’t understand Spanish, here’s a translation.
The carpenter who makes and flies his own aircraft
In a workshop in Almafuerte, Víctor Serda builds airships with wood and cloth, just like in the early days of aviation. Outside, he just landed his replica of a Curtis, a jewel among the classics.
As a child, he watched his father, who was a carpenter, making tables and cupboards. At the age of 8 he was already dreaming about building a plane. At 13 he left school to work in the family workshop, and in his spare time he began to make model airplanes and drones. He was so passionate about his hobby that he decided to build his own real aircraft and fly it.
At 56, after having built a dozen experimental aircraft, he is finishing his best work, a replica of a Curtis. One of the very first aircraft, built 100 years ago, constructed in wood and fabric.
“I started with aeromodelling at a time when there was almost no possibility of exchanging data on anything. Having to invent and learn by trial and error sharpens ingenuity; you had to know why one was flying well, and not the other you were doing,” he says.
“The first experimental manned plane that I made was my own design, back in 1994. I could not buy an engine, so I sold it. From that moment, people began to call me for repairs of old wooden planes. Meanwhile, I built my own and began to build others on demand,” he explains. “I think I made more than 130 aero-models and 12 or 13 experimental airplanes.”
One of those little planes is the Canguro, with which he always flies over Almafuerte. If you see it, you might think it is a little boat with wings. Victor smiles and mentions that the Canguro has over 570 hours of flight and is powered by an engine from a lawnmower!
Designing and assembling planes is one thing. But I wanted to feel the sensation of flying as well. I love the Canguroo as it is the plane in which I learned to fly. Many tell me it could be nicer, but I couldn’t care less. I just love to fly it.
Proudly showing us his Curtis Jenny, he says “The Jenny was flown for the first time in 1914. It was the first aircraft that was used for pilot training in the United States.”
You can find some nicely preserved Curtis Jennys in museums but very few of the originals are still flying. Víctor believes that there are no replicas like the one that has just made . “As far as I know, there is not one done like that. This is the same as the original, except in some details. There are no plans anywhere; I fabricated it just by looking at photos and drawings. It is a very approximate replica, only that it has one less meter of wings and another engine, because the original weighed more than 200 kilos, it was a V8 of 90 HP, and the one we put is a new, more reliable, 80 kilos and 120 HP. In materials it is the same, wood and fabric, and a few steel pipes. One adaptation that I did was the motorcycle wheels, very similar to the original ones. Doing it, without a motor, took me eight months.”
I built another similar one, which is flying in Santa Fe, and with which I won a first prize at the annual national convention of experimental aircraft. An acquaintance liked it a lot and he entrusted me with this,” he says.
The two-seater Curtis will soon go to Bahía Blanca, where his buyer lives. They want to fly it. “That is another challenge, with several scales to replenish,” says Serda. Its flight autonomy is about three hours.
Passion, not business
Victor continues with traditional carpentry. “But, lately, this hobby of mine is taking more time and more desire. I do it much more for passion than for business. I live in a simple way, I do not need so much. For me, what matters is to give me the pleasure.” This explains his philosophy of life. “This is passion, not business,” he says, leaning on his old Dodge Coronado car, which he renovated.
“If it were for money, I would have accepted offers to do this abroad. I’m not crazy about it. I just want to do it the way I like it and in the place where I want to continue living”, he stresses.
The afternoon draws to an end, and Serda asks for help to push the Curtis into the shed. “Be careful,” he implores. When the wood and cloth plane is inside, he dismisses it with a pat, as if it were his puppy or his favorite horse.
When leaving, I get the impression that, instead of putting wings to airplanes, in fact it is Victor that has wings.