Pietenpol Cabane struts, Part #3


This picture tells a story of diagonal front cabanes on Pietenpol aircraft.



The picture above is from 2005, It is the late Bill Knight, flying the last Pietenpol ever built by Bernard Pietenpol. It is known as “The Last Original”, and several people have had stewardship of this treasured piece of homebuilding history in the decades since BHP’s passing Bill kept it the last 15 years of his life, and much of this time made it readily available to any builder who wished to study the last evolution of the master’s design. I spent many days studying it, and the details tell quite a story of how Bernard thought.


The particular part I draw your attention to is easy to see in the picture: the diagonal cabane struts. Notice that they are the same size as the vertical ones, and they are welded to the top of the front cabanes. There is no adjustment here, BHP was prioritizing strength and rigidity at this point in the evolution of his design.


Way too many of todays builders are using the tiny round 1/2″-035″ tubes shown in some pre-war plans. As I have discussed, these are way too small, and prone to failure in an otherwise inconsequential mishap. When I pointed this out on the internet, a guy who has a flying Pietenpol and is an accomplished pilot, but has tiny round diagonal cabanes on his plane said “I built my plane to fly, not to crash.” The picture above shows that Bernard Pietenpol didn’t see it that way. I drive my pick up for transportation, not to have an accident, but I still have seat belts in it. Maybe your car does also.


The things I speak of on Weight and Balance and Cabane struts are read by builders, but there are a small number of people, who have been around the Pietenpol community for a while who reject these things because the mistakenly think they are my ideas. These are not my ideas, they are straight from BHP himself. The ‘holy grail’ weight and balance sheet was typed by BHP himself, and the cabanes in the picture above were fabricated by the hands of the man.  These are not my ideas, I just spent a lot of time looking at his work, and I’m only pointing out things he already share with builders a generation ago, things which unfortunately have taken a back seat to discussions of house paint, brass ornaments, saw blade brakes and other appearance items which may be fun, but none of which appear on the The Last Original. 




About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

2 Responses to Pietenpol Cabane struts, Part #3

  1. Dan Branstrom says:

    This is, as is now said, a “drop the mike” post. Bernie Pietenpol built his angled supports for the cabane struts this way on his last plane. Shouldn’t everyone else who follows?

    • Dan Branstrom says:

      That should read, “Shouldn’t everyone building his design follow how he built his last one?”

      Bernie, like Steve Wittman, refined his designs over the years.

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