The Davis Monoplane
A few months ago, I had the honor and privilege to meet Alberta Rich. Alberta is the mother of Dave Rich, who is the administrator of the North Brevard Business Directory( NBBD.com) an online advertising media. Dave is a good friend and my mentor on Macintosh Computers and web design.
Alberta Rich is a remarkable lady, at ninety-five "years young." She was confined to bed at the time I met her, but very alert and had stories to tell of her husband and Dave's father, Nelson "Bud" Rich. He was an accomplished airplane pilot and aircraft mechanic from the era preceding WW II.
At a later visit, I brought a scale replica of a model racing airplane I had built, from that same period of time. Both Dave and his mother Alberta, enjoyed seeing the model and hearing some of the history of the actual airplane.
In conversation with Dave and his mother Alberta, I learned that Bud Rich had owned a Davis Monoplane airplane and had flown it in several air races. Dave had previously sent me a black and white photo of the Davis airplane his father owned. I also learned that Dave had preserved his father's pilot log books. Could I look at them? The answer was yes, and I was allowed to take them home with me.
Reading the entries in those log books was like a visit back in time. Bud Rich had also been a ferry pilot. There were names of airplanes from that period when I was a kid growing up around the Cleveland, Ohio airport. At one time I probably knew the engine type and airspeed of many of the airplanes Bud Rich had flown.
The airplane that interested me the most, was the Davis D1 airplane that he had owned and flown in several air races. I learned the airplane's registration number and engine type, however the actual color alluded me. In the next few weeks, my curiosity increased, and I searched the Internet for more information about the Davis D1 airplane that Bud Rich owned. I'm an amateur aviation history detective. Digging up bits and pieces of information on old airplanes and the models which I have built, is interesting.
It was about then that I decided to build a scale replica of the Davis D1 airplane Bud Rich had owned. The next challenge was, where could I find plans or even a scale drawing. I finally lucked out. Cleveland Model Supply, a company that one time sold kits, had plans for vintage airplane models. The plans I received were not the exact plans for the Davis D1. Davis Aircraft Company had eight different models. Again with the aid of photos from the internet, I had all the information that I needed.
A month later and after ninety-six hours of labor and love, I completed the 1/16 scale replica of the airplane Bud Rich had owned and flown. The replica is approximately ninety percent accurate, also the color is not correct.
Davis Model Construction
The completed model was presented to Dave and his Mother, and there is no question that getting it made their day.
Later, Dave found another photo of his father's "Davis Monoplane." with the notation that the color was silver and bronze. The color of my model was cream and Blue. Jokingly, I told Dave that I would build another to "get the color right." Dave replied. that he and his mother were happy with the model they had.
Alberta Rich is now confined to her bed, but the model of her husband's Davis Monoplane hangs in her room.
Additional Information About The Davis D1 AirplaneThe model is a 1/16 (3/4 in. per 1 ft.) scale replica of the Davis D1 airplane; NC858N, owned by Nelson "Bud" Rich from 1932 until 1935. It was a two place open cockpit airplane with a wingspan of 30 ft. 4 in. With a top speed of 142 mph, it could cruise at 123 mph. The Davis was powered by a seven cylinder Warner Scarab engine of 125 hp.
"Bud" Rich entered several air races with the Davis, winning at least one in Norwood, MA, on May 15, 1933.
This model is of all balsa wood construction, covered with a special paper called "Silkspan," which would simulate the actual Davis airplane, made primarily of spruce wood and covered with a "doped" linen fabric. The model took ninety six hours to build.
There is another facet in the life of Nelson "Bud" Rich. He designed and built a prototype of an innovative twin engine airplane called the "Rich-Twin." See the link below to read this interesting story.
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