Omaka air show 2015

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We had some up and downs leading up to the air show at Omaka (Blenheim) New Zealand.
It has been an amazing experience.
An article in the Classic Wings magazine (issue 96) has a nice quote on me:


This Bleriot is a just-completed modern construction iteration built by a very dedicated Gert van Kruiningen who left the 2013 Classic Fighters airshow determined to come back in 2015 with a full sized flying replica of Louis Bleriot’s famous monoplane. And so he has, having spent a very dedicated couple of years building his dream ship, complete with an original 1920’s era Velie five cylinder radial engine. The first flight is looming as we go to press!

Graham Orphan

First 5 days

This is what happened while in Blenheim during the 5 days I was there as preparation for Omaka. This is 2 weeks before the show at Easter:

Worked for the 5 days trying to get as much as possible finished.


Had the inspector come in on the first day and gave me a few directions on what to change.

Didn’t get enough done to get the plane ready for flying . A number of “small” things left that will be done by the local plane volunteers.
I did get the engine going on my last day (Sunday 22 March). Apart from a little problem getting enough air into the carburetor it runs beautiful. It runs to rich at the moment as the air from the prop is blowing over the carburetor (up draft) is almost sucking the air away from it “we think”. So we are going to make a “air scoop” to catch the air and force into the carb.

But, it runs very nice. Beautiful sound at full speed, nice oil pressure, not hot. All good. And that prop is creating so much thrust, its just UNREAL.

I am super happy.

A shame I had to go back home, and will miss the test flight sometime this week (I hope) just in time for the show end of next week. Can’t wait to come back next week Wednesday with the family!!

First engine run

First engine test run at Omaka airdrome. Bleriot tied to the car and with stakes into the ground.



The engine running here with Ryan Southam behind the controls. Ryan has been of immense help to me. This last day of of my 5 day visit and after I left doing more work on the plane and engine:

No certification

In the days following, Ryan has been working hard with the inspector to get the plane certified, but in the end, he (the inspector) didn’t want to cooperate and give me a certification. Got a call today were he informed me of that on the night before I was going back with my family to Omaka.

Yes its all happening again

Early this morning I got an email from the show organizer who was still positive that something could be done to get the Bleriot certified, so I was suddenly getting hopeful again.

We drove to Blenheim and met with the show organizer. Another inspector was organized and already looking at the plane..

To make a long story short, we got it certified on Thursday. Started working on a few more engine issues. Decided that the timing of the magnetos wasn’t stable, moving around a bit, so I locked that by drilling through the lever and locking it with a split pin. Then set the timing to the required 30 deg before dead center.

One of the test run’s:8293694_orig

Or a video just a bit later on the day. Running a lot faster than half a year ago at home, but running very rough, its to rich:

As the engine was dripping during the run we thought that the float valve could possibly be stuck, so took the carburetor off, took all stainless steel lock wire off, open up the carburetor and had a look at this valve. It was worn out and decided to have it machined down a little. This was on the Saturday, the first day of the show. Still working on the plane inside that hangar. That was OK because it was a windy day, too much for my Bleriot to be outside anyway.

Because the float valve was a little shorter now, I decided to bend the float arm a bit to compensate for that.

That evening we did anther test run, and still saw fuel dripping from the carburetor. Ryan noticed that the priming valve was leaking.

Early Sunday morning I made a temporary fix to seal this valve, permanently for now, just to confirm that the leak is the problem. We did a test run and the engine ran very nice now. A lot of power, so much that the tail started to lift up so I had to quickly pull the stick to push the fuselage down again… Oooh this was scary, could gave gone wrong !!

A big lesson learned here. Always stick back when starting engine !!!!

So the engine ran nice now but was very hard to start without the primer. Also we noticed that the fuel level in the float was probably to low as the engine kept on dying after a while This was probably as a result of me fixing the float valve earlier. So two issues left to fix.

As this was the last show day we decided that it wasn’t going to run. I pushed the plane in front of the big grand stand for the opening action for the day together with 2 other planes, a “dummy” Bleriot and the “Pither” a replica from the same time as the Bleriot.


Had lots of nice and good comments from the public when they were told about how close we were to flying, but just didn’t get there.

Later on I parked the Bleriot back with the other planes. We made a few fact sheets for people to read. All good. More nice comments.
This day was my first relaxing day. No more engine work apart from the early morning stuff that last day.

Just looking at planes !!!!!! 🙂



After the show, we went to the Awards Dinner.

Dinner was really nice, and guess what!!!

I was given an award:

“Presidents Choice”

I was very surprised and honored:


So overall very good. We were very close, and almost there.

I suppose you can’t rush planes when they are not ready.

Will get the Bleriot back home in a week and will start working on these last few little issues in my own time 🙂

Back in Omaka

Last night Rutger and I drove up from home, so we had some time this morning to get the Bleriot ready for the truck. Expecting the truck here at lunchtime.


Still took us about 2 hours to get the Bleriot ready. Taking out split pins and nuts for the elevator, the split pins securing the clevis pins holding the of steel cables for the wings. Removing the engine oil and fuel, dropping down the suspension of the landing gear so it fits in the truck and probably a few more things.

Loading the plane went well, and after the truck left, spoke with a few more of my plane friends here in Blenheim.
Will miss them, it was a good time here at Omaka!

I will be back with a flying Bleriot in two years !!!

Note it in your calendars: 2017, April 14 Fri, 15 Sat and 16 Sun   🙂

And back in the shed, ready for fixing the carburetor issues and getting an exhaust for the engine, plus a few more little things.