Updated: Feb 7
Author Philipp Prinzing
A story about global friendship, patience, learning and a little L-5, which is still alive.
Starting into the warbird-business is a big task. A Stearman, PT-19 or another primary or Basic Trainer was and is out of range. Something smaller maybe? One day I stumbled across the Stinson L-5 Sentinel. Some friends from Switzerland gave me the L-5-fever. Built for only one purpose, being an Liaison airplane the L-5 is much more than this more than covered tube frame with wooden wings and a growling 6-Cylinder engine. It has character, a distinct sound a look and feel that you need to love.
Via a good friend, who will appear later in the covering process, I got in contact with one of the most profound L-5-Keepers in the world. Sam Taber, grows to a source of information and help in the last three years which I’m pretty thankful for. He always calmed me down when I was short before buying a basket case somewhere here in Europe. One day he came up with an idea and seven days later a slightly used but complete late L-5G was sold from Wisconsin to Germany.
The Long Way
Only six long month (being ironic here) later the now “Little Five” called Stinson arrived in a container in Germany. On January 2nd I took a first look at it and while I opened the container and looked into the eyes of “Little Five” my heart melted.
She was used. Ok. She had some scars but she was so charming. We brought her home and already one day later we started taking off the old fabric. It was cut on the left side to do a fuselage repair anyway so we need to replace it. The decision for a complete covering of fuselage, wings, and empennage was settled.
The Poly-Fiber Journey
Cutting the old fabric was my first experience with fabric, old sewing and too much glue. It really took some time to get rid of the old stuff (blue inside, I guess it was Ceconite).
After that I started looking for another system to work with. Getting deep into this topic for a first timer is not easy. There are a few tutorials on the internet and everyone you ask has his own favorite system. But there where two things at the end which finally made my decision easier. The friend, his name is Jim Raeder, who got me in contact with Sam was doing covering jobs for over 40 years with Poly Fiber and the Poly Fiber manual.
"Which is damn easy!"
Want to know how hard it is to get the Poly Brush, Poly Spray and why pink is not a good color for a military airplane? Check out part two of “Little fives” journey here on this Blog.
Philipp Prinzing, chief editor of a aviation magazine, photographer, private pilot and a Greenhorn in aircraft restoration. 37 years old, born and living in northern Germany. Some experience in restoring vintage cars and motorcycles.