Mite of the Month for October, 2004

N4057 is a 1951 M-18C, serial number 249, owned by Walter Dix, Jr. of Winter Haven, Florida. The log book shows that this Mite was first test flown on 11/21/1951.

Walter sent us the following article and photos. We will let him tell the story: [click on the photos to enlarge]

Mite N4057, S/N 249 was purchased in November of 1996. Although it did not look too bad from a distance, closer examination would reveal serious problems. The most formidable for me would be the fuselage. When the covering was removed it literally came apart. The problems of building a new one haunted me for several years. The turning point came in the person of Keith Mackey (N4159) who was interested in a Mite project, but I was not ready to give up. After buying his project Keith was kind enough to make arrangements for me to buy my nemesis part from Fred Schmidt. This turn of events sparked the desire to complete the project and return N4057 to the fleet. I really cannot thank these guys enough.

The next problem would be with the wing. Rotten Center Section. Sounds bad but for some reason it wasn’t all that bad. The mid and rear spars were replaced and all glue joints (main spar aft) were disassembled, scraped and re-glued. All steel parts were blasted and epoxy coated.

When all the repairs were made another troubling problem would raise its head. The one-piece wing is too big to work on in a small shop. The City here frowns on painting in the T-hangers -- probably a good thing, as I would hate to have my plane ruined by a thoughtless person. So, it seemed I would have to wait a bit longer for success.

Doug shown at left on ground.

Karl Johnson.

More great friends to the rescue. For the past four and a half years another friend, Doug Clukey, and I have been pursuing A&P IA ratings. No, the Mite is not a homebuilt, as I have been asked a thousand times. There is that option of course. While working on the IA rating with our learner permits (A&P rating), Doug and I have become good friends and this year when he went back to Maine for the summer he offered his shop hangar. . This was the key to finishing the plane. Another key person on this project is Karl Johnson. Without Karl pushing and prodding, this thing would not have happened this year.

Did I mention we started to work in Doug’s hanger on July 5, 2004? All the covering, a lot of the woodwork, sand blasting, painting and assembly have all been completed since that date. At the time, I was hoping to finish the wing and fuselage, Not with Karl around. Just because it is a little hot (summer in Florida) is no reason to let up on the goal. I know I was a little testy at times with the pushing but it was well worth it. Thanks, Karl.

The airframe is covered with the Stits process and painted (by Karl) with Juneau White Aerothane. This turned out very nice and was an easy, straight forward process. I would recommend this method.

The engine was purchased back in the late 1980’s for another project I was into. It only had five hours since major and would save time for now. I plan to major the other engine in the future. The prop was done by Sensenich about 25 miles away at Plant City and they did a wonderful job on what I thought was a gone-er.

All in all I am very pleased with the finished product, and with about three hours of flight time, I think I like it already. The flight time has been somewhat curtailed by the recent bout of hurricanes we have been experiencing here. We are close to the X where they have crossed. It does fly nice. A little tight for fat boys but grows on you and handles the load just fine. Landings are quite tame if you can get the bugger to slow down. A real joy to fly.

Again I have to express my sincere gratitude to Karl, Doug and Keith for all their help. Thanks!

The fuselage I got from Fred had a plate labeling it #186. I am not sure of the significance, but would like to know if the original plane could be traced from it. The Mite Site has been a wealth of information and maybe one of you has the answer. Thanks.

David Russell gave me a bit of a hostile phone call a few years back. Well, it didn’t take the fifteen years (to never) but it took longer than I had originally planned. Regardless, she’s back in the air again and I hope you like the end results.

Enjoy the pictures,


Tail hook for hand starting.

Gear door.

 Gap seals (article later).

Karl Johnson (left) and Walter Dix ponder the moment. Who says big boys can’t fly? The fun starts now.

Previous owners of N4057 were:

Photo credits: Walter Dix and Keith Mackey

5 October, 2004