This Fokker Needs Your Help

There are not many Fokker Dr.I Triplanes left in the world.

How few are they? Well, actually, there are zero survivors of the thousands made. There are, however, replicas of varying quality, some of them, like this one, built from original plans and therefore quite good.

But it has a problem. Maintenance has been deferred for several years while museum management kept the once-flying bird inside on static display, and now that a new generation of managers want it back in the air, it needs a ton of work.

Which needs a ton of money ($90k). And with barely over a week to go, the plane’s owner, the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum at the Rockland County Airport in Maine is tens of thousands short of their goal on Kickstarter…

Moreover, this is the kind of Kickstarter campaign that is funded all-or-nothing — if the Kickstarter clock runs down and the Fokker isn’t Fokking funded, then  the curators get zero for the project (and those who put up money get it back).

Here’s some of what they say about their fund-raiser.

We’re in the middle of the centennial of World War I, and the Owls Head Transportation Museum is embarking on a mission to return the Red Baron to the skies with its full-scale, flying 1917 Fokker Dr.I reproduction. This aircraft is one of the most iconic aircraft in history, and none are better known than those flown by Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the Red Baron. Even 100 years after his death, people of all ages still recognize his name and can conjure the enduring images it provokes.

Since the doors opened in 1976, the Owls Head Transportation Museum has been a bastion of transportation technology in its truest form. As an operational museum, virtually every vehicle in the museum’s collection runs, flies, or drives. As one of our original pieces, the Dr.I was built in the 1970s by founding Trustee Kenneth Cianchette and has been seen flying over the skies of Owls Head, thrilling and teaching audiences for decades. That is, until recently.

In 2014, it was discovered that the Dr.I was in need of considerable repair and maintenance. From new fabric to cover the wooden wings and body, to repairs to the intricate and delicate wooden structures, and a complete engine overhaul, this airplane requires total restoration. Because there are no original examples in existence—and artifacts are few and far between—getting this aircraft running and back in the sky is especially important. This flying example is one of only a few in the world, and it is the duty of Owls Head to preserve its historical significance by returning it to airworthiness.

In telling the story of the infamous flying ace, the Owls Head Transportation Museum brings visitors face-to-face with the technologies that fueled the early 20th Century and teaches younger generations about why those technologies are still significant today. Once completed, our Dr.I will enlighten, entertain, and educate our visitors through first-hand interaction with the plane. Please help us return this piece of history to the skies as we honor the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I.

What is it worth to you to see the Red Baron back in the skies of the Western Front mid-coastal Maine? Perhaps nothing, if you live far away. That’s OK; as always, when we plug some charity here, we have donated or intend to, even though we don’t always get out there to see it.

(We used to fly into this airport a lot, and so we had a membership at the museum. But that was over ten years ago).

16 thoughts on “This Fokker Needs Your Help

  1. KenWats

    I remember seeing a flying replica at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in NY growing up. They had a really fun “show” with the Red Baron and such for the kids. Wonder if that’s still kicking around.

  2. revjen45

    WOW!! Just WOW!! That is off the cool factor scale.
    I was once fortunate enough to see one of the newly produced ME-262s take off from Paine Field and it’s something I won’t forget.

    1. Hognose Post author

      I believe the last survivor was in a museum in either Berlin or Munich, until the 8th Air Force provided impetus for Urban Renewal. Understandably, their concern at the time was not 25-year-old German airplanes, but newer ones.

      1. RHT447

        Heh. For those who haven’t heard this—

        Story about and old polish pilot who fought the Germans. One day he wound up in the
        middle of his wife’s coffee klatch talking about his time during the war. In describing one mission, he started with “There were fokkers in front of me, fokkers above me, fokkers to the…” at which point the lady guests were beginning to fidget a bit. His wife quickly interjected to explain “a Fokker is a type of German airplane”, much to the relief of her guests. At which point the old gentleman said emphatically “Ja! But them fokkers was Messerschmitts!”.

  3. Badger

    Sad; I wish them good fortune (literally as well as figuratively). Airplanes are meant to be flown, and maintained, and flown some more.

  4. Bart Noir

    I’m not seeing the original rotary engine, the one where the cylinders all spun around with the prop. That means it will not sound like the original aircraft, since those engines were basically controlled by on-ignition or off-ignition. That is why you hear that brrrt brrrt sound on soundtracks made with the rotary engines. Maybe some had a real carburetor feeding the cylinders, but many did not.

    Bart Noir

  5. Aesop

    I admire their attitude towards their collection, belated as it is in this case.

    Perhaps in future, not waiting until the entire aircraft needs ground-up and prop-to-tail skid maintenance might be a wee bit brighter. But it is undeniably a pretty bird.

  6. Ray

    The DR-1 was a g_d awful fighter aircraft. It was a full 30MPH slower than the SPAD or SE5A and would break up at random in even a shallow dive. Werner Voss got his and Von Richtoffen’s (spell?) DR-1’s to fly so well because he was a master mechanic before the war and completely rebuilt them. His(Voss) DR-1 actually had a 130 or 140 HP BENTLY that Voss salvaged out of a shot down Sopwith Camel, in it the day he took on a whole British squadron (look up: The last fight of Werner Voss. Its the stuff of legend). The Red Barron and Voss made the DR-1 a legend. For every one else it was a “widow maker” that killed more of its own pilots than the French or British

    1. Haxo Angmark

      it had compensating virtues: like being able to – almost literally – turn on a dime, and climb like an elevator. Voss was swarmed by 7 SE-5’s; he shot down 3 before the rest got him. Verschoyle Cronyn was one of the SE-5 pilots involved and left a privately-published autobio, OTHER DAYS. I picked up a copy @ Amazon for $24 a week ago…now someone’s offering another @ $199.

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