by Woody Minar
A popular spot each year during EAA AirVenture is the EAA Seaplane Base on Lake Winnebago, about 5 miles from Wittman Regional Airport, Oshkosh, Wis. Through Paul Poberezny’s efforts and EAA’s, the seaplane base has been in operation since 1973. The land is privately owned and is open to the public only during EAA AirVenture.
If you have been to Oshkosh, you know it’s busting at the seams with activity. The seaplane base is quite the contrary – a very serene, peaceful location, not unlike a quiet walk in the park with only the sounds of an occasional seaplane arriving or departing. The evenings are filled with entertainment by those camping on the site, along with many of the 300 seaplane base volunteers.
Each year for the past 4 years, the Seaplane Pilots Association (SPA) hosts a corn roast fundraiser, and the “Watermelon Social.”
It was here that I met John “Snaps” Knapp of Bath, South Carolina, who is a SPA field director and the head seaplane judge at Sun ‘n Fun and Oshkosh. In past years, John brought his “Micromong” kitplane, but this year he had his “Murphy Renegade” biplane on display. The Murphy Renegade is a family of “scratch-built” aircraft, which are differentiated from “kit-built” aircraft, in that one builds the plane based solely on a set of plans. The builder purchases his own raw materials, builds his own jigs and molds, fabricates his own parts, and from that, a plane is built.
John said “It took me 3,000 hours and three and a half years to build this baby.” The Murphy Renegade is powered by a Rotax 670 engine (snowmobile conversion) that produces 110 hp. It has a manual centrifugal clutch prop so the engine can be running, but the prop can be stopped. “It’s great for docking,” he said. He built the floats himself – they displace 1000 pounds and weigh only 32 pounds apiece. With a gross weight of 950 pounds and a useful load of 462 pounds, the Murphy Renegade cruises at 85 knots and is aerobatic, capable of +10 to -6 g’s. More information about the Murphy Renegade can be found at http://www.murphyair.com/murphyair/default-2.html.