The Innovation Center in Aviation Gateway Park at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is full of futuristic concepts and technology, but one company is looking to the past to impact the future. Timber Tiger Aircraft Inc., based in Brighton, Colorado, is currently creating a kitbuilt, 95 percent scale Ryan ST replica.
“The Ryan has always been one of the most beautiful airplanes ever made, and a lot of people out there want one but can’t afford one,” said company owner Nick Pfannenstiel, EAA 1085439. “[For] a real one, you’re looking at anywhere from $150,000 to half a million dollars. So it’s just incredibly unrealistic for people like me, just the average person.”
Nick said he chose to design a 95 percent replica to reduce the weight of the aircraft, allowing for more affordable engine options.
“That’s always been the struggle, I think. That’s probably why people haven’t done this yet, because there’s a misconception that there aren’t a lot of options,” he said. “The Rotax will fit with a prop extension. The biggest ‘real engine’ is a Micron 3C because it is an inverted four-cylinder inline just like the Menasco was. So there are a lot of options.”
To ensure the exterior of the replica is as accurate as possible, Nick got blueprints for an original Ryan ST and scaled it down from there with a few modifications.
“It’s been redesigned from the ground up so no two parts are the same as this on an original airplane,” he said. “It’s been modernized throughout where we can. The kits will be computer cut and computer drilled.”
Kits have not entered production yet, but Nick said they plan to ship the first ones within the next two years. At the moment, he’s focused on getting the prototype flying.
“Everything on [the prototype] has been hand cut and hand drilled, so this isn’t as refined as the kits are,” he said. “If we stay on pace the way we’ve been moving so far, this thing will be flying next year at Oshkosh.”
This is Nick’s first year at AirVenture as an exhibitor and a spectator, and so far the convention has been a success.
“I always heard about the traffic,” he said. “I was concerned about facilities. I was concerned about getting this thing in and out without hitting anybody. It has been absolutely flawless. I couldn’t be any happier.”
Nick’s wife, Kayla, said she doesn’t come from an aviation background like her husband, so over the past year and a half that he’s been working on the ST replica, she has placed her trust in him that this will work. Coming to Oshkosh, though, has boosted her confidence.
“I love that people know about this plane,” Kayla said. “[We’re] having people come up and be like, ‘This is a good idea.’”
Kits for the 95 percent scale Ryan ST are now available for reservation on the company’s website —www.TimberTigerAircraft.com— or you can stop at booth IC-17 in the Innovation Center.