After that first successful
flight off the grass strip west in Middleburg,
Va. the plan was to finalize the AIRPHIBIANS
design, get FAA certification and start limited
production. The Danbury, Conn airport was the
chosen site. Bob had made overtures, found a
piece of land, 15 acres, on the airport and had proposed to
the town officials that the newly
formed CONTINENTAL INC be allowed to buy the land
and build a factory for production of an
exciting secret project. The Danbury officials
were skeptical but enough members who questioned
the validity of the present one business HATTOWN, believed "here was another industry" even
though it was secret. This was an example of the
charm of Bob Fulton.
So the team became real and everyone moved to
the Danbury area. I was married, and at that
time had 3 children, Frazer P, Rush H and
Ariel M. We rented a house in Newtown and then
finally bought a small red mill house on a small
stream in the Plumtrees district of Bethel,
about 15 minutes from the Danbury airport.
The initial 'team' was Bob, Ted, Dash and me.
Our first tasks were to get the building useable
and I clearly remember digging the well. Again
we were all there, it was a freezing cold day,
someone had to go down in the well and dig. I
was chosen and by then it was about 15 ft deep,
I went down to the bottom, it was cozy and warm and those three were
up there looking down and freezing while I dug.
I don't remember the date that the AIRPHIBIAN arrived,
but soon we had the shop cleaned up, filled with equipment and began
the process of limited production.
We needed more help. There was a local tool and die maker
by the name of Fred Underhill who lived across the road. Fred was a lovely man and all of the
complicated machine modifications were done
entirely by him. He bored out the back end of the
aircraft engine crankshaft and built a
tapered arbor to be heat shrunk onto the
crankshaft on which to hang 'something' that
would be part of the auto drive system. First we
hung a large generator on that arbor, then a
large multi belt pulley. No easy task!
An engineer was needed, so Bob found Ross
Stevens who made various designs and drawings.
They were used by Fred and
Dash to make parts and assemblies and out came the AIRPHIBIAN. My first real
task was to take the auto/plane machine that I
first flew and review every part to make it lighter.
A lot of the original was cold rolled steel, I
substituted 24ST aluminum which is equally strong
and much lighter. I do not remember how much I saved
but I went over each part to lighten the weight.
When I flew the AIRPHIBIAN that first day
there was no 'drive system' yet installed. The
plane auto disconnect system was however in
except for refinements is almost the same as it
The propeller quick take off was developed and
refined during those early times in Danbury.
Over time I became more familiar with
the flying characteristics.
So at this point there was Bob Fulton, President; Franz
Alverez, VP and Engineer; Ted Polhemus
Mechanical and Electrical Master; Wayne Dasher
(Dash), top flight A&E Mechanic; Fred, Tool and
Die Maker; Ross
Stevens, Aeronautical Engineer and Structural
Engineer and myself as Test
Frazer Dougherty - October
goodyear lord mount