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LuceAir's Replica Wittman Buttercup

This page is entirely dedicated to Earl Luce's replica Buttercup, from the building of his own Buttercup to the documentation and creation of detailed drawings and plans, with several magazine articles along the way. Simply click on the link below to go to the appropriate section on this page. Remember, plans or kits are available so that you may build this aircraft for yourself!


The First Flight

"Why me …?" That’s what I asked myself when I started my Buttercup. Here is an airplane that Wittman has been flying for over 50 years and everyone who flew it fell in love with it and nobody had the foresight to build one of their own. That all changed one October day when I said to myself, “I’ll do it. I’ll build one.” I had already built four Tailwinds with my friends so I didn’t think it was that far of a stretch. I studied the pictures that I took of the original at Oshkosh museum and calculated the measurements. After I felt I had enough info to go on, I lit the torches and started cutting tubing.

In about two weeks I got as far as I could without further details so I called the EAA in Oshkosh, talked to Jack Cox (editor of Sport Ave) and told him what I was up to. He almost fell off his seat and told me that he had been waiting for years for someone to do just that - “Build a Buttercup."

Steve Wittman once told me that he was someday going to make plans for the Buttercup, but never did. When Steve and his wife died in the O&O crash, I knew I had to proceed and keep the project alive. So after a lot of research, help from friends, support from family (especially my wife, Laura) and 3 1/2 years, I took to the skies! WHAT A FEELING!

There I was 1000 feet in the air with a one-off copy of the original, having no idea how it was supposed to fly, thinking to myself “I did it!” Unfortunately it didn't fly so well… very heavy left wing. I had to fly cross controlled around the field and make a not-too-bad landing, thinking all the while that maybe I was going to ruin my new toy before the world even got to see it.

After a minor fix of the rear lift struts the second flight was a joy and still is to this day. My wife and I have been to EAA Airventure 4 times, along with several other advents, and have been more than welcomed by newbie's as well as old timers that actually flew with Witt in the original.

I feel privileged to own and fly the replica Buttercup and with well over 100 sets of plans out there and several near completion. Soon Witt's dream of seeing the skies full of Buttercups will become a reality!

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Photographs of Earl Luce's Replica Buttercup

Photo courtesy of EAA

Photo courtesy of EAA

Photo courtesy of EAA

Photo courtesy of EAA

Photo courtesy of EAA

Photo courtesy of EAA

Photo courtesy of EAA

Photo courtesy of Phil Hazen

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Buttercup Video Footage

This first video shows the whole story of the Replica Buttercup - includes flying footage!
(If you do not see a video, please click here)

This second video has footage of the Replica Buttercup flying - includes cockpit video!
(If you do not see a video, please click here)

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Buttercup Magazine Articles

Magazines with articles about Earl Luce

May 1989
Sport Aviation Article
About Steve Wittman's
April 2003
Sport Aviation
About Earl Luce's
"Buttercup Reborn"

The magazine articles above require the program Adobe Acrobat Reader to be viewed. If you do not already have this program, you can download it for FREE by clicking here:

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Further Buttercup Articles in EAA Publications:
Year Month Page Magazine Article
2003 09 06 Experimenter Aircraft Spruce Adds Fabricated Wittman Buttercup Kits
2003 08 20 Sport Aviation LuceAir LLC Starts Tri-Gear Buttercup
2003 04 60 Sport Aviation Buttercup Reborn: A reproduction gives Steve Wittman's classic sportplane new life - Jack Cox
article shown above
2002 10 39 Sport Aviation Earl Luce's Buttercup at AirVenture 2002
2002 06 22 Sport Aviation Buttercup Flies Again... For the First Time
2002 03 24 Sport Aviation Luce, Buttercup Ready for First Flight
1993 01 05 Sport Aviation Hotline: Buttercup Flying with New Wing Tips
1992 10 11 Sport Aviation Hotline: Buttercup Being Rebuilt with Tailwind Style Wing Tips
1989 05 11 Sport Aviation Buttercup
article shown above

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Replica Buttercup Plane Specifications

Engine Model O-200
Engine Horsepower 100
Propeller 66/53
Cruise Speed 130 mph
Top Speed 150 mph
Landing Speed 40-50 mph
Maximum Speed (Vne) 150 mph
Stall (clean) 51 mph
Rate of Climb 550 ft./min.
Gross Weight 1300 Pounds
Empty Weight 790 Pounds
Payload 500 Pounds
Wing Span 29'5"
Wing Area 132 sq.ft.
Aircraft Length 19' 6"
Fuselage Height - Cabin 44"
Fuel Capacity 21 Gallons
Seats 2 (side-by-side)
Cabin Width 40" or 42"
Takeoff Distance 300 feet
Landing Distance 200 feet

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