Your bike, how high does it fly?
If I tell you that there is a couple planes which are flying around (or at least were) powered by Yamaha V-Twin engines, does it sound like a Virago with wings to you?
I don't really know how many of these cases there are,
but at least I'm aware of two.
And it seems like the Virago has an engine that provides a valid option at the time of building this “flying grafts”.
In 1991 Richard Giles built a replica Nieuport-12,
WWI plane. And when it was time to put something on its nose, he chose
a XV-1100 built in 1986.
Giles said that the selection of that engine was based on several factors, which include his experience with motorcycle engines, light weight of this engine, power, cost, adaptability, and most importantly: reliability.
Why a Yamaha V-twin?
The engine XV-1100 is very light; moreover, it is made out of aluminum, and the original plane engines were not. Another factor was the existence of a built-in transmission gear box, which allows 5 different reduction ratios to accommodate different propeller speeds according to the flight needs; in other words, this guy built a plane with manual transmission. This plane can stops the propeller without the need of shutting off the engine. And the most relevant answer to the “why” is because...
he had a Virago 1100 to be the donor.
Among the specs that he mentions is the low rpm that this engine operates (3000 to 7000 rpm), which cover perfectly the plane's needs. Another aspect, (which may be natural for most of us) was the built-in electric system and the pressurized oil circulation that exceeded the requirements for a WWI replica, specially the power improvement (80HP).
Probably the main drawback was the carburetor . The Mikunis had to be replaced because these carbs operate by vacuum behind the diaphragms, and a plane needs the fuel to be “blown”. Therefore, he replaced the 2 Mikunis for regular 40mm car carburetors.
In October 1993 Giles' replica was reviewed and approved
for fly by the FAA (USA).
The work done by Giles and his friends transformed his Virago 1100 in the first plane powered by a V-Twin engine.
In addition, Butch Witlock also equipped his Nieuport-12 with a Virago. And this plane flies with an acrobatic squadron.
We need to take in consideration that this planes have
a cruiser speed of 75MPH and a maximum speed of 90MPH.
These are not planes where the engine is going to endure a lot of “G” forces. These are very light planes with silk-covered wings.
Bottom line, if the FAA was able to approve this engine
is evidently because this is a very reliable engine...
or they (FAA) are as “crazy” as the builders and pilots.
Now you know, some say that the Viragos are not really
good, some others disagree.... at least you now have a very important fact....
This engine is so reliable that the FAA approved it to be used on an airplane.