Unfinished Fisher 303 - Looking for Advice

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kevincgustafson

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Sep 23, 2021
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Hey all,

I am new to the forums, but I am a (former) private pilot student pilot who was denied a medical and so am moving on now to Part 103 life. Right now I live in a small town in Vermont, but have plans to move back to DC (the SFRA and FRZ land) in a few years. Therefore, I've been looking for Part 103 planes that fill the following requirements:
  1. Needs to be Part 103 ultralight
  2. Closed cockpit and full fuselage (J3, N3, Koala, Fisher)
  3. No more than $10,000
  4. Must have removable wings, extra points for trailer, extra-extra points for enclosed trailer
  5. Must be within a days drive (8-12 hours round trip)
  6. Prefer in flying condition, but will consider finishing a build if price is right.

    So, I went looking on Barnstormers, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and found an unfinished Fisher 303 with an enclosed trailer for just $1900.

    Below is a set of pictures and here is a video I took when I went to check it out.

    The Good:
    Cheap, Trailer, Close to me, well known plane that I can buy a set of plans for and fix/finish. It does have a Rotax 277 as well.

    The Bad:
    It is unfinished, maybe 70% the way through, started in the late 1980s, and then sat (I think mostly in the trailer). Need to build an alerion. Looks like mice have chewed through some of the material and not sure what it looks like inside. Has a prop too, but it is the wrong size.

    Questions:
    1. Should I even consider this?
    2. Is age something I should be seriously worried about?
    3. If I do pick it up, should I anticipate rebuilding most of it?

    Really I am curious about your views and advice for someone looking for it!


 

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Dana

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I'm familiar with the 303 but I owned a 404... I thought all the Fisher designs had wood wings with built up ribs and geodetic bracing, those foam ribs look suspect to me.
 

Victor Bravo

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I agree with Dana's concern... all Fisher airplanes I have ever heard of use a clever wood wing rib made of thin strips of wood and a milled wood channel on the top and bottom.
 

TFF

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The fuselage looks like it was built like the plans. The wing I suspect is trying to fix damage. Not finished and strange thinking like the foam drag braces, no idea on that one. Lattice not installed.

Anything is fixable. It’s not going to be a couple of weekends and ready to go. Can you see inside the tail and see if it has foam ribs?
 

Dana

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After a closer look at the pictures, I think you might want to walk away from this one. The fuselage might be salvageable, if there's no water damage and the glue mounts are good, but I don't think that wing is good for anything but the junk pile... if it's even from the same plane. The engine may or may not be salvageable. The homemade trailer with wooden frame might be worth a couple hundred bucks.
 

kevincgustafson

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I really appreciate the advice. And I agree. There are some useful things on this, like the canopy, the instruments, and the engine (if it is indeed working), and the trailer.

I also found a good updated Fisher 101 that is currently flying that has it's own open trailer. The 101 and the 303 are the same length, so I know the 101 would fit, though the 303 is 6 inches shorter off the ground, so maybe not.

The 101 is 4 times the price, but done right. I might offer the guy something for the trailer and offer to take the plane and plan on removing all the fabric and seeing what can be done while I can fly the 101. If I can keep the 101 in the enclosed trailer, and transport the 303 on the trailer that currently hauls the 101.

Any ideas what would be a fair offer?
 

proppastie

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Looking at FP 101...4x $1900 is under 10k, and meets your other conditions? Forget the other aircraft and go flying.
 

TFF

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Is the trailer custom or off the shelf? Trailers depend on its usability. They tend to be able to transfer to other jobs; that gives them value. The engine depends. $250 probably max. Airplane $250. Trailer. If it’s homemade just for the plane, $500. Offer $600 for all if you want to give it a go. My guess it’s about $3000 away from flying if all goes easy. More if not.
 

kevincgustafson

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I totally agree with @TFF and @proppastie, I'm gonna offer the guy $700 for the trailer, which was custom built for the plane. I'm gonna pursue the 101, which may be a longer term plan and if the guy let's the other stuff go, I'll buy plans and build some proper wings. If not, oh well.

I appreciate you all giving me your two cents.
 

proppastie

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spare engine is not a bad idea if you can get it for what TFF said.
 
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