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<About the Builder>
Who is crazy enough to build their own airplane? Read on...
My fascination with all things aviaton related began when I was a very young child. It started by building plastic airplane models, which I often begged my parents to buy me. Seeing my interest in airplanes, my dad started taking me to the airport where we would sit and watch the airplanes come and go. Then one day he took me to my first air show, which pretty much sealed my fate, from that point on, I really loved airplanes!
After many years of visiting air shows and plastic model building, I wanted to take it to the next level. I started reading magazines about R/C airplanes, and proceeded to drive my mother completely crazy with constant requests for her to buy me this kit or that one. Under my constant pressure, she broke, and for Christmas that year she bought me my first R/C airplane kit. For the next several years I was consumed by all things having to do with R/C aircraft.
Then it happened… when I was 15, my mother bought me an introductory flying lesson. We drove to the airport on a late-winter day, where we met the instructor, and proceeded to do the walk around on a Cessna 152. We took some pictures, and off I went into the wild blue yonder. Well, that did it, from that point on I couldn't give a rodent's posterior about R/C airplanes, I had a tasted the real thing, and I wanted more!
After several months of discussions (begging), my father agreed to allow me to take flying lessons. It was my hope, and his, that the flight experience would help me get into the Air Force Academy, so off I went, to the local airport to start my career as a pilot. A few months later, on June 29, 1988, and with about 15 hours of flight training under my belt, I soloed. I was 16 years old and hadn't even driven a car by myself. I didn't care; I was flying, and saw no reason for a car.
My father then damaged me for life, for my birthday he got me a ride in a Pitts S-2B. I thought flying was cool, but until that moment I really had no idea how cool it could be. We took off in formation with another Pitts and climbed to altitude while the other Pitts (an S-1) did barrel rolls around us. We spent about 45 minutes working on rolls, loops, hammerheads, and a few spins, but then it hit me… "I don't fell so well" I said, so back to the airport we went. I remember barely being able to crawl out of the Pitts and into the car. I felt like crap, but I still had a smile on my face. If I could have, I would have bought a Pitts that day.
For one reason or another, during my senior year of high school, my flight training slowed a bit. In addition, I noticed that my eyesight wasn't as sharp as it was a few years prior, and a visit to the eye doctor confirmed our suspicions; I had to start wearing glasses. This was a major disappointment for me as I so badly wanted to be a fighter-pilot, but was told by the people in the Air Force, it wasn't looking good for me. Unfortunately when I graduated high school at 17, I still hadn't finished up my training. I was in the cross-country phase, but just couldn't get finished before heading to college.
Off to college I went, with the notion of finishing up my training while in school. Unfortunately studying, partying, football games, and the ladies got the best of me (not necessarily in that order). Flying fell to a low priority on the list, besides; it was a luxury I couldn't afford on a college (beer) budget. I figured that I could start flying again once I had graduated and landed that sweet high-paying job.
I graduated college, and a few years went by without me flying. Then one day I decided that I really needed to get back into the cockpit, so after saving a little money, I took a trip to a local flight school and was back in the air that weekend. It instantly came back to me why I loved it so much, and I was upset that I had gone so long without flying. I was back into training mode, re-learning old stuff, and learning new stuff. I was into my cross-county phase again, but then it happened. I got a new job, half-way across the country, and had to move before I could get my ticket. Oh well, opportunity knocks, so off to Colorado I (we) went, for a new life, and to look for a new flight school.
A few weeks after arriving in Colorado, I had chosen on a flight schoolat the Boulder Airport, and had managed to put a few more hours in my logbook. It was fun flying at those altitudes, but before I could get too excited, it happened again. A firm in California acquired the technology company I was working for in Colorado and they wanted us to move to California ASAP. So in late 1999, I packed up my stuff, much of what was still packed from my move to Colorado, and headed west, arriving in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Soon after getting settled, I headed out to find the local airport. I wasn't long before I was back in the cockpit, with the stong desire to finish up my training. After some minor issues with the weather, mechanical breakdowns, a few really bad instructors, I was able to progress through the final phases of my training. Then one magical day, twelve years, many airplanes, quite a few instructors, and several states later, I was a licensed pilot!
There I was, temporary ticket in hand; And what does every newly minted pilot do with their new license? They head down to the local airport hop in the front of a Citabria and get their tailwheel endorsement.
A few weeks later, tailwheel signoff ink still wet, I made my way down to the Sean D. Tucker School of Aerobatic Flight to learn competition aerobatics. Six months after becoming a licensed pilot, and only a matter of weeks after receiving my tailwheel endorsement, I competed in my first aerobatic competition in a Pitts S-2C (video below). Holy cow, was that fun! Two months later, I was off to aerobatic competition number two. Flying the Pitts I thought, "I really need to get one of these!"
I really liked flying tailwheel airplanes, and I knew I was never going to fly much if I had to keep renting airplane, so off I went on the hunt for a Citbabria. A Citabria seemed like and obvious choice as I had been flying them for a year or so, and would allow me to economically build tailwheel time. Luck would have it that I found a really nice Citabria within a few miles of home, and after a very short search, I was an airplane owner.
I owned the Citabria for a few years, and I really enjoyed flying it. It is a great airplane, but I eventually got the urge for something new, something faster, something with a little more wow-factor! One thing I also realized is that I enjoyed working on the Citabria (with my A&P's supervision) as much as I enjoyed flying it. The gears (in my head) were in motion, and then it hit me... why not build my own plane!
So here I am, doing as much research as I can, visiting all the RV web sites, crunching the numbers, looking at tools, putting a workshop in the garage. I've registered for a Sport Air sheet metal workshop, even reserved and N-number, and you know what… I am having fun! I sold the Citabria, and while I miss it, I am really excited about the idea of building my own airplane. My goal is to start construction this spring/summer (2005) and see where we go from there. One of my first steps in the process has been the construction of this web site, which is as much for me, as it is for you. Over the course of the project I will use it to aggregate information needed for construction, as well as share with you, the status of the project. Please, check back often!
Wish me luck… I am going to need it!