Experimenter

April 2014

Experimenter is a magazine created by EAA for people who build airplanes. We will report on amateur-built aircraft as well as ultralights and other light aircraft.

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EAA Experimenter 13 aircraft—and taught himself how to use a computer-aided de- sign (CAD) program to draw a comprehensive set of plans for the BK 1.3. But his strongest motivation comes from within. "I got my pilot's license in 1969 when I was 19 years old and got checked out in a Piper Cub and an Aeronca when I was in college," Bruce said. "I logged 100 hours, and then I couldn't af ord to fl y for 25 years. In 1998 I was driving home and I saw a Cessna 150 fl ying. And I got this totally depressed feeling; here I was, nearly 50 years old, and I used to fl y. Then a little voice came out of nowhere: 'Don't give up your dreams.' So I said to my wife, Marsha, 'I think I want to build an airplane. What do you think about that?' My wife and I are very close, and she said, 'I was wondering how long it'd be before you got to that!' I bought plans and spent a year and three months building a wooden ultralight. When I was ready to cover it, I just suddenly realized that wood and fabric is not for me." Bruce ceased working on that project and purchased a set of Hummel Bird plans. But he soon realized that he wouldn't be able to fi t inside it, so he began modifying the design. "I leaned a piece of plywood against the wall, and my son drew a line around me," he said. "That became the size of the bulk- head just behind the seat. I also stretched the fuselage so it would be big enough for me and fi nally got the airplane all fi nished. So after 27 years, I started fl ying again. I have 700 hours on it now [in 2013]. I fl ew that modifi ed Hummel Bird from San Antonio to Oshkosh in 2003, making fuel stops every 200 miles," Bruce said. "I fl ew it during the Homebuilt Review, and I remember thinking, 'Wow, I went from 'don't give up your dreams' to fl ying down Show Center at Oshkosh!' I get excited now just thinking about it. The airplane only cost $6,000, including a new engine." It wasn't just the fl ying bug that had bitten Bruce, though; it was also the building bug. He was soon at it again, this time combining the features of several dif erent aircraft into the prototype BK 1. One factor that motivated Bruce to design his BK 1 arose from his own experience of modifying the Hummel Bird. "I learned the hard way that modifying another design- er's plans was not the way to go and could be dangerous. The Photography by Sparky Barnes Sargent The BK1.3 has electric start and a full complement of instruments for cross-country fl ying. The fuselage and empennage are fl ush riveted, giving the BK Flier a neat and sleek appearance. E A A E X P _ A p r 1 4 . i n d d 1 3 EAAEXP_Apr14.indd 13 3 / 3 1 / 1 4 9 : 4 1 A M 3/31/14 9:41 AM

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