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.

Issue link: https://experimenter.epubxp.com/i/287214

Contents of this Issue


Page 28 of 38

EAA Experimenter 29 Well, Tom and Betty are really nice people and we got to talking at length. Tom said that he possessed what was es- sentially a three-dimensional set of plans and that he thought a builder of my vast experience (careful, Bounds, this guy is smooth) should be able to reproduce the plane from scratch. And, nice guy that Tom was, he'd be willing to sell me this set of plans. Not being that bright always, I thought this might just work. I told my wife, Deb (a lovely woman and a skilled but reluctant airplane fi berglasser) that maybe I would just cruise up to Montana (1,100 miles) and take a look at this wreckage, but I probably would not take on such a large undertaking… however, I hitched a fl atbed trailer to my Jeep, just in case. Of we went, my young son and I, on another adventure. We got to know Tom and Betty a little better and were infect- ed by their enthusiasm for the plane. We went to look at the wreckage, and it was pretty well destroyed. But listening to my heart instead of my head, I convinced myself that it might be possible to make my own plans and build a new airplane. And besides, the landing gear was in good shape, so I already had a good start, right? The Kuf els and I came to an agreement on price, and I stretch-wrapped the mess onto the trailer and headed of for Nebraska. Boy, was my wife unhappy when I ar- rived home with my prize. She swore my next wife could help me build any planes after the VariEze, but saint that she is, she's still here; and I have photographic proof that she helped to build the new one. It took a while to build up enough courage to start the project, but I fi nally got after the "plans" with a square, tape measure, sawzall, and notepad and started "planning." I made lots of changes (What builder doesn't?), including a complete- ly dif erent control system, canopy setup, vertical stabilizer, seating, etc. Lots of evenings were spent just trying to fi gure stuf out. Anybody who makes up a set of plans that others can successfully build a plane from has my utmost respect. I worked pretty steadily on the project for seven years and had lots of help from Deb and friends. There were trials and triumphs and lots of learning. I had to stop building one summer and build a shop in the backyard because the airplane got so big that it outgrew the garage. We made a speedy trip to California to buy an engine that we hauled home in our Volvo wagon. But I (we) fi nally wore the thing down, and the "Bearcoupe" fi nally fl ew in June of 2013. What a rush! I was about to burst. Of course, there were a few teething problems, but I think I've fi xed them all and the plane is fl y- ing really well. I've gotten lots of compliments on the plane and I love them all. I hate to admit it, but I'm pretty proud of my new bird. It's comfortable, has great visibility, and is the gentlest taildragger you'll ever fl y. And no, there still aren't any plans available. It would take forever to make a set other people could use, and it is kind of a dif cult design to build. I wouldn't do it again, but I'm sure glad I did it once. How's that for a long-winded story? Homebuilding is a wonderful ride, isn't it? Robert forming the fuselage. The engine coming home in our Volvo. Leading edge details. E A A E X P _ A p r 1 4 . i n d d 2 9 EAAEXP_Apr14.indd 29 3 / 3 1 / 1 4 9 : 4 4 A M 3/31/14 9:44 AM

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