OCT 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/401344

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Page 23 of 46

The clock was ticking down; less than two hours to go…the team had not quite fi nished. Then…the FAA man arrived. He looked serious, he walked serious, he talked serious, and his name was Bobby Thomas. Bobby was involved in the last build-a-plane-at-Oshkosh event in 1976 when Chris Heintz built a plane in eight days. All the same, he was not being le- nient or compassionate in any way. Remember, he was, is, and always will be the FAA man. Bobby set his eagle eye over everything. This project was one that needed inspection to the top notch, and all in the public eye as well. The FAA man asked for some little things to be done here and there, and they were completed as he walked around. He didn't smile, but he did have a determined face on. He wanted to do a thorough job, and he wanted the team to win, but only by the rules. When he asked for a full engine test, the crowd was pushed back with the clock ticking down to just minutes to go. But Bobby wanted the crowd farther back, and an immovable bar- rier in front of the aircraft in case it jumped the chocks. The crowd was not cooperating; people wanted to be close to the machine when its heart started to beat. The cry was given out: "By order of the FAA, you must move back; move back and stay back." Moses couldn't have parted the Red Sea any quicker. Those words "By order of the FAA" were enough to make the crowd move like a model of fl uid dynamics! No aircraft has ever started so smoothly or sweetly than the One Week Wonder, and the crowd responded with a cheer. Bobby smiled a little bit, almost imperceivable, but he smiled. There was less than fi ve minutes to the 00:00:00 mo- ment and the end of the challenge. Charlie, Bobby, and Caleb moved to the back of the tent, and as if planned but defi nitely not, the crowd counted down the last few seconds…10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1… Charlie shouted, "He signed of !" The crowd responded with "One Week Wonder." The One Week Wonder had won! T HE T HUNDERBIRDS T RIBU T E With FAA papers in hand, a new order was issued: "Move that plane now!" The Thunderbirds were ready to close the whole week's events, but they couldn't just yet. The crowd was on the line, and the Thunderbirds had their jet engines running. But they were not being given the "go" until after the One Week Won- der did its fi rst ever, under-its-own-power taxi. There was only a little problem—500 yards to show center. A host of airplanes were in the way, and the crowd was wait- ing to watch the Thunderbirds. But there would be no go for those F-16s until one little CH 750 did a dance after the physi- cal touch, contact, and input of 2,500 builders that pulsated in every molecule of 6061 T6 and 4130 steel of the machine. That little plane would make it to the show; it really would. The Thunderbirds waited patiently for the unpainted, newly hatched aircraft that was about to make its fi rst major public performance. It took a few moments, and as the crowds parted to allow the entourage to pass, the Thunderbirds' engines could be heard at the end of the main runway, not impatient to fl y but shouting their encouragement to the One Week Wonder aircraft. A loud "Clear prop" echoed and the Rotax 912 iS Sport came to life, calling back across the airfi eld to the jet engines of the Thunderbirds. "I am alive, and I will dance."Less than a week ago, this airplane was nothing more than a set of parts in a box and the dream of a small group of people led by passion. The little plane made a proud taxi around the apron, shaking its tail and waggling its control surfaces. It came to a standstill face-to-face with Chris Heintz, Caleb, and the entire team. Smiles spilled out like M&M's from factory stor- age bins—sweet, multicolored, and full of happiness. Thumbs went up, and the "One Week Wonder" cheer echoed along the show line. N140WW was now the front drop to the Thunderbirds as they blasted down the runway, afterburners saluting the latest aircraft to be born. EPIL OGUE It had been done, but this was only the beginning. The One Week Wonder aircraft is set to make its way around the country, salut- ing the world, thanking its builders, and sowing seeds of inspira- tion and passion in many more ways than it did during Oshkosh 2014. Long live the "spirit of building aircraft" and long live the One Week Wonder! www.eaa.org/oneweekwonder Jonathan Porter, also known as Captain Yaw, is a pilot, engineer, humanitarian, and aviation nutcase. He was also the "barker" during the One Week Wonder event. He works with his wife, Patricia Mawuli, in leading the Medicine on the Move health and education outreach programs, using aviation and engineering to change lives in Ghana, West Africa. Medicine on the Move is a registered 501(c)(3) charity in the United States. Visit www.MedicineOnTheMove.org. 24 Vol.3 No.10 / October 2014 ONE WEEK WONDER! EAA Chairman of the Board Jack Pelton (in the blue shirt) assists with the attachment of the fi rst wing onto the CH 750 Cruzer. Photography by Jason Toney

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