JAN 2015

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/449720

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Page 15 of 32

16 Vol.4 No.1 / Januar y 2015 ONE HOLE AT A TIME As he transitioned from builder to fl ier, Pat noticed a couple of things that he would have done dif erently while building. "As a fi rst-time builder, I focused too much on the instru- ment panel and didn't focus enough on the 'creature comfort' stuf like cabin heat," he said. "After fl ying it for a while, I went back and totally redid my cabin heater, which is pretty impor- tant in Minnesota. I would also have done things dif erently around the canopy hinge area. I still might revisit that, but honestly I've been having so much fun fl ying and going places that it hasn't been a priority. "No one truly builds an airplane all alone. I got lots of ad- vice, ideas, inspiration, and examples from other builders. In fact, a couple people I want to mention are William Wynne, for being so generous by sharing proven methods on Corvair con- versions and really saying it like it is, and my local friend John Schmidt, who provided tons of advice and inspiration and who was never hesitant to point out things that could be done better. When the day came for my fi rst fl ight, I had John Schmidt there as that one fellow pilot and builder whose unbiased advice I could most trust." A project as big as building an airplane literally takes over a person's life, and it's easy for it to cause strife in other parts of his existence. However, often it becomes a partnership project that makes the relationships stronger. Pat said, "My wife, Mary, was really surprised when she heard I was building an airplane! All kidding aside, she's been very supportive every step of the way. And it goes beyond that: Mary has encouraged the wives of other pilots in our social circle to support their husbands' aviation interests. When I fi rst started hanging around the EAA chapter, it seemed like it was mostly a tight group of guys; the wives were rarely part of it. But since then, we've helped turn a lot of it into a social experience, and the wives are having as much fun as the husbands. Mary and I have hosted a lot of parties where there's been good people, good food, good drinks, and an airplane project in the garage. That also had the added benefi t of putting a lot of EAA-quality eyeballs on my project during its construction. It's good for the spouses to see that it's not just their husbands all alone who are building an airplaneā€¦that there are also some pretty serious other guys, and wives, doing it, too. "The entire experience of building my own airplane has been overwhelmingly positive. The people we have met along the way have been top-notch. Paul Poberezny really got it right when he said that the best thing in aviation is the people. "I built the airplane in my garage. During the summers, I would work with the garage door open, and often people would drive by, stop, back up, and look. Sometimes they'd come in and talk. One time a local skeptic explained, 'I just don't understand why you would want to build an airplane.' I replied, 'Actually, my wife wanted me to build a spaceship, but I thought it would be better to start with something a little simpler,' as I pointed to my airplane. "A lot of people would say that they would never trust some- thing that they built themselves. Other times people would come, look, and sometimes ask, 'Are you allowed to do that?' I always felt that was a sad question to ask in this country where liberty is cherished by so many of us. Although it's unusual for most people to see a guy who's building an airplane in his garage, I always told people that lots of guys have built airplanes, and that I wasn't do- ing anything that a lot of other guys haven't already done. "Every day, I think about how we are so incredibly fortu- nate to live in this country and during this point in history where we can do something like this. In many parts of the world, building an airplane would not be allowed. And for most of human history, the act of fl ight was simply not pos- sible. We are indeed fortunate." You're right, Pat; we are indeed fortunate. Budd Davisson is an aeronautical engineer, has fl own more than 300 dif- ferent types, and has published four books and more than 4,000 articles. He is editor-in-chief of Flight Journal magazine and a fl ight instructor primarily in Pitts/tailwheel aircraft. Visit him on www.AirBum.com. CORVAIR COLLEGE VIDEO The May "issue" of EAA's Chapter Video magazine includes a 23-minute segment highlighting one of William Wynne's Corvair College classes that he conducts throughout country to assist engine builders. Here's that Video magazine. Photography by Craig Vander Kolk The Y-yoke is common in most Zenith models.

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