Experimenter

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.

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22 Vol.4 No.1 / Januar y 2015 IT'S NOT PAINT; IT'S A WRAP! Then a large sheet of vinyl was tacked in several places on top of the windshield and covered the area all the way around the lower windshield fairing. For the fairing 's compound corners, "one guy is holding and stretching the vinyl and another guy is applying heat to it with an instant-on blowtorch," Pete explained, add- ing, "but something like a hair dryer works fine. So when they're stretching and heat-forming the vinyl, all these little rivulets in the material just smooth right out as the sheet is rubbed onto the metal. The whole area around the windshield was done with one piece of vinyl. They actu- ally put a little bit of glue under the leading edge of it, but that's one of the few places they glued; the rest of it is just the glue on the back of the vinyl." Each control surface and every small piece of aluminum on the plane is covered with one layer of wrap, so if an issue develops, that portion of vinyl can be peeled off and rewrapped. After three months and 30 hours of flying with the vinyl wrap, Pete said the only issue he's had is with the intersection fairings on the gear legs. "Those are places that I didn't get clean and smooth. I had bought prefab intersection fairings and they were still just the raw, uncut fiberglass; so I'm having issues with the wrap sticking right there. I'm just going to take that vinyl off, prep it like I was supposed to, and then put a little piece of white vinyl back on that, and it'll be done." BIT OF BACKGROUND Like many pilots today, Pete first soloed a Cessna 150 in which he obtained his private pilot certificate. That was back in the 1970s when he was in high school and the rental fee was only $15 an hour wet. By the early 1980s, Pete recalled that the fee was up to $60. So he stopped flying in order to pay for and complete his college education. Twen- ty-some years passed by, and in 2006, he bought a Van's Aircraft kit and started building his RV-9A in his garage. He worked virtually every day for two years on the project until he had to move it to an airport away from his house. "That slowed me down to a crawl," he said, "because I was only working on it for long Saturdays, as opposed to working every night at home in the garage. So it took me seven years to finish it. Throughout the project, when I had certain questions, I'd talk with my wife and she'd help me out; she's an engineer. It took me 2,500 hours to complete the airplane, but I was pretty slow and methodical about it. I had a helper for a lot of the riveting, which was fun." Three years into the building process, Pete decided it was time to go for his first ride in an RV-9A and then get Gatorwraps of Ontario, California, did the vinyl installation on this RV-9A. Photography by Sparky Barnes Sargent and courtesy of Pete McCoy

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