Airplane

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For the moment, I'll link to the old site: RV-6A Blog - it's got construction pictures up to about the time the panel was built. More current stuff is linked at the end of this article.

11/19/2008 - The airplane, with Brad Ransom at the controls, has just completed its first flight sucessfully!

1/6/2009 - The engine has 25 hours, time to change the oil. Also, flew first three days of 2009!

2/4/2009 - The airplane has passed its Phase I flight test period.

3/16/2010 - Bad landing. Damaged prop and nose gear but no one hurt.

8/16/2010 - Returned to service after repairs and annual condition inspection.

Current (8/6/2011) - First annual condition inspection after return to service, no problems.

10/14/2011 - The fuel return I installed developed a leak because I forgot to seal it. All fixed now.

10/23/2011 - Jerry Engle brought his new RV-12 to Prescott for breakfast with the slugs.

11/3/2011 - I've moved the airplane out of the hangar for a year or so to save money for Judith's fellowship.

6/29/2013 - I finally got around to participating in a Young Eagles event. Small turnout, but Hayden Manning became my first official Young Eagle.

What the finished plane should look like

My brother Tim, who is fourteen years older than me, used to build these terrific models, a skill that stood him in good stead when he became a civil engineer. About the time I'd be leaving gluey fingerprints all over a 14-piece plastic car, he'd be building detailed hot-rods. He helped me carve my first pine derby car for the boy scouts; to me, his abilities were amazing. Among the models he built were the balsa and tissue airplane models that I loved the best. Luckily for me, when he and my dad started working on cars together I inherited many of the unfinished projects. My own efforts were not as polished but I still dreamed of making one of these models fly.

I remember watching the moon landings in elementary school and I was determined to be an astronaut. I built model rockets, including the flying models, and even experimented with them. My work on simple guidance systems placed in state science fairs during my last two high school years and earned me achievement awards from NASA each time. While I didn't have any success designing a ground-breaking guidance system (though I can tell you what won't work), I did discover computers at that time. And good timing, too, because the Air Force turned me down due to a bout of childhood asthma, so I began working for IBM with the faint hope that the Space Station would need computer operators.

In the meantime, I continued with model building. By now, I had graduated to remote control airplanes and was finding success in flying competition model sailplanes. I was also building my models at hobby expos and doing magazine reviews of kits. At a meet held at Skysailing glider port (when it was still in Fremont, CA), I discovered that a co-worker flew the real thing. With her encouragement, I started training but abandoned the effort when she was killed in an accident near Minden. It wasn't just her death that gave me pause; I was also going through a separation from my first wife and trying to go to school for the degree I never got.

Aviation was still simmering in me, though. I had always thought that Anthony Fokker's triplane was the most marvelous aircraft I'd ever seen and I'd built several static models. Now I was working on a 1/4 scale R/C kit of it and, for scale details, I ordered a set of Ron Sands planes. That got me thinking about building a full-size version - never mind that I couldn't weld or didn't have a pilot's license to fly it.

Well, after getting through the divorce, losing my dad to cancer, and leaving IBM to consult for a couple of years, I decided that I really wanted to fly. So I enrolled at Sierra Academy of Aeronautics and worked through my private license and my multi-engine rating. In the meantime, I realized that the triplane project was beyond my abilities for the foreseeable future, but a relatively new design by Richard Vangrunsven might be the perfect thing for me to build and fly. So I ordered a plans set for the RV-6A and began studying what I'd need to build it. Then my second wife, Judith, announced that she'd been accepted to University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor...

That effectively ended my flight training. Moving certainly put an end to Sierra Academy and the need to return to work to help support us through the Med School years (or at least, go less into debt) kept me from pursuing it in Michigan. Instead, I found myself working at American International Airways as an administrative assistant and programmer for the Director of Maintenance. Oh, well, if I can't fly, maybe I can build. And the A&Ps in the maintenance department should be able to assist me when I have problems, right? So, one day in the winter of 1993 I ordered the tools and tail kit from Van's Aircraft and began designing color schemes using the three-view drawings in the plans while I waited for them to arrive.

My best paint scheme on the three-view

Ready for airworthiness inspection

Construction Links

  • First Flight - N156PK takes to the air! (in .wmv format - 110MB)

Flying Links

Links of Interest

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