Jill Tallman Archive

Working hard for your first regional fly-in

Friday, April 25th, 2014

kodiakIt looks it’s going to be a Texas-sized event. We’ve had about 2,000 individual RSVPs, and 707 airplanes are expected. Airplanes have already begun to arrive in advance of the fly-in, which kicks off Saturday, April 26.

Our Sweepstakes Debonair is front and center on the static display, waiting for you to check out her new engine and those decals you’ve been reading about. Editor at Large Tom Horne picked up the Debonair in Santa Fe, N.M. He got to San Marcos in about three hours, doing 199 knots, thanks to a brisk tailwind. Not too shabby.

It’s pretty warm today, and promises to be warmer on Saturday. I found Irma Ward in the shade of the air traffic control tower, with an easle set up. She was busily painting a portrait of the B-17 Aluminum Overcast, which is here at the airport selling rides. She and her husband, Hugh, came to San Marcos from Arlington, Tex. Hugh likes airplanes (they own a Piper Arrow), and Irma enjoys painting, so she’s painting the beautiful Flying Fortress for him, she explained. Hugh must really like Aluminum Overcast, because he had paid for a ride today.

One of the early arrivals was Gary Cole and a buddy, who arrived in Cole’s 1963 L-29, a trainer made in the former Czech Republic. Horne made a beeline for the unusual trainer, and quizzed the pilot as he was climbing out. Cole said it burns about four gallons a minute “if you’re just out playing around,” and 10 liters per minute in economy cruise.

We hope to see you on Saturday! If San Carlos isn’t in your neighborhood, perhaps one of our other regional events in 2014 would be more convenient.

 

 

 

 

 

Headed to Airventure? See the GAMA/Build a Plane Glasairs

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

 

Many of you are on your way to AirVenture 2013, and many more of you are planning to head to Oshkosh in just a few days.

Dan Lutgen (left), Julia Garner (center) and a Glasair employee work on a wing.

Dan Lutgen (left), Julia Garner (center) and a Glasair employee work on a wing.

I hope there’s time in your schedule to stop by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association/Build a Plane tent and see for yourself the Glasair Sportsmans (Sportsmen?) that were built by eight teenagers last month. (I blogged the build and you’ll see a complete feature article in the October 2012 issue of AOPA Pilot magazine.)

The teens themselves will be at AirVenture—look for a group of kids in matching T-shirts.

The GAMA/BAP exhibit is 299,  which, according to the map in the Sporty’s app, is right next to Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Hangar A.

See you at AirVenture!

Postal Service to issue ‘inverted Jenny’ collector stamp

Friday, July 19th, 2013

(c) 2013 U.S. Postal Service

(c) 2013 U.S. Postal Service

Philatelists, start your engines: The U.S. Postal Service plans to issue a collector stamp commemorating “the most famous error in the history of U.S. stamps”: the 1918 misprint that produced an upside-down Curtiss-Jenny biplane.

The reprinted inverted Jenny stamp will be issued Sept. 22 for $2. The original inverted Jenny was issued in 1918 and cost 24 cents. The postal service is using the original engraved dies of the 1918 stamp in the design of the 2013 edition.

If you happen to own one of the originals, good for you. The Postal Service says collectors have accounted for nearly all of the 1oo inverted Jennys that were produced. One recently sold at auction for $625,000.

The 1981 original. (c) 2013 U.S. Postal Service

The 1918 original. (c) 2013 U.S. Postal Service

Build a Plane builds two planes: Arlington is go for taxi

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Moving airplaneI packed my bags and left the Pacific Northwest in the extremely wee hours of June 21, but the work at Glasair Aviation on two airplanes hasn’t slowed down a bit. Today, the teams saw the fruition of all their hard work: The first airplane was fired up.

“The beast has a heart,” Saline High School teacher Ed Redies told me. Taxi had been tentatively planned for June 26, and he said they could’ve made that deadline had they pushed into the early evening. But it was raining—as it is wont to do now and again in Washington state—and rather than stand out in and get wet, the teams opted to wait until today in the hopes that the skies would lighten up a bit. They did—sort of, as you can see from the photo.

The important thing is, the airplane conducted its first taxi test, and an FAA inspection is set to take place on June 28. A first flight could happen on June 30.

Congratulations to the students: Aidan Muir, Kyle LaBombarbe; Lee Lewis Luckhardt; Wyatt Johansen; Julia Garner; Leah Schmitt; Brandon Stripling; and John Deslauriers. Congratulations to their teachers, Dan Lutgen and Ed Redies, who heard about the Build a Plane competition and got their students involved.

If you’re headed to AirVenture 2013, you’ll likely see this airplane on display and you might even meet some of the intrepid young builders. And I guarantee you’ll be as impressed with them as I was.

The fine art of safety wiring

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

WireSome of the teens who are assembling two Glasair aircraft here in Arlington, Wash., come from a farming community. They’ve had their hands dirty working with tractors and other types of equipment for years.

So when they got their lesson in safety wiring, they made a connection between that and repairing fences. They soon learned that the “safety” in “safety wiring” carries a lot of meaning. It’s there to keep all those moving parts from shaking themselves loose (that’s a simplified explanation, but bear with me, builders, please).

Glasair’s Ben Wat carefully safety wired–and then rewired—the bolts on the propeller hub for one of the Build a Plane aircraft, explaining that aviation mechanics take pride in doing this correctly—no loose twists, no sloppy “pigtails.” Just as pilots endure scrutiny from other pilots, mechanics grade each other’s work, I’m guessing.

This is just a tiny taste of the education the GAMA/Build a Plane crew are receiving as they craft two four-place Experimental airplanes. The pride of workmanship will stay with them long after they return home to Minnesota and Michigan.

Build a Plane builds two planes, Day 4: Ready for the wings

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Photo courtesy Dustan Muir

Photo courtesy Dustan Muir

The gleaming wings for the first Build a Plane Glasair are laid out on trestles, waiting to be installed, and that is on today’s agenda.

Every artist signs his work, so it makes perfect sense that the high school students participating in the GAMA/Build a Plane project should sign theirs. That’s what they did, affixing signatures beneath the inspection covers. The operators of these aircraft will see these names at every inspection and recall the two weeks spent here in Arlington, Wash., with a great crew of young people. 

I’m wondering if this is a tradition that every builder shares, much like cutting a shirt tail or dumping water on a student pilot at solo. When you’re building your aircraft, there’s more opportunity to personalize or customize it. What could be a greater source of pride than your own signature affixed to your own handiwork?

The NHL, aviation…or both?

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Aiden Muir gets an airplane ride with Build a Plane's Lyn Freeman. Photo courtesy Dustin Muir

Aiden Muir gets an airplane ride with Build a Plane’s Lyn Freeman. Photo courtesy Dustan Muir

One of these days, if you happen to see Aidan Muir, he may be wearing a National Hockey League uniform. The 6-foot-3-inch forward has been playing since he was 8 years old and is ranked 108th in North America.

This week, however, his heart belongs to general aviation, and hockey has been relegated to the background while he helps to assemble a Glasair Sportsman.

Aidan joined three classmates from Saline High School in Saline, Mich., as well as four students from Canby, Minn., after the two teams won an aviation design competition sponsored by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and Build a Plane. Their prize: an all-expenses-paid trip to Arlington, Wash., to help assemble two airplanes at the Glasair Aviation facility.

After a jam-packed first day working with Glasair mechanics in the company’s Two Weeks to Taxi program, Aidan got an airplane ride yesterday with Build a Plane President Lyn Freeman.

“He loved his ride,” says Aidan’s dad, Dustan, who showed me a cell phone photo his son had sent him. (Dustan is on hand as a chaperone.)

The NHL may lay claim to Aidan some time in the near future. This week and next week, GA is his main focus. And the seed planted this week in Arlington will undoubtedly benefit GA in the future.

Build a Plane builds two planes, Day 3: Nonstop learning

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Ben Rauk (he’s one of three Bens at the Glasair Aviation factory in Arlington, Wash.), starts each day of the Build a Plane/GAMA marathon with a briefing and a “lesson of the day.” Today’s was on safety wiring.

Glasair Aviation's Ben Rauk gives a morning briefing to the Build a Plane participants.

Glasair Aviation’s Ben Rauk gives a morning briefing to the Build a Plane participants.

It might have been totally new territory to the students, but Rauk’s tutorials also proved enlightening to observers who have spent many years in aviation. “I learned something on drilling I didn’t know,” said Mark Van Tine, chief executive officer of Jeppesen, who has been helping to build one of the airplanes. “That’s a nice way to start the day out.”

Glasair and Build a Plane cooperated on the construction of a Sportsman in 2008 with four teens who went through the Two Weeks to Taxi program. This is the first time, however, that the organizations have shepherded eight students working on two airplanes simultaneously. What’s more, a privately owned Sportsman has been in and out of the main hangar while the owner flies off the 40 hours required under the regulations governing homebuilt/experimental aircraft. The near-constant activity in the hangar is a happy soundtrack for general aviation.

Build a Plane builds two planes, Day 2: The engine has landed

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

On Day 2 of the Build a Plane/GAMA project, the builders from Saline, Mich., and Canby, Minn., kept up the same teen-fueled pace that they had set on day one. But it wasn’t all work and no play.

All eight of the students got to take breaks in the form of airplane rides today, and the weather cooperated beautifully. (I’m told that “when it’s nice here, it’s really nice.” With scattered to broken clouds at 10,000 feet, nearly unlimited visibility, and temps in the 70s, “really nice” seems about right.)

Glasair's Chris Strachan with a happy Brandon Stripling after an airplane ride.

Glasair’s Chris Strachan with a happy Brandon Stripling after an airplane ride.

Glasair’s Chris Strachan split the flying duties with Build a Plane President Lyn Freeman. Strachan, who is director of marketing and sales, took his passengers up in a jazzy red-and-black Sportsman sporting oversize tundra tires. Freeman flew the Build a Plane flagship, a bright-red Sportsman that four teens helped to build a few years ago.

Brandon Stripling, who hails from Minnesota, has flown before as he has completed a private pilot ground school course taught by instructor Dan Lutgen. Climbing out of the red and black Sportsman, Brandon was asked how he liked it. An ear-to-ear smile was his answer.

“It was awesome,” he said. “That’s a great plane.” Brandon had spent much of day one placing rivets and had enjoyed it quite a bit, but, he said, “Nothing beats flying an airplane.”

logbookJohn Deslauriers, also from Minnesota, is a student pilot and so had brought his logbook in the hopes of getting a fresh entry. He got one after flying with Freeman.

Build a Plane's Lyn Freeman signs John Deslauriers' logbook.

Build a Plane’s Lyn Freeman signs John Deslauriers’ logbook.

Interestingly, the team from Saline, Mich., had been enrolled in a computer assisted design class and do not have the same frame of reference about aviation. (By the end of two weeks, of course, they’ll be pretty darn familiar with the airplane they helped to build.) That hasn’t stopped them from taking airplane rides. For Julia Garner, today marked her first ride in a small general aviation airplane and only her second airplane ride ever. Her first was on Sunday when she flew out to Washington state with the rest of her team.

Lycoming IO-390 engine is mounted in the Build a Plane aircraft.

Lycoming IO-390 engine is mounted in the Build a Plane aircraft.

While their colleagues slipped out one at a time for an aerial break, the rest of the kids worked diligently on their airframes. By 4 p.m., an engine had been mounted in the GAMA/Build a Plane ship. A twin of that Lycoming IO-390 was removed from a gigantic box and likely will be getting its baffling tomorrow. At the rate these kids are going, the Two Weeks to Taxi program may have to change its name.

A student pilot principal

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

The teens who came to Arlington, Wash., this week to work on two Glasair Sportsman aircraft did not come alone. The students from Saline, Mich., brought their teacher, Ed Redies, and a parent chaperone. The teens from Canby, Minn., brought their teacher, Dan Lutgen, and their principal, Bob Slaba.

Canby High School Principal Bob Slaba (in blue) is a student pilot.

Canby High School Principal Bob Slaba (in blue) is a student pilot.

Slaba is not standing on the sidelines. He’s a student pilot with about 25 hours logged, and he freely credits Dan Lutgen’s passion for aviation as a primary reason why he found himself learning to fly. He soloed in May, and hopes to take his checkride on Aug. 1. So the opportunity to immerse himself in the actual construction of an airplane has been a valuable learning experience for him, as he sees the airplane take shape in front of him. He’s also extremely busy documenting the build for his school’s website.

 He’s obviously a supporter of Saline’s aviation ground school class, but not just because he caught the flying bug. “We have to have kids doing things in life, learning something and having a goal,” he said.

Slaba is proud of the students who have completed Canby’s program and gone on to become private pilots. Soon he’ll join their ranks.