Posts Tagged ‘Experimental’

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.

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.

Build a Plane builds two planes, Day 1

Monday, June 17th, 2013

“Get ready to drink from the firehose.”

Can they build an entire airplane in two weeks? Build a Plane is betting they can.

Can they build an entire airplane in two weeks? Build a Plane is betting they can.

If you’re in aviation, you’ve probably heard that phrase before—particularly if you did an accelerated rating or a type rating. Today I heard that phrase applied to the process of building an airplane.

“Building an airplane” and “drinking from the firehose” are generally not concepts that you hear in the same conversation, but when you consider that we’re talking about assembling an Experimental kit in two weeks, it all makes sense.

The kids who took their first deep drink from the firehose today are eight teenagers from high schools in Michigan and Minnesota. They are the winners of an aviation design contest sponsored by Build a Plane and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. School’s out, and they’re here in Arlington, Wash., to spend some quality time with fiberglas, rivets, and bucking bars.

learning about wingsThe day began at 7 a.m. with a briefing at Glasair’s Customer Assembly Center at Arlington Airport. (We should all have hangars this immaculate and organized. Talk about a place for everything and everything in its place!) By the first morning break, the students had begun mounting rudders and installing rudder cables, and mounting the main landing gear and tires. In another corner, fuel lines were being threaded along a wing.

Glasair’s Two Weeks to Taxi program has several years under its belt, and the level of preparation that goes into it is evident. To the casual observer, today looked a little like “organized chaos,” as one observer put it—but it was also apparent that a lot of progress was made. That’s good, because the plan is to get the first of the two airplanes ready to taxi on Wednesday, June 26, and an FAA inspection on Saturday, June 29.

tire on rimWill they make it? Stay tuned as I post updates from Arlington and the progress of the Build a Plane/GAMA projects.