Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota’

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.

Barnstormers storming to the Midwest this year

Friday, April 13th, 2012

If you can get to North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Illinois this summer, you’ll have a chance to drink in some mighty nice antique aircraft and hang out with the folks who fly them. The American Barnstormers Old-Fashioned Tour is making its every-other-year appearance in August. Weather permitting, you’ll see 14 aircraft and their costumed pilots, and even purchase a ride.

The airplanes will swoop into five cities this year. Pilot and PR coordinator Sarah Wilson says the tour has been scaled back just a bit from previous years (when it debuted in 2006, there were 15 biplanes and they toured nine cities).

“We just weren’t sure we could do it this year,” she says. Pilots come from all over the nation–in airplanes that average speeds 100 mph or less–to form the tour. But the “core group”–those pilots who have participated from the beginning–said, “Please, let’s do another one,” Wilson says. The pilots will remain three days at each stop, giving them more time between legs.

Here’s the schedule:

New to the tour this year are Wilson’s 1929 Stearman Model 4E; a 1937 Waco YKS-7, and a Curtiss Pusher.

My colleagues Al Marsh and Mike Fizer joined the group for their inaugural tour in 2006. (You can see the article, video, and photos here.) Al recalls without the least bit of nostalgia the heat wave that ensnared Michigan that July. With temps reaching 105, he wondered how the tour pilots handled it in their heavy costumes.

Still. Flying with biplane pilots on a tour of the heartland? Steven Tyler, you can keep your Rock ‘n’ Roll fantasy camp. This one’s more my speed.