What do you say to someone who asks "Why in the heck would anybody in their right mind want to build an airplane in their garage"?

 

Well that is the question I get quite often mostly from my non flying friends. First I started to answer the question with all of the proper technical answers like performance vs dollars etc. and then after about the one hundredth time I answered the question I realized my answer was more complex.

I have been fascinated with flight for over 40 years. Yes I actually slid down the banister with cardboard wings when I was a kid and forever earned the family nickname of flyboy among others. When you have 9 brothers and sisters you hear it often. When I was a kid I flew just about every plastic (arf) ready to fly control line airplane "RC as we know it was not yet around" and the term .049 from such manufacturers as WEN-MAC and COX was the lexicon of my dreams. I guess I have build about a million of the Guillows rubber band and P-80 dime store balsa models. Balsa free flight rubber band powered models then balsa glow fuel powered models,(can you say Ambroid glue) then escapement and reed primitive RC gear where model aircraft you slaved over building just decides to fly over the horizon never to be found again consumed my youth and just about every dime I could make.

I started on my pilot's license in earnest at Wrights flying service at Hawthorne airport and am lucky enough to say that my first flight instructor was a pretty interesting gal named Wally Funk. I can still hear her say take off your shoes and fly barefooted so you can really feel the rudder pedals while we buzzed around the field in that old C-150. Of course at the time I did not know that she would do the Mercury Woman astronaut program until Johnson canceled it or be the pilot of record on one of the X-Prize groups. I remember when she was a NTSB inspector and I was always vigilant so as to never have to answer to her or worse have her investigate what went wrong.

I couldn't afford a airplane so I flew more 2000 hours of hang glider time everywhere on the west coast at places like Point Fermin, Fort Funston and the Olympics of hang gliding the Owens Valley where I made my first 100 mile flight in a hang glider . I remember one flight climbing out at three thousand feet a minute from 12000 feet and thinking I had less than 90 seconds of useful consciousness unless I could fly out of the lift making pursed lip forced exhalations to keep the partial pressure of oxygen up in my lungs so the tunnel vision wouldn't become total blackout. I got an oxygen system after that one. There were great flights up there in the Owens Valley, Westguard pass, Mazurka Pass seemed like great voids to cross on the way to Nevada. 

I soloed in sail planes at lake Elsinore and then finished my private with Mickey Holtons Green and white Citabria 7ECA, N86813 long before he bought it (based at TOA). If you run into him ask him about the time we dinged it when the right brake and rudder pedal managed to self disassemble during a wheel landing. All this was too much fun even the 1000 jumps skydiving along the way. Yes those were the days of my youth memories of the smokey interior of the old Publito Bar in Elsinore playing Cardinal Puff until I was flat and stable face to earth. I don't think I ever did ask a intelligent question playing that game. A million memories and friends, thousands of flight hours later and still I survived. Yes the journey was incredible fun. So what does this all have with building a Plane in my garage?

Well I am from the era of time where to get something you had to do something. I was a boomer, I wasn't part of the generation x whose disposable incomes mean that kids learn that fun is at the end of the X Box Controller or the next video game, or the next thing that somebody else made and all it took was money to buy it. No imagination, no sweat equity and too much for granted. I have always wanted to have my own airplane. I have even had a couple of whacks at building a KR2. Well guess what, you can't buy a RV-7 but you can make one. So I am going to use the formula that has served me so faithfully in the past, I am going to make it . These are memories the spin lazily in the back of my mind totally silencing the sound of the rivet gun as I am working on my plane. I hope that the process of building is as fun for you and I plan on continuing to bang those rivets and some day I will be tucked safely in the 2 slot while adding to the library of lifetime memories with some of the best people in the world, the family of RV flyers.

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Dave Richardson