Homebuilder's Workshop - August 2012


By Ed Wischmeyer

Outside Van’s booth early in the morning before the crowds arrived. (Ed Wischmeyer)On Sunday at AirVenture, Van’s Aircraft’s Chief Engineer, Ken Krueger, was dropping helpful hints about a new RV-14. Carbon fiber, twin engine, amphibious, vertical takeoff and landing – and aerobatic! You get the idea… Van himself mentioned an RV-14, but gave no details, and for all I knew he was pulling my leg, too. But then on Monday, there was the RV-14 prototype.

The superficial description is that it is a two-seat RV-10, with slightly smaller dimensions. In a sense that’s true, but the start of the RV-14 was with people who were building RV-7s and putting in tons of junk so that they were overweight, as were the pilots, frequently. Krueger said that some of those were so overweight as to be miniature F-104s, a nice exaggeration. So in one sense, the RV-14 is a gadgeteer’s version of the RV-7, able to carry more weight, and with more room.

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Homebuilder's Workshop - October 2011

Vance AFB, Oklahoma

By Ed Wischmeyer

Ninety minutes north of Oklahoma City by car is Vance AFB in Enid, Okla., where my nephew recently got his Air Force pilot wings.

Leon Vance was a native of Enid – the Air Force folk refer to them as “Enoids” – and a WWII bomber pilot who won the Congressional Medal of Honor. The transport plane bringing him home was lost over the North Atlantic, after he survived a harrowing and heroic ditching of his B-24. But the relationship between Air Force and community is deeper than that – the citizens of Enid bought a wheat field and donated that for the then Army Air Corps to build a training base.

Wheat? In Oklahoma? Yes. Enid actually has the world’s third largest wheat storage capacity, and a grouping of maybe 30 concrete silos is referred to by the pilots as “the battleship.” This year, though, the drought is ferocious and this July was a contender for being the hottest month ever. Cloud bases were at 9,000 feet and the 25-knot wind did no cooling but only parched those out on the 100-plus degree flightline. Coming back into the air-conditioned flight ops building, there is a large fan at chest level to help you cool off.

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Homebuilders' Workshop - August 2011

Georgia On My Mind

By Ed Wischmeyer

The good news is that after 38 months of unemployment and 600 job applications, I’m now a contract employee with a major aerospace manufacturer in Savannah, GA. And that, in turn, leads us to the unlikely history of the RV-8A that I used to own.

The story starts nearly five years ago when I bought an AirCam at government auction at a screamingly good price. The plan was to fly it for three or four years and then sell it for enough to cover purchase price plus all the expenses of ownership. When I bought it, I lived in Arizona and thoroughly enjoyed flying it there.  But, nine months after purchase, I (and it) moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Aerial sightseeing in the Midwest is not spectacular, like it is in other parts of the country, but the Midwest in summer is as beautiful as any other part of the country. Trouble was, summer – even stretching the definition to mean any time the temperature was above 50 degrees, sort of a minimum required temperature for a tolerable AirCam flight – was at best six months of the year. The AirCam was advertised for sale several times, but then I changed the ad to say, “Might trade for the right RV-8.”

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Homebuilder's Workshop - July 2011

Oliver Springs, Tennessee

By Ed Wischmeyer

My old Garmin 396 couldn’t find Oliver Springs airport, which is near Oak Ridge, Tenn., which is near Knoxville, Tenn., which is – aw, go look it up – but and the trusty map application on my ancient, first generation iPhone could. AT&T cell phone service actually works way out here in the sticks in Tennessee.

What a cool place! Grass runway, a few hangars – one with a door, one with a few tarps across it, and a great selection of airplanes. There are three or four Cessna 182s, some 172s, and an immaculate Cessna 150 that’s been in the family for over 30 years. The owner was waiting for her instructor to show up to give her a BFR, and she explained, in her soft, Tennessee accent, that her husband had died a year ago. But the last thing he did was to rebuild the airplane, making everything new, and giving it an immaculate paint job. She also says that there are two flying clubs on the field.

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Homebuilder's Workshop - May 2011

The Steps of Iowa

By Ed Wischmeyer

When I got my new (to me) RV-8A, the boarding step was broken and needed to be replaced. No problem, says I. I’ve owned an RV before. I’ve bought used homebuilts before.

I should have known better.

But on with the show. The first part of the process was to drill out all of the rivets holding the old step on, some going through the steel step assembly, some going through the wing root fairing, some through both. Drill ‘em all out, tug on the step, and, ta, da! Nothing.

Oh. There’s a bolt inside the fuselage. Okay…

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