So I built an airplane...it was without a doubt one of the most satisfying things I have ever done. You learn a lot about yourself in the process and meet some wonderful people who you never would have come in contact otherwise. I had never done anything like it previously and it took lots of research, patience and effort. Luckily I was able to fit out our single car garage so all I had to do was step out the door. and start working..this is really important because it's a big commitment and takes a long time...if you have to travel to build that's a built in negative. You also have to have the cooperation of your family...more than one builder has gotten divorced because... "All you ever do is work on that damn airplane!!" So don't fool yourself...but if all the conditions are right, there is no greater project.
The key is persistence, even if it's 20 minutes at a time...if you dedicate 10 to 15 hours a week, pretty soon you'll have something that looks just like an airplane, then all you have to do is finish it.
I built a Bushcaddy R-120, which is a Canadian kit plane that is popular in the Quebec area. It's a high wing taildragger. I started in October of 2005 and finished it in October of 2010 and it took about 2000 hours. This was prior to kits haing pre-punched holes so there was lots of time spent laying out, drilling and deburring...+ or - 8000 holes. I powered the plane with a Lycoming O235-L2C. I put about 200 hours on it before crashing it in a really bad groundloop up in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, (no injuries).
Within 5 minutes after the crash I decided to move on...I could have repaired the plane but elected not to. I was very comfortable flying the plane and my taildragger skills and reflexes are what they are and I wasn't sure that even if I had another 200 hours in the plane that I would have been able to prevent what happened. I did know I never wanted to be in that situation again so I moved on...life is a series of Plan B's and this was one. I have no regrets. I built it, I flew it, I was proud of the airplane and myself...nothing could ever change that. Six weeks after crashing the Bushcaddy I flew the Varga back from the west coast. Below is a slideshow of the build process.
Another great aspect of building this airplane was the friends you meet along the way and none more important than my French Connection...three great guys who share the same passion as me for building a plane. Sylvain Papillon, Martin Abud and Robert Poirier all live in Quebec and have built their own Bushcaddy airplanes. I have come to know them well and value their friendship and advice.
(click on images to enlarge)
Occasionally, when you have an airplane in your driveway...people notice. I got a call from our local paper one day and they wanted to come by and check it out...of course I said come on over and they interviewed me and put this video together. I was fairly complete with the structure at this point.
Want to see what tailwheel shimmy looks like...here you go. I did get it corrected, it's all about geometry.
I flew down the Hudson River Corridor one day...a really interesting flight and a lot of fun.
What to do on a beautiful day except hit some local, off the charts, grass strips...originally had this video set to Bob Dylan's, Like A Rolling Stone, but apparently there's some copyright BS going on with that...so it's eerily silent.