My son and I live apart right now due to a divorce in the family. It has been difficult to say the least not seeing both my children as I have been very much involved in their lives since they were born. So when my son mentioned that he wanted to build a plane and learn to fly, needless to say that was very exciting to me because just as my father and I shared father/son time building airplanes, I am hoping that he and I would be able to share the same type of father/son experience I so very much cherished with my dad many years ago.
My son told me that he wanted to build an RV-4, just like the plane that I once had years ago. Thus, we started looking for RV-4 kits. I went to the Vans Aircraft website to look to see what the kit cost these days and was stricken with sticker shock. Much different than when I used to build years ago.
So, we decided to try to find a used kit that someone else had started, but had given up for some reason or another. We stumbled upon a kit that was owned by Rick Haehnel located in Denver, Colorado. I spoke with Rick over the phone and explained that I wanted to teach my 14 year old son to build an RV4. Rick was excited for us and was overwhelmingly supportive towards helping us in every way. The kit cost was extremely fair, and Rick helped with arranging shipping and dragging the kit from his home to the shipping terminal in downtown Denver.
Rick was also very patient, as the cost, even though not much, was still slightly more than what my son had raised. I wanted my son to be responsible for the cost, after all, it was his airplane. So, we started looking around the house for things that we didn't use and things that we could sell. We were able to sell enough items that were just sitting around, taking up space, to come up with the necessary funds to purchase the kit. All the while, Rick waited for us. I learned throughout his waiting for us, that Rick was a Christian man, and this made us very happy, as my son and I are also Christian as well. Rick told me he thought it would be a wonderful experience that God would work through the building of an airplane to grow the relationship between my son and me, and that it would teach my son very valuable skills and life experiences over the time that we would spend building the project. I think he is correct. I am really happy and grateful that Rick was so patient with us and helpful as he was.
The kit arrived in downtown Charlotte, and we sorted through most of it in the garage. I just get more excited everyday, anticipating time with my son as we build. I cleaned out the basement of my home so that we could build there. We built a work bench and a huge back rivet table, and set up the jigs. Travis and I are really excited to be building an RV. I am still trying to find some of the necessary tools that are required, but I have not been able to find them at a good price. I think this is all part of the life lessons that God is teaching us. Patience, patience, patience....all is His time.
Travis is starting off from scratch, as he has never used any of the power or air driven tools before. I have taught him to use the drills, and he has drilled lots of practice holes in scrap metal. He has also started on the rudder, and it looks really nice so far. He is getting really good using the dimple machine too. Only 14,000 more holes to drill and dimple. I just keep thinking to myself, "What an awesome opportunity this is to share with my son." I am truly a blessed dad.