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RV 7A AIRCRAFT BUILDING STORY from Aircraft Spruce Canada
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RV 7A AIRCRAFT BUILDING STORY

I never grew up dreaming of becoming a pilot. I do have ~2,000 hours as a USAF KC-135A navigator (1974-1978); however, until my first private pilot lesson I had been in a GA plane only 3 or 4 times.

I was in seat 1A of a Delta 757 at the Atlanta Hartsfield airport bound for Washington Reagan. Just before 0900 the pilot came on the intercom and told us all to deplane - "Now!". Yes, it was 9/11/01.

My two co-workers and I eventually made it back to Florida, dropping a young lady (stranger to us) off at her Mother's home in Jacksonville as we drove to the Melbourne area.

The next day, my wife and I were depressed about the empty skies. Within a week we had built a flag pole with accompanying lights. That 20 foot tall pole always has an American flag flying, except during hurricanes.

That week, we also determined that no one - let me repeat - no one was going to take the US skies away from us.

After much research on options, I finally joined a local flying club and took my first two lessons on July 4, 2002. Thanks again, Dan! Fortunately, I fell into the company of some EAA members who had built planes. I took a couple of fun flights (thanks Jim) then decided I wanted to build. But what? How was I going to get my wife to agree? Where was I going to get the money, tools, time, capability, skills,...?

My friend (Jim again) took my wife on a flight in his beautiful RV6. On exiting the plane, my wife walked over to me and said, "When do we start?". Wow - was I excited!

It took several spreadsheets and a few months before I decided on my "mission-type", picked the airplane model, collected enough tools, and ordered the empennage. Over the next 6 1/2 years, I planned, learned, and built; including assisting with the engine overhaul, performing the equipment selection and installation, and doing 97% of the work myself.

I began riveting on 11/23/03 and after 2,248 hours (06/22/10) the FAA unleashed me from the ground in what had become N968BF (an RV 7A). My wife was my encouragement to continue the build as I worked in the garage, then finally to the local airport.

I have since flown the aircraft about 92 hours, including a round trip from central Florida to South Central Iowa this past summer. I have not yet painted the fiberglass (cowling, leg fairings, and wheel pants); but, I will soon.

I do believe, we have helped keep the skies available to all GA pilots and have completed something few ever dream is possible and even fewer complete.

My advice, keep working on the plane the first flight alone is well worth the time and effort.