An Airplane in Our Living Room
Growing up building
JEFF SEABORN, EAA 793688
ou’ve got airplane wings in your living room?”
To my mom’s friends, the concept of building
or rebuilding an airplane in your house was
beyond grasp. To me, it was normal. Doesn’t everybody have
an airplane in their house?
I grew up around airplanes. My dad built his first airplane
before I was born. It was a Pietenpol Air Camper, and he used
our country home as a base for his “barnstorming” activities.
I got my first flight in the Pietenpol long before EAA’s Young
Eagles program was created. I wasn’t yet 2 years old, I couldn’t
see over the sides, and there was no way to communicate
with the pilot. Maybe that was my dad’s strategy. If I didn’t
like flying, he wouldn’t hear
me complain as my voice was
washed away with the wind. I
may as well have been sitting
in a cardboard box with a big
fan blowing on me, but I was
flying. By the time I’d turned
10, I had more than 200 hours
in private aircraft.
When I was 3, what had
been our childhood monkey
bars was now off limits. It was the steel fuselage frame of
a 1933 Waco. I think all the climbing and swinging I did
on the frame could be considered “non-destructive testing.”
Once wooden stringers and ribs were attached to the steel
tubes, we were no longer allowed to climb on it. While the
frame progressed in the garage, the wings were born in our
Jeff begins to lay out the wings and tail of his airplane with help
from his sons Brodie and Connor.
living room. Each wing started as a handful of sticks glued
together to make ribs. Once the ribs were assembled along a
spar, we had the skeleton of a wing to play under. Eventually,
each of those wings was covered and our skeleton was gone.
It took five years, but the monkey bars and sticks grew into
an actual flying airplane.
We flew the Waco to local fly-in breakfasts for a couple
of years before we took it on a big trip. We flew across the
country to an air show in a place with a strange name—
Oshkosh. What sort of dreaming, wing-sprouting 8-year-old
wouldn’t enjoy such a trip?
Along the way I learned how kind and generous airplane
“You’re building an airplane? To fly
in? By yourself?” I think back to the
questions I heard as a kid and reply,
“Sure, doesn’t everybody?”
people are. Everywhere we went, we were greeted with open
arms and curious looks. At one small town, the airport
manager heard our big noisy radial engine overhead and
drove out to the remote airport to see our biplane. He even
pushed his airplane out of the hangar so the Waco would
be secure for the evening. He gave us the keys to his car and
Jeff, his wife (Tara) and two sons (Brodie and Connor) sit in the
fuselage of the airplane with dreams of one day flying.