told us he’d somehow make it back to
town. An hour earlier, he didn’t even
know we existed.
A few years later, another project
was taking shape.
A huge trailer load of bent, broken,
and rusted pieces of tubing, sheeting,
and wires arrived at our home. To the
untrained eye, it looked like an antique
carnival ride that had been hit by a
train. In reality, it was the remains of
This time I was old enough to
provide a modicum of assistance.
My little fingers were ideally suited
to threading and tying fuselage wires
together. When it was time to fit the
spars to the fuselage, a close friend and
I helped lift, pull, and then wrestle the
53-foot long spars in place.
Eventually, after 17 years, this
project became the only flying
example of a Fokker Super Universal. It
was welcomed at any air show or fly-in. In 1999 it won the “Judges Choice
Award” at Oshkosh. In retrospect, I
wish I had made that trip to Oshkosh,
but at the time, I had other interests
In my teens, radio control (R/C)
sailplanes satisfied my interest in
aviation. I enjoyed building from kits
and from scratch. As anyone who
learns to fly R/C airplanes will tell
you, I also learned how to rebuild. My
bedroom was a verifiable mess of balsa
dust, foam, and fiberglass. It’s amazing I
didn’t develop asthma with all the fine
particles floating around in my room.
As life progressed, airplanes fell off
the radar screen, but the bug was still
there. Now that I’ve got my career, am
happily married, and have a family, I
realize it’s time to foster that bug and
get building and flying.
The experiences of building are
worth sharing. There’s value in
showing my sons that some things
take time and effort. I’ve demonstrated
to them that there are times when
things go astray, and like in life,
you may have to repeat some steps.
Mostly, though, I’ve shown them that
with dedication and persistence you
can accomplish almost anything.
So today, as I get perplexed stares
from friends as they question, “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