Looking into the cockpit reveals a
white interior with cream and green
seats to match the exterior paint. The
custom seats are cream with green
piping and accents made by a local
automotive upholsterer to “pull the
colors outside the airplane inside,” as
Chris puts it. Hooker supplied custom
green harnesses to complete the job.
Removing the aft seat-back cushion opens up the back of the fuselage
and reveals a beautiful canvas baggage compartment with mahogany
wood flooring. Chris pulled the canvas aside to show off the perfectly
finished interior of the aft fuselage.
It’s almost a shame to cover up something so beautiful.
Back inside the cockpit, there’s a
fiberglass channel that runs from the
rear cockpit to the firewall. From the
looks of it, it’s just a heater duct, but
looks can be deceiving.
“The bottom half of the housing is
sealed from the top half and serves as
the heater duct,” says Chris. “The top
half is the wire chase where we hide
all the wiring. If you look, there are
no wires anywhere.”
George wanted to finish the
Firebolt with Poly-Fiber cloth and
butyrate dope in lieu of other methods, and that’s just what Chris did.
Twenty-one coats of dope later, the
fabric looks perfect—there’s not a
blemish or bump anywhere.
So what did the judges think of
the Wheeler Firebolt the second
time around? On the last day of
AirVenture, Chris waited impatiently
to hear the results of the judging.
The airplane he and George had
poured so much of themselves into
earned the distinctive title of Reserve
Grand Champion—Plans-Built. For
Chris, the award is bittersweet. On
one hand, he appreciates the honor
bestowed, but on the other, he feels
he’s let down his dearest friend
because he hasn’t quite won the
highest title in the land. But George
and Chris formed a beautiful friendship and built a beautiful airplane.
Could there be a higher reward?
Scott Westover is a former editor of
Sport Aerobatics magazine and an
Reggie Paulk is editor of IAC’s Sport
The gascolator with polished aluminum
fuel lines and billet aluminum control