until later. Note that Steve had the flying
bug but no pilot certificate. He had
plans but no parts.
In 1986, at 40, Steve got his private
pilot certificate. He rented airplanes to
fly until one day he got the bright idea
to build one. But not an RV- 3; he and a
partner built an RV-6A. The partnership
allowed him to split the costs and gain
building skills. They later sold that
airplane. Steve then bought and built
an RV-8A. He gave me a couple rides
in it while I was still building my RV- 8.
I liked his airplane; it had agility with
But Steve still had the RV- 3 in the
back of his mind. He sold the RV-8A.
By now you could probably make a case
for calling him a serial builder. In 2004,
Steve bought an RV- 3 kit. He was going
to make the airplane special to honor
the ember that had been smoldering
since 1974. He built and built, first in
his home, then in his hangar (which is
located on the very ground where he
used to crawl on the T-6s). He could
often be heard saying, “These older kits
aren’t like the new ones,” referring to
the older ones with no pre-punched
skins, ribs, bulkheads, and the like.
But he had already mastered the skills,
on two previous airplanes, to persist.
He wanted his airplane to have a
sliding canopy. He built it once. Then
he built it twice. You get the drift: He
wanted it perfect.
He was going to make the
airplane special to honor
the ember that had been
smoldering since 1974.
All along, Steve never said much
about the paint job. In fact, he flew it
for nearly a year without paint, but
still no word about it. He was quite
closed-mouthed about it. But he’d been
thinking about it…a lot. Then Steve’s
airplane disappeared from the airport…
for months. Where to? The paint shop.
Okay, now you can look at the
pictures and use the knowledge
you’ve gained thus far to put two-and-