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Aluminum Pieces With a Lot of Holes!

Chris and Rosie Cox

David VanEmber and Abe DeJager

David VanEmber

Chilliwack, BC, and my Garmin navigator can't find 8155 Aitken Road. I'm trying to locate the Murphy Aircraft organization, and I try both ends of Aitken Road but don't seem to be able to "connect."

It's Monday, a Canadian Statute holiday, and the streets at 1000 hours are empty. I decide to try the airport and my Garmin takes me there OK. On the ramp, a number of people are gathered around a couple of RVs, (a 9A and a 7). Mother lode! No problem! These guys will be able to direct me to Murphy Aircraft.

The first person I meet steps out of the crowd as I approach and recognizes me from a former 'EAA Sheet Metal Basics' workshop. Peter Liem was a student back some years ago and proudly points to his beautifully crafted RV-9A, C-FGXA. I state my objective and he points to an amiable fellow and says, "That's Abe and he flies demo flights for Murphy."

We are introduced to others, we visit, and we meet Chris and 'Rosie the Riveter' Cox with their brand new beautiful RV-7A, C-FCOX. (Look for it at AirVenture Oshkosh this summer.) The Cox's are from Delta Airpark, and Peter is from Victoria. Isn't it amazing how you always fit in with airplane people?

Abe DeJager says to me, "I'll take you to the Murphy digs, but first you've gotta see the guy in that hangar. He's building an original one-of-a-kind, and you'll find it real interesting." He points to an open door of a typical small airport hangar.

Peter and Chris prepare to depart, and we walk over to the hangar, where I'm introduced to tall, lanky David VanEmber. David is working on the tail cone area of this single seat, low-wing, all-metal homebuilt. I suggest that it's somewhat in size and appearance to a Hummelbird, and get general agreement. There's a small Rotax engine near-by, and there's a partial cowling from a Kitfox, but the fuselage is certainly one-of-a-kind.

"Can I tell you the story of this project," David asks. "Of course, please do," I reply.

David holds both Canadian and U.S. commercial pilot's certificates, and is also a U.S. licensed aircraft and powerplant (A&P) mechanic. Seems he has spent most of his life in various locations, principally up in the Yellowknife, Fort Smith, regions of the NWT. Several years ago he and his wife started spending their winters down south in Flagstaff, Arizona.

"But I got real bored!" he grins, "So I started hanging around airplane folks, and I met this elderly gentleman, in his 80s, building this aircraft. His workmanship was real good, but he thought that at his age and condition, he wouldn't be able to get in and out of it easily, and so he thought he would take it all apart and rebuild it as a 'high-wing.'"

"But that will leave you with a lot of aluminum pieces with a lot of holes in them."

"I guess so, but I've got a lot of money in all that aluminum!"

"Well how much money would you say you have there?"

"Probably near a thousand dollars!"

"Well, how about I give you a thousand dollars for that aluminum with those holes, before you take it all apart, and then you can go and buy a bunch of aluminum without any holes!"

"Would you really do that?"


"And that's how David acquired this project. David's in-laws lived in Chilliwack, and with his mother-in-law having recently passed away and his father-in law failing in health, David and wife decided they would stay near-by for the present. And so the project was moved to Chilliwack; where David is working away at designing, drafting the components, building them, and continuing the journey to a finished homebuilt.

We looked at the wing structure and David showed me the hard points he had built into the structure. He showed how he could either extend the wing tips for a lower wing loading, or (as he says) if the spirit moves me, I can make it into a bi-plane just like they did with the Stearman.

Just pieces of aluminum with a lot of holes.

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