August 1, 2014 - Hal Bryan, EAA online community manager, admits that he did not spend nearly as much time as some did on the recently completed EAA staff Zenith CH 750 STOL project. But for him that time was a life-changing experience.
“This is my 17th convention,” Bryan said. “But now I can walk around the grounds and say that my homebuilt is here, on display, at Oshkosh.
“I say ‘my’ in the broadest sense of the word. Of course it belongs to all the builders. But deep down, viscerally, personally that changes this whole week for me. And it changes how I look at other people’s projects.”
Over the last 22 months, Bryan and other members of the EAA staff worked on the CH 750 as an opportunity to learn more about the process of turning a bundle of parts into a functioning airplane.
When asked how he thought his skills progressed over the course of the project Bryan said, “I’d never pulled a rivet before this, so I think I was your consummate newbie.
“Where I am now is that my confidence in using the tools and my skill level is orders of magnitude beyond where I was when we started.
“The accessibility of building is something that I’ve certainly known about, I’ve appreciated it, and I’ve evangelized it. But now I can say I’ve experienced it. It’s actually in there.”
Unlike the One Week Wonder, the staff project did not have a particular deadline, and its progress was governed by the amount of time EAA staffers could commit. A group would gather for a few hours on Wednesday evenings and for three to five hours on Saturdays. Everyone’s day job just did not allow for full-day build sessions.
Bryan did want to thank Tracy Buttles of New London, Wisconsin—not an EAA employee but an experienced Zenith builder—for serving as a volunteer mentor to the build team.
The One Week Wonder continues to be on schedule. The tail is on, and the wings are expected to be test-fitted before this issue of AirVenture Today goes to press.
In keeping with a tradition known to many homebuilders, the plane is not able get out of its build location without some disassembly. Sometime Saturday the wings will be removed in order to get the craft out of the tent. Once outside the wings will be reattached, and work will continue toward the goal of taxiing in front of Sunday’s air show crowd.
Stop by and see its continuing progress at EAA Square.