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EAA Experimenter

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From the Editor

Letters!

Please don't be afraid to take the survey

By Patrick Panzera, Editor – Experimenter, EAA 555743  

Pat Panzera

It’s time once again to go through the mailbox and answer a few letters, the majority of which are actually comments and questions posted in the survey we conduct in every issue, one I would encourage you to participate in. Please remember that when you click on the survey link, you won’t be required to enter any personal information. There’s no logging in, no passwords to remember, no unexpected surprises at the end, and this isn’t some stealthy method of gathering anything but your honest opinion. I read every comment in every survey and use that information to assure myself that we’re delivering top-notch content in each issue. So with that, I would encourage you to read the letters and then participate in the current and future surveys.

When asked to answer the question, “Was there anything in particular you disliked about this issue of Experimenter?” one of our readers wrote the following:

“...there are too many pages wasted on social, political, or regulatory items. Leave that stuff in the Sport Aviation magazine and stop repeating it in this publication.

This newsletter is available to anyone, EAA member or not. Just before each issue is ready to “go live,” we put together the most current articles we have on issues of concern to the homebuilder, many of which are political in nature, including issues that are of interest to flying homebuilts as much as building them. So although I’m glad to know that you’re connected well enough to have seen some of this news before, many aren’t, and it’s important this info gets into the hands of everyone.

Along those same lines…

“Lots of overlap with other ‘special’ digests from EAA.”

This is just an effort to make sure that the really cool stuff in the other newsletters which may be of interest to the homebuilding community is seen by as many people as possible.

“It’s a shame that the publishing format doesn’t allow more in-depth coverage of interesting themes.”

We do the best we can, considering that not every reader has a high-speed connection. We’re working on some ideas that may help, but nothing is set in stone yet.

“Remember in the ’70s when the KR-1 came out of some unknown’s garage - Ken Rand, now there was an experimenter. I’m tired of articles on how to assemble some fully tested aircraft being offered as a kit. I want to know how to develop and test my own ideas for myself - to be an experimenter.”

Times have changed; these types of experiments are getting fewer between. But this is what’s on my radar, things I’m constantly looking for to include in Experimenter. But to our defense, we’ve done a great job covering the Thatcher CX4, the Corvair Cruiser, Jack Bally’s 1/3 Scale Replica B-17, the Snedden M7, Tom Aberle’s Phantom, Ed Fisher’s Lil Bitts Biplane, the Flitzer, Fun-Kist, Chris Christiansen’s Savor as well as his Peregrin XS-302, the Facetmobile, and many others, all of which can be found by clicking here. But the biggest difference between the 1970s and now is the Internet. Where in the past, the only way for the word to get out about a new design was via print publications, people now build websites and use e-mail groups to spread the word.

And as we print in every issue of Experimenter, we need your help! If you know of a project of interest, tell us about it. Or better still, prod the builder to write an article and send it to me; I’ve yet to decline an offer of an article that was relevant to homebuilders. In three years of editing this publication, I can’t think of a single article I’ve turned down or one that I received that’s not in the cache or has been already published. 

When we asked, “Are there any topics or articles that you would like to see in future issues of Experimenter?” you answered with:

“I would like to see an article about building a set of floats from plans, also how to figure where to attach the rigging.”

That’s a rather specific request, but I’m putting it out there to see if anyone can help.

“I want to start welding, maybe an entire fuselage. I would like an article on this.”

This might make for a rather long article, potentially a multiparter, but my advice would be to log on to EAA’s Online Store and order one or more of the welding books they have in stock. One of my favorites that I bought from EAA several years ago is one written by Richard Finch, which seems to be missing from the EAA shelves. And although there’s not much about welding in them, the books by Tony Bingelis are a must-have for any homebuilder.

“Articles on auto engines with the transmission used in aircraft.”

There’s only one successful use of an automobile transmission used in a homebuilt aircraft that I'm aware of, and that would be George Graham’s E-Racer that used a Mazda 13b engine. Other than that, there have been some motorcycle engines (with transmission) used in ultralights and other very small planes, none of which have been successful to my knowledge. But I’d love to be proved wrong! Hopefully this note will cause someone to contact me with some information.

“No real information for sport pilots.”
“Nothing on ultralights.”

This is a recurring complaint about Experimenter, one that I thought I could cure by including a section in each issue on another great EAA e-newsletter, Light Plane World, and it seems to be working. The complaints have dwindled, but I still get them from time to time.

As a rule, there won’t be much in the way of special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA; the $125,000 factory-built beauties) in the pages of Experimenter. For that type of reading, you need to subscribe to Light Plane World. That’s not to say you won’t find homebuilts that can be flown by a sport pilot. Every issue has at least one article on an experimental aircraft that qualifies - sometimes more than one. I consider this to be an essential part of Experimenter. But like I said, the S-LSA aren’t found here; they’re covered in Light Plane World. However, on occasion we may publish an article on an experimental light-sport aircraft, those kits offered by the manufacturer of an S-LSA such as the Van’s RV-12, or any other kit/project that comes our way.  

And for those who have been asking for more FAR 103 legal ultralight news, I have the same recommendation - subscribe to Light Plane World. Although you’ll see from time to time articles on cutting-edge ultralights in Experimenter, like the Snedden M7, the Hummel UltraCruiser, or even thought-provoking concepts such as “Can a Long ‘Longster’ be built as a legal FAR 103 ultralight?” you won’t find much in the way of factory-built FAR 103 information in Experimenter - but you will in Light Plane World.

“I would like more articles about the future of electric airplanes.”

And so would I! Although this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (we’ve recently had a few who complained that there’s too much talk about electric aircraft), I think this is an exciting technology that will positively affect homebuilding at its core. Long before it catches on with certificated aircraft, the fertile mind of the experimenter will run with the technology at its every advance. Unencumbered with bureaucratic red tape in the same way that the 2008 Dr. August Raspet Memorial Award winner Randall Fishman took parts from an electric wheelchair to pioneer the current revolution, I can see the true advances being made through the experimental amateur-built ranks. So with that, you can count on Experimenter to be the resource for information on that type of garage technology. 

As suspected, I could ramble on for pages and pages of text, but that might get me in trouble if the word-count soars. So I’ll sign off with the following inspirational video, one that could hopefully encourage you to send me an article on your project or one that you enjoy. Click here to see the video.

One last thought. Many publications will print in their letters column the wonderful words of praise they receive each issue. I haven’t bothered with that in this editorial as it’s just a given. We get 90 to 95 percent more words of praise every issue than we do complaints, and we fully appreciate every word! Thank you! But I take the complaints, words of advice, and requests very seriously. That’s why I published some of them here.

And don’t forget to take the survey by clicking here!

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