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EAA Experimenter - EAA's Homebuilders e-Newsletter EAA Homebuilders
FEB 2011 | VOLUME 3 | NUMBER 2
William Stinson's Thatcher CX4
Completion of a Sonex

Completion of a Sonex
Karl Storjohann is a seasoned commercial-rated pilot, now enjoying sport pilot privileges and social security. Methodically working through his first build, he credits the plans and parts supplied by Sonex for much of his success. Working daily for nearly three years netted him the joy of having built this plane, with his own two hands, and being the first person to fly it. He likens his first flight in his new plane to his first solo flight 46 years earlier. Read more

Hints for Homebuilders
Hints for Homebuilders Tire Removal and Assembly
Dick and Bob Koehler show the proper way to remove and then reassemble a split rim aircraft tire. Dick and Bob are both Technical Counselors, A&P aircraft mechanics with Inspection Authorization (IA), and SportAir Workshop instructors.
Tire Removal
| Tire Assembly
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The Impossible Turn Revisited - Again
An update to last month's column

In last month's editorial I wrote of my personal experience with "the impossible turn." As one might expect, I received a lot of commentary from the readers, most through Facebook (now that our articles are linked to it), but I also received several directly through e-mail. Overall the comments were complimentary, and I truly appreciate it. But some made a few good points that I missed which I'd like to share with you now.
Read more

Pat Panzera

Experimenter Improves with Your Help
The best stories come from you, and we implore you to share your building experiences with your fellow readers. We need your help in providing content for each issue of Experimenter. Please consider submitting an article, especially the next time you feel compelled to write a report to your e-mail group, type newsletter, or EAA chapter newsletter. Help us build up a stockpile so we can do a better job bringing you Experimenter each month. And please remember to take our survey when you are done with this issue of Experimenter.

EAA and FAA Working Together
This month representatives with the FAA traveled to Oshkosh for an annual summit to confer with EAA representatives on a range of issues and initiatives. The collaboration has been going on for almost a decade and has been useful in shaping future regulations. In 1981, Paul Poberezny wrote about informal meetings he had with FAA officials about very similar issues that still exist today, like whether a third-class medical is necessary for those who hold a private pilot certificate. Read Paul's Pick

Paul Poberezny

Operating Limitations - Major or Minor Change?

Continuing our discussion of experimental, amateur-built operating limitations, I want to talk about something that is a constant source of conversation and questions - the "major change." One of the benefits of owning or operating an experimental aircraft is that you are free to, well, experiment! The aircraft isn't tied to any sort of FAA type design or specification, so there are few restrictions on the changes a person might wish to make or who may make them. As with all things, however, one must make sure to check and see what the operating limitations allow and require. One thing you'll find in all operating limitations will be requirements for incorporating a "major change." What's a major change, you ask? Well, that's where the conversation and questions start. Read more

Joe Norris

Thatcher CX4 Expecting a Big Brother
As a result of the single-place Thatcher CX4s success and due to overwhelming builder demand, Dave Thatcher and his Thatcher Aircraft company will offer a two-place version of the CX4 later this year. As is his normal style, Dave has been quietly working away, building the new prototype, drawing the plans for the past year, and keeping things under wraps. Read more

Two First-Time Builders Let Others Observe, Critique with Live Video Blog
Most days, Brady Lane and Caleb Ihrig are just two normal guys in their 20s: They like sports, video games, music, and, of course, their families. They also have embarked upon an ambitious project to build a four-place Bearhawk from scratch. Caleb is an engineer and likes mechanical things; Brady is a multimedia journalist for EAA. With just basic skills and tools, the two friends are inviting the world to watch them build an airplane through their Dream Build Fly blog, featuring weekly build sessions streamed live from Caleb's basement.
Read more
First-time builders

Wicks Aircraft
Understanding Horsepower and Torque
They aren't mutually exclusive
One of the most hotly contested but least understood controversy concerning engines in aircraft is that of horsepower versus torque. How often have we heard the phrase, "It's torque that turns a prop"? It's one of those statements that have been repeated so often that most people now accept it as fact. While there's some truth to it, it's a very misleading concept.
Read more
How To

...or in this case, rebuilding
In the spring of 2006, Charlie Johnson was preparing to depart in his VW-powered Dragonfly Mk.II to attend a canard aircraft gathering in the foothills of California. He got as far as the run-up area when he noticed a problem: the propeller was not responding to throttle control- and this was a fixed-pitch prop! By the following week he had his plane disassembled and prepared to haul it back home to Utah. As things often go, he decided that this was a great opportunity to swap-out the VW for the more powerful engine. This of course necessitated several changes, many related to the higher power and the fit of the new Corvair engine, but some changes were just overdue.
Read more
What our members are building

Moldless Composite Construction, Plans-Built
This month's unique Mystery Plane is a two-place, side-by-side, plans-built experimental aircraft that may be configured to qualify and be flown by a sport pilot. The prototype was originally (successfully) flown using a converted 100-hp Subaru EA-81 that has since been replaced by a Lycoming O-320. This plane brings the go-fast looks and performance to the pocketbook of the average plans-builder. Read more
Mystery Plane
Seven Entries for EAA's Electric Flight Prize
There is a buzz in the air surrounding the $60,000 Electric Flight Prize at EAA AirVenture 2011. Initial applications are filtering in from innovators ready to showcase their advancements in electric flight at "The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration." AirVenture 2011 attendees will have an opportunity to witness the future of electric flight on display and in action through this contest, which will highlight an amazing array of new powerplant and airframe designs. Read more

EAA Lists Concerns on Pilot Certificate Photo Proposal
In response to a 2004 congressional mandate, the FAA has proposed a new form of pilot certificate that would include a photo. The requirements from Congress include security measures like resistance to tampering and a unique identifier such as a digital photo or biometric ID. EAA and other industry groups argue that the new requirements increase costs to certificate holders and are unnecessary since the current rules require pilots to carry a photo ID. Also, that new ID may still not conform to Department of Homeland Security standards, which means in the future certificate holders would have to replace their IDs a second time. Read more
Pilot certificate

Co-Founder of Monogram Models Dies
It started with balsa wood, some music wire, tissue, and a rubber loop: It was his first model airplane. At 13 years old, Robert Reder had created a flying toy that would change his life and inspire many others. He became a draftsman for a model company in Chicago during World War II, eventually helping him launch his own model company, Monogram Models, which later became Revell Inc., a leader in hobby model kits. Read more
Robert Reder

Work Begins on Plan to Lower A-B Fatal Accident Rate
EAA participates in ongoing work on GA safety and LSA standards
EAA Government & Advocacy Specialist David Oord was in Sebring, Florida, last week meeting with several task forces and committees regarding light-sport aircraft certification and GA safety initiatives. In these ongoing collaborations with government and industry entities, EAA plays a key role, evolving standards for light-sport aircraft and working with the FAA to lower the experimental amateur-built aircraft accident rate. Read more
David Oord

Rutan's Pyramid on the Market
Aviation legend Burt Rutan, who last year announced he would retire in April 2011, is moving within weeks to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and now he and his wife, Tonya, have their home, "The Rutan Pyramid," up for sale in Mojave, California. What better home for an EAAer? The Rutan Pyramid is only five minutes away (by car or helicopter - it has a heliport) from the Mojave Air & Space Port. The unique home, in which myriad innovative flying machines and other inventions were inspired, is on the market with the asking price of $1 million. Read more
Burt Rutan
Got a question? Send it to us at
Whether you're building, restoring, or just an enthusiast. we want to know what has you stumped.

Q. I'm looking at two already-flying homebuilts that are for sale, and I want to make sure that if I purchase one it will meet the light-sport aircraft (LSA) requirements. One has a gross weight of 1,500 pounds, so as it stands it doesn't meet the LSA definition. But I thought I read that the gross weight of a homebuilt could be changed, despite it being a major modification. So could I change the gross weight of this aircraft to 1,320 pounds and make it meet the LSA definition?

A. It's easy to be misled by the question of changing the gross weight of an experimental aircraft. That question on its face has no relation to the requirements for a sport pilot and a light-sport aircraft. The answer to the question of whether the gross weight on an experimental aircraft can be changed is yes. However, in your case you're actually asking a second question, which is, can such a change qualify the aircraft for operation by sport pilots? The answer to that question is, unfortunately, no. Read more

Read more Q&As

Confused by a strange aeronautical term? EAA's online Aviation Glossary can help.

MULTI-PORT FUEL INJECTION (MPFI or MFI) - Multi-port fuel injection is a system that injects fuel into the intake port just upstream of the intake valve rather than at a central point within an intake manifold. MPFI (or just MPI) systems can be sequential, in which injection is timed to coincide with each cylinder's intake stroke; batched, in which fuel is injected to the cylinders in groups, without precise synchronization to any particular cylinder's intake stroke; or simultaneous, in which fuel is injected at the same time to all the cylinders. Typical fuel pressure runs between 40 to 60 pounds per square inch.

More glossary terms

Experimenter, March 1956
The Wittman Tailwind
By Leo J. Kohn

While searching the archives for this month's feature, looking for something to complement the Wittman Buttercup article in next month's Experimenter, we came across this vintage issue of the print version of Experimenter featuring a Wittman Tailwind on the cover. So rather than just an article this month, we're bringing you the entire vintage issue. Read the issue

From the Archives
Rassemblement Rutan Avions Canards Vannes
(Rutan Canards Rally in Vannes, France)
Rutan canards aren't only timeless but a global phenomena. This video montage is just a glimpse of the far-reaching effect Rutan has had on the homebuilt global community. Watch the video
Rutan Canards Rally in Vannes, France
The Southern Illinois Big Muddy Air Race, June 4, 2011
Sam Hoskins, featured in the August 2010 issue of Experimenter for his recent participation in the 2010 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Cup Race, is promoting a new race this year. Like the AirVenture Cup, the Big Muddy Air Race is open to just about any aircraft, and it will be using the Sport Air Racing League set of classes to keep things fair and fun. The race will feature an unusual "pylon turn" over the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Read more
Southern Illinois Big Muddy Air Race
Elippse Propeller to Be Used in Low-Noise Application for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
The February 2009 issue of Experimenter introduced readers to Paul Lipps, the designer of the Elippse propeller, a highly efficient and quiet propeller design. Northwest UAV Propulsion Systems recently tested the design in their state-of-the-art facility and was impressed enough to sign a licensing and manufacturing agreement to produce Elippse unmanned aerial vehicle propellers. Read more
Elippse Propeller to Be Used in Low-Noise Application for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Scale Model Aircraft Engines
Reading through the "Model for Success" article in the current issue (February 2011) of EAA Sport Aviation, Experimenter Editor Pat Panzera was reminded of the model aircraft engine exhibit he came across in the Denver airport several years ago. These scaled jewels of craftsmanship, many no larger than a softball and several of which being actual working replicas of engines from a bygone era, include examples of a Wright Cyclone radial, a Curtiss OX-5 V8, not to mention a Continental C-85 and a 1937 Harley-Davidson "Knucklehead" motorcycle engine. View the gallery

Spitfire, Hurricane, BF-109: Which is Best? Watch This Webinar!

Rob Erdos is Chief Test Pilot for the National Research Council, Canada and has personally flown all three great fighters of the Battle of Britain - the Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane, and an ultra-rare Messerschmitt Bf-109E. In this fascinating presentation, he will analyze and compare the flying qualities of each aircraft and attempt to answer the question that has perplexed generations of historians, pilots and aircraft enthusiasts - which aircraft was best?

All webinars begin at 7 p.m. CST. To find out more about upcoming EAA Webinars and to register, visit the webinars page.

EAA gratefully acknowledges the support of Aircraft Spruce and Specialty Co. for their generous sponsorship of our webinar programs.

The Homebuilders Corner message forum at Oshkosh365 is as active as ever. Have a look at the list below and follow the links to read the actual questions and discussion topics.
Oshkosh 365

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