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EAA Experimenter - EAA's Homebuilders e-Newsletter EAA Homebuilders
SEP 2011 | VOLUME 3 | NUMBER 9
Twin Midget Mustangs at AirVenture 2011
Twin Midget Mustangs

Building an experimental aircraft can be very rewarding, potentially doubly so if done with a friend. That being the case, how much better could it be if the plane was built with a brother? Will and Phil Leonard found out that it's especially rewarding when a few years ago they saw to completion a pair of exceptional Thatcher CX4s.

It all started in 2003 when my neighbor and I made a long-desired trip to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh for a few days there. I came home all fired up to get back into actively flying again. I had obtained my private pilot certificate in the early 1970s, as well as a sailplane rating, but hadn't flown any aircraft since the early 1980s. I wanted to buy something small that I could fly out of a local grass strip. So I found a Hi-Max in Dunn, North Carolina, bought it, and my brother Phil, EAA 765985, helped me pick it up and bring it home to Independence, Virginia.
Read more

Hints for Homebuilders
Each month we present the most recent "Hints for Homebuilders" videos as featured in e-Hotline since the last issue of Experimenter. EAA recently taped 25 new Hints episodes and they will be coming soon to e-Hotline and, in case you miss them, future issues of Experimenter.
 Nut Plate Tip
 Circuit Protection
 Antenna Installation
 Countersinking in Tight Places
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CAFE Time!
The upcoming CAFE Green Flight Challenge

I'm in Santa Rosa, California, to witness and report on the weeklong CAFE Green Flight Challenge, conducted at the CAFE Foundation Flight Test Center at Charles M. Schulz - Sonoma County Airport, beginning on September 25, 2011. The awards ceremony and exposition of the competing aircraft will be held at the conclusion, October 3, at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California. For those who aren't familiar with this competition, several teams will compete for a total of $1.65 million in prize money, using electric, biofueled, and hybrid-powered aircraft. For details on the event schedule, competing aircraft, and a summary of the rules, read more.

Pat Panzera

90 Septembers for Paul Poberezny

This month Paul Poberezny celebrated his
90th birthday and one event that is often co-occurring with his birthday is the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada, with which Paul has a long history, including many years as chief judge. While the organizers of Reno and government agencies continue to investigate the recent tragedy, we look back at a Sport Aviation article Paul wrote in 1989 about the pre-race gear-up woes of the record-setting homebuilt Tsunami. Read Paul's Pick
Paul Poberezny

Meet your new homebuilders community manager
Who am I, and why was I asked to write for Experimenter? Fairly simple, I'm Chad Jensen, EAA 755575, and I am your new homebuilders community manager for EAA. The opportunity to work and serve at EAA has been something I've been seeking and looking forward to for a long time. I am a homebuilder, taking nearly 2,000 hours over an exact five-year period to complete a Van's RV-7. The commitment and dedication needed to see an amateur-built airplane from plans, pieces, and parts to flight status is nothing short of a monumental task, yet those of us who have the passion to create a flying machine tackle it with enthusiasm backed by support from our EAA member friends and local chapters. Read more
Chad Jensen

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.
Wicks Aircraft
A Tool for Understanding Power, Drag, and Prop Design
New perspectives, techniques, and a working model

In the August 2009 issue of Experimenter, Howard Handelman shared with us his insight on perspectives and techniques for determining power and drag as associated with your homebuilt aircraft. Howard also provided a working model in an Excel spreadsheet to help. This time Howard is back with work that helps to simplify the process and now brings the propeller into the mix. Read more

New Life for the BD-5 Fuselage
In the October 2009 issue of Experimenter, Mike Lecka's Harley-Davidson-powered project was featured. Since then, Mike has become the caretaker of a very special set of molds used for creating a composite fuselage for the BD-5, and has gone into production, but not only for experimental aircraft. It seems that while certainly available for homebuilt aircraft, there is a market for the BD-5 fuselage that goes beyond experimental aviation-and certainly beyond just the BD-5. Read more


Improved Aluminum Knife Plans
When set with the task of cutting sheet aluminum without the use of a shear, the options become rather limited. Some crafty homebuilders have discovered that the Olfa P-800 heavy-duty plastic laminate (Formica) cutter does a nice job of also cutting aluminum. The term "cutter" is perhaps a bit misleading, as it "cuts" in a manner similar to a glass cutter, in that it merely scores a line in the material that when bent, the material will break along the line. This article tells how one builder built his own heavy-duty version of this knife, but using a carbide blade which is nearly indestructible. Read more
How To
NTSB Has Recorded Data of Reno Crash
Air race tragedy kills EAA Director Jimmy Leeward and 10 others

The NTSB has released its preliminary report on the accident involving a modified P-51 flown by EAA Director Jimmy Leeward that crashed at the Reno Air Races last week. Earlier it announced that it had recovered electronic memory data cards that may have been on board the aircraft and those cards may contain important information on the attitude, airspeed, and other performance measurements recorded just before the airplane impacted a spectator seating area near the main grandstand. Read more

Blois 2011
French ultralight fly-in celebrates 31 years
Thirty-one years ago the first Blois fly-in took place in central France. Since then a lot has happened on the AÉRODROME Blois - LE BREUIL - Vendôme (LFOQ), approximately 100 miles south of Paris. Blois is considered one of the biggest and most important ultralight fly-ins in Europe, and for 30 years was called the Salon de Blois, now named Festival International de L'aviation Ultra Légère. According to all, the quality of visitors at this fly-in and trade show was much better than in the past. And we saw numerous national and, surprisingly, several world premieres. Read more
Blois 2011

Eye of the Experimenter
25th Goodguys West Coast Nationals
This past weekend, EAA's Experimenter e-newsletter editor Pat Panzera was on assignment at the 10th annual Tandem-Wing Fly-In in Livermore, California, and got a little sidetracked with the 25th Goodguys West Coast Nationals (car show) in neighboring Pleasanton, California. Although he was planning to attend the car show in order to see the scale model aircraft engines on display, he found a little something else aviation-related that knocked his socks off. Read more

Chinese Farmer Builds 'Flying Saucer'
Shu Mansheng, a 46-year-old Chinese farmer, is bound and determined to fly. The aspiring aviator has reportedly designed and built a total of eight aircraft - none of them successful. But he keeps trying. His latest effort is a saucer-shaped aircraft that sort of "elevated" last month, as shown by this video posted to a Chinese website. The homebuilder Mansheng came up with the contraption at his home in Dashu village in central China's Hubei province. Read more
The Cozy Mark IV
First Manned Electric-Powered Helicopter Flight Achieved 
Electrical and aerospace engineer Pascal Chretien has done what the entire Sikorsky corporation is still trying to accomplish: the first untethered electric-powered manned helicopter flight. Last month Chretien hovered his coaxial design helicopter 1 meter above the ground for more than two minutes. Approached by the French automotive research company Solution F to build the helicopter, in 12 months Chretein designed, built, and flew the aircraft, which is powered by lithium batteries and brushless DC motors. Read more

Cliff Robertson's Death Saddens EAA Family
Cliff Robertson, the Academy Award-winning actor whose aviation passion helped lead the development and launch of EAA's Young Eagles program, died this month, just one day after his 88th birthday. Robertson (EAA 18529), who began flying at age 14 and had been an EAA member since 1964, helped launch the EAA Young Eagles program when he became the program's first chairman in 1992. He and then-EAA President Tom Poberezny flew the first Young Eagles at the EAA Fly-In Convention at Oshkosh that year. Read more
Cliff Robertson

EAA SportAir Workshops

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 almost finished building my airplane, and I don't know how to fill out the FAA paperwork. Where do I start, and where can I get the forms? Please help!

A. I'm so glad you asked! EAA has produced the Amateur-Built Certification Kit which contains all of the required FAA forms for registering and certificating your experimental amateur-built aircraft.

The most important part of the kit is the Step-by-Step Certification Guide booklet developed by EAA that will guide you through the registration and certification process using a checklist format. It also includes examples of how to fill out each piece of paperwork and tips on what to do (and what not to do) as well.

In addition to the forms and booklet, you will also receive a properly sized decal of the word EXPERIMENTAL to place on your aircraft, a fireproof data plate that you can engrave and install, and a sheet of pressure-sensitive labels and placards for your panel.

The EAA Amateur-Built Certification Kit is available from our EAA online store by calling toll free 800-843-3612.

Read more Q&As

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

MONOCOQUE - Type of fuselage design with little or no internal bracing other than bulkheads, where the outer skin bears the main stresses; usually round or oval in cross section. Additional classifications are (1) semimonocoque, where the skin is reinforced by LONGERONS or bulkheads, but with no diagonal web members, and (2) reinforced shell, in which the skin is supported by a complete framework or structural members. French: monocoque, single shell.

More glossary terms

The Reno Air Races, also known as the National Championship Air Races, began in 1964 and soon became a key event to demonstrate precision flying and cutting-edge technology, most of it coming from the grassroots of experimental aviation. While many wonder if last week’s tragedy will end the event, we look back in the pages of Sport Aviation for our report on the first Reno Air Races. Read the article
From the Archives
Canard Gathering at Rough River State Park, Falls of Rough, Kentucky
The 25th annual Central States Canard Fly-In (2I3) will be hosted at Rough River, September 30 to October 2, 2011. For more information, visit the website. To read about last year's event, as published in the October 2010 issue of Experimenter, click here.

Since the first event in 1973, the COPPERSTATE Fly-In has been bringing together aviation enthusiasts in the southwest United States. Although it's moved around a bit, since 2005 the fly-in has made its home at the Casa Grande Municipal Airport (KCGZ) in Casa Grande, Arizona. For more information, visit the website. To read about last year's event, as published in the November 2010 issue of Experimenter, click here.

FuelVenture 200/400 Prepares for Fourth Annual Competition
Entries are now being sought for the fourth annual FuelVenture 200/400, billed as "a competition for the most fuel efficient aircraft on the planet" and occurring October 21 to 22, during the COPPERSTATE Fly-In at Casa Grande Municipal Airport, Arizona. The event's moniker reveals an expansion to the competition this year: A 200-mile, lower-speed course is being added for aircraft flying 60 to 119 mph. The 400-mile course continues for planes flying in excess of 120 mph. Read more

We Go Heavy on the How-To's with Books and DVDs for Homebuilders
September is Homebuilders Month. And to celebrate, we're bringing you a great collection of books, DVDs, kits, and lots of other must-have merchandise that's specially selected for the hardworking homebuilder. Through September 30, select items are up to 20 percent off. When you shop at EAA's Online Store, you support EAA programs that help grow participation in aviation. Order online or by calling us toll-free at 800-564-6322.
Homebuilders books

EAA Radio: The Bugatti Project
EAA AirVenture Museum is the permanent home of the Bugatti Model 100P racer, a plane designed in the 1930s to demonstrate Ettore Bugatti's automobile racing engines. But it never flew. Scotty Wilson plans to change all that and maybe fly it by the end of this year. Wilson and build partner Ladislas de Monge, whose granduncle assisted Bugatti with the original aircraft, spoke about the project on EAA Radio Live during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2011. Listen to Part 1 | Listen to Part 2

Building a Pair of Thatcher CX-4's
This month's lead story is about a pair of Thatcher CX-4's built by brothers Will and Phil Leonard. We featured quite a few photos in the article but there are plenty more photos of their build process. The extra photos along with those in the story are part of our monthly homebuilder's gallery. View the gallery
Photo Gallery

All About Cylinders
Maintenance expert and EAA Sport Aviation columnist Mike Busch, A&P/IA, presents an informational webinar about cylinders - construction, failure modes (head cracks and separations, exhaust valve failure, barrel wear), maintenance-induced failures, factors affecting longevity, repair, replacement, top overhauls, and more.

All webinars begin at 7 p.m. CDT unless otherwise noted. 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.

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