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Students Restoring Stits Skycoupe at Flabob

Flabob students
High school students restoring a Stits Skycoupe include (l to r) Leland Spearman, Alex Lemke, Nathan Sandoval, Christian Krause, project leader Al Gester, and Jonathan Lane. (Missing are Kyle Appleberry and Jacob Hilger.)

January 28, 2010For the past two years a group of seven high school students has gathered on Saturdays at a small hangar on Flabob Airport, Riverside, California, restoring a 1963 Stits Skycoupe. Designed by Ray Stits, who founded EAA Chapter One and has been associated with Flabob for decades, the Skycoupe was one of the earliest designs offered to EAA members and other homebuilders. Stits designed another 14 aircraft over the years including the Flutterbug and Playmate. The project is being supported by the Flabob-based Wathen Foundation.

When dug out of the rafters of an old hangar at Flabob, project leader Al Gester, EAA 444429, said it looked like it had been in a wreck. Upon closer examination, however, it just suffered from many years of neglect and rough handling.

As with any restoration project, the components of the Skycoupe had to be dismantled, cleaned up, repaired, and then brought back to their original configuration. So far the students have recovered the tail group, readied the wings for recover, and are putting the hardware and wooden stringers back onto the fuselage in anticipation of recovering. Materials are being donated by Poly-Fiber.

Gester, who is retired from the Air Force, estimates completion of the project may take another two years. Meanwhile, students who log a certain number of hours earn subsidized flight lessons. Four of the students are currently working on their private licenses and two are expected to earn their tickets this year. For more information on programs at Flabob, visit www.Flabob.org or contact Kathy@flabob.org.

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