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New Pilot Earns Private Ticket in Homebuilt

Blake Crawford
Blake Crawford and examiner Debbie Rihn-Harvey stand on the wings of the RV-7A Blake flew in to pass his checkride.

January 17, 2012 - Like many aspiring private pilots, Blake Crawford took and passed his checkride as soon as he possibly could - on his 17th birthday last week. What made Blake's private certificate less than ordinary, however, was the fact that he flew it in a homebuilt RV-7A, which he also had a hand in building with his father at their home on the Polly Ranch Airpark near Houston, Texas.

Not only that, said Blake's flight instructor Valerie Vaughn, but one of Blake's instructors was "time-to-climb" world record holder Bruce Bohannon, and the person who signed off on his checkride was aerobatic champion pilot and DPE Debbie Rihn-Harvey.

Blake and his father, Russell, built the RV-7A. "Blake bucked a lot of rivets and did other things," said Vaughn, who instructs at Houston Southwest Airport's Dutch Wings Flight School. He did most of his dual and solo work in the RV with Vaughn, including his first solo and his cross country. She called him a natural pilot who was a joy to have as a student, but that doesn’t mean he'll necessarily make aviation his career. "Blake is planning to pursue engineering as a career," Vaughn said.

He had a total of 43 hours in his logbook when he got his ticket, but probably more than 100 flying with his dad and other friends.

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