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Help Build a Plane in One Week
Volunteers will build a new Van’s RV-12iS
By Barbara A. Schmitz
But in that time, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh visitors and members will build a new homebuilt plane. Again.
Jack J. Pelton, EAA CEO and chairman of the board, said EAA decided to again build a plane, dubbed the One Week Wonder, to ensure people understand that building an airplane is achievable. “Doing it in a week is a bit of grandstanding, but it really makes the point … that building an airplane is a phenomenon that can be done by anyone.”
This time, the airplane will be a Van’s RV-12iS. Charlie Becker, EAA’s director of chapters and communities & homebuilt community manager, said it will take the entire week to construct the plane, with people working on it daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or even longer, if needed. He hopes thousands of people will stop by to pull a rivet or help in some other way, and then become inspired knowing they had some part in its assembly.
The RV-12iS is being constructed at EAA’s Four Corners, located at the intersection of Knapp Street and Celebration Way. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 7:45 a.m. today, with the build officially beginning at 8 a.m. Jack said the project couldn’t happen without the support of companies like Van’s Aircraft, Garmin, Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co., and Rotax.
It takes a lot of volunteers to oversee a project of such magnitude. Charlie said five Van’s Aircraft employees will be on the grounds to oversee the build, and 100 core volunteers will guide the project along, with another 60 volunteers working with the public to teach them how to pull a rivet or answer questions.
Jack acknowledged that it’s challenging to build a plane in a week, but said you can feel the excitement of watching it come together. A well-designed kit airplane is truly made for the amateur to build, Charlie added.
“There is a large safety margin built in,” Charlie said. “Of course, you still must be diligent in building,” he added, but current technology makes skill methods available to just about anyone.
“For instance, I can teach someone how to pull a rivet in about one minute,” Charlie said. “A lot of people might perceive that it’s difficult to build an airplane. Yes, it is a big undertaking, but it really is within the grasp of anyone who has the DIY spirit.”
EAA will provide around-the-clock webcam coverage of the build.
The first plane built by AirVenture visitors in a week was a Zenith CH 750, built in 2014. After spending about 18 months taking it to chapters across the country to show off the work of members, the airplane is now used by EAA’s flying club, Jack said. EAA plans to do the same with the RV-12iS, he said.
“This really represents the innovative, can-do spirit of EAA members through all these years,” Jack said. “Our members don’t put limitations on what is possible. Instead, they set a goal, believe it can be done, and then it happens.”