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Onex Builder Friends Meet Up at AirVenture

By Randy Dufault

July 29, 2017 - Choosing a homebuilt or kit airplane model is a very personal endeavor. Each type has numerous attributes that attract a builder — appearance, configuration, construction technique, engine, etc. For Mark Edwards of Kelso, Washington, it was folding wings.

“Hangar rents were getting high, so what do you want to do?” Mark said while standing in front of his Navy-themed Sonex Onex at EAA AirVenture 2017. “You want to find a plane with folding wings. So that’s why we picked this [design].”

“We” refers to Mark and hangar mate (and fellow Onex builder) Loren Sievila. The friends ordered their kits at the same time, and both arrived in Kelso on the same truck.

The projects progressed at a similar rate and ultimately received their airworthiness certificates on the same day.

“We got the certificates May 14, 2014,” Loren said. “Got them the same day from the DAR. He had to fly up, so it saved us a little money.”

Loren chose a Navy theme for his craft, too, although it doesn’t exactly mirror Mark’s finishes.

Both craft initially flew with AeroVee engines. Not completely satisfied with the performance, the pilots decided to mount CAMit 2200 mills on the little one-seaters.

“It’s 40 pounds lighter than the AeroVee so we went from 600 fpm climb at takeoff to over 1,000 fpm,” Mark said. “That was a benefit — make it lighter.”

The lighter engine required moving the propeller 7 inches forward and necessitated substantial modifications to the original cowling.

“Mark did a great job on the fiberglass,” Loren said.

Mark added, “It was worth it. It flies nice. That engine was just made for this airframe.”

Loren blogged about his build on www.MyKitLog.com. That effort allowed him to closely track the more than 1,100 hours spent on the project — and connected him with fellow Onex builder Todd Reifers of Indianapolis.

“We actually just coordinated and decided what we were going to do,” Todd said. “We sent pictures back and forth. It just took off from there. We’ve become very good friends.”

The builders met up at AirVenture 2017 and parked next to each other in the Onex row.

“There were quite a few problems with the early drawings, which is not unusual,” Loren said. “One specific thing was on the outboard wing panel. There was a pre-punched angle that was punched incorrectly … so I found that and was able to prevent Todd from having the same problem.”

Loren visited Todd several times over the course of his project to help with the build. Todd is an artist by trade, and Loren is a millwright, and Todd believes their combination of talents really helped his project along.

Folding wings were not the impetus for Todd’s choice of the design.

“I decided, ‘I’m going to change direction 90 degrees to the right,’” Todd said, after describing a failed effort to acquire a custom motorcycle. “I drove up here [in 2012], saw the Onex, sat in it, and ordered a kit. That is not like me, but it was the best thing I’ve ever done.”

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