May 16, 2013 - A special project is occurring at the EAA Chapter 79 hangar on Spokane, Washington's Felts Field. About a dozen chapter members are working to complete panel work on the RV-8 owned by a fellow member, United States Air Force Capt. Tyler Voss, who was tragically killed along with two other airmen when their KC-135 Stratotanker crashed on May 3 in Kyrgyzstan.
Voss, who was 27, joined the chapter about two years ago after acquiring his airplane from another owner. He was feverishly working to finish his new panel and other upgrades at the time he was deployed earlier this year.
Chapter member Marian Heale wrote in the May edition of The EAA Chapter 79 Newsletter:
"On his last day in the country he gave his life for, Tyler was working on his RV-8 at the EAA hangar. He spoke to (chapter member) Vance Simons, who had become a friend since he is also building an airplane in the hangar and they saw each other often. Tyler said his goal had been to finish refurbishing his RV-8 before deployment, but duty called, and he would be leaving the next day. Vance said, 'Well, at least you're leaving for a good cause - to fight for your country.' They agreed, wished each other good luck, and Tyler said he would see Vance in two months."
Unfortunately that day never came. Voss died when his Stratotanker crashed near Chon-Aryk, Kyrgyzstan, shortly after takeoff on a refueling mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Chapter President Jack Hohner became friends with Voss when he joined the chapter. "I got to know him when he started working on the airplane in our chapter hangar," he said. "Always had a smile on his face, was well-liked by everyone." Chapter 79 is a very active chapter with about 120 members.
After the crash, chapter members decided to volunteer their time to finish Voss' airplane as a tribute to the fallen warrior. "We had more people come forward willing to help out than can be accommodated," Hohner said. He estimated about 40 hours of work left to complete the airplane, which, when done, will be flown back to his hometown in Texas to be given to his family.