Fabric Covering
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Our Fabric Covering Course is Sponsored by Poly-FiberPolyFiber

Course length: 2 days

The Fabric Covering workshop is just one of a family of workshops presented EAA. It is an intensive 2 day course on general fabric covering techniques using the Poly Fiber covering process. Other covering processes are covered in general form.

The course begins with a discussion of safety issues and general fabric covering. The course is designed to present the methods of covering in discussion form followed immediately by practical hands on experience for each step. The students actually cover a wing surface from the preparation stage all the way through the completion of spraying on colors.

The course is concluded with a repair of the just completed wing surface. At the completion of the two days you will have the confidence and skills necessary to cover your airplane. The majority of the course is hands on practical experience. You make your mistakes on our practice project, not on your airplane!

You will receive an informative workbook and a diploma to proudly display. Fabric covering can be the most satisfying experience of building or restoring your project. This course will save you literally thousands of dollars in labor costs compared to having someone cover your airplane.

The SportAir Workshops are sponsored by Aircraft Spruce and Specialty and Poly-Fiber. Aircraft Spruce and Specialty offers special discounts to EAA SportAir Workshop participants. At the conclusion of the program you will receive a special discount order form good for purchases of materials, supplies, tools and accessories from Aircraft Spruce and Specialty.

The minimum age to participate in a SportAir Workshop is 18. The SportAir workshops are structured as an adult educational activity. Youth are encouraged to participate in our AeroEducate programs at www.aeroeducate.org

I would like to bring my spouse or building partner. Is that possible?
Yes, we encourage family and friends participation. Minimum age to participate is 18. Each person attending the course with you must be a registered and paid participant. There are limited seats in each course and each participant must be enrolled at the current course fee. There have been questions in the past about bringing along a spouse, family member, or friend to observe or audit the course with you. We’ve found over the many years we have presented these courses that unpaid observers quickly become hands on participants, which is unfair to other paid participants of the course, which is why we require all to be enrolled. If you have a specific question about this policy, please feel free to email us at sportair@eaa.org

Do I need to be an EAA member to attend?
No, the workshops are open to anyone interested in learning the skills necessary to build their own aircraft.

Can I take more than one workshop at a location on one weekend?
You are only able to take one workshop each weekend. Each workshop is a full two days in length.

When I complete a course will I be able to do all the related work on my project unassisted?
Since each workshop is only two days in length, it is impossible to teach you everything you need to know. We do tell you where to get further assistance and we certainly provide you with the confidence necessary to begin your project. The fundamentals are taught and you will need to go home and practice.

How much time is actually spent doing "hands-on" activities?
The majority of the workshop time is spent doing "hands-on" activities. Be sure to wear your work clothes. In most courses, about 25% of the total time will be spent in lecture and discussion.

What are the hours of the workshops?
Registration for the workshop begins promptly at 7:30 a.m. on day one with the workshops beginning promptly at 8 a.m. Day One activities conclude about 5 p.m. Day two is 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m, but we’ve been known to continue until 5pm as needed on Day two.

Do I need to bring any tools with me?
No, all tools and materials are provided.

Can I purchase materials at the workshops?
No, however you will receive a discount sheet from Aircraft Spruce & Specialty that will allow you to order materials at a discount with complimentary shipping.

Will I have time for lunch?
Yes, 1 hour is scheduled for lunch each day.

How many people will be in each class?
We try to limit class size to an instructor/student ratio of no more than 16 students per instructor. The welding classes are limited to 12 students due to tooling requirements.

How can I find out what hotels are available in the area?
The best source is Google Maps, Expedia or other travel site. They have the most up to date information and special pricing

Can I pay for the workshop the day I arrive?
No. We must receive payment prior to the workshop. In the past we have experienced a number of "no-shows" from people who have not prepaid. If you need to cancel, a full refund will be provided as long as you notify us at least seven calendar days prior to the workshop.

What if I have to cancel my enrollment?
A full refund will be provided as long as you notify us seven calendar days or more prior to the workshop. These workshops are specialized courses with limited attendance to enhance your learning experience. If you cancel within seven calendar days of the workshop a $100 cancellation fee will be assessed. A “no show” will not be entitled to a refund.

How will I know where the workshop is located?
Workshop addresses and map locations can be found in our information packets. In addition, we will have signs directing you to the workshop.

Do I take anything home with me?
All courses provide you with a detailed workbook and a certificate of completion. In several courses you will build a small project to take with you.

Do I receive a workbook?
Yes, a workbook is provided for each workshop.

Are the instructors volunteers or professionals?
All of our instructors have high qualifications. They are professionals in their field and have years of experience.

What if I am undecided about building an airplane?
We recommend that you take the Fundamentals of Aircraft Building workshop. This workshop will give you "hands-on" experience in all types of aircraft construction.

Can I get credit for IA renewal by attending your workshop?
Several FAA district offices have given credit for the workshop. It depends upon the local FSDO.

Will I learn to weld aluminum in the gas welding class?
Because of the complexities we do not demonstrate aluminum welding.

Can I bring my own welding torch?
Yes, we encourage you to do this.

What type of covering system is used in the fabric covering class?
The Poly-Fiber system is used. However, nitrate and butyrate dope is also discussed.

How much time will be spent vacuum bagging in the composite class?
A very limited time is spent on vacuum bagging. The technique is demonstrated and is enough to familiarize you with the procedure.

Do you teach us how to finish a composite airplane?
Yes, we discuss all aspects of composite finishing.

What spraying system is used in the fabric workshop?
Depending on the facility, we may spray some of the fabric coatings. If this is not possible, spraying technique will be covered. We use primarily the HLVP systems.

May I bring my own project to the class to work on?
We do not encourage people to bring their own project. We have a set curriculum that includes a project that we have designed. If we had separate items to work with it would only create confusion for the rest of the class.

Does the electrical course teach me how to install avionics and antennas?
Yes, in addition to basic wiring of the electrical systems.

I’m designing my own aircraft, do any of the workshops cover basic design issues?
No, structural design will not be covered in any of the workshops.

Why do you not have the workshops in more locations?
The EAA SportAir Workshops are presented as a self sustaining program of the EAA. It is very difficult to find suitable locations. We ship everything we need for the classes in large wooden crates. It is very expensive for us to travel. We try to schedule classes only where we can be assured of a large attendance.

I would like to host a SportAir Workshop. What are the requirements?
Finding new facilities are the biggest challenge for this program. EAA is a non-profit organization and the SportAir Workshops are presented as a self sustaining program. It is very expensive for us to take this program on the road. We try to schedule classes only where we can be assured of an attendance cover operational costs.

Minimum facility requirements are as follows:

  • Location must be in or close to a sizable metro area
  • Forklift rated at 1,000 pounds for loading/unloading large crates
  • Enough space to hold at least 4 workshops with 16 students simultaneously
  • Adequate lighting
  • Bathroom facilities
  • Willingness to help grow grassroots aviation

If this sounds like something you could host, we would love to hear from you at sportair@eaa.org or 1-800-967-5746.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"Extremely educational! Nate was very informative about all levels of fabric knowledge. I had zero knowledge of fabric covering and feel I now know all the fundamentals.”
— John

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"Fantastic class! Amazing instruction! I’m a non-pilot and learned so much during this class."

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"I thought it was a great class. Nate did a good job and could relate to real-life scenarios. I would take another workshop provided by EAA if the opportunity arises."

Overview of Fabric Covering Process

Surface Preparation

Installation and securing fabric including use of fabric cements.

Shrinking the fabric which also includes proper iron selection and calibration along with precautions necessary to insure proper tautness.

Application of the first chemical coat and the importance of bonding to the fabric for subsequent coats.

A detailed discussion follows on attaching the fabric to the wing ribs using the various methods including rivets, fabric clips, pop rivets, and actual instruction in rib lacing techniques. You become proficient in tying the modified seine knot used for this step.

Upon completion of the rib lacing, the surface is "dressed" placing on all finishing tapes, drain grommets, inspection rings, etc..

The surface is then ready to spray. Spraying techniques are discussed along with required coats, etc.

Where we have the appropriate facilities and weather, a High Volume Low Pressure spray system is used and you actually practice spraying the surface.


Details on Covering Fuselage and Tail Surfaces

Summary of Workshop techniques presented and next steps

Final evaluations and Q&A session

Lynn Bauer Lynn Bauer began fabric covering aircraft more than 30 years ago. Since then, she’s worked on airplanes ranging from J-3 Piper Cubs and Tiger Moths to the P-51 and Corsair. Lynn’s a private pilot with an FAA Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics license with Inspection Authorization and also owns a small airport in West Virginia. She’s taught the SportAir Fabric Covering course since the program began in 1993, instructing more than 4,000 students in the art of fabric work.

Nate Hammond Nathan Hammond was born into the aviation, his first flight at 2 weeks old on his mother’s lap. Raised in up-state New York, the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome Museum was his childhood playground and a major influence from day one. Soloing as a teenager, Nathan now has over 7,000 hours of flight experience, as well as holding A&P and IA mechanics certificates. Over the years, Nathan as built and restored just about every style of fabric covered aircraft in existence. Following the family legacy that began at the Aerodrome, Nathan continues to fly, maintain and restore the museum’s collection of early pioneer and World War I aircraft, and pass on his extensive skills thru the EAA SportAir workshop program.