My Flying History

I've had airplane fever for as long as I can remember. My first plane was the Cox U-Control blue and yellow PT-19 trainer. Then my Dad built me a jet black "Lil Wizard" which was a fantastic U-control ship. Here I am in the early 70's at the Flying Circus in Bealeton, Virginia. They are still there but regretfully don't fly the Fokker Triplane anymore.  I never dreamed that I would try to build one someday, and maybe fly one.


When I was 18 I got a job washing planes for the Moffett Field Naval Air Station flying club. After a few months of that I decided, without much thought, really, to take flying lessons. Somehow I managed to get my privates pilot license during the summer of 1976. You hear about those people who get their license in the minimum amount of hours:  40.  I wasn't one of those people! 

Here I am taxiing back from my first flight as a licensed private pilot. My first passenger was my mother.  Cost to fly in those days was $15 an hour for the plane, $15 for the instructor.  I can't remember what aviation gas cost back then.  I'm sure it was less than a dollar per gallon.  If it was that low nowaways, I'd be flying a lot more!

After exercising my new private pilot's license for three flights in the Cessna 150, I spent a little time -- 20 years --  in the U.S. Navy. I was a Naval Flight Officer and flew in the P-3 Orion, hunting Soviet submarines. 
Between raising a family and moving every two or three years I didn't have much opportunity to fly.  Instead, I built and flew radio-control planes to get my flying fix.  I started this Stearman my senior year in college: 1981.  I finally finished and flew it ten years later.
Late in my Navy career, I moved to Annapolis, Maryland and worked at the U.S. Naval Academy. With a normal schedule for the first time in my life and the help of my brother-in-law, Bruce, I got back into flying. Bruce called me one day and said, "Come over and look at our new airplane!"  It was a Kolb UltraStar and was the first plane I flew significantly after my 20 year hiatus. We had a lot of fun in the "flying lawnchair" back in 96 and 97.
Bruce also introduced me to soaring. In 1996 I learned to soar in this Schleicher Ka-4 Rhonlerche that we bought, restored and flew.  It is a German-built, two seat trainer, made of steel tube frame, wood wing spars and ribs, and covered with fabric.  If there was good lift, you could stay up.  If there was great lift, you could actually climb.  If there was sink, the airfield had better be right in front of you! 
Bruce had restored this beautiful Corben Junior Ace and was nice enough to let me fly it. I had to take taildragger training first; took me a little while to get the hang of it but it was worth it. After the UltraStar, the Junior Ace seemed like a big plane to me. 
In 99, Bruce and I bought a 1970 Citabria 7GCBC "fixer upper". We made her airworthy, flew her for a year, and then did a total restoration that took two and a half years.   Here I'm flying the Citabria for the first time out of Mountain Road airport. 
While Bruce and I were restoring the Citabria, we bought this Corben Baby Ace at Sun 'N Fun 2002.  I got to know the plane by flying it from Miami to Baltimore on a three day cross-country.  We had a lot of fun flying this plane around the Chesapeake Bay.  Unfortunately the introduction of the Washington D.C. Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) forced us to move the Baby Ace outside the ADIZ -- no radio or transponder -- and we didn't fly her much after that.  The Baby Ace is gone but sadly the ADIZ is still very much in place, hated by the pilots and air traffic controllers, and accomplishing virtually nothing except wasting taxpayer's money and restricting freedom.   But the government bureacracies can say "they did something."
Once the Citabria restoration was done in 2003 we finally had a plane that could go somewhere.  Over the years I would make long cross-countries to Oshkosh, Sun 'N Fun, Maine, and the West Coast via the Oregon Trail.   I also had a lot of fun doing All Grass All Day tours with a bunch of other Citabria drivers.  We called ourselves the Trunk Monkeys.  We sold the trusty Citabria in 2007. 
I flew Bruce's Schleicher Ka-6. It's a single-seat, 30 to 1, very sweet flying ship. It was one of the highest performance wood gliders, before they shifted to fiberglass. After flying the low performance Ka-4, the Ka-6 flew like it had an engine!
I took five hours of aerobatic instruction in this Decathlon. Wow! It was a lot of fun and really improved my pilot skills. I'm really glad I did it. Adam Cope is a great instructor.




In 2005 I bought Bruce's Schleicher Ka-8 -- he upgraded to a SF-26 -- and it was one sweet-flying glider.  It flies as well as the Ka-6 but is a lot more roomy and comfortable.  I enjoyed the Ka-8 but in 2010, I was flying the RV so much that I didn't fly the glider much.   I sold the Ka-8 in 2010 when the Flying Cow airfield stopped glider operations.   


In January of 2004 I started building an RV-7 and five years and 3000 hours later I made the first flight.  In about a year and a half I had flown the RV over 300 hours which included aerobatics and formation flying, as well as cross-countries to Oshkosh, Sun 'N Fun, and Idaho via the Missouri River.




 A couple of years into the project, imaginary flying in the basement.



The first flight, April 2009!



300 flight hours later as of November, 2010.  The RV is an awesome plane:  nimble, fast, aerobatic, it can do it all.