Jim just sent in two more photos of his progress, seen below.
Above, a look at the wing extension. Having the engine on the wing is a ‘releving load’ on the wing spar, much in the same way that tip tanks are. Even though the wing is extended, it may feel no higher bending load at the root.
There was a time when the EAA was made of builders, when a guy like Jim was still a stand out, but his work and motivation to create would have been understood by any EAA member. We still have plenty of people like that, but we now have a more ‘inclusive’ EAA membership and a management to go with them, that often seems to forget what the first word in the acronym EAA stands for.
In the Corvair movement we have never lost our respect for the dedicated craftsman willing to put forth the extra effort to design, test, and fly his own creation, to build something really original. To my perspective, you do not have to build an original design to be a ‘real homebuilder.’ I think that the guy who builds a good Zenith, RV, Sonex or Rans that is the mechanical equivalent of other proven examples of his design is just as much a homebuilder as Jim, and I think Jim would agree with that.
The distinction to me is easier made on this dividing line: If you are the kind of builder that supports Jim’s right and passion to develop his own unique machine, even if it is not something you would choose for yourself, or even a design that you appreciate or fully understand, then you are a real homebuilder. You understand that at the very core of homebuilding is individual choice, challenge and achievement, something that we each should be able to pursue on a path of our own choosing.
I expect people from outside aviation to miss the point of home building. I can even see a person from a far branch of flight not ‘getting’ a project like Jim’s. But if a person in the EAA would criticise or seek to restrict the freedom to do original designs, I believe they forfeit the right to call themselves a ‘homebuilder.’
Such a person is too dull to see the connection that leads from Jim’s plane, through Dan and his Panther, through countless creative craftsmen. It is the same compelling force that was present with the Wright’s at Kitty hawk. Any person who suggests that we should all build O-320 powered RV-6a’s and that flying them in regular patterns at controlled airports is homebuilding, has missed why Americans wrote much of the history of aviation, they have missed what homebuilding is about, and they understand nothing about being an individual. Their self-inflicted punishment is that they live in a ‘safer’ but far lesser world, a place that traded Heros and Champions for living in fear and hoping for a tiny bit of safety increase.
At it’s very core, homebuilding has the power to liberate you from allowing thoughts like that to creep into your mind. If you are going to spend thousands of hours building a machine to seek your own freedom, then it makes sense to start by rejecting anyone who has a smaller deffiniton of freedom already picked out for you.-ww