Thought for the day: Finishing planes


I wrote the comments below in response to a guy saying that he was glad to see any homebuilt get done, and that even if the plane wasn’t very good and didn’t fly much it was still a victory to him. He made this comment about a plane that was for sale on Barnstormers with 2 hours on it. Read on, you will find out why I think differently




To finish a plane, it is a requirement that a builder not listen to all the people who tell him he will fail or is doing it wrong. In a 6 year build, this might mean ignoring several hundred people, running from guys in your EAA chapter, your brother in law, people on line, the airport expert and a parade of others. Most of these people will simply be playing the role of ‘Eeyore’ the pessimistic donkey, (polite term for a negative Jackass) but understand that many others will be posing as ‘friendly advisors’, trying to ‘help.’ If you ignore every person you come in contact with, keep working, and the plane will get done.

Is this the definition of successful homebuilding? I say it isn’t. Completing the plane isn’t success, learning is. A guy who listens to no one learns nothing and often creates the poor flying hangar queen. His completed plane might be a rarity, but the mindset of not being willing to consider anything that might evolve one’s views is quite common today.

My definition of success is the guy who finishes the plane, ignores the 98% of the people who are negative, but learns from 4 or 5 trusted advisors who get him to consider things that make his plane far better than it would have been. This guy not only has a good flying plane, has learned a lot, he also has trusted friends and is in a position to share something. The actual rarity in society is not the bullheaded man who will not stop, it is the man wise enough to listen, examine evidence, and change his perspective if it improves what he is making.

The biggest difference between a poor plane for sale on barnstormers with 2 hours on it and a great one sitting at Brodhead with 500 hours on the tach is mostly in the mindset of the builder. Both planes are made of roughly the same quantity of wood, metal and fabric, and the likely took about the same effort to build. The difference is mostly in what the builder was willing to learn.

The barnstormer plane, and the dozens like it that were never completed are not a good use of materials nor human time. They are not art either. They are monuments to people who refuse to learn, something common enough in everyday life to need no commemoration.-ww.




To read a story about a plane that changed the builders life and has flown more than 500 hours click on this link:

Randy Bush’s Pietenpol hits 500 hours.


Above, Randy’s aircraft at Brodhead





2 Replies to “Thought for the day: Finishing planes”

  1. There is a parallel in the nautical world that has had some notoriety and that is the story of the 3 masted wooden schooner “Raw Faith”. The man who built her started with an insurance settlement precipitated by a crippling injury to his daughter. His intent was to build a ship to be used as a platform to educate and entertain similarly handicapped children. No one has EVER faulted him for his intentions and everyone I know applauds them. Nor can anyone question his persistence. That he finished her is a testament to him and his faith in the project.

    He went astray in the same manner as those who ignore all advice, both good and bad, in amateur aircraft. He built her with no engineering or design work and with little concern for quality of materials. A great deal of the wood came from the local Big Box stores. The end result was as you might expect. She did, in fact, float but the strength and quality of her fittings caused her to require Coast Guard assistance in every instance of sea trials. She had very little flat surface keel so she would not answer the helm in any predictable manner. As I recall, her masts were partially carried away in a stiff breeze and wouldn’t have stood a chance in a north Atlantic squall. There were wooden screen doors on the companionways. I looked her over carefully when she was at anchor in Lincolnville Beach, Maine and left shaking my head. The planking in the sides was warping and not caulked well, and why she stayed afloat says more about persistence that skill and maybe an overworked bilge pump.

    In any event, she finally met her end on the last sea trial whereby she actually managed to get almost 100 miles off shore before the Mayday went out and the crew was rescued by the ever vigilant Coast Guard. She sunk with no loss of live or injury. This sets her apart from a similarly built aircraft and thereby stands the lesson.

  2. Almost all of my building friends are people I have met at various corvair college’s and have the ” you can do it” spirit that we builders need. Most of the people at my EAA chapter could care less about building, most have negative things to say especially about the terrible bad corvair motor. I get sick of hearing how Ralph Nader destroyed the unsafe corvair. Stick with the college crowd, most will stick closer than a brother and are there when you need help or encouragement. My 2 cents worth dan-o

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.