Five years ago my New York crash pad roommate, Mike Elliott, started building a Van's Aircraft RV8A. Mike lives in Olympia, Washington and was commuting to New York as a 767 ER First Officer. We are relatively close in seniority, and I remember discussing the merits of being a senior First Officer, and having time to build an airplane, vs being a junior Captain, and not having time for anything. When I checked out on the MD-88 six years ago I was the junior Captain at Delta Air Lines. I spent a lot of time at the crash pad! Mike could see that being a junior Captain was not the way to go if he wanted to build an airplane in a timely manner. Instead of bidding Captain, Mike ordered a RV8 quick build kit from Van's Aircraft.
Two years ago Mike received a transfer to our base in Seattle. Free from the cross-country commute, he had even more time to work on his airplane. In April the project moved to the airport. He wrote that he hoped to be flying by the end of the year. Two weeks before Christmas Mike sent the following email:
I don’t know if you saw my log yet, I only updated it today. I flew the first flight on 12-12-12! It went smoothly. I have a pretty heavy right wing which I am told is not unusual. I will fly it for a while to break in the engine then sort out what I need to do to fix the heavy wing. I messed up with the video camera (GoPro)* that I had on the first flight, but I took some video cloud surfing yesterday. I will be down for weather for a couple days, I am sitting my last on call day tomorrow, I managed to go nowhere this month. I even did the flight yesterday on Short Call, I know I was taking a chance but I stayed over the airport and I had cell coverage and a uniform and bag packed in the car!! Maybe I will shoot up your way when I am on the east coast in March-April.
I received an update from Mike two days before Christmas. His said his Flight Advisor suggested putting time on the engine before trying to correct the heavy right wing. Apparently adding the wheel pants and leg fairings helps with that issue, somewhat. He hopes to have the airplane painted in February. A shop in Texas is scheduled to do the work. Mike also said he had nine hours on the airplane---and the weather looked good for the next four days. He hoped to fly at least twenty-four hours during that time. That would leave just seven hours to complete the required forty, and he could then leave the local area. That is an aggressive schedule! But I understand. I know he can't wait to take his bride for a ride in their new baby!
Mike Elliott's Airplane Factory: www.mykitlog.com/rvg8tor
*Apparently the Jellystone crew are not the only operators with GoPro "issues."