Craig Woolston & John Schoorl
From 1995 to 2001 I watched and helped (a little) a co-worker, Paul Rosales, build and fly his RV-6A. During that time I slowly began to appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of building your own plane. But with every Monday morning his stories of the previous weekend’s airplane adventures convinced me that I had to do this. It was in late 2000 at the Edwards AFB Airshow, while passing a Velocity, when I suggested to my college friend, John Schoorl that it sure would be a lot easier to build and own a plane together. While brewing beer in the garage over the winter of 2000/2001 we convinced each other that we could actually do it.
John started flying lessons that spring (I was only a 300hr PP) and we signed the purchase agreement the day he solo’ed. We decided to take advantage of the “new” builders assistance program and in December of 2001 we arrived at the factory to start on our project. We still went “slow-build” but after a week at the factory all of our flying surfaces were built. The kit was shipped home in February and things proceeded pretty much according to our plans. We kept the fuselage at John’s and the wings at my house and would alternate work days every weekend.
We had told our wives 2-3 years and at the three mark were convinced it was only a “few more months” to finish. As you all know or will soon learn, getting it to look like an airplane goes quickly, finishing all the detail systems seems to take forever. We wrongly assumed that an “all-glass” airplane would assemble more quickly. We went with a dual battery, dual alternator setup with no vacuum. The Dual Grand Rapid Technologies Horizon Is is on the Main Bus with the normal aircraft systems. This is backed up with a Blue Mountain G3 on the Essential Bus. The SL-30, GTX-330 and Grand Rapid Engine Information System is also on the Essential Bus. It took 8 months to get that panel “lit-up”; so much for being easier. Our two most favorite features are TIS traffic (especially in the LA Basin) and a graphical strip-chart EGT display.
We installed a factory Re-Man Continental IO-550N. We converted it to 12V and spent a long time baffling and designing a full flow air filter setup without extra bumps or scoops. We routinely run lean of peak and see 165 knots true and 11.5 gph at 9,500 feet. But we have also run 190 knots true and 24.2 gph at 3,000 feet.
We made very little modifications to the original kit but since both of us have young children we installed the windows in the strakes. We can say with out a doubt it’s the kids favorite feature. We have DRE Symphony intercom so everyone can enjoy XM radio or the crew can spilt from the passengers so the kid scan watch the dual DVD screens in the back and the crew and still listen to XM. We installed landing lights in the wings with a flashing system for the high traffic volume we see here, but had to add the stock light after the first night landing because the wing lights left a blind spot.
Firstflight was performed by Mike Sizoo, a local test pilot and long time owner of a Mark Machado’s Velocity on September 3, 2006. Turns out he owned the example wesaw initially at the Edwards air show back in 2000. Mike is truly a professional and took good care of us and our new plane. We tell people it took 4.5 years to fly and 5 years to finish. After first flight we spent 6 months, doing paint,interior and fixing a fuel leak. But we still managed to log 147 hours in the first year, with many local short trips and long trips to N. Dakota, Kansas and Oshkosh via Dayton.