As I write this, I have just returned from Sun ‘n Fun 2013, and as you read this, you are probably packing for Oshkosh. In between, we have probably all made some visits to fly-ins and airshows, as the summer flying season has been in full swing.
Big shows like Sun ‘n Fun and AirVenture are special, because they bring so many different people from far locations. And it might surprise you that for an old engineer who likes machines better than many humans—these shows have become all about the people.
You see, I learned a few years ago that I had stopped going to the major events to look at airplanes, airplane parts, and airshow performances. I love flying machines, and have spent most all of my life devoted to them. But what I discovered about the major shows is that I find many people just like me. Walking through the vast grounds at Lakeland or Oshkosh, I find that if I just look at the crowds, I will see people that want to talk about their passion—building, flying, and caring for airplanes. It recharges my interest in what got us all here in the first place—the love of flight.
And to that love, I have now added another—the joy of sharing that interest with young people. Breaking into aviation today is tough—even for the well-off. For kids who are enchanted by flying machines, but don’t have a parent engaged in aviation, it can be almost impossible to cross that airport fence for the first time and get their hands on a machine. But that is changing (albeit slowly) with more and more projects devoted to getting kids involved with building and flying airplanes. You’ll see more coverage in the near future about these projects—and how you can be a part of them.
Old Voices, New Voices
Kitplanes® is a bit unique among aviation magazines because we don’t have any staff writers. Aside from an editorial staff, we depend on the contributed writing talents (and aviation knowledge) of our readers. Over the years, Kitplanes® has collected a formidable squadron of contributors—some of whom appear monthly, some at random intervals. Readers shouldn’t worry about a regular author missing an issue—sometimes we have a regular columnist sit out an issue to give new voices a chance.
However, one of the best parts of this job is looking for new people to help fill these pages with top quality information and inspiration. In this month’s issue, you will see the debut of a number of writers—some of whose names might be familiar to many. Some will be in these pages every month, some less frequently, but we hope that you will always find their material interesting and useful.
Among our newcomers this month you will find Bob Nuckolls—a name very familiar to anyone who has installed electrical wiring in an experimental airplane in the last few decades. “Electric Bob” has a wealth of practical knowledge when it comes to airplane electrical systems. We’ll be sharing Bob’s work with Kitplanes® readers as often as we can, and look forward to his contributions.
Another newcomer to the magazine’s pages—but certainly not to experimental aviation—is Dan Horton. Dan has a knack for describing complicated build techniques in terms so simple that anyone can do them. Dan is an award-winning airplane builder with excellent shop techniques that will make you say “that’s not so hard,” and get you excited about building. And we want our readers excited!
Another wonderful development is the return of a popular column of old—the Home Shop Machinist. Bob Handley has joined up to resurrect the column started by the late Bob Fritz, and we hope that those clambering for more detailed explanations of how to make parts at home will find the new Bob as educational as the old Bob.
As the editor, it is a pleasure and a curse to have lots of good material—it is a pleasure to publish fine work, and a curse to have to put pieces on hold because we are out of room. But none of this will stop me from asking for more content! If you have a special technique for working in metal, wood, fiberglass or fabric, take some pictures, write a few sentences and send them in—I’d love to add your name to the list of those who contribute here on a regular basis. The homebuilding community will be better for it.
Paul Dye retired as a lead flight director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He currently flies an RV-8 that he built in 2005 and an RV-3 that he recently completed with his pilot wife. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 4500 hours in many different types of aircraft. When not writing on aviation topics, he consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight testing projects.