The “Repeat Offender” epithet isn’t really mine. KITPLANES editor Marc Cook bestowed it upon me when I recently advised him that I was building another airplane. He’s just as guilty as I am, seeing how his first project (a Pulsar XP, back in his pre-family days) was just a warm-up for his Glasair Sportsman project. Coincidentally, my current airplane-to-be is a GlaStar that just happened to become available at the right time.
Funny thing is, I had been itching to build something again since finishing up the Zodiac 601 XL back in January of 2007. But finding another project immediately wasn’t a huge priority, as there are plenty of things in daily life that preclude devoting all of your time to messing about with airplanes. Unfortunately.
Sometime around the first of March in 2008, I got a phone call from my buddy Earl Hibler, who always has his ear to ground (!) where aviation is concerned. Seemed he knew of a virgin GlaStar kit that had only made it to the initial inventory stage, then spent the last five years carefully stored away while its original builder followed the siren song of Formula 1 air racing. That pursuit led to an abrupt and tragic conclusion in late 2007, leaving those who knew and cherished Patrick Gleason the difficult task of picking up the pieces and moving on. Earl allowed that finding a quick buyer for the kit would not only help out those left to settle the estate, but the lucky purchaser would most likely end up with a nice airplane as well. Did I know of anyone who might maybe be interested? Someone who might actually be able to pay for it?
After a few moments of gut-wrenching indecision, we set a date to go see the kit a few days later. And having just made a recent and sizable investment in the Zenith project, I knew I’d have to find another co-conspirator to help shoulder the investment and buck a rivet or two. One short phone call later, I had my longtime flying buddy Len “Ace” Rodriquez on board. He couldn’t break away from work to go check out the kit, but said he trusted my judgement. Man! I thought he knew me better than that after almost 30 years!
A short time later, Earl and I arrived at the home of Chris Beffa, Pat Gleason’s significant other. Introductions were made, and she proceeded to show me the GlaStar kit. The wings, fuselage, rudder and horizontal stabilizer were all carefully hung via block and tackle in her garage. The motor mount was hanging in its own little corner, and the rest of parts had been carefully labeled and tucked away here and there. Some parts, like the fuel tanks, seat pans, cowl halves, and windshield, had been tucked away in various hallway and bedroom closets.
Chris mentioned that it would be nice to regain some living and storage space, and who could resist that? An offer was quickly made, and accepted, and a deposit was placed. The next step was to rent a big truck, get Ace, and set another date to pick up the kit. March 15th seemed good for all parties involved.
Driving home, I called Ace to let him know that he now owned half of a GlaStar kit, and had something else to do on weekends besides lie on his couch with his dog and watch Springer. Normally, he’s not the emotive type, but I could tell he was excited about finally getting his own airplane. (And it’s about time, as he’s always been happy to just fly everyone else’s!)
Next step: Go get it!