Two Weeks to Taxi builder Mike Dowler recently picked up his Sportsman and flew it home to California. Below he remarks on the build process and overall experience with the TWTT program.
For me one of the more memorable things in the build process was to have Connie come up for a weekend and help out some; another builder friend had strongly suggested this and I’m glad we did it; although she only had a couple of days of hands on work, she got to see the airplane about half way through the build process, so could see a lot of the innards of the craft and could experience first hand what the build process was like; and to have the expert help right there beside you as you go through all the steps was just invaluable; it sure saved me from a lot of down time head scratching.
There were so many aspects of the build that I really enjoyed; I’ve always been an engine guy so for me it was really special to be able to build the engine at Superior in Texas; to see an engine come together with pristine, clean perfect parts from the crankshaft outward in a really nice clean, warm shop was just spectacular; I’d encourage anyone to spend the extra bucks to be able to do that; but then, I’m an engine guy. I also really appreciated all the fiberglass work; as I’d never really done anything like that. In fact I’d always thought I’d build an all metal plane since I had not glass skills; but to be able to be there at the factory with the experts helping me, I had the courage to tackle some of that work. And it didn’t come out too bad! The other really neat thing for me was all the wing work, the riveting, the running of fuel lines and electrical, but especially the control cables; kinda scary because these are your real controls, but comforting to know that I could do that critical task (with supervision); I’d never done anything like that before.
My flight home was a long one, but it went pretty well. I flew with Grant down to Oregon to do the official paperwork exchange, then on to Portland where I spent the night with my brother … a good thing since I didn’t get there until 8 pm. But we made it all OK and the weather was perfect and it was a gorgeous flight over Washington. So my brother and nephew got to see the plane, but no rides quite yet! The next day I flew all the way to Palo Alto with a quick stop in Grant’s Pass for fuel. Climbing back up to 7500’ from that airport was really spectacular, and pointed out to me what a great mountain airplane this will be with the 215 horses pulling so strongly. I got into quite a bit of turbulence around Mt Shasta, between some cumulus and some mountain wave action, but it smoothed out over the California central valley. It was cloudy at the coast when I got to San Francisco, but Palo Alto was clear so made an uneventful landing. Tired for sure, but quite satisfied; here was my plane which I had built (OK, with help) finally on my home airport.
My kudos to your great team at Glasair; I really enjoyed working with ya’ll and sorry it had to eventually end. Fortunately I was close enough that I could come up several times after the 2 week build time; to do the airworthiness inspections, to do some flying and help do the finish work. I really got to feel at home there.