Missionary Flying

When I was building my airplanes, I always wished that I could somehow use my gifts in aviation for the Lord.  I wanted to fly in the missions field.  But the guys that do usually have tons of flight hours and sponsorship.  I gave up on ever being able to fly for Christ.

However, I got an email this week that really encouraged me.  The email was from a missionary who is getting ready to purchase my old Rans S6ES.  This plane was badly damaged in a landing accident in the Sierra foothills.  I was trying to sell the plane anyway so it wasn’t too much of a disappointment.   The missionary was wanting confirmation that the plane he was going to buy really was my old airplane.  After sending me a few pictures I was able to positively confirm it was my airplane.  The outside looks completely different but the panel is just as I had built it.

Even though I will never fly the mission field it’s good to know that I contributed to Christ’s Kingdom in some small way.


I won’t fly in the missions field but my airplane will!  Soli Deo Gloria!

PPC Assembly Day 11

Progress for today:

  1. Strobe mounted and wired in.
  2. Fuel tubes and squeeze bulb fabricated.
  3. Battery ground cable installed.

I found that I mounted the started solenoid in the wrong place.  It can still work here.  The only problem would be the longer rear wire.  If I can’t tuck it away safely, I’ll move the solenoid.


Let’s Talk Airplanes – The Rans S6ES

I recently received this comment on post to this blog:

“We became acquainted on BCP and I’ve always kinda looked forward to seeing your posts. A parachute, really? Ha! Just kidding. When I took the 120 hour LSRM course at Rainbow aviation I got signed off to do work and annuals on those.

But that’s not the point. I broke my back in late January and am now starting to get around a little better. Life is moving on. I don’t want to be a builder. I bought a CH-701 kit and have done nothing in about 3 years. I want to start flying again before I croak or lose my mind. So, I can’t even get in a Cub type and the wife won’t stand for a tandem anyway. After lots of thought, I think I need an S-6 of some sort. You of course are the resource that comes to mind. I need to sell my 701 parts and half a dozen guitars first probably but I think I can swing $40K or so.

Sails? Conventional covering? ES? ELS? S? What? I don’t know anything. Like Sargent Shultz. It would be nice to find one registered ELSA so I can do all the work and sign offs but finding an A&P is not impossible.”

Excellent questions.

The Rans S6 is one of the bargains in aviation today.  You can still buy a brand new one from the factory for far less than $100K.  You can build one for less than $50K.  You can buy one used for less than $40K.  They are good, honest flying airplanes.  They have Cub like performance and are as docile as a Cessna.  Stalls are straighforward.  The S6 is not prone to wing drop on either side, just a slow shudder and straight over the nose.  The wings also fold on these units if you’re into that sort of thing.  I NEVER folded my wings but that option is there for those who desire it.  The visibilty out of the cockpit is STUNNING.  You have a large windscreen, low panel, the roof is a skylight, and the doors are all clear Lexan so if you don’t paint the bottoms of the doors (as many do) you have great visibilty to the side and down.  The controls are positioned very comfortably and are right where you would expect them to be.  A big plus in my book was having the flap handle right next to me.  The Johnson bar was easy to reach and deply or stow quickly.  No need to bury your face in the instrument panel just to reach the flap bar like on the older Cessnas.

However, there are a few things you need to consider when buying or building one.

  • What engine?

Rotax 912S. 100 HP.  Easy decision.  While the plane will fly admirably on the 80HP Rotax 912, the extra 20 ponies the 912S gives you are well worth it.  You will have the Cub like performance you are hoping for which can get you out of a lot of bad situations.

  • Dacron or regular aircraft fabric

I wouldn’t be afraid of either one.  Dacron is generally tougher than standard aircraft fabric, and easier to put it.  But it is transluscent, you can’t see the underlying structure of the aircraft but light will shine through Dacron.  It has a somewhat shorter lifespan that traditional covering but can last every bit as long if the aircraft is hangared.  I never had any problems with my dacron coverings but it does make the aircraft look “ultra-lighty” and some guys don’t like that.  The benefit to using regular airraft covering is that you can paint it any color you like where the Dacron color choices and striping is limited.  The drawback to regular fabric is… you have to paint it.

  • Nosewheel or tailwheel

Ah, this debate shall rage throughout the ages.  I have only ever owned tailwheel aircraft because I enjoy the challenge that comes from flying them (or should I say, taxiing them, taking off, and landing them.)   Tailwheels just look like they belong off-airport and they work very well off-airport.  I love tailwheel aircraft.  Having said that I would recommend a nosewheel for a couple fo reason.  First, the nosewheels on these airplanes are built STOUT.  You’ll be able to handle any sort of off-airport work you want (except perhaps for the ribbing you’ll get from the tailwheel pilots).  But you’ll be able to land anywhere they will.   Second, resale value.  When I was selling my airplane I had several callers say “no thank you” when they found out it was a tailwheel.  Give these airplanes can be flown in the light sport category you’ll have much better resale value when it does come time to trade up, down, or sideways on a different airplane.

So those are my impressions from building and 5 years of flying my Rans S6ES.  If you have questions, let’s hear them!  I love talking airplanes.

And to the gentleman who posed the original question, I’ll give you a call. 🙂

Those that have and those that will

I did.  I had put my plane up for sale, and was getting ready to drive my daughter 300 miles so she could perform in a music festival.  I decided to take a quick flight up to a local airstrip in the foothills to pick up a book I bought.  Wind was calm at the field and everything looked good. I made two passes from the north, and then two more from the south to see what the best approach would be. I decided that given wind on the ground and obstructions it would be best to land from south to north. I set up and was making a picture perfect approach. However, I ended up coming in short and my landing gear impacted a berm at the south end of the runway that I had not seen from the air. (You can see the direction I was approaching from in the second picture, note how the field looks flat leading to the tree line, it isn’t it is undulating.) The top of the berm is level with the runway, and runs downhill to the south. There was an optical illusion in play that made the ground look flat when it really wasn’t. After impacting the berm the airplane bounced about 10 to 15 feet in the air and then impacted the ground approximately 50 feet from the end of the runway. The aircraft slid maybe another 5 feet or so after impact. The engine stopped immediately on impact.

With the sound of the plane’s ground impact still echoing in my ears (somewhere between a loud pop and a bang) I slowly moved my feet and toes to make sure they were fine. Moved my legs. All good! But ooh, my back! I crawled out and called my wife. She was just happy I wasn’t hurt. At least not much. Nothing but a skinned knuckle and sore back.

The plane was picked up by Plain Parts and stored at their location in Pleasant Grove.  At the time I didn’t know of anyone who could work on my plane so the insurance company found a guy. After one month had gone by and we hadn’t heard from him I called Rans and they recommended Rainbow Aviation in Corning.  My plane moved there and I am now waiting for the repair estimate.  Depending upon the price the insurance company could elect to total.  So, we’ll see.



My S6ES Coyote is for sale

Yes the time has come for my beloved Coyote and I to part ways.  I really enjoy this little airplane.  We’ve had a lot of adventures together.  But I need to get some college money ready for a certain someone.  Plus I’ve become convicted that I need to downsize my life drastically.  Selling the airplane and hangar are the first steps towards doing this.  So with out further ado, here are some links to sites with the for sale info:

My Barnstormers ad: http://www.barnstormers.com/classified_1007934_2011+RANS+S6ES+Tailwheel.html

Link to my “For Sale” Flyer: http://goo.gl/T3ofae