The Obligatory New Year’s Post

Happy New Year 2020!

Wow, 2020.  Seems so futuristic.

Sealab 2020 (1972)

When I was a kid in the 1970’s 2020 seemed so far away with it’s underwater cities and moon bases.  Here it is and we don’t live underwater or on the moon.  Instead we’ve expanded to living in tents on sidewalks or under freeway overpasses.

But I’m not going to turn this into social commentary.  I am, however, going to take a look at the past 10 years and how much things have changed for my family.  Way back in 2010 I was building my second airplane with the help of my kids.  I did the majority of the work but they did help on many components.

We were attending church at Central Valley Presbyterian where I was a deacon.  Also, Cristy had to make an emergency trip back home to the Philippines because her father passed away. That’s how the decade began.

In 2011 I sold our pop-up tent trailer in which I had taken the family on several camping trips.  The most memorable of which was Zion Canyon National Park.  I also flew the Rans S6 to Oshkosh, WI for EAA Airventure.  My oldest graduated high school.

In 2012 we took a family trip to Maui.  Yep, all of us, mother-in-law included.  However, my daughter had broken her ankle just prior to the trip… and then came down with a cold!  She didn’t get to have much fun in Hawaii, poor thing.  But she made up for that later.

In 2013 life was pretty much on auto-pilot.  Going to work, going home.  Home-schooling our daughter was coming to an as we put her in a private school so she could get some socialization and a real-live high school diploma.  Two kittens named Jovie and Truffles showed up in my son’s pockets one day when he came home.  Truffles still lives with us.  Jovie moved on shortly after he came to live with us.  Cristy and I also took a trip to Oregon to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.


In 2014 I was beginning to explore full-time RV living.  I started coming up with a plan to travel from property to property for my employer to do network work.  However 2015 would put an end to those dreams, temporarily.

2015 was a harbinger of change for our lives.  Our daughter graduated from high school and we changed churches.

2015 was also when I had an accident in my airplane.  I landed up in the Sierra Nevada foothills and took the landing gear off.  Hey, it could happen to anybody!  Unfortunately, it happened to me.  We got a big insurance settlement and everything was good.  I was putting the airplane up for sale anyway.  It was at this point Cristy and I were seriously looking at RV’s so I was looking for a more portable form of aviation.  I found it in the form of powered paragliding.

2016 was a gut punch.  I was told that my entire department would be laid off that year.  Also my son was going through some extreme behaviors.  It seemed like my life was about to hit rock bottom.  SEEMED.  We started putting my son in group homes which he kept getting kicked out of due to his behaviors.  But 2016 was the year God truly moved in our lives.  He found a home that was able to really work with my son.  And He found me a job.  This is when I started working at San Joaquin General Hospital.  To celebrate my getting a job we took a family road trip to SoCal.  I also got a Ham radio license so I could legally use a Ham radio on my powered-paraglider.


In 2017 life started getting somewhat better for us.  My son was living in a home only 5 miles from where I worked.  My daughter was getting very involved in church and starting college.  Cristy and I also celebrated our 30th anniversary in Hawaii.






Also, Angela finished the Spartan Race

By 2017 I had sold my powered paraglider and had bought my powered parachute.  Cristy and I had also started walking more, trying to get in shape.

2018 was another year that brought a lot of change.  Mostly in me.  Through walking and intermittent fasting I was able to lose about 50 lbs.

This is me just prior to losing weight…

And this is what I looked like post weight loss…

2019 was a sad year.  We lost my sister Sheila to cancer.  We lost my wife’s cousin Jaime to kidney disease.  I was diagnosed with invasive malignant melanoma.

2019 was a happy year because we became part of a small group at our new church.  We received a lot of support from them and they came along side us in prayer many times.  The doctors were able to remove all of the melanoma.  I also sold my powered parachute and began flying rental airplanes.  I got back into regular airplanes after a young man from my old church took me for a ride to pay me back for all those times I took him for rides when he was learning to fly.  Now we fly together whenever we can.

2019 ended with my son being removed from a bad living situation in the group home he was in.  He now lives back in town with us, which, he has been asking for quite some time.  My daughter also bought a poodle this year.

It’s been a tumultuous decade.  We’ve covered a lot of territory in the last 10 years.  Who knows where we’ll be 10 years from now.  Not sure but I sure like where we are now.  I wouldn’t trade a second of the last 10 years for anything.  I’ve seen God’s faithfulness and Providence countless times.  I see God’s love in those around me every day.  I don’t expect that to change much.  I’ll keep doing what I can to reflect God’s love to those around me.








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.