April, 2007

First plans-built Celerity builder Jim Glencross dies

Last month I was saddened to receive an email from Beverly Glencross with a link to the following newspaper article: As Beverly said in her email, "He is going to be missed very very much." Jim Glencross built his Celerity from Larry's plans, completing and flying it in the early 1990's. He was a skilled craftsman and as you can see from the photo, the work on his Celerity was beautiful. He was assisted, we hasten to add, by his loving wife Beverly who recalls the days she helped sandpaper N180JG for its paint job. We extend our most sincere condolences to Beverly and the rest of Jim's family. Yes, we will miss Jim very much!

A life lived well!

It was shocking to me to hear of Jim Glencross' death, even more so because we're close to the same age, and also of course because you just know you're going to miss a great guy like Jim so much. After a round of health issues prevented Jim from getting his FAA medical reinstated, it was sad seeing his airplane languish under wraps on the trailer he used to bring it down from Idaho a few years ago. Happily, N180JG now has a new owner who was fortunate to live nearby and who was ready to take it over. (See story, below) Nevertheless, it was terribly saddening to us pilots that in the last years of his life, Jim was unable to fly this beautiful airplane that he had so lovingly crafted. But fortunately, he did get to fly it in the 1990s while still living in Idaho. From conversations I had with him during that era, I learned that it flew very well and was a fantastic performer. To us fellow pilots and fellow aircraft builders Jim achieved a great deal, probably more than many of us will do in our lifetime, which of course is building and successfully flying his own airplane. This is a dream that even pre-dates the Wright Brothers, one shared by literally hundreds of thousands of fellow aviation buffs around the world. Just imagine for yourself, if you haven't had the pleasure yet, that singular day when your own aircraft, created by your hands in your shop, takes to the air for the first time! That experience, like your first solo flight, is something you can never duplicate no matter how long you live. It behooves those of us who are still living to relive our aviation dreams, and to rededicate ourselves to that glorious "homebuilder's dream" we have probably had in our hearts for many years. Our days on earth are numbered, and we must set our own priorities to make best use of those days, hours and minutes, as we see fit. At a time like this, for all of us who have dreamed of creating and flying our own airplane, the death of a colleague can serve as a wake-up call. It's a gentle reminder for all the rest of us. We should look where we are now, and figure out how we can get to where we want to be in the future. Make yours "A life lived well!"

A note from Don O'Rourke, purchaser of Jim Glencross' Celerity

N180JG, the Jim Glencross Celerity, arrives at its new (temporary) parking space.

Another builder's workshop; Are we ready to do it again?

Don O'Rourke has suggested that we have another builder's workshop, offering space at his spacious shop located at Pinal Air Park northwest of Tucson. Some of you will recall the builder's workshops we have had in the past here in Tucson, before my full-time job began made it difficult. But now I'm retired! (feels good too) The first workshop that we had was sort of a spur-of-the-moment thing. Three of us (Bernie Hettinger, Farrell Pettitt, and I) built a main wing spar for Bernie's airplane project. We did most of it anyway. I had it drum-sanded true and to final thickness at a local mill before shipping it off to Bernie in Illinois. The next year, between Christmas and New Year's, about 6 to 8 builders came to share experiences, good and bad, and to practice some basic fiberglass application. We had a lot of fun and capped the affair by all going out to a steak house together. The next workshop was our largest I believe. Here are pictures showing most of the happy participants (everybody smiled!), some of us still wearing the dust from sanding the foam and fiberglass as we built a set of wing leading edge fuel tanks. Yes, we had steaks again!
Builder's Workshop in Tucson, Arizona Standing, left to right: Gene Wirthlin, Gary Rene, Gary Briley, Susan and Mike Patterson, Dave Moore, and Bernie Hettinger holding a sanding block. Kneeling in front: Fred Carboneta, and yours truly (Not pictured: Bob Bowers, cameraman)
Workshop participants Bob Bowers and Gary Rene take a break. Note the typical sunny Arizona weather right after Christmas! (Bob, was that a fish story or what?)

Holidays worked out well for workshops

Our past workshops have always been held around New Year's, after builders have been able to celebrate Christmas with their families. I am asking all interested builders to get back to me on this, that is, if you want to have another Builder's Workshop in Tucson. We have plenty of time to prepare, and I will update you later in this newsletter with specific information concerning lodging and other items. My tentative plans are to have workshop participants apply foam and fiberglass to fully enclose a wing. Hopefully we would also have time to move on to the application and dressing (block sanding) of fiberglass filler compound. Do you think that three days of workshop time would be adequate? Please get back to me with your thoughts and ideas on timing, suggested activities, etc. Thank you. Evaluating an existing project. What should the builder be wary of when looking to buy a partially completed project? With the change of ownership in Jim Glencross' aircraft fresh in our minds, perhaps this would be a good time to review some of the things to watch out for when purchasing a project from another builder. O'Rourke had the advantage of purchasing an airplane that had flown off its test hours, which tells a lot about the quality of materials and workmanship. The project that you find for purchase may not have such a history and should be looked over more carefully, as follows. Hopefully all of this information has given you a template to look at any project out there. Besides all that, talk to people and get all the info that you can, and good luck!
Wouldn't you love to find an unfinished project constructed and stored with this much care? (Museum, San Martin Airport, Calif.)