At the time of writing this, Brandi and I are both in our late 20's. We live in Marietta, GA. Both in the IT field and newbies to aviation. I just received my private pilot license this year (2009) and Brandi wants to get hers one day too. We jumped right into the middle of this project with no real mechanical skills or experience to speak of but with all of the motivation and determination that is required.
We were interviewed by a friend and it went like this
Friend: Have you two always been into aviation?
Brandi: Nope. I was 21 before I ever stepped foot on a plane at all and that was a Delta jet. The first time I ever flew in a small plane was with Brian right after he got his PP ticket, 4 1/2 years ago.
Brian: I didn’t know anything about aviation until I decided to get my pilot license about 5 years ago. This came after the simple enjoyment of looking at clouds through the window of a commercial jet.
Friend: How did you decide you wanted to build a kit plane?
Both: We couldn’t spend 3/4 of a million dollars on a fast, 4 place, somewhat new certified plane so we started looking for other options. At the time, we didn’t even know that building a plane ourselves was an option. Brian ran across the kit plane community while Google searching 4 place airplanes.
Friend: What made you go with the RV-10?
Both: The community sold us. Seriously. We were going back and forth between the -10 and the Velocity when Brian found and then cold-called a stranger off VAF one day. That stranger has since turned into one of our good friends, Jim “Nomad” Lawrence. We chose the -10 over other Van’s models because we like to travel with friends and might start a family one day.
Friend: What has been the hardest part of your build?
Both: At first, for us, it was learning to work together. This was the first project that we ever took on as a team. Once we got over that hurdle, we found the hardest part to be learning and completing the fiberglass work.
Friend: What has been your favorite trip in your airplane?
Both: The Bahamas, hands down. We flew with 3 other RV-10 families and enjoyed great company and spectacular views. Our second favorite was the trip we made out west to visit family for Thanksgiving last year.
Friend: You two are affectionately referred to as “the two young kids from Georgia”. Would you like to clear up this misconception or is that pretty accurate?
Both: It’s pretty accurate. Although, I think we look a bit younger than we really are and that’s usually what gets us referred to as “the kids”. Currently, Brandi is 31 and Brian is 32.
Friend: Favorite tool or gadget?
Brandi: The little pneumatic drill. It’s the first drill I’ve ever used that fit my small hands.
Brian: The pneumatic squeezer. It’s such a powerful tool, I just love it.
Friend: Where can we find you when not flying or working on your RV-10?
Brandi: In my craft room.
Brian: Playing PC games or at the ice hockey rink. But, mostly at the hangar.
Here is a little story about the details that lead up to us building an airplane.
I always envisioned restoring some old car one day. My dad was a 'fix it all' type of guy and I grew up marveling at his ability to fix the washing machine, install a ceiling fan, tile the floor, or whatever the chore of the moment was. I spent more than once as chief tool fetcher. I just knew that he would one day teach me all there was to know about everything. The only problem with that was my parents separated and we moved across the country when I was young.
I used to love playing video games. What 10-year-old boy didn’t in the age of Nintendo? My passion for video games spilled over to computers since one could play games on there too. At age 14, I spent a summer working with my dad at a power tool repair and hydraulics shop. I upgraded to chief part orderer and earned a hard worked for minimum wage. I was rich! At least, in the eyes of a 14-year old I was. I earned enough to buy a PC and, as a side effect of getting video games to work on it, I happened to learn a thing or two about how it ticked.
The more I got into computers the farther away I got from more mechanical things. That was fine with me. I was good with computers and I was a pro at getting all of the latest eye-popping games working on them. Something subtle was missing though. I remember when the show ‘Home Improvement’ was on the air – you know, Tim Allen shouting “More Power!” – I used to think how over the top awesome it was that he was building a hot rod in his garage. So, I set my mind to that. One day I would build something awesome in my garage. That was around age 20 or so. It’s been a nagging sensation ever since.
With a little bit of background out of the way, now we can get to the good stuff - Airplanes! I like flying airplanes. I never grew up around aviation or thought a whole lot about it but I did discover that it’s something I love. Below is my thought pattern that I went through which lead me to where we are at today, which is with a gigantic tail cone of an airplane sitting in our garage.
I was sitting in a hotel room in Albuquerque, New Mexico thinking I sure would have liked to fly have flown there myself from Atlanta. Too expensive to rent a plane and sit on it for a week long work conference I was stuck at. I considered at least renting a plane and flying to Santa Fe from Albuquerque. Too expensive AND I would have to hassle with getting checked out. I've always been pretty frugal. My practical nature often gets the best of me. Wait a minute – if I had my own plane then the cost/hr to fly it would be much less than renting and it would be less hassle!* BINGO. There are plenty of old used planes out there that aren’t that much money. Requirements? Let's see, what kind of plane do I want? Something… FAST! Ok, something fast and it has to have four seats so I can take the company with me. I am on a roll here. Wait a minute... airplanes that have at least four seats and are fast ARE that much money! Ok, well I guess I could settle for not quite so fast. Wait another minute... Planes that are not quite so fast that have four seats that are not 50 years old seem to be more than I thought they would be too. Arrg!
The lofty dream of skipping along the tops of puffy little clouds was dimming. I had to do something! I must keep the dream alive! How can I go 200 MPH without winning the lottery and buying a Cirrus or attracting attention driving down Interstate 85 trying to reach 200 MPH? Queue the moment I stumbled upon the idea of a kit plane. Aha! For 1/3rd the price of the plane I want, I could just build it. Problem: I don’t know anything about building a plane and never did get back around to asking dad to unlock the mysteries of the universe to me. Wait, I'm an idiot! This is my ‘old car’ to restore! More power! Now get out there and sell this thing like you’ve never sold before. What selling am I referring to? Well somewhere between age 14 and mastering all that is PC I got married. That means that all large purchases, scheduling, and any other items of any importance must first be approved by the boss. She had been supportive of me taking pilot lessons. Maybe there’s a chance? So, I put on my best clothes, got all neat and groomed, hell, even a little dab of cologne. We’ve got a plane to sell here folks! Ok, I was ready. So I called her up from Albuquerque. Cold called even. She never saw it coming. Wait a sec – all dressed up for a phone call? Hah. Yes. I was pulling out all stops. I needed every angle I could get. “Hi, honey, miss you lots, etc etc.” Ok, primed and ready. FIRE. “So what do you think about building a plane?” ... Well apparently call me Mister Awesome because I could sell ice to an Eskimo. SOLD. Seems I missed my mark by not having a commission-based job apparently. So many Eskimos and so little time.
So now we're building a plane. Brandi is stoked about the project and is quite crafty so I will, in fact, be helping her build our plane. When being officially congratulated on my 5 year anniversary at my current company I was asked a bit about myself. So, of course, I had to disclose the plane building. I mentioned how Brandi and I were going to work on it together. I was asked by my coworkers how that would work. Would she build the front half? The passenger half? I said, "She'll build the better half."
*Its a silly notion that by buying and building a plane we could save a few bucks. In reality it depends on how much you fly and owning your own plane is much more about the convenience, satisfaction, and community than about money.
You're still here. Nosey little bugger arent you :) Just kidding, I cant blame you for being so interested in how awesome kids building airplanes is. Check out this radio interview we were on at Oshkosh back in 2012: https://n42bu.com/audio/EAA-Radio-BrianBrandi-2012.mp3