What is EAA? ... Why should I join? ... How can I join?

grayline.gif (812 bytes)

experimenterlogosm.gif (7383 bytes) feature.gif (6705 bytes)

Don Huff’s RANS S-7
by Mary Jones

Don Huff says he decided when he was a youngster that he would build an airplane some day, he just didn’t know when.

“When” turned out to be 1995; the airplane a RANS S-7.  Don has been an active modeler all his life even though his real goal was to become a pilot and build his own plane. “I started building model airplanes because I didn’t have enough money when I was younger for a full-size airplane. I started flying lessons in the 1970s, but my instructor was turned off when I talked about flying ultralights, so that set me back a bit. During the Weedhopper days, I was undecided just what kind of flying I wanted to do.

Then, a few years ago, a 16-year-old girl told me she was taking flight training; I decided if she could do it, so could I. I started taking lessons again along with one of my model building buddies. That seemed to make it easier and more interesting. It was nice to have someone to talk with about the things we were learning.

About halfway through his flight training, Huff decided it was time to get serious about owning an airplane. He attended Sun ’n Fun ’94, took some introductory flights in various light aircraft and chose the RANS S-7 as fulfilling his needs the best. He ordered the kit, took delivery in early 1995 and completed the aircraft in 660 hours over a 7-month period. Don is “semi-retired” and operates an asphalt company for his living, so he was able to work on the aircraft project nearly full time. “I’m good with my hands, but not with paper and numbers, so I handle the physical operation of the plant and leave the paperwork to those with more skill in that area.”

Don says his model building skills transferred quite well to constructing a full-size aircraft. But he doesn’t believe in varying from the designers plans. “I followed the assembly manual pretty faithfully; I’d always try doing things the way they said first, then if the part didn’t look right, I might try a different method. I’ve always followed the plans when building my model aircraft, and they all have flown well. I’ve seen what happens when people don’t follow instructions, so I didn’t want to get into that kind of trouble with a full-size airplane.

He did add items like arm rests and an electric trim tab system for creature comfort, but he didn’t make any modifications to the structural part of the aircraft. “I think it’s safer to put your individualism into non-structural things like the instrument panel, the interior and the paint scheme.

Don made the first flight in his RANS S-7 in February of 1996. He completed the 40-hour test flight requirement in time to fly the aircraft from his home in LaGrange, Georgia to Sun ’n Fun that year but decided against it. “I only had about 300 hours of flight time total and wasn’t sure my flying skills were good enough to take this plane down there. I guess you could say I was scared, but sometimes it’s wise to be scared.

Instead, Don flew the aircraft to Sun ‘n Fun ’97 and was thrilled when the aircraft was named Grand Champion Light Plane. Since February of ’96, he’s logged over 830 hours on his S-7, including a return trip to Sun ’n Fun this past spring and a two-week adventure flying to AirVenture Oshkosh ’98 and back.

Don says there’s another kit airplane in his future, he just hasn’t decided which one as yet. All he knows is he thinks he’d like to go higher and faster. After accumulating 800-plus hours in a couple of years, though, it’s not likely he could go more often.

December table of contents

[ Experimenter | Editorial Mailbox | Experimenter@eaa.org ]