A Dream with 100,000 Parts

By Andy Blanchard, EAA 1122324

It was 2013 when we seriously started our research on what kind of airplane we wanted to build. The strong finalists were a Murphy Moose and the RV-10. We choose the RV-10 for the excellent support from Van’s and the online community on Van’s Air Force. The picture below is August 2013 when the empennage arrived in Buffalo, New York, for us to pick up and clear customs ourselves. The first lesson learned is that the cost of the empennage ($3,500) is misleading. Although we knew many more dollars would need to be invested to complete the project we certainly did not begin to comprehend the enormity of that expense ($300,000 USD plus, plus, plus). So my advice would be to draft a budget before you order that first part and as a good rule of thumb, double it!

Empennage kit arrives.

The project took on a life of its own, with logistical needs and coordination of various projects that need to come together at critical junctures, a good example being the engine. I purchased a used IO-540 and disassembled it, cleaned the parts, and then sent it to Aerosport Power (great people) for the rebuild. When the “red monster” returned the engine mount was ready to hang the motor, while the instrument panel was being designed and assembled by Aerotronics (highly recommended). I learned very quickly that one needs to be able to read ahead and coordinate a lot of tasks for all the projects to arrive at the right time.

Horizontal section done.
Fuselage progress in my garage.
The fuselage rotisserie.
Horizontal stabilizer attached and giving it some love.
And more love being given.

Designing the panel was the most fun, and we went with bright red and yellow, just to be unique. Pictures will either generate “I love it”, or “I hate it”. Fortunately the only opinion that matters is mine.

That much beloved panel.
And matching seats.

I found a second rule of thumb that I just did not believe at first: when the windows go in, you’re half done. Well I can confirm that rule to also be true.

Starting to look like an aircraft – engine in.
And she’s headed for the airport.

The airplane was moved to the airport in the winter of 2018, and she received her wings and finishing touches over the next year and a half. The inspections went fine, and the inspector made many wonderful suggestions, all of which likely saved my life. The inspectors are worth every minute of their time and I can’t imagine flying without their sage advice. When the inspector arrives, no matter what fears may be churning inside you, embrace every suggestion and know they are your partner in having a successful first flight. Thank you William, you’re my hero.

Close to complete.

I am still waiting for my paperwork to go fly this beautiful airplane. So after a few tweaks and a do-dad here and there, it seemed like a good idea to start her up and go for a taxi tour of the airport. Well I am happy to report she was very excited to get outside and stretch her legs. I guess it’s time to confess she asked me ever so loudly, roaring you might say, and I could not say no. So I made a call on the radio, Charlie Fox India Oscar India taking position on runway 27. Was I excited, well yes I was. I gently eased in the throttle and the giant IO-540 roared to life and she started to race down the runway. I felt the unmistakable swaying of the main wheels becoming lighter as her outstretched arms forced the air over her shoulders. Hey wait she has no insurance no paperwork and before she could let go of the asphalt I throttle back and braked to stop before the halfway point on the runway. Yes she was sad, but I am guessing that was okay as we both want the first flight to be a legal one. Afterward I gave her a good going over, and I was very proud to say, nothing fell off. I opened the cowl and let the heat dissipate.

RV-10A ready for inspection.

I am now looking to the postman every day waiting for my envelope containing my trophy for crossing the finish line, the precious C of A. I am nervously looking forward and excited to being able to complete the first flight. Then I will focus on completing the EAA checklist for the first 25 hours. As the sign in my workshop reads, “calm down and build the plane.” Or as my grandchildren have pointed out, “Papa how do you eat an elephant? Papa you eat an elephant one bite at a time!” Or in my case, installing 100,000 parts, one part at a time.

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