Had a real great afternoon today speaking with and working in the shop of my new friend Ron. As I've stated before in my blog, the prime motivator of building my own airplane is about learning.
Ron is a long time builder and re-builder of aircraft, both certified and homebuilts. He has a very deep knowledge of all things in recreational aviation and most importantly wants to teach me some of what he knows.
Ron's current projects include rebuilding a Cessna 170, a short wing Piper and several Zenair projects. His thinking is to have me assist his group of builders repair a Zenair 701 as a very first step to learning metal aircraft construction. Perfect! What a fantastic way to get an introduction to building skills.
He gave me a quick tour of his workshop and we immediately went to work on removing the skins off a salvaged Zenair 701 wing that was badly damaged by a previous owner. This wing is being rebuilt.
We started by assessing the wing to determine the best course of action. We discussed what was salvageable as is, what could be patched and what would need to be cut away completely. As you can see in this picture, the damage is substantial.
After making some marks on the wing of what needed to be removed and a quick demonstration of the procedure required, I was drilling out the rivets. As you can see, there are a ton of them:
We also removed the lower wing skin closest to the wing root that was crinkled really badly. Again, a ton of rivets to drill out:
I wish I took more pictures, but I was having too much fun drilling rivets. Obviously today was just a tiny taste of what's to come for learning and building, but I'm hooked!
As we worked, Ron and I talked at length about my plans for building a Zenair 750 STOL. I explained my plans to put a Corvair engine in it and he was very interested in the combination.
Use of Ron's shop and taping into his experience building Zenair aircraft definitely confirms for me that this 750 STOL airplane is a do-able project that I can accomplish, and that by making some of the parts myself from raw materials (called "scratch building", as in "from scratch") I have the opportunity to save a bunch of time and money.
So after some weeks of debate, tomorrow I'm sending in my order to Zenair for a complete set of builders plans for a 750 STOL aircraft. Once I have them in hand, Ron and I are going to sit down and discuss a build plan.
What an AMAZING day Sunday was! Drove to Roseneath Ontario and met my new friend Paul.
Paul is a retired electrician who at one point in time had plans to build his own Corvair powered airplane. His plans got delayed for a number of reasons and he recently decided to sell his Corvair engine collection. Of course we could have talked for hours....
I don't have a complete list yet of what I obtained to post here, but I feel I got really lucky. Two complete core engines, several new parts and a custom work stand. I even picked up a billet aluminum prop hub and a bunch of technical manuals and drawings. More pictures to come when I get to inventory everything. It almost didn't fit in the truck (even the back seat was full):
A great day... sometimes things work out and I like to think somehow my mentor Barry had a hand in this.
Sunday was a combination of timing and a generous seller wanting to pay things forward. Something I will do as well.
For those following my blog, you will recall that my mentor in aviation passed away and we attended the memorial service for him.
His wife Linda delivered a wonderful eulogy and I got permission from her to share it here.
Feel free to read it or not, the choice is yours. But do know that everyone should live life doing what you love.
Linda Morris Speech at Barry Morris Celebration of Life Sept 26/2015
On behalf of my extended family, I want to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who could make it here for Barry’s Celebration and for all the support we have been given by all of our friends, old and new here at Sandycove during this very difficult time. It has been truly amazing.
There isn’t anyone in this room who would have enjoyed this Celebration more than Barry If it weren’t for the circumstances we find ourselves in here today. He was a loving husband, best friend, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, uncle and friend.
He… loved… life.
In his career, he had many “adventures” as he called them. He flew Kings, Queens, Princes, Mayors, Members of Parliament, industry elite, actors and singers such as Louis Armstrong. And the list goes on.
He once spirited Prince Charles away from his security detail during a trip Charles took to the High Arctic. Being a pilot himself, Prince Charles wanted to see how the Twin Otter operated. So they hatched a plan. Barry would keep the engines running beside the terminal and the Prince would escape via the side door. Their plan being set, the Prince escaped out the side door hopped into the aircraft and away they went. They continued their short flight all the while ignoring repeated transmissions from the angry security detail to return to base. Prince Charles would have been unscathed no matter how furious the security detail was, after all who is going to give a Prince a hard time? I’m sure they would have strung Barry up if they caught him. The security detail was on his heels for some time after this incident.
Some of his adventures were not so pleasant and landed him in third world countries in severe and nasty living conditions as some of his fellow deHavilland pilots can attest to. He lived, breathed and dreamt all things aviation.
He always felt honoured he was able to be a part of this magnificent industry.
His last trip before he “hung up his goggles” was in an Embraer Phenom 100 jet from Zurich to North Bay with David Anstett, his friend, at the controls. David and his family are here with us today.
Before the Phenom trip, Barry was on a highly secretive U.S. Military Mission to deliver a Dash 8 to Baghram Air Force Base in Afghanistan under the code name “CARDSHARK 78”. He flew this mission with his friend and pilot from deHavilland days, Bob Gumbinger. As timing would have it, they were at Baghram at the same time the US Navy Seals caught Osama Bin Laden.
Barry always strived to help the underdog and when he felt an injustice was being done, he fought to correct it. He championed the aviation industry he loved and would speak up and lobby to whatever levels of the Federal and Provincial Governments were necessary when he felt it was derailing itself.
He loved his family and a missing portion of that family was reunited with him in the way of his eldest daughter, Karen and her children Brandon & Ashley (who are here today) and Ashley’s children (Barry’s great grandchildren, Devlon, Braylon and Bryson. They are here with us today because they still need to be with their Mom. Brandon & Amanda are having their first child soon which makes another great grandchild. They round out our extensive family with his son Christopher, daughters Michelle (who is here today) and her son Jack, Nicole and her daughter Laura and Tammy and her daughter and son Alex and Ethan. That rounds out our extensive family. In case anyone has lost count this makes 5 children, 6 grandchildren and 3.5 great grandchildren. He also leaves behind his sister-in-law, Isabel & her family: daughters Laura and her son Wyatt, Tanya and her children Eva and Dillon and sons Michael & Rodney. Also a sister, Irene & her husband John and his niece, Jenny and her family.
Barry served as Aviation Technical Consultant on Omni Productions television show “Arctic Air” for CBC for the run of the program. He also wrote monthly stories for the Great North Arrow newspaper on his lifelong “adventures”.
Barry was writing a Trilogy “Just a Farm Kid from Ontario” which highlighted what it was like living on a farm before mechanization, inside running water, inside toilets, television or telephones to becoming a member of an elite group of Canada’s aviation test pilots. The first book has been done and in rewrite. The second needs to be inputted into the computer. However, the third book about his days at deHavilland/Boeing/Canadair/and his multitude of work after unfortunately has not been written. Therefore, I want to finish Barry’s third book as a “memorial”. But, as my mother has noted, I need the help of his friends and colleagues. I am asking his friends, colleagues, associates especially the people he worked with at deHavilland if they could take the time to write down some interesting stories they and Barry would have been involved with during this time so I can complete his dream on his behalf.
In 2011 Barry was presented the Canadian Owners’ and Pilots’ Association Award of Merit which is presented annually if a person is recognized as doing something special to further COPA'S aims over a period of time and recognizes individuals demonstrating an outstanding record of support for personal aviation in Canada and to aid in the promotion, growth and prosperity of aviation in Canada.
He received a Commendation from Department of Transport for his continued emphasis on aviation safety.
He was extremely proud of these awards as he should have been. It signified to him he made a difference. All his hard work, efforts and sacrifices had meant something in the industry he loved and fell in love with as a child.
Barry’s aviation career spanned 55 years of flying, over 23,000 hours of flight time with zero infractions.
He was privileged to travel the road most of us only dream of.
And I’m sure if there is a heaven, he is now arranging flight plans to some faraway place.
God has given him wings. He will be sadly missed, but never forgotten.
Till we meet again. Your loving wife, Linda
Today was everything I expected and more.
Tears... laughter.... love and friendship.
Brenda and I attended the Celebration of Life for Captain Barry Morris, my mentor.
I've been dreading this afternoon for weeks. I'm the type of person that wears his heart on his sleeve and never have gotten through funerals, deaths or other emotionally charged life events without shedding tears at the drop of a hat. Today was no different in that regard.
What was different however was the realization that as well as I thought I knew Barry, I only knew a very small part of his life. From every one of the people who spoke at his Celebration today, we all probably learned something new we didn't know about him before. Some of it familiar, some of it surprising, most of it smile invoking. For that I am extremely thankful.
One thing that was obvious is that he lived an incredibly diverse life. His flying career took him all over the globe where he rubbed shoulders and broke bread with heads of state, celebrities and industry leaders. He was a bush pilot, test pilot and salesman to name a few. He shared his enthusiasm for life and all it has to offer with anyone he met. Carpe diem in every sense of the word.
If I tried to relay even some of the stories he shared with me over breakfast or lunches at the airport, I wouldn't do them justice. I could never hope to capture the essence in the same way he could tell it, so I won't attempt to try.
In the last couple of years he was working on a trilogy of his memoirs that sadly he will never get a chance to complete. His wonderful wife Linda has taken up the charge to complete them with the help of some of his former co-workers and friends. I hope one day to read them. There is so much more I want to learn from this man.
When we worked together on the airport committee there were many times I got discouraged. He had a way of seeing the "runway through the fog" and always insisted I run with my ideas "full throttle".
I promise to do just that Barry. You are cleared direct my friend.
This is a continuation of part 3 (below)
I'll never forget getting the phone call I did on the morning of Sept 3rd, 2015.
My Dad called with the sad news that my mentor Capt. Barry Morris had passed away.
(click here to read the memorial page)
I was dumbstruck and left feeling completely empty. I had just seen him the same weekend of UPAC at his new home with his wife Linda. He looked great and we talked for close to 45 minutes about aviation, his retirement plans to finally write his memoirs. We talked about my plans to get airborne soon (although honestly, this was something I talked about all the time with him and yet never did get flying).
But Barry's passing did do something infinitely positive for me too.
It solidified that I've been wasting precious time. Time that I'll never get back.
There is an experimental engine builder in Florida by the name William Wynne. He specializes in Corvair automobile engine conversions for experimental and ultralight aircraft.
I was reading his blog on flycorvair.net as part of my research towards a build plan (his conversion plans are an amazing read). Ironically enough, one of his blog posts from November 2014 came across my screen that very same evening I found out about Barry. It talks about Time being the enemy. It really struck home with me. Give it a read here.
From this point onward, I refuse to be just a spectator in the arena of aviation. I paid dearly for my licence both financially and otherwise. I can get back in the air - I have the knowledge and the desire to learn skills I don't have yet.
This blog will be my journal. I hope to capture my process, successes and failures (that's how we all learn)..... an adventure in learning - long overdue.
Well, you found me. This first post on my blog will be an introduction of sorts, of who I am and what this blog will be about. I know it's long, but feel free to join me (or not) as I ramble (I'm known to do that from time to time).
So.... please keep you hands in the cabin at all times and enjoy the ride!
I've been in love with airplanes and all things aeronautical for as long as I can remember. The root of this passion/obsession/frustration/elation is thanks to my father Jim, he too a life long airplane nut.
I could never begin to count the number of times when as a child we would go to the airport, sit and watch planes come and go, large airliners, small trainers, cargo. Airshows at the Canadian National Exhibition, Hamilton and even R/C meets were regular haunts. Dad was a draftsman by trade and I believe his interest in design and engineering played a big role in his interest in planes. He also grew up in close proximity to Malton airport (now Toronto-Pearson International) in an era of rapid advancement in aeronautic engineering (post WW2) further capturing his youthful attention. His historical knowledge is broad, his tastes varied. He never has pursued his pilot's licence however.
During the early part of my adult life, right after highschool, I worked in construction trades. Although the money was decent, I soon realized that I was in a career stream that would eventually bore me to death or kill me (I worked high steel). I needed a challenge, something to match up with what I liked to do.
After an extended layoff from construction and bouncing from odd job to odd job trying to make ends meet, I made the decision to return to school. What would be better than something in aviation?
I enrolled in the Aviation Management program at my local college and in 3 years (including co-op placements in Yellowknife NWT as a dockhand and with the federal government in Ottawa) I graduated with a diploma in Airline Management.
While at college, I used a significant amount of my student loan obtaining my private pilot's licence at the local flying club. In February of 1995, on a cold damp afternoon in central Ontario, I managed to convince the flight test examiner that I actually knew what I was doing and he signed my paperwork and shortly thereafter my newly minted licence arrived in the mail.
Beginning right after graduation in 1995, I worked as a dispatcher for a northern Ontario charter company for five years. During the next two years I continued to build hours and added a night rating to my ticket. Over time, my lack of money (actually to be completely honest, my lack of money management skills) prevented me from flying regularly enough to stay current and my hard earned licence began to gather dust and moths.
In the intervening years, I met and married my soulmate Brenda, often described by me as the "world's most tolerant woman" (more on this later).
A job change at the beginning of 2001 moved me away from aviation as my means of income. An opportunity came up with the Ontario Provincial Police as a communications operator (dispatcher) that was too good to pass up combined with no room for advancement at the charter company lead me to change jobs. We also bought our first house, started a family and aviation involvement slipped further and further on the back of the list of priorities - but never forgotten.
In 2007, the local airport near our home advertised a fly-in to celebrate the contributions of the retiring airport manager and his wfe, as seen in this article from the Almaguin News:
At the urging of my Brenda, I attended the fly-in with the hope of meeting others in the local aviation community - maybe even find a way to get back into the air. In hindsight, it was one of the best things Brenda has ever done for me.
On that day, I met a man who would eventually become my mentor on this part of my journey. That man, Captain Barry Morris, (retired test and delivery pilot of DeHavilland Canada) reignited in me that long dormant passion. As municipal councilor and chairperson of the airport committee, he was instrumental in organizing this retirement fly-in. When I looked around at all the people who came to present wishes and enjoy the company of like minded aviation people, I immediately thought this was a door to what I was seeking.
I introduced myself to Mr. Morris and we talked for quite sometime about his vision for the proper development of the airport. It had been run for years as a small grass field by the retiring managers and local flying club, never really making it into a regional asset for the five municipal partners that owned it. I offered my assistance and experience as a volunteer in any capacity to "get my feet back in that door" so to speak.
Capt. Barry (as I came to know him) and I became close friends and confidants in the following years. We combined our aviation knowledge and offered it to the airport committee as a whole as none of the other municipal representatives had any background in aviation at all.
We did everything in our power to leverage our industry contacts, market the airport through website and social media and celebrating milestones such as the airport's 75th anniversary in 2008 and the 2009 "Celebration of Flight" weekend for Canada's Centenary of Powered Flight. We met with high level provincial and federal ministers and business investors. We even obtained government infrastructure money to hire a professional international consulting firm that produced a airport development plan, including paving of one of the runways, attracting tax paying businesses and making the airport into the regional economic and employment engine it was (and still is) capable of being.
Unfortunately, despite all our hard work, a change in ownership structure by the municipalities (two dropped out and a third dropped out later on) and a municipal election that set the airport committee back a decade in experience led the airport to a stagnant once again. Capt Morris and I were treated very poorly by the new committee in the year following the Celebration of Flight and we both withdrew from committee to save ourselves or injuries from banging our heads against the wall put before us.
So the airport remains a grass strip for a few local pilots. The last two municipalities still can't get their act together and make a decision to save themselves. One is threatening to pull out of ownership and the remaining one can't confirm if they will continue to fund it, hand over operation to the local flying club or sell off the property completely.
I truly believe his vision for the airport was completely workable. We had a plan, we had investment lined up and expertise for the asking. Unfortunately the shortsightedness and infighting of certain other council/committee members doomed any plan from the beginning. So now the plan that taxpayers of the municipality paid for sits on a shelf gathering dust. What a shame.
Barry and I stayed in close touch despite our bad shared experience. He retired from council and moved to southern Ontario with his wife and actually became neighbours of my parents.
Continued in part 2....
Time until takeoff
Husband, father and 911 dispatcher. Long time pilot with a licence that burns a hole in my pocket where my student loan money used to be. First time aircraft builder. Looking to fly my own airplane.