The Village

Today is that day in the States where we gorge ourself on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and a whole array of other delicious foods. It is also a day to surround ourselves with family and friends and enjoy the blessings of our lives. For those of us in the airline industry, or any other 24/7/365 industry for that matter, we don’t always get to spend it how we want. I am lucking out today, as a junior pilot with my new company, I am on call, and didn’t need to fly. Now, even though I am in Arizona, I get to spend it with Grammy and Grandpa, aunt/uncle, cousins, and Kevin! The turkey tastes better already. Maybe even I will get in a game of Gin or two with Grandpa.

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Grammy and Aunt Jane, with the 30+ lb bird!

Today, I can’t help but think about the things I am so fortunate to have and for which I am very grateful. One of which is directly related to the subject matter of this blog, so I would like a few moments free from technical information and building reports.

Building an airplane is rarely, if ever a solo event. There is a saying, “it takes a village to raise a child,” and so it is true with a project as complex, lengthy, and involved as building an airplane. I was fortunate enough to be an airport kid, from the time I was 12, with a lot of people who were enthusiastic about facilitating my involvement in aviation. From my very first day hanging out at Capitol Drive Airport (02C) in Brookfield, WI, people were eager to share all parts of aviation with me. The one that always interested me most was homebuilt airplanes. Although some people call me an aviation sponge, and say I have a penchant for all things aviation, and that is probably true too.

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Eric Whyte and I during my first year of being an airport kid at Capitol Drive Airport. This was during the ALOFT day camp, we are pictured with the C172 known as the Peruvian Airliner.

To all those of you who follow this blog, I would like to go on record and say that the time people spend with aviation neophytes, especially youth, really does make a difference. I would like to express my gratitude for all of you, and especially the people who fostered my particular path. Without those people, I certainly wouldn’t be a pilot, much less building such a $h!+ Hot airplane, I am grateful.

Taking on a project that is 7+ years in the making is not something I would have ever dreamed of starting at the age of 23. It takes a particular confidence, tenacity, and lets face it… a huge leap of faith and VERY weak moment to go “all in.” My initial building partner, Marty Pavlovich, was in the right place at the right time to get me involved in this project. He helped convinced me I could do it, that it was a good project, and the right time. I don’t know whether to thank him immensely, or to curse him. Depends on how my day in the Garaggio is going, I guess. But in all seriousness, for his encouragement, coaching, and everything he thought me, I am grateful.

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Marty Pavlovich, my initial building partner before I moved from SE WI. He is showing me the finer points of how to squeegee cloth on our new Roncz Canard.

I have also been fortunate enough to have a lot of people that help on a continuing basis with this project, both through encouragement and technical help, as well as actually spending time sanding with me. There are so many people who deserve credit for the workmanship, progress, and technical details of the Garaggio Ez. From suppliers and contractors to friends and family, the list is overwhelming. I am grateful.

From time to time, this project becomes monotonous and work. In order to persevere, it takes motivation and encouragement. I get a lot of help, encouragement, and support from Kevin. He takes care of a lot at home to allow me to spend what little free time I have, on the project. Additionally, that motivation has often come from people following and interested in this project. I have a bunch of friends, who are also builders, who have given me that drive and have listened to the frustrations and problems with a knowing ear. They have helped me find the motivation when it was allusive. That includes all of you. I enjoy the camaraderie of sharing this process with all of you. When I look at the statistics of the views of this blog, and see the comments, it keeps me motivated to plug away. For your support and motivation, I am grateful.

I am hesitant to list names as I am sure that I will miss people, and don’t want them to feel any less involved or appreciated. These people all know who they are, and know that I appreciate them. With that said, here is an incomplete list of “The Village,” in no particular order:

Kevin Vernon-Harris; Marty Pavlovich; Eric Whyte; Dick Keyt; Jon Myers; Greg Struve; Terry Schubert; Craig Henry; Nate Mullins; Mike Beasley; James Redmon; Marc Zeitlin; Stephanie & Dennis Schulko; Chris May; Joe Flannigan; Michael Downey and Keenan Blaisdell; Sam Weigel; Ryan Davis; Wes Henrie; Cory Klimko; Lance Cousineau; Rob Sixta; Bob Marso; Ryan Dorf; Mary Coraggio; Jim Coraggio; Jim and Mary Jane Luterbach; My brothers and sisters; the entirity of the AirVenture Cup family; EAA Chapters 11 and 18 in SE WI and their members; John, Dan, and Stein at Stein Air; the followers of the Garaggio; the Rusty Zipper group at Capitol Drive Airport; and a myriad of other people. *If I left you off this list, it wasn’t intentional, and let me know, I will make the correction*

I hope you all get to spend time with family and friends this Thanksgiving. I hope you get to enjoy and be grateful for your blessings.

Now – on to a little progress report. Even though I am away, progress is being made on the Garaggio Ez. Sean of Top Stitch Automotive Upholstery is nearly done with my seats. Here is a quick teaser photo. Hopefully I will have them installed on Sunday and get you a view of the whole thing.

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Teaser of the upholstery.

Also, the folks at Stein Air have gotten my instrument panel wiring well under way. Here is what they sent me yesterday of the progress. They are moving right along with it and within weeks we could have a functioning instrument panel.

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Stein Air has the panel well along its way to being wired.
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