“We have a lot of people who have built an airplane and people who have helped others build one,” says Caleb Gebhardt, staff engineer of Zenith aircraft. He acknowledges a “wide range of skill sets” that volunteers possess, which enriches the building experience.
The volunteers and AirVenture attendees who are merely learning how to assemble the all-metal light aircraft can learn a lot from hands-on experience.
AirVenture goers are given the chance to remove rivets and insert them into a firewall, using a pneumatic pop rivet gun. The helper can then sign the logbook as a builder of the aircraft.
The chance to learn about aviation with hands-on activities is something the event encourages more and more each year. “They (EAA) are really pushing to get back to their roots — homebuilding,” says Gebhardt.
While aircrafts have been assembled at AirVenture in the past, construction has never received this much publicity from the public and media alike. “This is the first time (assembling an aircraft) with so much attendee participation,” says Ron Wagner, volunteer and head chairman of the “One Week Wonder” tent.
Wagner is confident that the aircraft will come together quickly as a result. “By Wednesday and Thursday, this will look like an airplane,” he says. The construction is already ahead of schedule and with more help this could come together even faster than anticipated.
People may also vote for one of three paint job options — two are red and white, with one blue and white option. The paint will be selected by the end of the week before the ground test, where the hard work pays off for thousands of diligent builders.
— By Reid Trier