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Apr 02

Bridges and Homebuilt Airplanes

SpeezioBefore I begin, let me add my disclaimer…  I was not the pilot in command nor do I remember who was.  I do not know who the builder of the plane was either….

If you’ve read my other posts you know that I enjoy calculated risks – I get to determine how calculated it is!

This particular story happened when I got involved in the Experimental Aircraft Association known as EAA 822 out of Elmore County Aviation, now known as the Wetumpka Municipal Airport – the airport I ran on weekends while in college.

One day while hanging out at the airport (pilots when not flying like to just talk about flying) another EAA member flew in with his Speezo Tuholer.  I asked him to take me for a ride.  The deal was, if I could squeeze into the front hole he would take me.  Even then I was 6″3 and 225 pounds.  But I was determined.  This plane is an experimental airplane built in a garage (so it passes the calculated risk test) and the fuel tank is in the front of the plane.  I mean the FRONT, like inside the hole I was to be getting into.  So I climbed up on the wing, placed one foot into the hole then contemplated….  The gas tank would literally be between my legs, if I could squeeze around it.  This was an opportunity I wasn’t going to let pass me by.  I still don’t know how but I got in that sucker.  Not sure who was more stunned me or the owner!  Not sure I’d be able to get out but who cares – I’m going flying!

Well, a deals a deal so….  He handed me the leather helmet and the scarf and off we went.  As you can see from the picture this is an open cockpit experimental. This is the same Speezo that another aerobatic pilot did a roll and said something just didn’t feel right (calculated risk – check).  The prop began to spin and we were on our way!

Somewhere along the way he asks (yells) if I want to fly under a bridge (calculated risk – check) I of course couldn’t wait.  Well what I didn’t know is that the reason he wanted to fly under the bridge is that he THOUGHT he saw his son fishing in the river.  So here we go, under the bridge, then we buzz the boat just a few feet above the water pulling up at the last minute – watching all inhabitants duck for cover.  Remember, I am not the pilot in command, I do not remember who he was and I don’t know who built the plane!  Turns out it wasn’t his son to boot!

So there you have it, the day I flew in an experimental airplane under a bridge.