instrument panel of newly built Young Eagles RV-6A
instrument panel of newly built Young Eagles RV-6A

June 2001
by Kate Bernard

As an EAA volunteer, I helped build three RV-6/-6A kitplanes from 1999-2000 at the EAA AirVenture Museum’s Pioneer Airport. Here is an excerpt from a June 7, 2001 journal entry describing the experience of getting to fly one of the planes. I later flew in another one of the three.

Working at Airtronics today, suddenly I heard a girl within earshot talking about an RV-6. That was enough to make me drop everything I was doing and rush googly-eyed to the windows. In the middle of a sentence, I abandoned my co-worker in the Cessna 182RG I was sitting in and walked around the maze of airplanes to look for this RV-6 someone had mentioned.

N6YE and N7YE were sitting pretty on the ramp after venturing up here from Pioneer Airport with some interns on board. 6YE was apparently here for a transponder check and 7YE had tagged along. The last time I saw either plane was in August last year, unless you count seeing one of them scattered in pieces for its annual inspection in April.

7YE, my baby, one of the planes I had helped build, was sitting on the ramp of my home airport! I still hadn’t gotten a ride in any of the three finished RV-6s.

I wondered if maybe, just maybe, I could take a quick break from work and beg one of the interns to take me flying. Then came that silly grin I sometimes get, followed by an almost frenzied search for the people I heard talking. Sarah said she’d take me up.

I climbed into the left seat of 7YE. I was pilot-in-command. My smile wouldn’t go away. I looked at the instrument panel in front of me. I had laid out and drilled some of the holes in it. I had helped put together the canopy that was above my head. I had cut the fabric that I was touching. There were pieces all over this plane that I had worked on, many of them hidden, but all of them important! As I turned the key and listened to the engine smoothly come to life, I smiled wider. Somehow this plane seemed mine.

PURE JOY is the only way I can describe what I felt as I pushed the throttle forward, accelerated down the runway and lifted off in seconds. I climbed out at 80 miles per hour and 1,000 feet per minute. I won the aircraft builder’s prize, the reward of flying in something my own hands built, the pride of knowing my work helped make this thing fly. This was the frosting on the cake.

row of airplanes
One of the RV-6As I helped build (N7YE) is in the middle, between the GlaStar and the other original RV-6A.

N261X, RV-6A I helped build:

N261X, RV-6A - front view
N261X, RV-6A – front view
N261X, RV-6A - rear view
N261X, RV-6A – rear view
N261X, RV-6A - side view
N261X, RV-6A – side view

N6X, RV-6 I helped build:

RV-6, N6X front view
RV-6, N6X front view
RV-6, N6X - side view
RV-6, N6X – side view