June 2021 Meeting Recap

It was really nice to see everyone on the 8th for our second meeting of this post-COVID year .. Attendance doubled from the May meeting, partially due to the internet hackers’ failure to devise a nefarious plan to make us want to stay home. I-26 did it’s thing, though, with an accident down the mountain that delayed Gary Garner and his wife in traffic for over two hours and caused them to miss a real celebration that was lined up for their 53rd wedding anniversary .. Mark Cigal had his RV-8 all ready for Mrs. Garner to take a ride and the cake was ready for them (and us) to enjoy. Being aviation people, we enjoyed the cake anyway. Gary and Mrs. Gary: We owe you one.

The burgers and brats were on the grill early and great conversations ensued.

Our meeting began at 7 as planned and a quick recap as to where we are and where we’re going followed. A couple of key points: Gary Garner is assembling information for an application to be sent in to EAA for their B-17 to visit Asheville next year. That was a great fundraiser for us and a lot of fun for our members. It’s also a lot of work lining up support from local businesses and the Asheville Airport. Gary put this together in 2016 and raised some $4,500+ for the chapter.

We are also asking for ideas for a new design for shirts and patches. Keith Plemmons did this for the Skyote community and others have talked about projects along this line. Please think about it and let’s see what we come up with.

Antony Pretorius wrote me back in April to say he wanted to step down as Young Eagles Coordinator .. he has been promoting Young Eagles for the past 12 years and he said it’s time for someone else to take it up. I’ve been sitting on this for all this time thinking he might change his mind but he hasn’t and so we’re looking for a Young Eagles Coordinator. Antony isn’t stopping his work with young people, promoting aviation; he is accompanying a young man and his father – a member of comedian Steve Martin’s area band, the Stone Canyon Rangers – to AirVenture at Oshkosh, along with another young fella – member Chuck Throckmorton on his first visit to the Mecca of experimental aviation. That sounds like a great trip and I hope we’ll have a full report in August.

At this point we were all looking forward to a much anticipated program by member and Technical Counselor Keith Plemmons on the Skyote project which has been his life for the past 4 years … but there came a hitch: We needed a certain kind of connector to link his laptop computer to the museum’s projector and we didn’t have one. This was a huge disappointment to Keith and for all of us as well .. he had worked really hard on a great presentation. But then, Keith came back with an impromptu, well thought out and informative, description of his decision to build the Skyote and the discoveries he made along the way. There were no plans as such, no books, no assembly instructions; the parts were described with dimensions, angles, placements but nothing anyone would think of as detailed plans, anyone but a builder like Keith. When someone begins describing parts in thousandths or ten-thousandths of an inch, it’s over my head, but then I had just been with Tim Higgins to Ray Moore‘s shop ( see the previous post) to see his B-17 work so maybe I did get an idea of this level of skill. At the end of his talk, I had a real appreciation for Keith and his commitment and I’m hoping to visit him one day soon to see his setup in person.

I admit I felt Keith’s letdown both as president and as a friend. For that, I apologize to Keith and to those in attendance. The chapter had presentation equipment at one time, I’m told, but whether or not we did back then, we will by next month’s meeting — with all the connections.

The goof-up with the equipment for Keith’s presentation is, I guess, part of starting up again after a long layoff .. at least that’s what one of our members told me .. so we’ll carry on (but I won’t forget it).

Thanks to Tim Higgins for bringing and showing parts for his RV-12 project. Tim says his shop is in the last stages of setup and is ready for work to proceed.

We signed up or renewed three new members at the meeting who are also members of the national EAA and another new member is looking for our online sign-up and the PayPal link member Brian Leverson set up at https://chapters.eaa.org/eaa1016

As your president, I’m really glad to see that our chapter is serving as a base for all our members, old and new, to make connections on all levels .. from building to flying to discovering common interests beyond the aviation community. When all is said and done, isn’t it true that our friends, old and new, are what it’s all about?

Until July 13th … Fly safe … Build strong and light … stay well …


Ray Moore’s B-17

How in the world do you describe a man, obsessed with the complete, true, accurate reconstruction of a World War II bomber? Meet Ray Moore through Tim Higgins’ pictures from our visit to Ray’s shop at the Asheville NC airport.

Ray (left) explains a bulkhead and its component parts to a thoroughly attentive visitor (me). Ray makes this particular piece for several B-17 restoration efforts going on across the country. He has a hand in almost all the projects worldwide.
Some of the many brackets destined for a bulkhead. Some are old, some are new, all are faithfully recreated including the washed or dipped primer in the manner they were originally done.
When Ray started, he had to figure out how to start. He says things like these jigs just come to him, like learning to weld, learning electrical wiring and so on. He is entirely self-taught. He made these jigs on his own without a model to go by. There are a lot of details to consider when you’re building a B-17.
Some components come in, badly damaged from impact or mishandling. In this case, the section was cut away from wreckage by uninformed or hasty workers who further bent and twisted the fuselage components with forklifts and other labor saving devices (for them). Ray is looking at hundreds of hours of work to fix the salvageable pieces but this section could fly again!
This aft fuselage section is destined for Ray’s own B-17, “Lucky 13”. His great uncle Marvin was a maintenance director during the war and Lucky 13 was one of his ships. It was damaged and ran out of fuel returning from a bombing raid to Stuttgart on September 6, 1943. The crew bailed out successfully and the airplane crashed in France. None of the crew lost their life; 3 returned to England, 7 were interred for the duration of the war.

Parts for Lucky 13 are faithfully recreated down to the smallest detail, correct for the model of the airplane. Ray is a tireless researcher and even details of the construction of interior bulkheads are reproduced or restored to original. Some of the salvaged parts he uses are from B-17s that were featured in the movie and TV series “12 O’Clock High”. He points to one reinforcing part and says “Gregory Peck touched this”! Fun stuff.

I can go on and on about Ray and his work, but go to his website for some remarkable information about the airplane, its crew, and the team working to put it back in the sky: www.hangarthirteen.org

Calling all graphic artists, designers, creative thinkers! We’re looking for a new patch design!

Our current, old patch (which we’re out of or can’t find the stock) is okay, but needs a refresher.

Your design might be a winner! You may submit as many entries as you’d like but it would probably best if you take the best part of each idea and boil it down to one or two.

One thing: looking at the patch above in the header, the roundels are British instead of French. The French used the outer ring in Red, the inner dot in Blue, separated by a white ring. Also, I’m checking with the Smithsonian to see when or if the Geronimo image was used when Kiffin Rockwell flew with the Escadrille Americaine (The name was changed to Escadrille Lafayette after he was killed).

There may be a prize for the winner .. stay tuned.

Submit your entries to the group email or to me at: eaachapter1016@gmail.com. Don’t expect a quick reply as I only check that address once in awhile. If you want, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.


It’s Great To Be Back!

Wow! The Big Day fast approached when we had our first post-Covid Chapter meeting and it was a really big deal for me personally. For all of us to be able to gather in one place where the history of aviation in our local area is featured at the Western North Carolina Air Museum, that’s pretty special.

My first view of Oscar Meyer’s airport was probably when my family was driving past on our way to the old fairgrounds south of town. (They used to hold a pretty important regional horse show there every year.)

The thing that really caught my attention as we drove past was the rotating beacon flashing green/white across the night sky. I could see the sweep of the light from my bedroom, about 2 1/2 miles away. Then my Aunt Pete let on that she had started training as a CPTP pilot before The War and used to fly from an airfield just like the one here at home. Now THAT was REALLY something .. And just like that, I was hooked.

So it was pretty special to me to be able to welcome you to our resurgent EAA Chapter and to our long-awaited resumption of regular monthly meetings. We’ll typically have food at $5 per plate beginning at 6:30 or just before and the programs will start at 7:00. You can bring your own to grill if you want and we’d appreciate a donation to cover the fixings.

At the May meeting we heard about the Sun n Fun Fly In from Anton Pretorius and from Jerry and Nancy Marstall’s perspective .. regular SnF attendees and volunteers for many years. A look at Sun n Fun from different points of view and it was special.

The theme of the June 8th gathering will be projects. Bring pictures to share and let us know how you’re doing!

For June 8th, Keith Plemmons, one of our esteemed Technical Counselors, has some 3,000+ slides of his incredible Skyote project and is picking and choosing as of this writing to give us all a glimpse of what he’s been up to in his fully equipped shop. I hear he has a show set to music! Keith is pure EAA. He began his project – and it’s not an easy one – having to buy many of the machines for his shop and learn the skills needed to turn out a myriad of pieces that are actually beginning to come together as an airplane. I promise an interesting half hour or so as we tour his very complex project.

Please set aside the evening of June 8th on your calendar – in ink – and join your friends, old and new, as we continue our 2021 return to happy days of building airplanes, flying them and sharing the ride!

Build light and strong, fly safe, stay well.