Imagine building your own light aircraft from scratch. For the past 23 years this is what one of our engineering lecturers has been doing. Over the summer we spoke to David, who has been building his aircraft from his back garden. He has spent part of his summer break painting the final pieces at the Colleges paint workshop.
We sat down and spoke to David about what inspired him and his 23 year long project.
What inspired you to start building your own plane?
“Cost, in the early 1990s it cost something like £80 per hour to rent a small aircraft. Which made this a really expensive hobby. Having my own plane would significantly reduce that cost to be more manageable.”
How long did you anticipate the project to be complete by?
“The manufacturers who produced most of the parts of the aircraft claimed it would take 500 hours. It very quickly became apparent that was out by a factor of at least 5, so I knew early on we were talking about 1000s of hours.
I’m an engineer, so I enjoy the engineering and it’s to enjoy each little bit a step at a time and don’t look too far ahead.”
Did you ever feel like giving up?
“Yes, once. I had gotten a new high-pressure job and was away from home a lot. It was impossible to see where I could get the hours to finish it. I’d looked too far ahead and stopped looking at each individual bit and though it can’t be done.
My wife persuaded me to carry on. I went back to my employer, negotiated a part-time contract and started plodding on again.”
What do you plan to do now? Where do you plan to fly?
“I’ve promised my wife for years and years that a weekend in the south of France is no problem. I’m going to have to keep up that promise.”
How are you feeling?
“I’m numbed at the moment, things have happened so quickly over the past few weeks. I cannot believe it’s gone from a pile of parts to something that looks like an aircraft.”
David’s dedication and hard work over the past 23 years is inspiring and we are looking forward to seeing pictures of his travels.
The sky is the limit!
Aim high and look into one of our aeronautical engineering courses. You too could become an engineer like David and go onto building your own plane.