January 28, 2010
By Alton K. Marsh
A group of dedicated high school students is making good progress in the restoration of a Stits Skycoupe. (Left to right are Leland Spearman, Alex Lemke, Nathan Sandoval, Christian Krause, Al Gester, and Jonathan Lane. Not shown are Kyle Appleberry and Jacob Hilger.)
For the past two years a group of seven California high school students has gathered at a small hangar on Flabob Airport at Riverside, Calif., to restore a 1963 Skycoupe. Designed by Ray Stits, the Skycoupe was one of the earliest designs offered to homebuilders and members of the Experimental Aircraft Association.
When dug out of the rafters of an old hangar at Flabob, project leader Al Gester said it looked like it had been in a wreck, though closer examination showed it just suffered from many years of neglect and rough handling. The Skycoupe had to be dismantled, cleaned up, repaired, and then brought back to the original configuration. The students have re-covered the tail group, readied the wings for re-covering, and are putting the hardware and wooden stringers back onto the fuselage in anticipation of re-covering.
Gester, who is retired from the Air Force, estimates completion of the project may take another two years. In the meantime, students who log a certain number of hours earn subsidized flight lessons. Four of the students are currently working on their private certificates.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
A touch of history, affordable flying, unique sightseeing, a good meal, and a community of pilots: Isn’t that what general aviation is all about?
Getting the job done on the local and national levels requires long-term planning, a hands-on approach, and keeping the effort moving, said Sean Collins, AOPA’s Eastern regional manager.
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