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The Plane-Building Bug Is Airborne in Albany

Albany is a haven for airplane-building enthusiasts, with up to 10 planes currently being constructed and many more having been built over the years. Ken Elwood, a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association who has been a licensed pilot since he was 21, has built five aircraft, including his open-cockpit Starduster Too bi-plane. Elwood, a retired teacher, helped his students at South Albany High School build a plane. One former student, Roger Rhodes, is helping friends build at least three aircraft at the Albany airport. Dean and Dana Wheeler are building a Vans RV6A plane with Rhodes' help, and the construction process has taken 17 years, on and off. The Wheelers' plane is being built from a kit, but the builders formed most of the aircraft components. "It's a lot of work," says Dean Wheeler. "I had to trim the aluminum to size and bore the holes for all the fittings myself." Wheeler says the almost-completed aircraft is designed to cruise at about 190 miles per hour. Elwood faced a more daunting challenge in the construction of his bi-plane, as he had no kit and had to scour the country to find materials.

October 14, 2009

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