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EAA AirVenture Today is published by the Experimental Aircraft Association for EAA AirVenture from July 27 - August 3. It is distributed free on the convention grounds as well as other locations in Oshkosh and surrounding communities. Stories and photos are copyrighted 2008 by EAA AirVenture Today and EAA. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without written consent.


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The official daily newspaper of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Volume 9, Number 5 July 31, 2008     

30,000th homebuilt a family affair
By Randy Dufault

30,000 Homebuilt: Bob Noll and his daughter, Katrina, at Bob's RV-9A, the representative 30,000 certificated homebuilt aircraft. Photos by Spencer Thornton

Bob Noll’s white and blue RV-9A started its life as many homebuilt airplanes do, occupying the two-car garage of his family’s home in Yuma, Arizona. For three years and four months, he enlisted the patience and help of his three children and his wife, Debbie, to complete his dream of building a flying machine.

“I wanted to do something like this my whole life,” Noll said. “I can remember when I was a kid going out in the backyard measuring out how much room I needed to land an airplane.”

Knoll completed the plane on February 1 of this year, made the first flight a few days later, and ultimately received certification for what will be recognized as the 30,000th homebuilt airplane in the United States.

According to Joe Norris , EAA homebuilders’ community manager, “The systems the FAA use to report aircraft certification have no way to identify the exact 30,000th airplane, so EAA established a program to honor one homebuilt.”

Qualifying for the honor was relatively simple.

“The airplane had to be certificated in 2008, and it has to be attending EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008,” Norris said. “Builders that met the criteria simply registered when they arrived, and the honorary airplane was chosen in a random drawing.”

In a typical year 1,000 to 1,200 homebuilts are added to the FAA rolls. However, 2008 is well ahead of most years with approximately 1,600 already on the books. The actual 30,000 threshold is expected to be achieved in July.

Noll gives a great deal of credit to his local EAA chapter (Chapter 590) for making his dream a reality.

“I received a considerable amount of help from the chapter,” Noll said. “I had tech counseling sessions pretty regularly throughout the project, and it is a great help just networking with other builders and aviation enthusiasts. And, of course, going flying together whenever you can.”

Noll chose the RV-9A design like many others prospective builders do. “A gentleman in the chapter had one, and he invited me to go for a ride in his,” he said.

Noll was obviously impressed with the design as he added, “The rest is history from there.”

During construction Noll logged 1,500 hours of building time, though he estimates he expended at least 1,000 more beyond that. He had no aircraft building experience or experience with aircraft construction techniques prior to starting on the RV.

“I started with the empennage…and a couple of the chapter guys said they wanted to come out and see what I was doing,” Noll said. “I was having a little bit of trouble with a couple of the rivets, and when they came out they said let’s just fix this. So they showed me how to drill them out and rivet it all back together.”

“I don’t have any formal training, I am an accountant by trade, and you really have to have a support base to do something like this.”

“And patience,” he added.

Over the duration of the project Noll enlisted family help with tasks like bucking rivets and dimpling rivet holes. On one weekend, with the help of one of his sons, the family was able to skin an entire wing.

This is Noll’s third visit to EAA AirVenture, and the first time in an airplane. He flew here with his 17 year-old daughter, Katrina, who also is a certificated private pilot. Other than making a small diversion for weather in Kansas, the flight went smoothly.

The airplane already has 100 hours on it and is performing exactly as the book says it should.

Noll will receive a plaque from FAA Acting Administrator Robert Sturgell Thursday, recognizing the 30,000th homebuilt honor. His RV-9 can be seen on AeroShell Square.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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