|Joaquin Aguirre’s dream came true when he built the first all-composite kit-built aircraft in Bolivia and flew it to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2011. From left is Aguirre’s son, Sebastian; Aguirre; and Oscar Beltran, his former flight instructor and friend. PHOTO BY ANDREW ZABACK
If you ask Joaquin Aguirre he’ll tell you Disney World is not the only place dreams come true. For Aguirre the dream started here at AirVenture 19 years ago. And it finally came true here this week: He flew his own Lancair ES to AirVenture from his home, Santa Cruz, Bolivia.Aguirre said he had always been interested in airplanes, and built model and remote-controlled airplanes as a boy.
He earned his private pilot certificate in 1987 and came to his first AirVenture in 1992 with his wife and their 1-year-old son.
“I had done a lot of research, and it always caught my eye that you could buy a kit and build a plane,” Aguirre said.
They visited the Lancair display at AirVenture and saw the ES fuselage mock-up. With a young family, however, Aguirre knew he couldn’t afford the kit, so he went back to Bolivia and continued to fly planes owned by friends and others.
“But I kept dreaming,” he said.
Keeping the dream alive
Then in 2008, he found a Lancair ES kit on the Internet.
The owner had bought it, but never built it.
With a much brighter financial situation, he purchased it.
He won the support of his wife by agreeing to some conditions:
- Aguirre would find someone with experience in composites to teach him.
- He would have a test pilot check over and test fly the finished plane.
- She got to choose the colors and design.
Aguirre agreed, and soon found a 40-foot box being delivered to his house.
“The container was so big that my son had to push up the wires with a pole so it could get to the house,” he recalled.
“All the neighbors came over to see what it was.”
They didn’t really understand his passion.
“They talked about the crazy neighbor who was building a plane,” he said. “But that’s because experimental aviation is very small in Bolivia.
“It’s really just starting.”
The plane was built in the garage, and family pitched in at times, including the dog that “kept all the intruders away,” Aguirre said.
The most challenging part was obtaining the building tools and supplies needed to complete the plane. “We don’t have an Aircraft Spruce or Home Depot,” he said.
“I had no resources.”
He did find support, however, from the Lancair ES builder Yahoo! Group.
Working on it part-time during the week and full-time most weekends, Aguirre completed the plane in two years.
A dream realized
NAFI Master Instructor Ron Galbraith flew the maiden flight of the plane on June 6, 2010, and gave it his seal of approval.
Aguirre’s Lancair ES is the first all-composite kit-built aircraft in Bolivia, as well as only the fifth experimental airplane ever registered in Bolivia.
Just two weeks ago, Aguirre decided to complete the dream, to fly his plane to the 2011 fly-in convention, and he asked his friend and former flight instructor, Oscar Beltran, to join him.
His son, Sebastian, now 20 and attending college in the states, flew to Milwaukee so they could all fly into Oshkosh together.
They left Bolivia for the 29½-hour trip on July 21, arriving in Oshkosh—4,700 miles later—on Monday.
They plan to depart on Sunday.
“Dreams really do come true,” Aguirre said. “This really was a whole bunch of dreams—to be able to buy and build a plane, and then to fly it here with my instructor from so many years ago and my son.
I was a little nervous flying into Oshkosh because it was so busy, but what a great experience!”