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SEATTLE— The beautiful flying weather that the Pacific Northwest had enjoyed throughout September and early October gave way as if on cue to more typical drizzle and low ceilings during The Museum of Flight‘s Homebuilt & Kitplane Weekend, held here October 19 and 20. Although the weather lowered attendance, it did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of those who did turn out to see a fine array of visiting airplanes representing the amateur-built state of the art.

“We definitely gambled and lost on the weather,” said Museum public programs coordinator Craig O’Neill, “but we couldn’t have been more pleased with the variety and quality of the aircraft on our ramp or the eagerness of the owners to talk with our visitors about their experiences. It was a very successful event for all who attended.”

Eleven aircraft were able to fly, taxi or trailer in for the event, and they represented an unusually broad range of construction methods, performance and budget. The top attention-getter of the show was—hands-down—the Falco F.8L flown in by Dave Nason of Kent, Wash. This was in part because the airplane—a former Oshkosh Champion and Arlington Grand Champion—is a pristine work of art and in part because it’s bright red. Asked if he had ever thought about painting his two-seat, Italian-designed hotrod any other color, Nason replied, “Yes . . . for about two seconds.”

Other crowd pleasers included the immaculate Lancair IV-P owned and built by former Museum of Flight Board of Trustees chairman Mark Kirchner of Mercer Island, Wash., and the big, radial-engine Murphy Moose, in which Murphy Aircraft salespeople Colleen and Robin Dyck stopped in on their way home to Chilliwack, British Columbia, from the Copperstate Fly-in. Kids’ favorites seemed to be the Kitfox Lite trailered in by Museum volunteer docent Warren Joslyn of Kent, Wash., and the twenty-year-old Bowers Fly Baby owned by Ron Wanttaja of Auburn, Wash.

Another unusual and much-photographed plane attending the fly-in was the Zenith Zodiac CH-601HD constructed between 1999 and 2001 by Seattle high school students participating in King County International Airport’s Opportunity Skyway program. Decked out in U.S. Navy Blue Angels colors, the all-metal two-seater was built to airworthy standards, although liability concerns will unfortunately prevent it from ever being flown.

In addition to letting numerous children throughout the weekend pose in his open-cockpit Fly Baby, Wanttaja, the well-known author of Kitplane Construction (2nd ed., 1996, McGraw-Hill Professional), moderated a panel discussion on Saturday in the Museum theater. The program featured four homebuilders and one kit manufacturer’s representative—Express Aircraft president Larry Olson—talking about the rewards and challenges of building one’s own airplane.

According to Museum spokesman O’Neill, “Our tagline here at The Museum of Flight is ‘dream, discover, soar.’ Nobody in aviation is dreaming, discovering or soaring quite like those involved in homebuilding. It was a thrill to be able to share these great ambassadors of aviation with our visitors, and we look forward to scheduling next year’s event . . . on a nice VFR weekend!”


The independent, non-profit Museum of Flight is one of the largest air and space museums in the world. The Museum’s collection includes more than 135 historically significant air- and spacecraft, as well as the Red Barn—the original manufacturing facility of The Boeing Co. The Museum’s aeronautical library and archival holdings are the largest on the West Coast. More than 100,000 children are served annually by the Museum’s on-site and outreach educational programs—the most extensive museum-based youth aviation and space education program in the country. The Museum of Flight is one of only 750 museums in the nation and nine in Washington state that are fully accredited by the American Association of Museums.

Low, gray skies didn’t keep the truly dedicated pilots or visitors from attending The Museum of Flight’s Homebuilt & Kitplane Weekend, October 19 and 20, 2002.

(Museum of Flight photo)

Note: This image is available electronically as a high-resolution TIFF or JPEG on request.