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All First Flights

Ryan and Michael White’s RV-9A | Polk City, Iowa RV-9A #90388

Congratulations to Ryan and Michael on completing and flying their RV-9A!

In February of 2020, Ryan and Michael White, father and son, started building a Vans RV-9A and, nearly 3 years later, took their first flight on December 18, 2022.

During the Winter of 2019, Michael brought up to Ryan that he was interested in completing his pilot’s license. He knew Ryan had worked on his pilot’s license when he was younger, and his grandfather, Rob White, still possessed a 1968 Cessna 150H that would be the perfect airplane to learn in.

Ryan had almost completed his private pilot training when he was approximately Michael’s age. He had gotten all the way to the point of completing his check ride, but life got in the way and he always regretted not finishing. The other aspect was that his motivation to finish was weak as he had grown bored of flying the slow Cessna 150H. Now that Michael had brought up his plan of borrowing the 150 Ryan agreed to support this endeavor and join in it himself, but said that when they were done, he wanted to have an airplane that moved as fast as an airplane should. Michael proposed the idea of building a plane to Ryan, and the two began researching potential build ideas.

They knew they wanted a plane that would travel well, as much of their desire to fly was to visit family living all around the country. This meant they wanted a cross-country oriented airplane that would handle well, provide a relatively forgiving platform for low-hour pilots, and operate with both speed and efficiency. After looking at many different options, it seemed as though the Vans RV-9A was the perfect choice. In doing this research, the two quickly learned about W&C Aircraft based in Boone, Iowa, a short distance from their home in Ankeny.

Ryan and Michael quickly formed a relationship with the group at W&C and were even connected with Kelley Kokemiller who flew an RV-9A out of Boone. One thing led to another, and Kelley took the two up for a ride in his RV-9A. After that experience, the mission was locked in. The pair, set on their mission, ended up taking an initial fabrication class at W&C with Keith Campbell and Tony Aspengren. Mark Schmitz helped to complete initial pre-buy inspections on tail kit components purchased from an individual who had abandoned their build. It did not take long until the two were deep into an RV-9A build. With COVID in full swing and everyone stuck at home, the build was progressing faster than they could have possibly imagined. They were insanely lucky, receiving their quickbuild fuselage from Van’s in a few weeks due to an order cancellation. The basement garage, their build location, was quickly filling with pieces resembling an airplane, an engine, and avionics. The build luckily ran months ahead of all the supply chain issues and seldom did the team wait on parts.

There wasn’t space at home to bolt on the wings and they wanted to have some supervision for tips and critiques when working on the canopy. So, the project was loaded up and hauled to W&C Aircraft in Boone on October 2nd of 2021. While this move did expose the project to the expertise present at W&C, it did mean that the one-way transit time increased from 30 seconds to 40 minutes. This didn’t stop them from being there almost every night.

Fast forward just over one year, the plane is all assembled and freshly painted. The boys had worked with Don Shearer, a pilot and painter of the Boone area, to complete the paint. Shortly after this, N442WR was inspected by the FAA, and took its first flight on December 18th, 2022.

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