This is a Double Eagle designed by Leonard Milholland. We started the project thinking it would take about six months to complete. We got our DAR inspection 18 months later on September 25, 2009, and made the first flight four days later. Building a “plansbuilt” aircraft took longer than we expected. We made some cosmetic and structural changes, and used a 1955cc VW engine from Great Plains. The airplane breaks ground in less than 200 feet at 35 mph and cruises at about 65 mph, burning about 3.5 gph, with docile handling much like a Cub.
I just finished my Venture, which was started 20 years ago. There are marriages that have not lasted 20 years, there are careers that have not lasted 20 years, and there are whole lives that have not lasted 20 years, so how do you stay working on a project for 20 years?
In this fast-paced world today, we all forget to smell the roses, walk the paths, take the time to say “Hi,” and listen to ourselves and do what we need to do to keep our sanity while encouraging our artistic side. Building is a journey, not an end result. A homebuilt is an expression of your artistic side, a way to connect with yourself and a way of life.
My first flight went well, and the engine break-in is proceeding well. I expanded the envelope to about 245 knots indicated (redline is 300), rolled it three times, experimented with the trim, flaps and controls, and know I have a lot more to accomplish. I intend to enjoy every phase of the journey.
I took my demo flight with Gary Schmitt at Oshkosh 2004, and a friend helped me with the down payment for the show price. The kit was delivered to Aerocolor in Homedale, Idaho, that December. I lived in the hangar loft while owner John Rodgers and Jason Dilworth helped me craft the WW-II wannabe primary trainer I desired. After many months of absences from my wife, N9939 became an exciting reality. It was awarded Second Place place custom tube and fabric at Copperstate in ’06. I like the 912S, Kiev prop, Icom IC-200A, Garmin GTX 320 transponder and the MGL Avionics Enigma glass instrument package. The easy folding wings and huge baggage area are hard to beat. We have 600 hours on it now and can’t wait to go “buzzin” across the desert southwest some more! I have a lot of videos of us flying to remote locations on my YouTube channel.
Construction began on November 3, 2008, in my basement where the airframe and fabric work occupied me during the long Upper Michigan winter. Then I moved to my hangar in May 2009 for painting, final assembly and engine break-in.
On September 1, 2009, it passed inspection and was ready for the maiden flight, which took place without a hitch. What an exhilarating feeling, that first rotation in a craft built with your own hands. The Challenger flies like a dream. Sporting a Rotax 582 powerplant, it has plenty of power for winter flying on skis, and amphibious float flying for the summer. Thanks to Dave Vandenburg, my EAA tech counselor, for his guidance, and especially my wife, Barb, for her assistance and unconditional support during this project.