Personal Projects

I've always been interested in homebuilt stuff, and one of the first things I remember trying to make was an airplane with a neighbor when I was around 7-8 years old. We cut big strips of cardboard and taped them to our bicycles and peddled as hard as we could, but to no avail. We decided we just weren't building up enough speed, after all airliners seemed to go pretty fast to take off. We went to the biggest hill within peddling distance and tried all afternoon without success. Each time we thought to ourselves "just a little bit faster and we'll have it for sure."

By then we were convinced our problem wasn't speed, but a design problem with the wings. We looked through an encyclopedia and saw a lot of the early airplanes were biplanes. Now we were sure we were on the right track–one set of wings just couldn't get our bicycles into the air, so two sets would surly be twice as good.

We added a second set of wings and tried again, but no luck. By this time the cardboard was getting pretty battered so it was back to the drawing board. We saw old airplanes used a lot of guy wires to hold the wings straight, so we raided my fathers shop and used most of his string to help hold our wings rigid. With this improvement, we raced back to the hill to finally take off and see what flying was like.

At the hill we tried again and again, sure that the next try would be the one. Eventually we got tired and figured there must be more to flying that we thought, which in retrospect was a pretty accurate statement. Assuming we did get airborne, we hadn't thought of a way to continue our speed, or a way to turn. :-(

So, this section will document some of my homemade things which hopefully are a little bit better thought out than my airplane adventure.