Rich Clark: Challenger, N1164M
Interview with Rich
How long did it take to build your aircraft and how old is it now?
I started construction of the kit in July of 1998 and received my airworthiness certificate in May of 2003. Total construction time was 1,350 hours. I flew off the required 40 hours in June of 2003. As of March, 2004 I have 190 hours TT on the aircraft.
Was this your first project? From where did you get inputs for your project?
Joining E.A.A. was the best move I could've made because of the aircraft maintenance experience of others I could tap into. I knew nothing about building an aircraft when I started. Without the advice of other E.A.A. members it would've been extremely difficult to reach the level of construction quality I did. I couldn't be happier with the way the aircraft turned out. Trimmed properly, she flew "hands off" on my first flight.
Why did you choose a Challenger?
I wanted an aircraft with an unrestricted view from the pilot's seat, thus a "pusher." It had to be a two seater. It had to be flyable year round. And having flown ultralights, I wanted something at the slow end of the speed spectrum. Stall solo is 22 mph. Dual it's 28 mph. Cruise is 65 mph. It also had to be a proven design. The first Challenger flew in 1984 and there are 2,000+ of them flying.
What did you enjoy the most?
Building an airplane and test flying it is a fantastic experience. Half the fun for me is putting another pilot in the front seat and letting him or her fly!
Any special message for EAA 1229 members?
To all the E.A.A. members in our club, if you want to experience "low & slow" look me up and I'd be happy to take you up for a flight so you can see what your missing!
My Flying Experience on Rich's Challenger
It was a nice calm day. I was about to leave the terminal after having worked for the Pancake breakfast and Chuck Doyle's birthday party.
Just happened to glance towards the ramp. Wow, what a sight. Rich with his Challenger. "Should I ask Rich for a ride in his Challenger or should I go home and call it a day" were conflicting thoughts that I had to deal with.
What the heck, flying gives me more pleasure and mental peace than any thing else. How can I let go of an opportunity to fly in an experimental? I ended up requesting Rich for a ride. He being Rich, a real nice guy, agreed to take me for a ride. Ron and Sandy were the witness to the whole event. Ron took my pictures as I was 'boarding' the Challenger and as were about to taxi.
The Challenger is made of tube and fabric. One has to be very careful how to board this aircraft without damaging the fabric. Rich walked me through the whole process. One has to hold the two tubes (as shown in the picture) and slip oneself into the seat. One has to be careful where one puts his/her feet. The feet have to slide down a metal path straight on to the rudders.
Once seated, Rich showed me the comm and nav portion and the limits (air speed, stall speeds) and all of the instruments on board. Rich uses a handheld radio that he clamps very securely on to the left side.
After taxing we did a runup and took off from 16. The Challenger took off using 20% of the runway.
It was a different feeling, able to look at all the buildings soon after take off. It was a feeling as if I was like a bird (ofcourse did not have to move my 'wings' up and down to fly). I literally got a birds view of the airport and surrounding communities.
Rich let me fly the Challenger (this was my first time flying a stick and rudder aircraft). He was impressed with my flying (I hope he meant it).
We flew down highway 52 till we came close to Stanton. From there we flew across a lake North East of Stanton. Being a weekend and a nice sunny day there were lots of people on the lake. It was an experience in itself to be able to see every one enjoying themselves at the lake and two of us enjoying our ride over the lake!!! As we flew past the lake we came across two powered parachute jumpers on our way. It was an awesome sight seeing those huge'umbrellas' and the jumpers at the end gliding away to glory.
At the end of around 45 minutes we headed back to South Saint Paul. Boy, what a way to end the weekend.
Thank you Rich for giving me this unique opportunity to fly in your Challenger.
The ability to fly low and at 'not a very high speed' has its own pleasure. I enjoyed each and every moment of it. If you get an opportunity go for a ride in Rich's beautiful bird.