Building Chiquita

Wing start.jpg (31981 bytes)

Building the wings went quickly.   You feel that you'll have the kit finished by the weekend.

Jim Clark Nose.jpg (28478 bytes)

Friend Jim Clark who has helped on the project   from the beginning, posing by the  fiberglass nosecone.

Finished Wings.JPG (22158 bytes)

The wing "sails" fit well and pull tight.  A great sense of accomplishment in a short amount of time.

Costco Tent Primer.jpg (28455 bytes)

N51SC in it's home of 5 months. Convenient, because I could work in between house projects.

Flap guitar.jpg (25622 bytes)

The flaps and ailerons are simple and quick.   I wish that covering them was as easy.  At this rate, the plane will be finished by the end of the month.

Painted Cam Tent.jpg (27435 bytes)

Getting ready to make the 20 mile trip to the airport. 

Vertical Stab.jpg (16447 bytes)

The vertical stabilizer is your first real taste of what it will be like to build the fuselage. 

Flat Bed Painted.jpg (26120 bytes)

The only practical way  to move N51SC was to rent a flat bed truck. 

Horizontal Stab Spars.jpg (29494 bytes)

The two horizontal stabilizers are a piece of work.  Lots of engineering and bracing.  Clever and VERY light. 

WVI Head On.jpg (15289 bytes)

Down at the hanger, with the wings installed, Chiquita just clears the walls by inches.  We're talking huge!

Factory fuselage jig.jpg (23575 bytes)

This is what the fuselage looks like on the jig at the factory, which is a huge I-beam that insures incredible accuracy on the fuselage.

Norm Plane.jpg (21940 bytes)

My dad standing next to what appears to be a flyable plane.  But look, ma, no engines!

Nick Drilling Bottom.jpg (32174 bytes)

You're going to drill for the next few months and take it ALL apart.  And then . . . put it all back together again.   Son Nick, 17, slaving away.

Instrument Panel.jpg (23529 bytes)

My control panel.  K.I.S.S.  I chose a computer  to handle all engine functions.  Since then I've added a gyro and a Lift Reserve Indicator.

Front Section Cleco bottom.jpg (27890 bytes)

The front fuselage section, upside down, porcupine style.  The spikes are clecos.  You need buckets of them in three sizes.

JL Cockpit WVI.jpg (15960 bytes)

Here I am in the cockpit of my 800 pound glider, making engine noises.

Tail, shot through center.jpg (21614 bytes)

Then it all starts going back together, piece by piece.  "Why couldn't I have just left it together in the first place?"

NickJLtorque&.jpg (18870 bytes)

My son Nick torques the factory engine mounts as I play engine stand. 

Tail, half built.jpg (31540 bytes)

Tail section of the fuselage.  Finally, it starts to look like an airplane.  This is the moment that you've been waiting for, where it goes back together for the final time.  Like a huger erector set.

Philrotax&.jpg (22910 bytes)

Company founder and leader emeritus, Phil Lockwood, checks our work.   It's VERY important in a pusher design to collect your tools when you're done!

Fuselage&Center&Garage.jpg (25774 bytes)

Progress at 500 hours.  Note the low dolly used to build the fuselage in my garage (with 6'4" head room).  Center section mounted.   Not quite ready to fly.

Jimsmile&.jpg (20921 bytes)

Jim Clark, looking over the plumbing  one last time.

Fuselage Driveway.jpg (29764 bytes)

Doing a test-fit, with the vertical stab in my driveway. 

Chiquitasideview&.jpg (13019 bytes)

After three FAA inspectors and hours of additional  checks, Chiquita is ready to leap into the sky.

Gas Tank Side View.jpg (10582 bytes)

The gas tanks are fun to build, but make sure to wear old, throw-away clothes.  It took three attempts  to seal them properly.   See the Discussion Group for helpful hints.

Philready&.jpg (13086 bytes)

Phil Lockwood likes what he sees with the engines and rolls out onto final for a leap skyward.

Margie & Brake.jpg (24187 bytes)

Going over the finer points of disk brakes with my mother.  She's smiling but thinks that  I'm completely mad.

Phil&Jere.jpg (75949 bytes)

After Chiquita's first flight, there were lots of smiles around.  

Amy Deburring.jpg (27779 bytes)

My daughter Amy, (then 15).  We created a  child labor camp in the garage.  If you don't have children, adopt a few.  It helps to complete the project.

Fly me!.JPG (216237 bytes)

Tail art model, Chiquita.  One of the sexiest bananas in the skies out West.  

Amy Flying.jpg (45364 bytes)

Amy "flying" Chiquita (N51SC)   in the Costco tent that served me so well when Chiquita outgrew  my garage.   At $270, it's a steal.  Why rent space when you can have it for free?

For more, see

"Flying Chiquita" 

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