Welcome to my site for everything aviation!

 

    Hello, my name is Dan Keister and I'm in the process of building a Zenith Aircraft  CH701 from plans. I'm trying to document the process of building and learning as I go.

Like many people I've been interested in aviation since my father bought  my first model airplane.  Like many, the dream of actually getting to fly didn't come for some time after that.  I took my first lesson in a Rans S-12 Trainer in Sept of 1995.  I was hooked!

After those first few hours I decided to get some GA time so I switched to a Cessna 150 at Olathe Executive airport in Olathe, Kansas.  Getting your license can be a long process without the proper funding so I decided an ultralight would fit the bill for the present time.  I bought a used one at the local airport and flew 116 hours the first year alone.  You couldn't keep me out of the thing.  If it was nice and the winds were somewhat calm (and after some time it didn't seem to matter what the winds were doing, I.E. DANGEROUS ATTITUDE), there I'd be, flying high above the streets and worries of the world.

After several years of flying ultralights and even becoming an ultra light instructor myself, I decided it was time to buckle down and get the real deal, my private pilots license.  So, in Oct of 2000 I become a licensed pilot.  I think I spent as much money on renting planes the first few months after obtaining my license as I did getting the thing. After the pocket book started looking like a desolate wasteland of empty space from throwing my money into aircraft rentals, I decided I needed to build my own plane so here I am.

Now a little about myself: I'm 6 foot tall, like long moonlit walks on the beach and...... oh , sorry wrong website.  Anyway, I was fortunate to come from a family of people who seem to be able to do anything they put there minds to.

My grandfather owned and operated a full service auto repair station for over 40 years. There is nothing this man cant fix.  My father is a Senior Mechanical Designer for Honeywell.  He designs aircraft radio parts and is one hell of a wood worker.  I've been around him and his shop all my life and I think the 'ol man must have rubbed off on me a bit.  Even though a child my not do the things as a child their parents do, just the assimilation process of watching can be a powerful thing for learning later in life.  Having the genes of mechanical ability surely helped me out.

As for me, I attended every shop class in high school they would let me into.  5 years of drafting in high school helped prepare me for what was to become my career after I graduated.  I enlisted in the Navy and went to boot camp in Oct of 1990 After boot camp, they sent me to school to become a Pattern Maker.  At the time of enlistment, I wanted to be a machinist, but to my luck the recruiter of course lied to me and told me that people with glasses weren't allowed to become machinists in the Navy.  OHhh? Interesting.  So a patternmaker I became. (and by the way, I worked with machinists daily in the Navy and most had glasses!)

Now you ask, what the heck is a patternmaker?  Good question.  First off, no, I didn't make dresses and uniforms as so many people have thought!  Geez !  I was the guy who built the models (patterns) for the molders (guys who work with very hot metal) that would create metal castings to repair ships and anything mechanical.  All that metal shop and drafting in high school made me the perfect candidate to be a patternmaker.  Our job was to build  wooden models of whatever broke so the foundry could make a new piece out of whatever metal the original was made of.  Surprisingly enough, the navy doesn't have a huge "Old Ship Super Center" they can run to get get parts for Nuclear subs and 40 year old ships. That's where I came in.  If they needed "said" part in 3 days, I got 2 days maybe, and a kick in the ass if it took that long.  I loved it .  I used lathes, mills, band saws and every other piece of equipment I could get my hands on. 

Patternmaking is a precise trade that demands close attention to detail when it comes to measuring and positioning.  Wow, that sure seems to be the same criteria for an aircraft builder. 

Well, here I am putting my military training to good use building an airplane!  Please enjoy the site and feel free to email me any questions you may have.  We're all in this together and learning is a powerful thing!