Riverside, CA – For the past two years a group of seven high school students has gathered nearly every Saturday at a small hangar on Flabob Airport to work at restoring a 1963 Skycoupe. Designed by Ray Stits, who founded EAA Chapter One and has been associated with Flabob for decades, the Skycoupe was one of the earliest designs offered to homebuilders and members of the Experimental Aircraft Association. Stits designed another 14 aircraft over the years including the Flutterbug and Playmate.
When dug out of the rafters of an old hangar at Flabob, project leader Al Gester said it looked like it had been in a wreck, though closer examination showed it just suffered from many years of neglect and rough handling. As with any restoration project, the components of the Skycoupe had to be dismantled, cleaned up, repaired and then brought back to their original configuration. The students have recovered the tail group, readied the wings for recover and are putting the hardware and wooden stringers back onto the fuselage in anticipation of recovering. The materials needed for recovering are being donated by Polyfiber, a successful business once owned by Ray Stits.
Gester, who is retired from the Air Force, estimates completion of the project may take another two years. In the meantime, students who log a certain number of hours earn subsidized flight lessons. Four of the students are currently working on their private licenses and two are expected to earn their certificates early in 2010.