Composites Class

Last weekend, Kelly and I attended the RV-10 composites class offered by Aircrafters (a builder assist shop) in Watsosnville, CA. To my knowledge, it’s the only composites class specific to the RV-10, so when I heard about and heard the praise from previous students, I knew I had to go. Kelly thought that she should go instead of me, so we compromised and both went.

The class covers both composites fundamentals as well as the RV-10 specific subjects. We learned the basics: different types of fiberglass and resins, how to do layups, fill, use foam, etc. We did a couple hands-on projects—one building an L-bracket out of three layers of bidirectional cloth (or “bid”) and another creating a hard point in a foam/fiberglass piece.

The fundamentals were great to learn, but we could have done that closer to home. The most value came from Dave Saylor’s excellent instruction in the RV-10 specific steps, namely the canopy, doors, wingtips, empennage tips, empennage fairing, cowl, gear fairings, and wheel pants. For the canopy, Jeff Carpenter brought his fuselage and canopy, so we saw them measured, trimmed, and fitted. We also covered in detail the layup between the top of the forward fuselage and windscreen as well as window installation. It was great to hear Dave’s experiences and tips, then see what it looks like on a kit as well as on the finished product (he has a beautiful RV-10 of his own there at the shop). Chuy and Harold were helping Dave and were extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

As an added bonus, Dave gave everyone RV-10 rides, and for Kelly, it was her first, which was fantastic. We happened to leave right at sunset, which made for a great flight up the coast, past Santa Cruz, and back.

Here’s a poor-quality video of the takeoff:

On a side note, there were a couple of mostly-completed Lancairs in the shop—a Legacy and IV-P, which was really fun to see.

After this weekend, we’re ready to tackle some fiberglass. First up: finishing the wingtips.