Source: 2003-Q1 Beartracks, by Pat Fagan This is the story of "Smokey Bearhawk," Pat and Carol Fagan's homebuilt project. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to build an airplane. A strange desire perhaps, since I never really messed with model planes as a kid. Plastic model planes never had enough parts for my tastes, so I always built model cars. The few flyable models I built never flew very well, which doesn't bode well for this endeavor. No manufactured airplanes ever caught my fancy. Carol and I spent years trying to figure out what kind of flying we really wanted to do, which is ultimately what determines what type of airplane to build. It was during my years flying air tankers that I realized I didn't really like flying as a means of getting from point A to point B so much. What was fun was flying low and sight seeing. The last major decision was whether to build from plans, or from a kit. With all of my "extensive" model experience I always assumed I would have to build from a kit, but the more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that my burning desire was to BUILD an airplane, not ASSEMBLE one. Flying the finished product was a very secondary concern at this time. I really wanted to build, no matter how long it might take, and I figured it could take 10 years. I was concerned that assembling the plane in a year or two could leave the need to build unfulfilled. This lead to the criteria for our plane:
- High wing, for sightseeing,
- Taildragger, just because we both always liked them,
- Four seats, so that neither of us had to stay at home if we took passengers
- Control sticks, instead of a wheel, and
- Can be built from plans.
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