El Gato Volador
El Gato was my first airplane... I built it
from a kit by Van's Aircraft over a period
of 5 years, starting in 1999.
One happy test pilot, just after my first flight
in El Gato. The plane flew perfectly. The RV8 is
light on the controls, very responsive and with
an IO-360 Lycoming climbs fast!
El Gato panel view in flight over Lake Travis.
RV's are slick planes, here I'm at 120 Kts
in level flight at just 2100 rpm.
El Gato's panel; Dynon EFIS, Garmin 295,
Rocky Mountain uEncoder, uMonitor, Lift
Reserve Indicator (AOA) and backup
El Gato in the middle of test flight phase.
I'd moved over to San Marcos Airport (HYI)
and had about 35 hours of test flying to do.
I'm still working on the wheel pants too;
more fun to fly than work on fiberglas.
El Gato posing by the hanger at San
Marcos Airport (HYI), San Marcos, Texas.
El Gato in alternative pose at HYI.
Show and tell for Zilker Elementary students.
El Gato was a wonderful learning experience
for everyone associated with the project.
Homebuilding is a great experience, well
supported by the Experimental Aircraft
Association (EAA). My local chapter is
#187 Austin Texas.
Unfortunately in 2006 a change in my
circumstances forced me to sell El Gato.
El Gato leaving with her new owner.
El Gato's new owner created a very
professional and snazzy paint job.
Nervous test pilot
Note that I do have a parachute! This was
taken just before I went to make my first
The very first test flight was done by Col.
Stu McCurdy. A consummate professional
and member of my EAA Chapter 187 in
El Gato's first flight plaque from my
local EAA chapter.
El Gato airborne for the first time with
Stu at the controls. July 2005 at
Georgetown Texas (GTU).
Stu taxiing back after first flight.
Cheering crowds lined the runways. A
flawless performance and it flies hands off.
Jim Andrews, builder of an RV-8A and an
RV-9A. He's kown as a repeat offender.
Jim was always ready to lend a hand.
In a way this whole adventure was his
fault, he gave me a 'free' ride in his -8
which hooked me.
Jeff Bordelon, Rick Smith and Seth
Hancock help out prior to first engine start
Seth's company, Texas Engine Services
built my mighty Lycoming IO-360.
Jeff Bordelon, RV-7 builder lends a hand
at engine startup.
My Dad built some of the avionics for me,
he built the engine monitor and the intercom.
Here's my checklist:
N955DK Checklist PDF
Here's my Owners Handbook
N955DK POH PDF
Email me your comments or suggestions.
The tail kit; horizontal and vertical
stabilizer, rudder and elevators are the
first things that you build.
The wings are next, larger parts, increasing
complexity, aielerons and flaps, and your
first encounter with Proseal; the goop
used to seal your fuel tanks.
My friend Filipe helps me finish the riveting,
Here he's just been liberated as we remove
the fuselage from the jig. Prior to this he
was crouching inside of the upside down
fuselage in 110 degree Texas summer heat.
George and Gracie inspect my workmanship
on the interior of the fuselage.
As the fuselage progresses the work
becomes more complex as systems are
added, integrated and wired up. This
shows the wiring and plumbing behind
the instrument panel.
After a bit of debugging it all seems
to work properly, right down to my
fancy flashing annunciator panel on
the right side of the instrument panel.
At long last I hung the engine, a
Lycoming IO-360. Still a lot of finish
work to do. About a year before first flight.
Finally the day arrived to take the plane
to the airport. Still have to mount the
wings, adjust and test systems and start
the engine for the first time.