The Beacon

March 2021



The first chapter meeting in several months was held in early February, where new member Josh Mattson helped with food preparation.

Tom O'Toole brought up the possibility of chapter members meeting at OSH this summer, and Greg tasked him with making the arrangements. Tom contacted HQ, and the chapter has space reserved for a meeting at the Chapters Pavillion on Thursday July 29 in the afternoon. More details will follow.

Following the board meeting mid-month, the perfunctory chapter awards sent by HQ to officers and volunteers were mentioned. The chapter presented it's own MVP award to Dick Barthel for all the volunteer work he has put in this past year. He's also been assisting Josh with his PL-4 project. As a hangar renter, the chapter received a $10 gift certificate for avgas from the Airport Authority, and this was awarded to Tim Threw for keeping the bathroom presentable.

Youth Programs

The chapter has been awarded another Ray Scholarship for 2021. To quote the letter from HQ:

Congratulations! EAA Chapter 563 has been approved for a 2021 Ray Aviation Scholarship! Due to your chapterís dedication to EAA, youth engagement, and the wonderful application submitted, EAA and the Ray Aviation Scholarship Review Committee is excited to have your chapter onboard in 2021!

Kudos to Rob Meyer, our chapter's coordinator for this program. A selection committee will soon be formed by him, so let Rob know of any eager teenagers to be considered.

The chapter's first Ray Scholar, Jayson Presley, has received his instrument rating at Embry-Riddle:


Eliza Fletcher, our second Ray Scholar, called to say she has been selected by EAA to receive another scholarship for flight training, this time for $5,000. She attributes this to achieving her Private Pilot license under the Ray program. She will be attending our chapter meetings when home from SIU.

HQ has cancelled the Air Academy for this summer. We had placed a deposit to send Eliza there, and that will be refunded. Soon after OSH, HQ will open to all chapters the chance to secure a position for 2022.

VMC and IMC Club

The IMC Club meets at the usual time this month. The members of the VMC Club had, at press time, not decided whether to meet this month.


Another light has been hung over the kitchen area. Plans for the kitchen call for more cabinets and a vent fan, and both the kitchen and the bathroom are to be painted this spring. A model airplane has been hung from the ceiling near the bookcases.

What does a hungry FedEx pilot do for his friends? Tom O'Toole and company took the time to make a batch of these for the hangar crowd:

For several weeks now—and for the first time in many years—the hangar has been filled solely with experimental aircraft. Beside Greg's scaled F4-U, there's Josh's PL-4 in restoration, Andy's RV-8 under construction, Tim's RV-7 undergoing maintenance, and the other Tim's RV-9 in its usual spot:

Chapter Logo

The chapter president has suggested the logo used for shirts and the like might be a bit dated.

Member Noah Baker has a background in the graphic arts and has proposed a few designs, based on the name of these newsletters:

Noah's logos

HQ also offers a few logos:

HQ's logos

Let Greg know which one(s) you prefer.


At the chapter meeting, Rob reported that net assets are currently up 11% over last year—until the next market correction. He estimates the Caterpillar Foundation will be sending about $1,150 in matching funds due to the donations received from chapter members. Last year Caterpillar funds greatly helped our Youth programs.

At the board meeting, a recent recommendation of the Investment Committee was discussed. Tom O'Toole has joined Rob Meyer and Dewey Fitch on this committee and suggested the condition of the market makes it prudent to cash out some of the recent rise in our long term investments. In particular, it was suggested that $1,000 from each of the mutual funds be moved to near cash assets. The board agreed to this, and the money will be placed in a Federal funds money market for now.


Randy Eakle is ready to cut the canopy for his Monnett Moni and welcomes advice.

Ric Woldow has rejoined the chapter and provided this brief biography:

Ric Woldow has returned to the fold as a member of 563 after a 20+ year gap. Ric has owned multiple aircraft over the years including single, and multi-engine, land and sea planes. He is interested in vintage and ex-miitary aircraft as well as amateur built. He and his wife Lisa (also a rated pilot) have travelled extensively via GA aircraft and enjoy the fellowship of aviation. Active in both the Antique Airplane Association and National Stearman Fly-in (Lisa is a Board member), they have attended fly-ins and events throughout the midwest. Besides his pilot credentials, Ric has been an A&P mechanic for over 25 years, holds an I.A., and is appointed as a DAR-T.

Ric owns several airplanes including an RV-8 and a Stearman and is restoring an Aeronca 7AC. On his chapter application form, he noted one of his skills is cloth covering. In years past, Ric has served as secretary, treasurer, and vice president of this chapter. Welcome back!

Bill Larson is now making custom airplane engravings on acrylic. The LED light puck can be set for a rainbow of colors or to just one color. Bill is asking $30 for these of which $5 is being donated to the chapter. You supply the airplane outline, and Bill does the rest. Call him at 309-989-1422.

The Ron Wright Stuff

Picking up where we left off last month, Ron describes the custom ultralight he built many years ago:

The UL-14, originally named "Cubby," was the brainchild of Jim Sturges, a retired engineer from Cat who had previously built from plans a Spezio Tuholer, a tandem, low wing tail-dragger constructed of welded steel tubing with wood wing ribs. Fabric covered and open cockpits, it was an experimental aircraft with a 125 hp (as I recall) certified aircraft engine. He had flown that plane for several years before selling it and "retiring" from G.A. flying.

Several years later, about 2000, he wanted to design and build a single place legal ultralight that would remind him of a J-3 Cub, in which he had first learned to fly many years before. So, he did a lot of "homework" on- and off- line to learn how to design the plane of his dreams. After acquiring the required information, he laid out the design based on his research and during a "chance" meeting at one of our chapter meetings he asked if I would be interested in helping him built his aircraft. Well, after thinking about his offer about 5 seconds, I said "yes!" After a very short time to review how we would start this adventure, we both came up with the idea we could actually build two of these planes, side by side, for about the overall cost of 1½ planes: Such a deal!

Most of the aluminum 90 degree angle pieces, rivets, etc. were purchased from Wick's, and we made several trips to their place to pick up what we needed. Since Jim had previously built a fully enclosed, heated 1½ car garage on his property, we decided to start the build there. We decided that we would each devote 5 hours of "work" per day, 4 days per week, to build our two planes side by side, and use a fifth day to plan our future work and obtain or order the required materials.

UL-14 in garage

This schedule was pretty well maintained until about four months when unfortunately Jim was diagnosed with advanced cancer and given about 6 months with very aggressive treatment to try to overcome that. During his treatment period we 1) stopped construction on one of the planes, 2) worked reduced hours, based on how well Jim felt, and 3) worked as quickly as we could given the treatments were more taxing on his body than the actual cancer condition.

UL-14 tail UL-14 wing

Well, except for the final painting of Jim's plane, we finished all the construction, but Jim did not recover from the cancer and passed on before we could get it finished. Jim had decided to donate most all his aviation stuff and assorted equipment and tools to a worthy cause, but I understand that the plane had found a new owner in Virginia (I think) who finished it and flew it without any problems.

I repositioned my project first to my hangar at Tri-County Airport but lost the desire to complete it for about 2 years. Then one day, at an air show at the Peoria Airport, another EAA chapter member, who I did not know at the time, Greg LePine, introduced himself and suggested that if I had any projects to build that he would like to volunteer to help me, as he wanted to learn how to build these small airplanes. Geeze, what an offer! I told Greg about my abandoned Cubby project and he still offered his help: Wow!, what a guy!

So, we made plans to revive my UL-14 project—UL-14 because it was the 14th project that I had worked on. I rented space in our chapter hangar, and we started to build that plane. From that day forward Greg has assisted me with rebuilding at least 8 additional projects. Actually he did most of the building and restoring, I just watched, learned, and bought lunch. Thanks, Greg, none of the many projects I had acquired since then would ever have been completed without your knowledge, dedication, work, and "let's just get 'er done attitude."

The UL-14 was finally completed and flown, and not too soon after that, found a new owner from the northwest Missouri area. I could not look at that plane without thinking about the original designer. It stands as a testament to what a person can do with a lot of help from friends.

UL-14 finished