EAA Chapter 563

The Beacon

January, 2023


Christmas Party

Nearly three dozen people attended the party at the Lariat Club.


There's still time to sign up for any of the 30 airplane building webinars which HQ is presenting over five days starting Monday the 23rd. Besides a few manufacturer's presentation, topics such as avionics, fabric covering, welding, wiring, etc are on offer.

Youth Programs

Paxson Wooden has accepted our offer to attend the OSH Air Academy next summer. Paxson has been working for months on the building of the Zenith Cruzer in the chapter hangar.

Airplane Building

The teens are making good progress. The elevator/stabilizer assembly is complete, except for the tip fairings which are to be assembled after it has been fastened to the fuselage.

teens at work

Tah-dah: Will and Paxson show off the new stabilizer.

Currently, work on the cabin is at the support structure for the sliding seat assemblies. Work has begun on the landing gear assemblies, and the first strobe assembly is in place.

Donations towards this project are welcome. The funding now available will allow us to complete the airframe, including the engine. Only partial funding is in place for the avionics.

VMC and IMC Clubs

The VMC Club met New Year's evening. The IMC Club meets this coming Sunday at 6:00 in the hangar.

Five years ago, Kent Lynch started the IMC Club at 563 and has been the coordinator since then. Starting this month, Dana McNeil takes over as coordinator. Kent had provided the Pilot Workshops tutorials for both Clubs, but Dean Lake has kindly offered his, with the permission of the company.


The hangar is full of projects at the moment. Rich Gilbert has had both of his Onex in this past month, and Ron Wright has cordoned off an area for paint work. Andy Plouse has begun painting his RV-8 and has hung the engine. Dave Anderson's Zenith is still awaiting transport to the Canton airport. Dave Jackson's Aeronca project was recently moved to the FBO for work ahead of moving to Dave's hangar to be completed. Of course, the teen's Zenith Cruzer is also in place.


For a couple of years, the chapter has been eligible for matching gifts from the Caterpillar Foundation. We're now also set up for matching gifts from any of the over 900 companies which use Benevity to manage their program. Deepak Dogra pointed out this opportunity, and Rob Meyer made the arrangements.


Chapter membership dues remain at $35, individual or family. Please drop your dues off in the mailbox in the hangar or mail them to:

EAA Chapter 563
1320 W Bird Blvd
Peoria, IL 61615

Renewal notices will be mailed this month to those who haven't.

Greg LePine's hip was replaced on Dec 19: "All went great. I was in at 7:30, out by 8:15, walking and home by 12:15. The next 6 days I don't recall. However, I'm walking with no limp or pain."

Andy Plouse has taken over the membership committee duty from Ron Wright, who's been recuperating from surgery.

Board member Josh Mattson is studying engineering at Bradley University. He's landed a summer internship in California. There he'll be working with former board member Andrew Barth, who also studied engineering at B.U. "280 people from across the country applied for an internship and they only picked 3—very fortunate."

New member Craig Hittle, from Dunlap, has extended this introduction:

I grew up on a small beef cattle ranch in rural northeast Kansas tinkering with farm machinery while dreaming of planes. My dad was a private pilot and naturally he took me to airshows and fly-ins of all types. They ranged from the Olathe Air races (maybe the only year they hosted the event) to the Byronís Air Expo RC shows in Ida Grove and Ankeny Iowa. I dragged my dad into the RC hobby and we spent winters cutting balsa and cursing Monokote. A ¼ scale Cub was followed by a Mustang, a Stuka, and a Seafury. The squadron grew and the basement filled up with miniature warbirds. After a few builds I realized I was never going to be able to cram myself into one of these ships for a first-hand account of my pilotage skills. We found a club with an instructor at the Army airbase at Ft Leavenworth for lessons in a Cessna 152. I lost my shirt tail at 16 and continued working on hours for a year or so but had to put the logbook on the shelf to attend Kansas State University for a mechanical engineering degree. During my last few semesters, I took an opportunity to intern at CAT in engine research doing design, analysis and concept engine builds. I liked the work and they tolerated me so I came back full time in 2005 and have been in the Peoria area since.

In 2009 the logbook fell off the shelf and seemed to demand new entries—maybe ones with "Vans" in the script. I scoured the old Kitplanes magazines and took a ride with Jim Love in his fresh RV-9A at Kewanee. I was sold. The empennage was ordered, holes were match drilled, dimpling was done and rivets were hammered. My young daughter even took an interest in the cleco pliers—she retains the skill to this day. As often happens, work and life made free time less available and the 9a tail became more decor than plane and still hangs from the rafters (until someone wants a 9a project more than I do). Then 2020 happened and free time coincided with the RV-12is crossing my web browser. Those Vans guys must have me bugged. I did my research and chose the LSA for the fuel efficiency, quick build time, and quiet riveting (working in the basement shop). The gentle handling the 12 promises is a bonus in case my daughters also catch the flying bug. After a long years wait, the tail arrived in September 2022 and is complete as of November minus the backordered parts. The wings and fuse are on order and should arrive in spring 2023. I look forward to making quick progress next year with my wife and kids helping, to be ready for a finishing kit fall of '23.

I have a variety of machinery in the shop including a smithy mill/lathe, small pan brake, welders, 3D printer, etc. and would be glad to help others in the chapter if they need tooling or fixtures made.

Darrel Durig from Chillicothe has joined the chapter. He's been attending the IMC Club.

Nick Sturm from Bartonville has also joined, and his son Julian is one of the teens building the Cruzer:

I am an Aerospace Engineer who graduated from University of Rolla (currently called Missouri University of Science and Technology). I volunteered during this time at a charity called Wings of Hope in St. Louis and helped in the restoration/modification of several Cessna 206 for use in medical evac around the world. After graduation, I began working for Renaissance Aircraft, which tried to build updated Luscombe 8Fs in Cape Girardeau, MO. Originally, I wrote assembly instructions, but the company was not bound for success and after getting married to my wife, Jenni, it was time to move on. I have spent the last 19 years in Peoria as an engineer for Komatsu America. Our only son, Julian (age 14) and I attend Oshkosh every year. He is possibly more obsessed with aircraft than I.

Julian is enjoying the Zenith build, and I appreciate the opportunity for him to contribute and develop this skill set. I recently restarted flight training with Ted Lambasio in Canton, and Julian is pushing for opportunities to learn as well. Some days all he can talk about is PPG training, gliders, or ultralights since there is no minimum age restriction. We both enjoy building and flying radio controlled aircraft. Our most recent preoccupation is researching the ICP Savanna S to build as an SLSA.

Bob Schlesinger from East Peoria is another new member. He's planning to build an RV-14. He's flown for the military and for an airline (737 and DC-10) and has owned a helicopter.

Finally, Erich Smith from Peoria has joined the chapter. His grandfather, Smitty, was a member of this chapter until passing away in 2010, and those from the time might remember him and his Cessna 170. Older newsletters have accounts of Smitty's flying adventures across the country, including one to Alaska in a Cessna 150. Erich is part owner of a Cessna based here at 3MY.



Reinhart Aviation Medical has set up an AME practice at the FBO. The website is not yet functional, but a flier is on display in the bulletin board at the hangar.

The Airport Holiday Party, put on by the Airport Authority in mid December, was well attended. It was the first one since the pandemic hit.

3MY party

Mt. Hawley Airport, Peoria, IL