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More about Steve...
I grew up the son of an Air Force pilot who went back to school to become a veterinarian who paid his way through school by ROTC.  The stories told of his active duty time in the air force post Korea, flying C-97s for the Military airlift Command from Travis AFB outside of San Francisco to Tokyo Japan were enthralling.  These derivatives of the B-29 superfortress (the last of the big piston engine transports) had 4 huge “corncob” piston engines and 4 rows of seven radial cylinders. There were stories of going through nearly all of the 55 gallons of oil that each one used during a single transpacific flight, stories of the water alcohol fuel injection system used for takeoff, stories of the available extra power that was available (METO) and the maintenance price you had to pay if you used it. My

bedtime stories were being told of his first flight to instrument minimums and having to divert to an alternate on his initial line check ride;  of turning down a flight because of maintenance squawks, and having that flight get to the midway point and losing both engines on the same side with the inboard propeller wringing itself off of the shaft and going through the pressure vessel (no one hurt) and the outer propeller staying on the shaft but spinning freely in the airstream creating a giant pinwheel at the outside engine.  The plane making it in only because they found out about ground effect.  Having the exact set of circumstances in the same order happen to a pan am civilian version of the C-97 one month later that grounded the whole fleet for several months and the final determination that it was purely a coincidence.  All of these things flamed the fires of the imagination, so that at sixteen I started flying gliders with Tom Knoff and Doris Grove at ridge soaring in PA., soloing with only 2 hours in my log book. Flying had bitten me and was never going to let go.  At 17, I read the book “First Blood” by David Morel and decided to join the army as a private.  Not knowing how recruiters worked, I was sent to Fort Bragg to join the 82 airborne because the 5th special forces /group is stationed there and  I could just walk over and tell them I wanted to join and there wouldn’t be any problem.  They saw me coming with sucker stamped on my forehead; and instead I got an army appointment to USMAPS which is the back door way for military personnel to get into West Point.  But after several months there I realized I wasn’t very good at listening to people tell me what to do, so I was able to arrange a discharge and go back to civilian life.  The good news was that I got to spend a lot of time in C-123s, C130s, and C-141s but unfortunately it was always in the back and I never had a single landing in one.  Once out, I started building an Easy Riser (a biplane weight shift ultra light).  Once finished, I spent a fair amount of time flying low over the PA countryside, maybe not as low as I thought because  once a pair of PA national guard F4 phantoms flew underneath me, less than 100 feet below.  On one of the flights the engine went out and instead of landing the airplane (I was over the field), I tried to work on the motor to get it started… it’s in the rear.  Not paying attention while in a gentle bank, I stalled the ultralight and spun it in from 300 feet.  While I did appropriately twist the outside ruddervator as hard as I could watching the ground spinning up to me had me trying to climb out the back of the ultra light and only the increasing vertical velocity against the outside ruddervator allowed the aircraft to pull out of the spin 1 foot above the ground. The landing gear was 2 feet tall so it got torn off and dragged the inner wingtip into the ground tearing off upper and lower wing as I slid on my behind across the ground, no injury to me but several months repairs needed to the ultralight.  On another occasion, I elected to land in my neighbors yard and had to get over a set of power lines and trees before an uphill landing with the hill just a bit higher than the trees.  Because the easy riser was originally a high performance hang glider before landing gear and engines were added, it had an unusually long float time with the engine idling.  So as I approached the power lines and trees I killed the engine and brought it in just over stall speed, when I got below the crest of the hill and the 10 knot headwind, it simply fell out of the sky.  The only option I had was power lines or trees so picked the trees and landed in top of a 50ft pine. The fire company had to come and lift the ultralight out of the tree.  I finally decided that my name was either Kelly or Wright and I could make this a better machine.  Since the Wright flyer had its pitch controls on the front, I thought I would do the same.  Using aluminum tubing triangulation and flying wires I added an elevator (fabric covered handmade ribs) about eight feet in front of the cockpit.  The first flight was made at a 3000 foot grass strip so I would be able to slowly work out the flying characteristics, but unfortunately as I accelerated the very first tug on the stick sent me straight up about 80 ft, it stalled headed straight for the ground and at the last minute I pulled back again, now up to 100 feet, each oscillation got stronger and stronger, until finally, by killing the motor and perfect (read lucky) finesse I got the craft on the ground.  I had been absolutely terrified but at 19 sense didn’t necessarily go along with fear, and I thought I just need to make the cable attachment lower down on the control stick closer to the fulcrum so that there would be less movement of the control surface.  And while stationary testing showed that to be true, it had nothing to do with the flying qualities and the oscillations were even worse with the final one ending in a vertical impact from roughly 100 feet, completely destroying the aircraft, even snapping the wooden blades off the propeller.  The only good thing was the structure I built was a great crumple zone and I ended up with no injuries.  That was the final flight of the easy riser.

During the next 12 years I flew several hundred hours in various gliders taking people for rides, including my prospective wife.  This was how I decompressed. , I-26 2-33 etc. it was the only rating I had.  I did go for rides in my dad’s cherokee140, 180 and Cessna 172 but life and money put my dreams on hold.  Once in residency, I traded a jag XJS V12 for a 1966 150 and quickly got my private ticket, my instrument rating and commercial tickets.  While on my solo cross country from Mobile, Al to PA and back I got forced down in Birmingham by a line of storms and met a guy waiting out the storms in his 64 Mooney M20E. Within a week we had made a deal and I now had a fleet.  I began to use the Mooney to travel and moonlight in ERs and within 2 years got out of private practice and concentrated on traveling as an ER doc.  I ended up with a second 64 M20E got a 680F aerocommander twin that I put 800 hours on before losing a gearbox over the WV mountains and flew 150 miles single engine to get it down in the Tricities airport in Tennessee. I moved up to a 90 model Mooney TLS. I was at Sun in Fun in 1995 and ordered a fastbuild Lancair IVP.  From the beginning the IVP was designed to go after speed and distance records.  I built it with no wet layups and almost no fiberglass, vacuum bagging carbon fiber and Kevlar allowed me to keep the finished empty weight to 2070lbs 500-700 pounds less than everybody else’s.  I ran into Jim Rahm and Al Joniec and got on board with their 400ci small block Chevy with a gear reduction putting out 485 hp and spent months with NASA going over drag reduction and ended up with a plane that could do 375 knots in level flight.

I raced the IV in the 2002 Kittyhawk to Oshkosh race with high hopes of blowing everything else out of the water. After leveling out at FL23 and just entering into the Appalachian mountains I had a complete motor failure. Not knowing the cause and with over 100 hours on the plane I went through every emergency checklist trying to get it restarted.  Finally at 17,000 ft and 3 full minutes later I got it to crank. Unfortunately, it was only producing 45-50% power and running very rough.  I elected to continue on to Dayton, Ohio, the midpoint stop. I made it and as soon as I got out called the mechanic and builder of the engine, Travis Lester, who was waiting at Oshkosh and eventually elected to continue the race. The remainder of the race continued slowly as it was producing only partial power and running rough.  Even so, in the unlimited division we came in 3rd only 1minute and 15 seconds behind the winner.  After grumbling about the engine, Travis said he would find out why and in less than an hour he returned with the fuel filters and asked me if I could blow through them.  I couldn’t. He replaced them and the plane flew wonderfully.  I had to eat a lot of crow that day; the cause of the clogged filters was construction debris.

I continued to fly the Lancair to go to work for the rest of that year while working on the molds for adding 9 feet to the wing span to increase the IVP’s ability to efficiently cruise at high altitude. The plan was to go after the round the world speed record with it. In late November, I was taking a friend out to a strip in Texas to pick up his plane when I had a left brake failure on landing and ended up going off the end of the runway and doing a fair amount of damage to the undercarriage and wings.  This setback, unfortunately, occurred at a time when financially (new business, three children in school) there was no way that I could continue and I had to put the project on hold.  Finally, last year, a fortunate set of circumstances occurred with Al Joniec being able to come on board full time with a second complete engine package and new technology available to update the engines and we were able to restart the effort to set the records I had started back in 1995. And Aeropursuit was reborn
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