Bill Mead spent Tuesday afternoon in the pilot’s seat.
He wasn’t flying, yet, but was performing a “taxi check” on his newly completed kit-built experimental aircraft. “We were just going up and down the runway,” he said.
The plane is a 6ES Coyote, produced by the Rans Corporation in Hays. The two-seater has a maximum speed of about 120 miles per hour and can fly as high as 14,000 feet.
“It’s classified as a light sport aircraft,” Mead said. Jokingly, he added the Federal Aviation Administration designation denotes planes that require less-strict piloting regulations which is good for older pilots like himself.
However, a pilot’s license is required to fly a home-built plane, sometimes referred to as an experimental aircraft.
The Coyote may be small, but size can be deceiving. It burns about four gallons of fuel per hour and can fly about four and a half hours without refueling.
“You could go from coast to coast, if you are willing to make a lot of stops,” he said. However, “you don’t get serious with it. It is really designed for fun.”
And that is what the veteran pilot intends to do. He has logged over 700 hours in experimental aircraft (which are typically home-built), plus hours in regular production aircraft, which he still flies once in a while.
In today’s market, Mead said an aviator can get more plane for his money if he is willing to build it himself. He and his brother Bob have assembled four planes together, and he did this one by himself.
Mead has battled some health issues which slowed him down on the project. But, under ideal conditions, a person could build a similar plane in about 1,200 hours, he said. “You can be flying in pretty short order.”
He will be taking off in the next day or two.
The Mead brothers are members of the local Experimental Aircraft Association chapter. There are about 50 members in all who come from all over central and western Kansas.