EAA Chapter 25

A Community of Aviation Enthusiasts in the Twin Cities

Andy Hutchinson: Member Profile

Filed under: Member Profiles — admin at 9:33 pm on Monday, January 9, 2006

from On Final January 2006

This month, we decided it would be a good time to profile our new chapter vice-president. The picture at left was taken at American Wings Museum before our December meeting.

Andy Hutchinson - EAA Chapter 25 Vice PresidentEarly interest in flying
My father was a Naval Aviator in the late 60’s. There was always a flight suit and helmet in the closet while I was growing up. After the military, Dad worked as a CFI to supplement his income, and I got a few flights as ride-alongs. This is probably where my interest in GA was born.

Flight training
I was flying with Dad before I could walk. My first remembered time at the controls was straight and level in a V35 Bonanza at age 8. My first take-offs and landings were around age 14 in a 1947 Aeronca 7AC Champ. My ‘non-official’ training began around age 12 in the ’47 Champ. I didn’t log any of that time, as my Dad’s CFI had expired and we were just out for fun. My first ‘official’ lessons began while I was in my senior year at college. As part of my aerospace engineering degree, I could earn credit hours by taking basic flight training. Since I was a poor college student at the time, it didn’t matter that I’d be a little poorer from flying lessons.

Andy Hutchinson - EAA Chapter 25 Vice PresidentFirst solo
I got 12 hours in a Piper Warrior, with a solo 9 hours into the training. After graduation, I realized just how poor I was, got married and put my flying lessons on hold for the next 6 years. To be honest, it wasn’t that memorable my first time in a Warrior. I had 3 different ‘solos’ during my training and the one I remember the most was the last in the Katana. That aircraft has such good visibility you felt really alone in the cockpit. It also was the aircraft with the most change in performance between solo and dual flights. By the time I got my private license, I had trained in a Warrior, C152, C172, and a Diamond Katana. I did my private checkride in the Katana in 2003. I added a instrument rating in 2005, using my own aircraft.

Aerobatic experience
Other than chandelles and spins in the Champ as a kid, I’ve only done serious aerobatic flying once in a co-worker’s Steen Skybolt. He was a weekend airshow performer in the New York area. I got to go along for one of his practice sessions. The biggest memory from that experience was watching the gmeter go past 6 on a pull out from a hammerhead and my vision starting to close in on me. Six G’s was a lot more pressure than I had expected. He was killed 6 weeks later when the Skybolt didn’t recover from a spin in a show performance. I haven’t been too motivated to do more aerobatics since then.

Professional aviation experience
I worked as an aerospace engineer for 2 years in the early 90’s at McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis (now Boeing). I worked in the flight simulation and training department developing training systems for military fighters such as the F-15, F-18, and AV-8 Harrier.

Andy Hutchinson - EAA Chapter 25 Vice PresidentAircraft flown
I’ve only owned 1 aircraft so far, a 1977 Grumman AA5 Cheetah. I’ve flown C172, C152, Piper Warrior, Aeronca 7AC, Ercoupe, Cirrus SR22, Beech A36 & V35, Steen Skybolt, Rans S12, Diamond Katana, Schweizer 2-33 and Schleicher ASK-21 sailplanes, and my Grumman Cheetah. I also have a couple of hours trying my hand in a Hughes 300C helicopter. I had no problem ‘flying’ the 300C, but that hovering in ground effect is another story.

Favorite/least favorite aircraft
My least favorite so far has been the C152. It’s just too small and confining from my perspective. Maybe that was just due to the 250 lb. CFI sitting next to me. My favorite (other than the F18 simulator at McDonnell) has been the Diamond Katana. It was very responsive on the stick, had great maneuverability, and the free castoring nose wheel made ground handling a breeze. Flying the Katana led me to the Grumman Cheetah for similar control response, visibility, and ground handling.

Memorable flights
My most memorable pilots who stopped by McDonnell Douglas to thank us for building them such a great aircraft. Interestingly enough, our simulators were so realistic that the active duty pilots who flew in to test them out were advised to wait 24 hours before getting back in their own jets and flying back to base. You don’t get the same G forces in the simulator, and it was thought that practicing combat maneuvers in these conditions should not be immediately followed up by actual flight time.

Homebuilding experience
Not much experience here. I’ve helped my dad stitch the wings of an EAA Biplane. All of my homebuilding to date has been on scale R/C models. I’m pretty good with balsa wood and monokote.

Andy Hutchinson - EAA Chapter 25 Vice PresidentEAA
It started in 1979 when my dad took me to Oshkosh for the first time. I’ve been back 10 times in the years since and flown in twice with my Cheetah. I’ve been an EAA member on my own since 2000. I joined Chapter 25 in 2003 after getting my private license.

Young Eagles
I’ve never flown any Young Eagles, but I’ve helped ground crew a number of times. Now that I’m getting more accustomed to my new aircraft, I’d like to fly some in the future.

Oshkosh
My best Oshkosh experience was sitting under the wing of an old DC-3 in 1985 talking with an older gentleman about how he had lost his medical 15 years prior and wished he still had a way to fly legally. He reached into his pocket, pulled out his wallet and showed me a faded piece of paper from 1921 with Orville Wright’s signature on it. It was his original civilian pilot’s license. If only the sport pilot rules had been in place 20 years ago.

Andy Hutchinson - EAA Chapter 25 Vice PresidentFamily flying
My wife Carol flies with me anywhere I go. She even took ground school and 3 hours of training to become more familiar with the whole experience. She has no desire at present to get a license, but at least she could get us down safely in an emergency. She’s also been to Oshkosh twice.

Aviation plans/goals
I will build an airplane someday, but I first need a place to do so. Right now I’m leaning towards a Lancair Legacy as a fast cross-country cruiser. I’d love to retire to an airpark and spend my days working on the plane, but that is 20 years away. I’d like to help someone else with their project in the next few years to gain some homebuilding experience.

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