Challenger Aircraft Log

Just prior to January 1, 2005, I ordered a Challenger II airplane kit from Don Zank in Wisconsin.  I specified the two-place, standard wing model, and this will be my retirement project when weather permits.  The sections below outline my experiences so far.

June 16, 2005
My cell phone rang while going through the checkout line at Wal-Mart and it was one of the airport personnel calling to say that a delivery truck was on the ramp looking for me!  I knew the kit was going to arrive soon, but nobody told me it would be today!  They asked the driver to stick around and I drove over to the airport and helped unload my new kit.  Counting the fuselage, there were 10 boxes!

June 18, 2005
Looking through the boxes, I can't help but notice that there is NO engine in any of them.  A call to the factory informs me that Rotax has not yet shipped the engine to them, so there will be a 6-8 week delay before I see it here.  It seems that QCU has to install a gearbox and other items before the engine is ready to install.

June 20, 2005
I unpack the remainder of the boxes and find that there are no instruments.  Also, there are no wheels, gear legs, or brakes.   Additionally, the small tubing that runs along the bottom of both sides of the fuselage has a major dent on the right side.  It looks as if a fork lift may have hit it at one point in shipping.  An email to DonTeddie poses for a pic.  She's happy because it's still a kit. brings a quick reply that QCU will fix the tubing problem if I call them, and that the missing parts are not coming from the factory and should be here soon.

June 21, 2005
I spoke with Karen at QCU about the bent tubing.  She was very friendly and helpful and told me they would ship out a piece to splice in, plus the bracket and rivets.  We will be moving into our house around the first of July, so I asked her to ship it there in about two weeks. 

September 9, 2005
It's been 2 1/2 months since I last wrote in this log, and I still haven't done a thing towards putting the plane together.  As of today, I have all the parts except the propeller and the engine.  The prop should have arrived already (I need to call Don Zank and ask about it), and the engine will probably take another month or so before it arrives.  Meanwhile, I have tried to keep all the parts organized and ready for the time I can begin building.  The hangar still has the tenant's C182 in it, along with my motorcycles, trailer, garden tractor, tools, lathe, and a bunch of other stuff.  I'll post some pictures soon.

November 17, 2005
After a few phone calls to Quad City Ultralights, my engine is finally in the mail!!  UPS tried to deliver it yesterday, but we were gone, so they will try again today and I am going to be sure to be home to accept delivery!  This will basically mark the final delivery of major components.  I ordered a barometric altimeter (to use as a backup to the EIS) from Aircraft Spruce the other day, so I will pretty much be ready to start building once the weather begins to warm up.  Meanwhile, I just might assemble the engine in my computer room, just to have my hands on it.  I still intent to post pictures on this site very soon.

November 19, 2005
The engine and parts arrived yesterday and, so far, everything looks GREAT.  I haven't unpacked the actual engine yet, but I've opened the redrive unit and the starter kit and all the stuff looks first-class.  The redrive unit is machined from solid aluminum and is very professional - almost a work of art!  My plan is to clear a spot in the middle of my computer room (a mess) and put a work table there where I can assemble the engine in the warmth of the house and have all winter to admire it!  More pictures willA work of art! follow!

January 13, 2006
Lots of odds and ends, but not much to report as far as building progress goes.  Upon inspection of the engine, I found that the box had been bumped (dropped?) and the front part of the engine had hit the box fairly hard.  Hard enough to bend the cable mount and crack the flange that the oil pump attaches to.  A new flange is $73 but I think I will forgo that for the time being, as I will probably not use it anyway.  The GPL starter bolts to that part of the engine and it is a fairly complicated process to retain the oil pump.  So - premix it is!  At least for a while.

I started to assemble the engine components in the computer room, but quickly decided that was not going to work out well as the room is just too small for everything.  So, I boxed it all up and put the boxes in the hangar where they will be waiting for me to begin in the spring.  Once the project gets started in earnest, it should go quickly.  I'm very anxious.

February 12, 2006
I notified my hangar tenant the other day that I would like for him to be out by the 1st of May.  The weather will be turning nice and it will be time to begin my little airplane project in earnest.  Once he moves out, I will need to re-arrange a few items, and might even begin a workshop/storage area in the rear of the hangar.  I may also be working on my home garage extension project at the same time, but we'll see how that goes.  Certainly, I don't see myself actually flying the little plane until the summer of '07, and that's OK.  The planning and building part is probably going to be as much fun as the flying.

May 1, 2006 
This is the day my hangar is supposed to be vacant.  The Tenant came by on Friday and removed much of his stuff, but a lot more remains, and it was still there as of yesterday afternoon.  I'm hoping he just misunderstood and decided that "I need you out by May 1st" meant to be out by midnight tonight.  The lumbar company delivered a stack of plywood and lumber the other day, so I will begin on my workshop as soon as the junk is cleared from the back of the building.  Once the workshop is pretty much finished, I can finally get serious about building my little airplane.  Meanwhile, I may temporarily mount the wings and tail onto the plane just to get a feel for the finished product. 

January 2, 2007
I have pretty much finished with my hangar workshop, so it's time to finally get going on the Challenger.  Although the shop isn't very big (12' x 19'), it is warm and well-lit and has lots of storage on the roof.  It shortens the depth of my hangar by 12', but I don't plan on putting anything larger than the Challenger in there anyway.

Only one window. The other walls face a hangar wall. The prop stays on the wall until the engine is mounted. This was taken before I built the stairway.
It's nice to have good lighting in the shop. The stuff on the shelves is part of the kit. Stairs are done.  No more climbing to the top on a ladder!

February 16, 2007
Finally got started on the airplane!  There are a hundred little odd-and-end tasks that need to be done, and I've been trying to finish them one by one.  Because I need to maintain a "Builder's Log", I'm using a program called KitLog Pro to document my work.  So to avoid duplicate efforts, I am going to mostly discontinue writing on this page, and will try to maintain the KitLog series on a fairly regular basis.  Here is where you can read the particulars about my efforts:   MY CONSTRUCTION LOG

June 20, 2008
Well, a year has slipped past and almost nothing has been done on the plane in months now.  I do have all the wing ribs installed, and have assembled the instrument panel, but other projects have kept me from working on my toy as much as I wanted to.  One of my projects was an airplane lift - a modified motorcycle lift that would raise the airplane up about two feet, enabling easier access to the fuselage and a means of walking under the plane without having to duck down.

July 28, 2009
Oh boy - yet ANOTHER year has gone by with practically NO progress on the little airplane!  Since Bill and his family moved out here last year we have been busy with one thing after another, and my plane sits unchanged in the hangar.  Maybe I will be able to get moving on it a little later this summer, although construction of a garage/shop building on the Serpentine lot is going to drain off a lot of time.  My new goal is to be able to fly the Challenger before the end of summer 2010.

Last update -   07/28/2009