The Future of EAA – Nature vs Nurture

I have no idea if nature vs. nurture wins the battle because in our world it seems to be both. Dan was born into an aviation family, with his Dad being a P3 pilot and was raised around it at Our airpark, with his uncle Bob, Bob Woolley (Panther Builder) and friends making weekends fun and interesting for a growing teenage boy.

I have been told by my mother-in-law, Rhonda Weseman, that when Dan was in school he would repeatedly NOT write his name on the paper. However, the teacher always knew which one was his – because there would always be a doodle of an airplane somewhere in a corner.

As you all know our kids are a very big part of our lives – so sheer osmosis is totally going on here. I mean – I have a technical background with servers, databases and routing tables being my main focus for work – so how is it I can walk the walk and talk the talk? Because I am around it, live the passion in it, and have found my personal way to relate!

Luke came to us a few days ago with a conundrum. He loves the Thatcher CX-4 but can’t afford it (on his measley 2nd grader income). So he decided to hit us up to build the next best thing in his book – the Panther. Why? Because he knows where to gets parts – cheap! No dummies around here!

He worked with Dan starting on the rudder – using a skin that suffered a ding unfit for a customer (equals free for Luke). So off to work he goes – “Mom – can you print those pages from the builders manual for me?” and “How do I get this plastic off?”
Dan shows him a trick to use a tube to roll it off…


Then “What do you mean we don’t have center ribs for the rudder formed? I can use the press to make the part!”



We all had a great time with Luke learning how to hone in his skills on removing PVC, deburring, clecoes and following the plans and builders manual. Dan and I both thought – how long is this going to last?

The answer is – who knows? But it’s good right? No matter how long?

Our school system sends what they call a weekly folder home on Wednesday. This folder contains all the papers, tests, grades for the week for parents to review.

So – I go through it like I do every week and sign my name like I always do.

And I notice something on the back of Luke’s papers. I look at Dan, and show him and say – “Uh Oh…”


So – is it simply that Dan has the genes for aviation, or is it that he was raised in the atmosphere for love of aviation and the opportunities that it brings? I think that both go hand in hand… Enthusiasm is catching, and if you are exposed it bleeds into your soul. No matter what it is.

Time to step up the involvement – to promote Experimental Aviation! I mean – look at that face! Excitement is bursting from it!

Posted in Panther, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Next Panther Sighting, Growing Up & Moving Out and Dan Johnson Video

Next Panther Sighting = This Saturday, May 17th, 2014 at the Second Annual Armed Forces Car and Motorcycle Show here in Green Cove Springs.  This year they are opening the runway for GA – so everyone welcome and the admission is free!   Want to fly into a strip none of your buddies have flown into before?  Join us!  The only thing you have to do is fill out the liability waiver and fax or email it in BEFORE you fly in (no handing it in after you land is allowed).  See HERE for more details.


Well, it happened.   A little faster than we expected – but we ran out of room in the work shop. One of our goals is to keep over head low. In order to keep overhead low we have been utilizing volunteer labor and doing as much as we could in the space we had at our disposal. Well – we were tripping over each other and spending a lot of time just moving things around the shop to make room for one task – and hindering another in the process. If you have ever built anything you know you can’t work efficiently in a messy, over crowded work shop.

So, after much deliberation we are moving the SPA workshop to a light industrial park in our town. The place is just big enough to give us some room to work and inexpensive enough to make sense. The most important part of this is the production welding shop, and parts storage. Our welders (Vern and our two new guys whom we will post updates on soon) have been migrated to our new shop.  The area is climate controlled and this will help with protecting all of the parts from the elements.  Our truck freight shipping will be more efficient here as well, with an industrial sized overhead door and a fork lift.  Once we get everything setup I will post some photos so you can see what a day in the life of Panther making really looks like.

And another excellent Dan Johnson Video!  He and his crew did an interview with Dan about the Panther at the 2014 Sebring Expo.  See it below:

Dan Johnson Sebring Expo 2014




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FLYER Magazine Takes the Panther for a Spin

FLYER Magazine’s Managing Director and Publisher, Ian Seager, flew the Panther for a flight review. FLYER is a UK based monthly general aviation magazine published 13 times a year.  The crew from FLYER was scheduled to do their flight testing/review just after Sebring, but the weather refused to cooperate. So a second trip to the states for this UK based crew was in order and they got a beautiful flight in sunny FL!  We are told the flight review will hit the magazine, offered in print and digital format, very soon. Their photographer, Ed Hicks, took some phenomenal shots of the Flight testing and was nice enough to share with me. Thank you Ed!  Check out FLYER here.

See their facebook page here.

Please note – ALL photos courtesy of Ed Hicks.








Posted in Flight Testing, Panther | 2 Comments

Aero-News Network Panther Video

See the Aero-News Network’s Jim Campbell interview with Dan at the Sebring Expo 2014. This is an excellent overview of the Panther!!

Great job Dan, Jim, Ashley and the crew @ Aero-News Network!

Aero-News Network Sebring Video

Posted in Articles, Panther, Videos | 1 Comment

Sun ‘N Fun 2014 Rocked for SPA!

We had a great time at SNF this year.  The traffic was good through the booth all week.  We had many familiar faces, and got to meet people we hadn’t yet put a face with their name from online chatting, emails and phone calls.  Sun ‘N Fun is a great place to hang out with like minded aviator enthusiasts and the weather was better than anyone could have hoped for.  The kids had a great time too!

A quick photo of Panther Beta Builder Tony Spicer – Jabiru 3300 with Luke at our nightly Margarita Ville unwind session –

Tony Spicer and Luke Weseman SNF 2014

Tony Spicer and Luke Weseman SNF 2014

Here are a few shots of our booth at the end of the row outside of Hangar C – by the flight line.  20140401-162121.jpg 20140407-215855.jpg


Dan talking with Panther Builder Jerry Beckett – SN005

Paul had his impressive 3-D printer setup in the booth as well and it really drew some interest.  Watching the printer run through the process is sometimes just mind boggling.  Kind of like the cell regeneration in the movie “The 5th Element”… You know – the one with Bruce Willis, set in the future and the girl with the orange dread locks drops through the ceiling of his cab?  Anyway….

Pauls Amazing 3-D printer!

Pauls Amazing 3-D printer!

A good friend of ours, Sara Ashmore, had run her Corvair engine at the Corvair College @ Leesburg, FL the weekend before and she was sporting the most awesome achievement face I have seen since the Panther prototype’s first flight!  She had the true “I DID IT!” face on this weekend and the positive vibes coming off of her were just inspirational!  Go Sara!  We are so happy for you!  And her engine happens to be my very favorite color – PURPLE!

Sara Ashmore Corvair Engine!

Sara Ashmore Corvair Engine!

I have this dear friend of mine -Ben Krotje with GRT, Panther Builder SN007 – that gave the ultimate sacrifice to me.  He gave up his seat for a ride with Team AERODYNAMICS for me!  HOW AWESOME IS THAT!  I know you all have great friends – but do any of you have a friend who would do that for you???   HUH???  Well – lemme tell you friends – this is the ultimate, once in a life time gift and I HAD A BLAST!   THANK YOU BEN AND TEAM AERODYNAMICS!

Rachel and "RB"

Rachel and “RB”

Beautiful morning for some tumbling in the RV-Formation

Beautiful morning for some tumbling in the RV-Formation

From the Cockpit of "RB"s RV-8

From the Cockpit of “RB”s RV-8

We hosted our annual cookout Friday night and had about 60 people join us!  For those who couldn’t make it to our “Dinner and a Movie” you can click the video below to see a compilation of Panther videos I put together for the event.  This is mostly things you have probably seen before, but maybe some you have forgotten.  Enjoy!

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Posted in Corvair, Panther, Photos, Uncategorized, Videos | 3 Comments

Panther Builder Phil Maxson on How to Eat an Elephant

Panther production SN1 Mr Phil Maxson explains how the true “get ‘r done” r’s in us all – me included – feels about building.

We have all been there – in the rat race of how to do all that needs to be done and how to squeeze in what we want to get done on the side of the plate. The answer lies in the “one bite at a time” advice.

Hats off to you Phil – for so simply putting it into words how we builders truly get through the day.

Carpe diem you all! Even if for one hour a day.

Phil Maxson’s Panther Build


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100 hours in 1 year!

Dan’s out ripping the Panther around the pattern this evening after being down for two months. We have been turning the original cowling into a mold and pulling a production part off the mold. Production cowling is back on and looks amazing! The paint shop didn’t have to do any body work. The new cowl and all SPA fiberglass moving forward will be vacuum bagged epoxy. The instruments also indicate we have flown over 100 hours! We didn’t even realize it! 107 hours to be exact. Sun N Fun here we come!







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