creativity starts here
I have always been a true gear-head. From my first Schwinn stingray and mini-bike, to performance sports cars and ultralight aircraft.
And while many are content to just tinker with someone else’s design, I prefer to engineer and design new variations - handcraft special editions.
Sculpting and shaping composites (fiberglass) is a way for me to express myself artistically. I may not be able to hang my art on a wall, but I can usually ride it down the street.
Creativity is truly the art of invention. The combination of electrical engineering, mechanics, and the ability to mold and sculpt allows me to create some pretty cool machines.
To that end, a true gear-head gives up their multi-car garage and converts it into a creative space (different than man cave).
It’s more akin to an artist’s studio than a garage, but instead of brushes I have wrenches & welders on one side.. and composites and electrics on the other.
my toys are my projects
fast & furious
One of my more ambitious projects was the Lotus Elise GT widebody - a special edition of the original S1 Lotus race car.
The project scope was to convert a 1500 lb. 190hp track toy into a 300+hp Honda powered rocket.
Lotus race cars are so light, they corner like they are on rails, but they also had a tendency to lift at speeds over 130mph.
Nothing will make your butt pucker more than a car starting to take flight half way down the straightaway.
To better address the high speed lift issues, I had to drastically improve the aerodynamics to keep the car from becoming airborne.
The tires got twice as wide. The car was widened by a foot. The fiberglass body had to be completely redesigned so air would flow over and around the car vs. under the car.
The final step was to make it street legal so it could be enjoyed outside the confines of the racetrack.
I designed the massive carbon fiber rear wing to be removable for street use.
Here are some shots of the before and after.
This is what I meant by creating an improved version or special edition.
Around the race track
First lap is always heating the tires, so no setting lap records on lap one. It’s funny how when I first bought the Lotus track toy, I drove it real fast! (for me anyhow)
After I put a 1000 hours and all my $$$ into it, I drove it a lot slower. My pockets aren’t so deep that I would risk crashing it!
It did however give me the life skills necessary to build Fat Woody.
low & slow
After racing the Lotus around the track with my hair on fire, a track friend asked me if I wanted to experience something very few people do - a Powered Parachute (or PPC).
He was a Navy pilot so I figured I was in good hands. After a two-hour training session on the ground, he said..
“It’s a single seat aircraft and it will fly at about 26mph. You ride your bike faster than that Ken. I can only explain the flight controls & characteristics. You will have to learn how to fly it in real time. The good news is you have 45 minutes of fuel to learn how. Oh, and then you have to land it. That part is really important. Have fun!”.. and off I went.
Okay, I did a LOT of reading and discussing with fellow pilots about how to fly it. I flew in thier aircraft - second seat, but no controls were back there. Only intercom.
Now I won’t share the video of my first solo, but I did make it back to earth safely. You know what they say.. any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.
Rushford is a small airport on a plateau above the Minnesota river valley. While extremely rare, every once in a while the valley fills with clouds in the early morning.
Here’s what we call ‘Running the River’. 26 mph - 5 ft off the deck. True flying like a bird, not like a cessna at 2000 ft.
The baby bald eagles nest here and are absolutely fearless. They actually fly up to us, trying to figure out what the huge flying machine is.
The peaceful nature of cruising at slow speed in the most gorgeous areas on the planet is what drove me to create the fat wood beach cruiser. Relaxation for the mind and soul.
more life experiences
I’ve made a few fun videos that friends asked me to create for them or their events. I thought I’d put them on here just for fun.
A few flying buddies had their personal aircraft at this event, so I thought I’d capture a little of the event with my video camera.
What I enjoyed most about this event was the opportunity to meet these American heroes. Truly an honor.