Interstate Project Police

Russ Erb

Originally published April 1993

On 13-21 Mar 93, Penny and I were involved in the first ever Chapter 1000 very long range Project Police raid. We were tasked with this mission by our esteemed chapter president, who informed me that Chapter 1000 member Bruce Wright, builder of a RANS S-10, currently residing at the U.S. Air Force Academy, was guilty of the heinous crime of violating EAACH1000REG ____. PP_._, Para (_), "Informing The Newsletter Editor of Change of Address and Phone Number." (You may pencil in the appropriate regulation numbers after Jim Piavis actually gets them committed to paper.) The fact that Capt Wright had attempted to appease the Newsletter Editor with a P.O. Box number is immaterial, irrelevant, and insufficient. The above regulation clearly states that the newsletter editor must be provided with a street address (for Project Police raids) and a phone number (for harassment by the Project Police and newsletter editors looking for stories).

This very long range Project Police raid was different from the previous long range raid (Copperstate Fly-in, reported in the 10 Nov 92 newsletter). The previous raid was targeted against west coast homebuilders in general who were brave enough to put their aircraft on display for the Project Police's close scrutiny. This raid was targeted against a specific Chapter 1000 member and builder. The raid objectives included the following:

  1. Secure the required home address and phone number.
  2. Secure the optional work address and phone number.
  3. Secure answers to such burning questions as:
    1. How did Bruce's fuselage, wings, and such survive the move by the government hired movers?
    2. How is Bruce set up for shop space?
    3. How is he progressing on building the aircraft?
    4. Will he conceivably be flying his aircraft by the time this Project Police Officer joins him and the Chapter 1000 USAFA Outpost, as he (so foolishly) predicted at the Edwards Open House?
  4. Investigate the condition of EAA Chapter 72, Colorado Springs, CO, former chapter of and primarily responsible for getting Norm Howell into homebuilding.
  5. Secure housing for this Project Police Officer for his upcoming move to the Chapter 1000 USAFA Outpost (this last objective graciously allowed by the Chapter 1000 Board of Directors at no cost to the chapter).

The raid began with an assault on the sixth floor of Fairchild Hall, site of most faculty offices at the Academy. The target of the raid, when trying to cover his tracks, foolishly let it slip that he would be working for the Behavioral Science Department. I tracked down the locator board for said department, and found the culprit's office number. I boldly proceeded toward the culprit's office, with little concern for my own safety (what's so dangerous in an office?).

Bursting into the office, I flashed by Project Police badge (he must have had a cold that day - ed.), but quickly realized that this raid would not be as easy as I thought. Apparently the culprit had been informed of the impending arrival of the Project Police, and had finagled a TDY for the week, to return the following Monday. Not wanting the raid to be a total bust, I investigated the office. Fortunately, I was pleased with what I saw:

  1. Blatant and obvious public declaration of his status as a homebuilder and EAA member. This will obviously have a positive effect on cadets visiting his office.
  2. Blatant and obvious public declaration of his status as a Texas Aggie. This too will have a positive effect on cadets seeking a school for post-baccalaureate studies.
  3. Several three-views, drawings, and pictures of his project posted around the office.

Having done all I could to investigate the site (short of rifling through the desk), I posted a message for all to see on the white board in the subject office. It stated that the Project Police had paid him a visit, and would return the next Monday if the rest of the objectives had not yet been completed. The message specifically mentioned the "Project Police" so as to confuse anyone except the intended recipient. I also copied down three phone numbers off of the phone to facilitate future contacts.

That night I contacted the president of Chapter 72 and received directions to the chapter meeting. Like us, they hold their meetings on the third Tuesday of the month. Arriving at the meeting Tuesday night, I found once again that all chapters are similar. Business items included participation in the Fly-In in Greeley CO, which apparently is sponsored by several chapters up and down the "Front Range." There must have been some interest in forming a flying club, as one member gave an outstanding analysis of the costs of buying and operating an airplane. He even included things that most of us would have forgot, such as replacing the ELT battery every two years. During the break, I noticed a couple of Chapter 1000 newsletters on the table of newsletters from other chapters. While talking to their newsletter editor (Norm--you may want to take notes here), he informed me that he considers Chapter 72 in direct competition with Chapter 1000 for quality of newsletter layout and typography. (He's probably reading this, too.) It seems they got hold of a laser printer and a fancy computer too. The program for the evening was an interesting discussion of choosing a propeller for your homebuilt. Merits and drawbacks of wood and metal props were discussed, including the dangers of shortening metal props. I was pleased with the program, as I heard nothing that I disagreed with based on my own research on the topic.

Most of the rest of the week was spent tracking down houses and shooting them (i.e. househunting). I mention this here in the newsletter as an example of how the spirit of EAA and homebuilding can become all-pervasive throughout your life. As the week progressed, the overriding requirement for the house became an unfinished basement and a two car garage, along with the three bedrooms and a nice kitchen. Ideally, the basement should have unfettered access, for removing wings, fuselage, etc. On Wednesday, we thought we had found the perfect house. It fit all of the requirements, with a 1200 sq. ft. unfinished basement (I would have had to rent out shop space). However, when we called to set up a second showing, the Realtor found out that there was already a contract on the house, and we should never have been shown the place. We eventually ended up having a new house built. Most people had finished at least part of the basement, making it unsuitable for a workshop. The house was already started as a spec home, and was projected to be completed before we showed up at the end of May. When we last saw it, it was nothing but basement walls and a garage floor. Mr. Newsletter Editor, so as not to be accused of the same heinous crime as the target of this raid, I provide my future address here, valid after 21 May 93:

(Note: Address given is no longer valid)

I will forward the phone number when such has been determined. Yes, that (Slickrock) is the real name of the street.

Having completed all other objectives and procured a lead on contacting the culprit, we RTB'd. On 5 Apr 93, the culprit's luck ran out. He foolishly answered the phone when I called. I informed him of his crime and his rights. As such, he was very cooperative and volunteered the following information:

(Note: Addresses given are no longer valid)

Bruce said that the wings are in the basement, and the fuselage is outside in the carport (no garages on base). The fuselage would not fit into the basement. The only casualty of the move was a few scratches in the primer on the fuselage. That, and he hasn't found all of his parts yet. At least he still has some boxes he hasn't unpacked.

As suspected, he admitted to having only worked on the airplane for a total of two days since moving to Colorado, and is thus nowhere near completion as promised. He tried getting off with the standard weak excuse of claiming work was keeping him too busy. Shortly after my expected arrival, he is talking of taking the fuselage back to the factory in Kansas to have a modification made to the landing gear (factory upgrade), and possibly get a flight in the factory demonstrator.

Under intense questioning, he cracked and informed me that he had not sent in his dues for 1993. I let him off on the promise that he would mail it in that night.

Mr. Newsletter Editor, I submit the report of a mission successfully accomplished, and recommend this case be stamped closed. (so it is it shall be done. - ed.)

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Revised -- 22 February 1997