SIGMADESIGN founder and Senior Mechanical Engineer John Barker has restored a few airplanes in the past including a 1976 Cessna 172, a 1965 Citabria, and a 1965 Cessna 182. But he always dreamed of building his own airplane from the ground up. Finally in 2003, he began taking steps towards accomplishing that dream. Obtaining a kit to build a Van’s Aircraft RV-8, John had no idea how long the project would take.
The Lycoming IO-360 engine was built by a custom engine builder, but John did the rest. For seven years, he used his free time to piece together his own airplane. The intricate instrument panel was not included in the kit; this he designed and built himself.
John says, “The most challenging part was staying with the project. It took 7 years of working on it in my spare time. I could never have done it without the support and help of my wife Sue. I often say that no airplane is built by just one person.” Thankfully, John had a great group assisting him; friends helped out with hands-on tasks, and an active online support group gave him tips and pointers along the way.
Finally, in 2010, RV-8 #N819WB took to the air. “Seems like a long time but looking back, it went by too fast. The airplane is a joy to fly; light on the controls and fast! The airplane is equipped with a full set of digital avionics including moving map GPS based navigation and autopilot.” Last summer John flew his plane to LA in four hours and fifteen minutes.
John started off this flying season with a long weekend to Sedona, AZ; five hours and fifteen minutes travel time. What a time machine!