The flight home began early on the last day of AirVenture. Andy Werback took the active runway, advanced the throttle and headed west. In the eight+ hours of flying it would take to get back to his home in Sebastopol, one has to wonder how many times he glanced at the Gold Lindy trophy near him and smiled. Grand Champion Kit Built. Among the hundreds of homebuilts at AirVenture, Andy's stood out. Somehow all the toil and trouble seemed like it was worth it. It's like winning the Oscar for Best Picture — maybe better because of the challenges it places on one person. Andy's in rare company, being one of a couple dozen kit builders who have taken home the award. Of the 30,000 Experimental Amateur Built aircraft on the FAA Registry, the few who have won Grand Champion status really have something to their credit as craftsmen.
EAAs Grand Champion Award is a tribute to achievement, to passion and commitment. It's recognition for someone who's attention to detail is a magnitude of order above the rest of us. It's a reflection of impeccable taste and consistency that raises refinement to a level of enviable artistry.
Andy's aviation Odyssey began in 1974, when he got his private pilot's license. He worked his way up to buying a Skylane, but in the period of 1985 to 2003, he was so busy with his family and his career in designing software, that he stopped flying and sold the 182. He then picked it up again in 2003 with Cessnas.
Then in 2002 Andy and his wife, Sam, went to AirVenture for the first time and discovered a whole new world. He soon found himself looking for an airplane he could build. He liked the idea of composites and looked long and hard at the Cozy, but then worried that it was too complicated and would take too long to build. (It's interesting that the Grand Champion Plans Built trophy went to a Cozy III this year — one that took to 20 years to complete!)