Joe Brown’s Sportsman 2 + 2 and Two Weeks to Taxi

Building an aircraft, in 13 days.

Glasair Sportsman

Glasair Sportsman

One of Tom Hamilton’s last designs before moving into commercial aviation was the GlaStar. After selling the company to the employees they made some significant changes to the design and relabeled it the Sportsman 2 + 2.

When the company was sold to Tom Wathen and placed in the hands of Mikael Via, the decision was made to launch a program no one had ever envisioned before: Three Weeks to Taxi. Experience provided efficiencies and the name changed to Two Weeks to Taxi.

Via and his colleagues had gone over the FAA’s description of the 51 percent rule that governs the Experimental Amateur Built category and decided that though the builder had to perform a variety of tasks in constructing the aircraft, there was no limit to the kind of assistance he could be provided. If parts were pre-cut, pre-drilled and ready to install into the airframe, the builder could claim credit for that part of the assembly.

The assistants handed the parts to the builder telling him where to install them and how. Working nine hours a day, six days a week, it is possible to roll a ready-to-fly aircraft out the door in 13 days.

Joe Brown liked that idea and signed up in November 2010. He showed up for work at 6:30 a.m. on May 5, 2011, and was pleased to see that his Build Leader and “team” were already there. After coffee, doughnuts and a tour of the workshop, Joe plunged in.

The night before he had studied the manual for the work to be completed on Day One and progress was swift. Every part needed for the day’s work was laid out on tables and shelves. Every tool was color coded and contained in large tool chests. An enormous checklist was hanging on the wall that guided him step by step through the process. Joe had some help from his eleven-year-old son, Jack, and an A&P mechanic/friend named Mark Runge.