Ken & His Flying Machine
When Edmond resident Ken Worth went paragliding in his early 20s, he was instantly hooked on aviation – despite his fear of heights. “Aviation is something that until you experience it, you don’t know,” Worth said. “Some people just have to get up and face their fears, as I faced my fear of heights. I still have the fear of heights, but now I’m building a plane.”
Worth’s enduring passion for aviation eventually led him to pursue building experimental aircraft. He’s over halfway finished with his first plane, a lightweight two-seater with a wingspan of 30 feet and a length of 23 feet. While he hopes to use the plane to explore nature and share his love of flying with others, his main focus is on the process. “I look at it as the journey, not the destination,” Worth said. “That took a while to overcome, because I was anxious, but you’re going to make some mistakes.”
The aluminum plane folds, allowing Worth to store it nearly anywhere. And thanks to the rules that govern experimental aircraft, he can fly out of nearly anywhere as well. The freedom and flexibility is part of what drew him to this type of plane. The plane is what’s called “low and slow,” and has a maximum speed of 100 miles an hour.
“You can see the ground below, so you can see Mother Nature and what’s out there and then go find some of these little secluded spots to land in,” Worth said. “It’s a different perspective.” With this type of plane, Worth can land anywhere from a pasture to a creek bed.
“That’s my goal, to be able to fly and land where a very small percentage of pilots fly and land – like a bush pilot,” Worth said.
Building an experimental aircraft requires passion and determination, Worth said, as well as an understanding of what’s involved and the commitment to see it through. Also necessary are precision and attention to detail – as well as some math skill. Worth’s entire family has participated in the project, and he said it’s helped show his younger kids that math isn’t such a bad thing. “We dread school from time to time as kids, but this project turns learning into something fun, and it’s a bonding moment as well,” Worth said.
Worth belongs to the Experimental Aircraft Association, and he said it’s been incredible to connect with fellow aviation enthusiasts all over the world. He hopes to share his passion for aviation with others, which was the main reason he decided to build a two-seater. “I hope to introduce flight to someone who’s unfamiliar with it, and expand and keep the tradition going,” Worth said.
While building an aircraft in just a two-car garage is challenging, Worth has found ways to make it work. The wings are currently fastened to his ceiling to save space, and he’s tried not to take over the garage or house with his project. Building an experimental aircraft not only requires creativity, it also encourages it, Worth said. He belongs to several online forums where members can reach out to fellow aviators for suggestions and advice. However, they often find those solutions right in their own imaginations.