This month we spoke with Justin Inman, a high school Junior, with an already impressive set of building experience under his belt, and the aspirations, energy and desire to make a career out of aviation. At the monthly EAA 105 pancake breakfasts, you can see Justin and his dad talking with other builders and aviators about what he’s up to, and when most people head home after the famous (or infamous) cakes, bacon, and grits breakfast—Justin heads to KHIO to serve as a TeenFlight mentor to other teens working on the third RV-12 TeenFlight project. (Read more about TeenFlight here)
The May breakfast is where we approached Justin about his willingness to do this interview, and with a good deal of humble enthusiasm, he agreed.
CAT: What’s your home airport?
JI: 7S3, Stark’s Twin Oaks Aipark
CAT: When did you first realize you had an interest in aviation?
JI: I have had an interest in aviation for as long as I can remember. When I was in early elementary school, I had a Sunday school teacher who was a pilot and A&P. He helped kindle my interest in aviation by talking to me about airplanes and flying. Living less than a mile from the Portland Hillsboro airport has afforded me submersion in general aviation airplanes flying over since I was born.
CAT: When did you first realize you had an interest in homebuilt aviation?
JI: My first real exposure to homebuilt aviation was when I took a Young Eagle flight in a local homebuilder’s RV-8 when I was 14. He let me fly a little bit and I was hooked. I could not believe how perfect the controls felt, how pretty the airframe was, and how fast it went. I enjoyed building remote control airplanes, so the idea of building a full size airplane was amazing.
CAT: Who do you credit for being most supportive in your aviation journey? What specifically have they done to help you?
JI: My parents have been incredibly supportive of my aviation interests and have been very encouraging. My most influential aviation mentor is Jerry VanGrunsven. He also has been supportive of my aviation interests and goals. As a TeenFlight mentor, he helped teach me about building airplanes but he has also taught me a lot about being an aviator and a person of integrity.
CAT: As a junior in high school, you’ve got a lot on your plate. How do you make time to focus on aviation? What motivates you?
JI: That’s true, I do have a lot on my plate. In order to maximize my time, I try to prioritize my activities. School and family come first and then aviation activities. However, as I homeschool student I have the added benefit of having a semi-flexible schedule. So on nice days I can sometimes skip out and go flying or build an airplane. I am motivated by people I know in aviation who have built many airplanes and have achieved similar goals that I strive to attain.
CAT: You’re a mentor in the TeenFlight program, what philosophy or state of mind do you bring to each build session?
JI: I try to remind myself that TeenFlight is about learning. I learned a tremendous amount as a student in the program, so as a mentor I hope that the students I help teach have the opportunity to get as much out of their project as I got out of mine.
CAT: How many RV homebuilt have you helped with since you were a TeenFlight participant?
JI: Since completion of the TeenFlight 2 airplane, I have helped build three RV projects: two RV-12s (including mentoring on the TeenFlight 3 project), and an RV-8A.
CAT: What is the one thing you repeat over and over to the TeenFlight participants?
JI: Clean up your messes, put tools away, don’t use metric wrenches on SAE bolts, and try not to finger paint with the Pro-Seal. But seriously, what I and the other TeenFlight mentors try to instill in the students is the importance of teamwork and following instructions. It is easy to not read the plans because the RV-12 build is fairly self-explanatory. However, it is very important to read the plans for clarification and sequencing. Reading for understanding is another item that cannot be emphasized enough.
CAT: If you could pick an airframe, what project would you take on next, and why?
JI: At this point, I would like to build an RV-3 equipped with an IO-320 engine setup with inverted fuel and oil for aerobatics, and a composite constant speed propeller. The RV-3 is a more challenging build than the RV-12 because it does not employ modern pre-punched technology and thus requires the builder to fabricate many more parts. I am also working on my own aircraft design that I would like to build once I have the means.
CAT: How do you spend time outside of school and aviation?
JI: When I am not doing aviation related things, I enjoy spending time with my brothers and hiking. I also play trumpet semi-professionally in various musical groups and put a good amount of time into that hobby.
CAT: How do you plan to spend your summer?
JI: This summer I have an engineering internship lined up that should help me grow towards my goal of being an aeronautical engineer.
CAT: What about college? Have you picked your path yet?
JI: As a junior, I am currently working on achieving good scores on the SAT and ACT tests with the hope that I can attend an engineering college where I will eventually earn a degree in aeronautical engineering. At this point, I hope to attend Embry Riddle in Arizona as a student of their aerospace engineering program.