Dave's CX4 In The Air

Dave's CX5 In The Air

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As of April 23, 2014, there are 553 CX4 builders in 20 countries, 41 CX4's have flown the nest (with 2786.2 fleet hours reported),
and Dave has released and started shipping CX5 plans.

Do you have any news to share? Please send us the details!

Date Description
NOTE: You must be subscribed to the respective information source
(CX4 Yahoo group, EAA Experimenter, Oshkosh 365, etc.)  to view certain stories linked below.

Glen took the CX5 up for another early morning flight!

Glen asked us to get his new videos online. He took advantage of another beautiful morning in Pensacola to go flying. Here's a recap of his arrival at the FBO.

NOTE: These videos are in High Definition. Click the icon in the lower right corner of the YouTube windows and enjoy them full-screen!

He added his in-cockpit narration to the video of the early morning flight, including slips and several touch & go's.


Brandon has posted his first PIREP on his flight experience with N147LH

You can read his full post on the Pilot Reports page.


The 41st CX4 Has Taken It's First Flight!

Brandon Burgdorf (Evansville, Indiana, USA) started the build of N147HL (#519) on August 18, 2012, taking a spar cap from raw stock to a finished part in one evening. He compiled the following video recap of his build progress since that first evening:

Fast forward to today, and Brandon is excited to report that his bird has just taken its maiden flight!

"Tonight I flew # 41 for the first time! Very uneventful other than a heavy left wing and the CHT gauge not working. I will post more info when I have more time, but for the meantime I wanted to post some videos. More to come!   Thanks group, for all of the support and help along the way!!"

Brandon captured the flight details on video, as seen from both the ground and the GoPro he mounted in the plane:

Editor Note:

Brandon, With your excellent blog, many have watched your build progress from day one. With your first flight today, you've realized a dream we all share in an incredibly short amount of time. On behalf of the global CX Community, our congratulations go out to you (and your family for giving you their support throughout the process)!  Your bird is beautiful!

Thanks for sharing all the details since that first night in your workshop and the video of the first flight. We all look forward to your future PIREPS as you begin to fly off the initial 40!

It was great that you were able to squeeze Sun n' Fun into your busy schedule. We all enjoyed meeting you in person!


Sun n' Fun 2014 Recap

I want to apologize to everyone for the delay on getting this information on-line. I was able to have web access at the booth, but the volume of people that came through was high and I ended up spending a large amount of time trying to talk to everyone. Over the years, I have come to know many names of the regulars on Herb's Yahoo group site. This year, I was able to meet many of them who stopped by the booth in person (as well as countless others who expressed a strong interest in both of Dave's CX designs).

Since returning home late last Sunday, I began and have been working non-stop on a special project that should be of interest to anyone starting or planning a CX5 build. Those that already have plans (or anyone one else planning a future plans purchase) will note that Dave compiled a five page material list for the plane, containing approximately 182 line items. Of these, 139 are sourced from Aircraft Spruce & Specialty company.

For those not familiar with Aircraft Spruce, they have an excellent website (Aircraft Spruce) devoted to most needs of homebuilders world-wide. One page on the website (Building Materials & Kits/Kits & Plans) lists many of the kits they support, and many kits listed have a order form that has been pre-filled with all the current parts they can supply for the kit. This form can be edited to adjust desired quantities for one, several or all parts associated with the kit.

With Dave's approval, I spoke to Josh (the Aircraft Spruce Product Support Manager, responsible for this section of their website) at their booth this year and inquired if we could develop this ordering procedure for the CX5. He thought it was a great idea and agreed to help make it happen once he returned to his office in California after the show. I've been working to configure the material list into a format that will be most easy for Josh to incorporate into his system.

I don't know how long it will take before it becomes available on their website, but I will notify everyone here and on the Yahoo group when it gets up and running. If this project is well received, I'll discuss with Josh expanding it to include the CX4.

I want to personally thank Dave, despite his feeling less than 100%, and Glen for making the trip down this year. The efforts they have made taking the CX5 from a design on a napkin to a completed aircraft with it's initial 40 flown off in such a short time has been remarkable, and the information they've shared along the way has been appreciated by everyone.

I had the privilege of spending a large amount of time with Greg Westberry during the week, and he's another person I've developed a huge amount of respect for. The caliber of work with the CX4 kits he's developed so far is exceptional, and his plans for the future CX5 kits will be no different.

Greg Pixley (aka Pix - not Alan) flew his CX4 down, and offered to park it at the booth for the duration of the week. Greg is another great guy, and much to my surprise, won the bet with his other half on going over to Universal in Orlando during the week.

In speaking with Glen just the other day, he mentioned that this "Community" website was appropriately named. With all the people I've had the opportunity to meet over the years, I couldn't agree more!


(Scroll down - There's much more!)

As everyone already knows, Glen Bradley had planned on flying the CX5 to Lakeland, but despite his and Dave's best efforts with all of the preparation, were not able complete all of the tasks required. For this reason the CX5 was not at Sun n' Fun.

Greg Westberry, Glen Bradley, Greg Pixley and Dave had the booth setup by the end of the day on Monday (3/31) in preparation for the expected stream of visitors throughout the week.

Greg Westberry (Westberry Manufacturing LLC) coordinated the booth setup this year, where examples of his CX4 wing and tail kits were displayed. Samples of all the CX4 composite parts available from Earnest Martin were also shown.

Note:  We've added photo's of Greg's CX4 kits to the Westberry Manufacturing LLC page on this website.

Greg Pixley, Niceville, FL, USA (CX4 S/N 347, N347) flew his beautiful CX4 down for the show, and it was displayed at the booth. It did attract a steady stream of visitors, several people tried it on for size and everyone was kept busy answering questions.

Note: Greg has posted two flying videos on YouTube. Here's the links:



Tom Stallings of Garden City, Kansas who holds the title of having the first CX4 to fly into an EAA AirVenture convention (July 2011) flew down to SnF this year and camped next to his plane. Tom came by the booth several times during the week, and it was everyone's pleasure to meet him and visit in person.

We stopped by Homebuilt Parking to get several photos of Tom with his plane, but just like Oshkosh several years earlier, he was once again wandering the grounds. Note: Tom did make the maiden flight of S/N 0200 on Aug 23, 2009.


The Thatcher/Westberry booth was visited by various media representatives during the week. In the photo below, Greg Westberry is being interviewed. As we learn of these interviews being made available, we will post links to them on this page.

Dave, Glen and Greg hosted a forum on two separate days during the convention. Both were well attended and many questions were asked. Everyone was disappointed that the CX5 wasn't able to fly down, but everyone we spoke with understood the circumstances and felt the right decision had been made.

We were able to get a video of the entire forum held on Friday (4/4) and pending additional edits, will have it on-line
(YouTube and the top of this page) ASAP.

With so many people coming through the booth everyday, it was tough to sneak away to grab a bite to eat. Brandon Burgdorf (Evansville, Indiana) made a food run and came back with a snack (OK - lunch) for Glen.

Brandon snapped a quick photo and sent it to us for posting. We'll let each of you come up with your own caption - but don't forget: Despite being a bigger guy, Glen has over 200 hours in the CX4, has loved every minute of flying it and is looking forward to flying it many more!


Glen Bradley and his son compiled another video, showing close-up details of the CX5, followed by a flight around Pensacola, Florida.
Note: Click the icon in the lower right corner of the window below to see this video full screen!


Another CX4 is getting close to its first flight.

Brandon Burgdorf, Evansville, Indiana, USA just made several photo's available of N147HL (#519) as he transferred it to the local airport (with the help of two eager assistants) for final assembly and DAR inspection on April 4th.

Brandon's bird is another example of a very good looking CX4!  He started building in August 2012 and has made remarkable progress in a very short time. Click here to visit his builders blog. 



Before heading out to our day job early this morning, we asked Dave how many plan
requests he has received since his release announcement on Tuesday.

As of this morning, he had already shipped out 21, including several sets going to international locations:

• 17 sets throughout the US
• 2 sets to Australia
• 1 set to Turkey
• 1 set to Thailand

On behalf of builders everywhere, we'd like to thank Dave and Glen for their efforts in taking the CX5 from concept to reality with plans in builders hands in a very short time, and for keeping us all informed throughout the process!

The day people around the world have been waiting for has arrived!
Dave Thatcher has released the plans for the CX5!

He posted this message on the Yahoo Group earlier today:

The plans and manual to the CX5 are ready. The price is $475.00 and I pay for the shipping.
Dave Thatcher"

Contact Dave via email at ThatcherCX4@cox.net or give him a call at (850) 712-4539 if you're interested in purchasing a set!

U.S. Senate Introduces GA Pilot Protection Act, Companion to House Bill

Three U.S. senators earlier this week introduced the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act as a companion bill to one unveiled in the House of Representatives in December, which includes a provision that would reform airman medical certificate standards while maintaining safety.

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) co-sponsored the bill that provides a solution to a long-standing hurdle of burdensome medical certificate standards for pilots who fly recreationally. In March 2012, EAA and AOPA requested an exemption that would ease third-class medical requirements for pilots flying certain types of aircraft, but the FAA has not to date taken action on that request despite more than 16,000 comments received in favor of the proposal.

"I urge the FAA to work with our pilots, respond to these reasonable petitions, and provide additional flexibility," Sen. Boozman said when introducing the legislation. "If the FAA continues to delay, this bill will start the discussion toward a legislative solution."

In announcing the bill, Sen. Boozman also noted that current regulations require private pilots flying aircraft for recreational purposes to have a third-class medical certificate. Over the last decade, 60,000 pilots left the industry, many due to the costly and time consuming process of obtaining a medical certificate. This bill expands on the success of FAA's sport pilot regulations that were adopted in 2004 and allow pilots to fly many types of small, light aircraft without a third-class medical certificate but require that all pilots undergo a flight review by a certified flight instructor every two years. During these biennial flight reviews, instructors will continue to evaluate each pilot's physical and cognitive condition, as well as his or her ability to safely operate an aircraft.

The proposed legislation would allow pilots to use a valid state driver's license in place of the traditional medical certificate if the flights are:

  • Not for compensation

  • Conducted in VFR operations only, at or below 14,000 feet MSL

  • No faster than 250 knots

  • In aircraft with no more than six seats and no more than 6,000 pounds gross takeoff weight.

In addition to allowing pilots to operate common GA aircraft for personal and recreational flying without a third-class medical, the bill mandates that the FAA prepare and send a report to Congress detailing the impact of the bill's passage on general aviation safety within five years of the bill's enactment.

"We appreciate the senators' attention and action on this issue that has negatively affected many pilots," said Jack Pelton, EAA chairman of the board. "It is time to use the positive safety experience gained from a decade of sport pilot activity - as well as such flying activities as gliders and ballooning - to establish medical certification reforms that will sustain and grow general aviation in this country."

The House bill, H.R. 3708, was introduced in December by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO). To date that bill has gained 52 co-sponsors and continues to gather support.

For Our Friends in the US - Please Take Action: Rally Congress!

On the heels of this week's introduction in the United States Senate of the bipartisan General Aviation Protection Act, EAA has activated its Rally Congress website to make it easy for members to contact their elected officials and urge them to cosponsor this important legislation.

S2103, which mirrors to the House's HR3708 introduced in December 2013, widens the pool of recreational pilots who can enjoy flying their small aircraft without the expense and regulatory burden of third-class medical certification. The House version of the bill is gaining traction with a bipartisan coalition of 52 cosponsors. There are currently two cosponsors of the Senate bill.

Please take a few moments and Rally Congress to support the General Aviation Protection Act!


Glen Bradley had the opportunity to take the CX4 up today. He posted the following PIREP:

"I have been busy and haven't flown the CX4 much lately but this morning was perfect weather so......I was there at sunrise even though the clock said it was 7 instead of 6 as usual (DST).

Well, it was SILKY smooth and visibility was good too. It was one of those flights where there is absolutely NO movement of the plane that is not input from the pilot. It was a true gliding on air experience. Wonderful. Just a gentle vibration from the engine and mind and plane became one. It was such a neat flight. Mesmerizing!

As I was tooling around I couldn't help but think of the incredible efficiency of the CX4. Here is a REAL airplane (not as my old National Aerobatic champion friend called ultralights--"flying lawn furniture") that was FAST and efficient with GREAT control response. It is the best of all worlds and I had to reflect on the genius of the plane. Wow.

I flew for about 45 min and made a mental note to stop by the gas station later in the day and get enough non-ethanol fuel to fill it back up--- about 2 gallons. Amazing.

Here is a plane that does exactly what you want it to do, has awesome visibility and can outrun C172s on 50HP and costs about 1/6 the cost in fuel. Doing all that while handling like a miniature fighter instead of a school bus. Don't get me wrong-- C172s are one of my all time favorite factory built planes but.....there is no comparison at all in the way they handle compared to the CX4.

I thought about all you guys building a CX4 (and those soon to build the CX5) and thought I should just remind you of how wonderful it is going to be to takeoff in the plane you built and experience what I did today (and you will have WAY more HP than I did). It is truly something to look forward to. A flight to remember.

Dr. Glen Bradley
Pensacola FL


Greg (Allan) Pixley (Niceville, FL, USA; CX4 S/N 347; N347CX) recently completed his initial 40 hours and has begun over the past several weekends to expand his travels.

Check out his PIREP on the Pilot Reports page!



There has been an interesting thread on the Yahoo group regarding both the CX4 & CX5.
Glen Bradley posted this yesterday:

"I know some of you CX4 builders feel kind of left out lately because the CX5 is in the limelight right now. Well, I am here to tell you that BOTH airplanes are awesome. Don't feel the least bit left out. (incidentally, the Forums will cover BOTH aircraft).

I say this because----- I flew Dave's 4 today for 45 min. I hadn't flown it in a very long time and it was like putting on an old comfortable shoe. With almost 200 hours in it , I felt at home immediately, of course. Even better, it was FUN to fly...an awesome airplane. (and Dave's has only 50 HP).

Yes, the two planes are a little different in some ways- but clearly have the same genes. One sits somewhat more or less IN the CX4 and ON the CX5.... a higher seating position. Not radically different but noticeable if you are paying attention. The nose is low in cruise in the 4 and even more so in the 5....both FAR superior to nearly all planes I have flown. The 5 has absolutely the BEST visibility of any plane I have flown and the 4 is almost as good. Awesome on a blue sky CAVU day like today. Stunning.

If you even ask me which I like better I won't be able to answer that question. Not because I am holding anything back, but because they are both so good but slightly different. OF course, some guys need a two place so the question of which to build is answered automatically for them. Some guys DON't want a two place....they WANT to fly alone (and not have people asking for rides). It's a personal choice. Fortunately, it is a choice with NO bad options.

Your choice is AWESOME or AWESOME.

Glen Bradley"

Mark Waldron replied with the following:


As always, thanks for your posts. As the only guy with time in both airplanes, any further thoughts and comparisons of flying qualities would be very welcome. For instance, I'd be interested in your perceptions of roll rates (I'm guessing the CX5 might be a little slower in roll given the same input?), stability (static and dynamic), differences in techniques to manage airspeed/altitude on final approach, etc. Obviously, not a treatise or hard numbers, but any subjective opinions you've got at this stage.

Thanks again,
Mark W."

And Glen's response:

"Well, you are exactly right- the CX5 roll rate is a little slower as it is now (we are changing the aileron linkage to speed it up a bit) but it is mainly a matter of the aileron being a little heavier since it is so much bigger in surface area. It is not something that a new pilot would even notice but with a lot of hours in the 4 I noticed it. Don't misunderstand- compared to a Champ or Cub etc it is like power steering.

Speed management on both planes is essential on final because they tend to float. The 5, with just me in it and full fuel, floats more than the 4. Not sure how it will do with a heavy passenger but it floats a good bit now. So, just keep final approach speeds down and it will be fine. If not, you can always slip it down final or land a little hot. I try to land near stall- a taildragger habit-- but there is absolutely no problem putting it down 10-15 mph above stall and let the nose come over to plant the plane. The speed brake on the 5 does help but I tend to not use it simply because I don't need it and I slip to adjust for a high approach. I will be using it more so that I can report on how well it works.

Dave's 4 is only 50 HP and does fine so I can imagine what a larger engine would do. I'd love to fly one sometime. Therefore, I can't compare climb rates in any meaningful way. I will say that the 50HP CX4 vs. the 85HP CX5 comes out with the 5 climbing way faster....nearly double the rate with the climb prop it has on it now. We have ordered a cruise prop and should have it in two weeks, so then I can report on it. Now at 22in I get 3100 rpm in the 5 for a cruise of 115. The photo plane said I'm much faster than that. (my 90 indicated was their 97) I am expecting to indicate around 125 w the cruise prop....maybe more.

The nose position is lower in the 5 for a little better forward visibility but----both are so good that to say that might mislead one into thinking the 4s visibility is not nearly as good. IT IS SUPERB too.

I have driven a Miata and a Nissan Altima. The 4 is most like the Miata>> smaller , nimble, but with not much extra room. The 5 is like a Sports Sedan (Altima)...handled almost as well, a little bigger, and lots of extra room. Both are wonderful but different. I hate comparisons like that but maybe it will help. THEY ARE BOTH AWESOME FOR SURE. So I think it probably comes down to whether you want a two place plane or not and if you are going to do lots of cross country flying.
The fuel capacity in the 4 is 10.5 gal. ---- 20 useable in the 5. I think I can easily slow down a little from 75% and use only 4gph in the 5. Since Dave's 4 has only 50 hp it can't be compared to what most builders have in their 4s....but I can get it down to a little under 3 gph at very low cruise.

Both aircraft track well on landing and both need L rudder on takeoff. They are very similar in that regard. Of course, at over 250 pounds I have more room in the 5 but I never felt cramped in the 4 either.

Both look almost the same and people rave about how nice looking both airplanes are. Two superb winners. Your choice.

Glen Bradley

PS------- IF the 4 is a Miata and the 5 is a modern Sports Sedan....then a Cessna or Piper Cherokee are like an old Buick or Cadillac."

The next issue of Contact! magazine will feature the CX5!

Glen Bradley flying Dave's CX5

Pat Panzera just announced that the next issue of Contact! will have a feature article on the CX5.

Individual copies of the magazine can be ordered through the following link
(Scroll to the bottom of the page):


Subscriptions are available through the following link
(This will be the first issue of the a new subscription if started immediately):


If you have any questions, contact Pat Panzera directly at editor@contactmagazine.com


Glen Bradley has officially flown off the CX5 initial 40 hours.

His latest in-flight videos with PIREP's can be viewed on the CX4 & CX5 Prototype Updates page.

Greg Westbury (Westberry Manufacturing LLC) just announced that a matched hole
CX4 Wing Kit is now available!

Available with or without pre-assembled spars, simply deburr the holes, sand the edges smooth and you're ready to rivet. Either version comes complete with all parts and hardware, and can be upgraded to include flush rivets.

Pricing information is available on the Plans, Parts and Engines page!

Contact Greg at flybgair@visioncomm.org or call 423.667.9708 for additional information or to place your order today!

Dave Thatcher and Glen Bradley will showcase the CX5 and Greg Westbury
(Westberry Manufacturing LLC) will have examples of his CX spars,
wing kits and tail kit in booth N57/N66 at Sun n' Fun this year.
Tuesday April 1 - Sunday April 6, 2014  (See maps below).

Dave and Glen will also be hosting a forum on two days during the convention:
Building and Flying the CX5 LSA 2 Place" (and the CX4 too, of course)
• Wed. April 2, 11AM, Room 11
• Fri April 4, 9AM,  Room 11

For those flying in this year, click here for the 2014 Sun 'n Fun NOTAM

Click here for a printable PDF of the maps below.

Glen Bradley flying Dave's CX5

Glen Bradley flying Dave's CX5


Earnest Martin (N414CX, #173) sent us this update on his CX4.

"I've attached a photo of my plane. It is almost finished and I hope to fly it in the spring.

It has a ULPower 260I engine. I added some structure to allow for more HP so my empty weight is 633 pounds. It has a 10" Dynon Skyview system with a Mode S transponder, GPS, EMS, ADS-B in, and will have ADS-b out when the GPS gets certified. I have 18 gallons of fuel in wing tanks similar to RV6 tanks. The only controls in the cockpit are control stick, throttle, and trim.

This was my first exposure to sheet metal and it didn't turn out nearly as nice as my Quickie. I learned a lot - of course and could do a better job if I built another. The only award it will ever get, is for most money spent! Almost all my flying is cross country, and I plan to fly a lot, so I equipped it for that purpose. The only way to ever recoup my money is to fly it forever, but that should be fun..."

Earnest Martin
Arden, NC, USA



At first glance, you'd think that Glen Bradley had really expanded his CX5 flight envelope...

Yes, that's Mt Rainier in the state of Washington (USA). An active contributor to the Yahoo CX4 group, Shawn Duffee of Renton, WA, USA performed a little Photoshop magic and put Glen and the CX5 above the mountain (at an estimated 20,000 ft.). OK, It's a stretch, but it sure resulted in a beautiful photo. Nice job Shawn!  

It appears as though Shawn has started a new thread. Another Yahoo CX4 group contributor, Robert Kent, also of Washington state, has Glen practicing "Valley Flying" around Mt. Rainier. Robert added that the altimeter reading of 2,700 ft is none too high in these mountains. 

Glen asked for a photo of himself and the CX5 over Monument Valley (Utah, USA). Shawn didn't waste anytime...  Another beautiful photo! 

Someone else was wondering how the Chicago (IL, USA) skyline would look from the CX5. Robert Kent has answered that question for us all!


Editor Note:
Thanks to Shawn & Robert for sharing the photo edits! As we wait for Glen to fly off the 40 hours and for Dave to finalize and release the plans, the ingenuity of pending builders is not a surprise as they envision flying the CX5 in their local terrain...



As he continues to build time on the CX5, Glen Bradley has made two more videos available:

"Again, I was half way to Alabama as the day began to get light. I was there by daylight and ready to go.

The weather guys had said it would be a nice day but they underestimated it. It was GORGEOUS - we get only a handful of days this nice per year. Silky smooth cool air (engines and wings like cool air) and visibility to die for. Awesome!!

I took off and at 3000 feet could see Pensacola and beyond to Ft. Walton (70 miles) in one direction and half way to New Orleans in the other. I could see the gentle curve of the Gulf as it nears New Orleans. The Gulf had not a single ripple. Wow. And it was so smooth I kept hitting my own wake when I flew big circles. I tried holding the Sony Cam in my hands for some short videos and it worked well. It does distort the wings - they ARE straight on the leading edge, I promise. And they look a bit more slender in the video than in real life.

Dave and I know the prop is way too fine and are going to order a new one soon. Full power at level flight puts me past the engine redline before I can even get all the power in, long before the plane has time to even accelerate so.....it is WAY too fine. At cruise power (21 inches) I get 110 mph but am turning too many RPM so we expect a LOT faster cruise speeds with the new prop. We are consulting with a propulsion engineer recommended by Joe at Revmaster to see what he says about the prop and , of course, we have a pretty good idea from what performance we are getting with this prop. It is a Tennessee prop 54/46. The new prop will have much bigger numbers."

Low Cruise Power
"Power is at low cruise at about 3000 feet. This is a very low cruise that, if my figures are right, means I was running about 18 inches of manifold pressure. That is LOW power for sure."


Low Cruise Power & Climb
"You will notice I am at cruise power, actually a somewhat low cruise setting, and climbing at about 500 fpm up to about 3000 feet. Airspeed varies from about 90-95. I see no need to push the engine at all (fuel too) to get the 40 hours and since I am not going anywhere, I just kind of "slow cruise" around. Why not. I am using about 3 gph at this low setting."


While Glen Bradley is working to get us more in-flight video's, he just posted this still photo taken from the CX5 over the Gulf Coast:



The Pensacola News Journal (Pensacola, Florida USA) published another great CX5 story, written again by Kimberly Blair with photos by Ben Twingley, in their Tuesday, January 7, 2014 edition:

Pensacola aircraft designer's experimental plane soars
Dave Thatcher's two-seater aces first round of flight tests

Experimental aircraft test pilot Glen Bradley is prohibited from taking passengers along for a ride during the test flights of the two-seater Thatcher CX5. But he’s giving them a taste of what it was like to have the wind beneath the wings of the two-seater experimental plane in a video posted on YouTube on New Year’s Day.

Ride along on test flight: Glen Bradley takes viewers on a test flight of the two-seater Thatcher CX5.

The video is of the first test flight of the aircraft on Dec. 23 at Jack Edwards Airport in Gulf Shores, Ala., one of the few airports in the area at which an experimental plane can be tested. Bradley took it on an abbreviated flight on Dec. 17, but had to quickly return to the runway when a gauge displayed a faulty reading. But as soon as weather permitted, he launched from the tarmac for a flight free of anxiety from a pilot’s perspective.

“The goal of a first flight is for it to be uneventful,” Bradley said. “This one was. It was perfect. The aircraft performed exactly like we expected it to.”

Named after its well-known designer and builder, Dave Thatcher of Pensacola, the CX5 is the brother of Thatcher’s first experimental plane, the CX4, a one-seater he designed on a McDonald’s napkin in 2003. He designed the 5 model amid public demand for a two-seater and spent the past two years building it with Bradley. A story about Thatcher and his new plane design was featured in the Nov. 6 Pensacola News Journal.  Both of his planes are like sports cars with wings that are propelled by modified Volkswagen engines but designed to be stylish, safe and affordable for amateur pilots.

At 81, Thatcher’s test flying days are behind him. So he wistfully watched the test flight in December from the tarmac at Jack Edwards. “It felt wonderful,” he said of watching the aircraft fly flawlessly. “It’s was a long time coming, so I was very pleased it flew as well as it did.”

Although, he was at Jack Edwards Airport on Thursday ironing one small issue. “The oil temperature got up pretty high, and I’m making a minor modification to a lower area of cowling to let more air out (of the engine),” he said. Such minor adjustments are to be expected, he said.

Demand growing
As soon as Bradley logs the 40 required test-flight hours, Thatcher will be the plane’s first passenger.“ It has dual controls so I’ll fly it if Glen lets me fly,” Thatcher said with a laugh. “He loves that plane so much; he might not let me fly it.”

Since first taking the controls, Bradley has been logging reports for the experimental aircraft community, which the EAA industry online magazine says has been eagerly awaiting news on the details of the flight. “We were hoping it would (gain) 1,000 feet a minute, and it did,” Bradley said of the rate of speed with which the plane gained altitude.

While he described the plane flying very much like its brother, the CX4, Bradley said there’s no comparison to the CX4 when it comes to visibility. “The canopy in the 5 is more rounded and higher,” he said. “The 4 has great visibility but this has even greater visibility ... with the fact the wing is about a foot or so further back.”

Bradley intends to take the plane through vigorous testing over the next few weeks, clocking about three hours of flight time a day. He’ll coax it into routine stalls and recoveries and takeoffs under different weather conditions, noting the details for a pilot’s handbook he’s compiling on the plane.

Meanwhile, Thatcher is polishing off the plane’s plans for a growing number of pilots who are waiting to purchase a set for $475. He sold 574 plans for the CX4. The 5’s plans will be available after Bradley completes testing the plane, which he expects to be sometime in mid-February, weather permitting.

Once he’s completed the test flights, the Thatcher CX5 will return to Pensacola International Airport, where the plane was built in a private hangar. “And I can take people up for flights,” Bradley said. “I already have way too many people to give flights to than I can give. Everybody wants a flight.”

This was printed in a sidebar to the article:

Two experimental aircrafts, the CX5, foreground, and CX4, were designed and built by Pensacola resident and airplane mechanic David Thatcher. More than 500 copies of his first aircraft design the CX4 have been sold to builders all over the world. Both planes utilize a Volkswagen engine and can be run on premium automotive fuel.
Ben Twingley/btwingley@pnj.com


Glen Bradley continues to build hours in the CX5. He went up again today - twice. Here's his latest PIREP:

"It is 3 PM...just got home. I was half way to Alabama when the sun came up this morning.  Got the 5 out and ran it to determine which way the idle mixture was off.  It wasn't running smooth enough at idle. Using what Dave taught me it was simple to find it was running lean.  So...off came the cowl and a gentle Little turn of the idle mixture screw, less than a 1/16th turn.  Cranked her back up... better but not enough.  Another couple of small adjustments, less than 1/16 turn and she ran much better.

Cowl on, wash hands, hit the bathroom, check the weather and FLY.  A bit gusty but not too bad and pretty much down the runway.  Ceiling maybe 2000 .  Nobody flying yet... hasn't been all morning...g ood time to go.  Strapped in, checked everything and ready to taxi out. Doesn't take but about 4 minutes... and found I was number three in line to take off. ha  Amazing. 

I flew for over an hour and a half....around the airport.  I checked all kinds of stuff but mostly just relaxed and watched the view... and the instruments... and the other airplanes landing and departing.  Cyl Hd, oil temp, and EGT all settled down after about 5 min.  I then flew at reduced power settings for a while to see what airspeed I would get....and lost amazingly little airspeed. 

All the time watching the students below taking off and learning to fly.  I keep my eyes OPEN around airports.  Beach, condos, water, ships, birds on the airport, cars, inter-coastal waterway, golf course, a few steep turns, dodge the cloud layers coming in off the Gulf.  Notice the updrafts and bumps when under the layers coming in... reminded me of my glider flying days.  

Announce descending and entering downwind.  Came in high on purpose, this thing floats and floats but...lands at 45 if you wait long enough.

Taxi in,  Check plane over, fill w fuel, take a break and eat some airport food - not very healthy but right on the field and only a short walk down the ramp...and free. Nice people here at Jack Edwards.   Talk to the instructors that are thinking about letting some new solos go up.  Weather improved a lot.  Still at 2k though, but some blue sky every now and then now.

Take back off, same things, a little tired now after almost two hours aloft.  Beach, condos, water... uhhhhhh CESSNA 150 descending out of the sun... VERY close and closing on a 45-60  degree collision course... this requires IMMEDIATE action.  I pull right into a tight climbing turn thankful for the 5s control responsiveness.  They whiz past under me somewhere... I turned WAY too sharp for it to be a problem but thank God I saw them coming when I did. About 5 more seconds and we would have been VERY close, maybe would have missed by 50 feet but... I come around and see then on their same course... no changes.  I call them on Unicom and ask if they saw me...they SAID "yes, you were averting." No kidding!!!!!!!  I would not want MY pants on fire in a C150....ha.  THAT is why I keep my eyes open and scan. They were 800 feet above pattern entry altitude and cutting across midfield descending to a downwind on the other side of the field.  They may have seen me AFTER I averted a few seconds away. I'm sure the big white bottom on the 5 looked huge to them as they looked up, astonished.  

This was a flight WITH an instructor I think.  

Reminded me of the time decades ago when I was AT pattern altitude on downwind in my Tcraft when a strange vibration/humming sound began.  All instruments looked normal and no engine vibration then the sun went away.  I look up about 20 feet to see the oil streaked belly of a Mooney descending on top of me.  He slid past rapidly. Fortunately he was as fast as he was or neither of us would have known what happened. AGAIN>..he was breaking the rules...just like the C150.  Most of the rules have good reasons behind them.

Anyway, I am tired.  Supposed to get VERY cold here...in the low 20s and very windy...25 plus knots the next few days so that is why I tried so hard to get some hours on the 5 today. It's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it......"

Glen Bradley


Glen Bradley had added a Sony Action Cam in the CX5 for Mondays flight, and following a great edit of the video by his son, just posted it on YouTube. This is his first in-flight video in the CX5, and we're certain he will be posting more as he works to fly-off the initial forty hours.

"This flight was about 30 min but mostly flying around the airport, so my wonderful son edited it down to 7 min. I am flying over Gulf Shores AL, a nice community about an hours drive from Pensacola. Phase I test flights are not allowed in Class C airspace so I will fly the 40 hours off there.

The canopy was covered with fog for the first bit of the video but it cleared. As soon as I take off I fly off on an angle to the runway so as to make it easy to lose altitude on the remaining runway (two turns are required and each one loses altitude). Then as I near 800 feet or so I am in a great position to make a 180 back in the opposite direction to land without the extra turn to line up with the runway. I try to stack the cards in my favor on test flights.

I level off at 1000 feet and get up to cruise speed but was also climbing a little so I just let the altitude creep up to almost 2000. The airspeed indicator is one that straight down indicates about 122 mph so I was not far from that at cruise with the Climb prop.

I lifted off in about 750 feet (displaced threshold is 500) and came in high and hot on purpose even though the plane felt totally solid- it felt a lot like the CX4 but a little heavier on the ailerons. I slipped most of the way down final (notice nose is offset to the right) and still had way too much speed so I floated a long way past the video crew. My actual touchdown point is hard to discern from the video because it was so smooth (smiling) but it was WAY down the runway and well below 50 mph.

The 5 is very stable on the ground and in the air. I had to taxi in on a service road instead of a taxiway so it was very narrow. Notice that even with almost no time in the plane it taxied so well I navigated the narrow road easily and with a good speed. I was smiling and quite happy all the way home...and beyond.

Now that my son has learned how to edit the video footage I will be uploading others of things like steep turns, stalls, etc. I hope you enjoy the video."

Editor Note:

Glen, The video of the flight turned out great. With it, you're sharing the excitement of these initial flights with potential builders all over the world. On behalf of everyone that will be watching, Thanks for your efforts! 

Kudos to your son for his edit. He did a beautiful job!

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