Build A Plane - Luscombe

Build A Plane - Luscombe Update

Working on Luscombe


Last Saturday (December 3, 2016) we moved our Luscombe fuselage into the workshop and did what most people would do, we stared at it. As many restorers know, sometimes the hardest part of a restoration is determining where to start. Once we got over that part the kids were eager to get started.

We decided that rebuilding the landing gear would be as good a place as any to start and the kids got to work sanding and priming parts.


Our parts list is now shorter with several new donations within the last week. A gentleman from the west coast, who is involved with several Build A Plane programs out there, is willing to help us out with an engine. Also, Jim Jackson from Brainerd, MN who also restores aircraft, is willing to allow us to use his jigs for the Luscombe wings. The wings suffer from corrosion and need to be re-skinned.

Luscombe Parts List:

  • horizontal stabilizer
  • all control surfaces
  • instruments and radios
  • wing fuel tanks
  • instrument panel​


We are looking for volunteers to help even if it is only part-time and don’t worry if you don’t possess the necessary skills, we can find something for you to do and it would help us out a lot.

Also we are always accepting more aircraft projects and parts. One of the ways we pay for the program and can afford to restore the airplanes is by selling parts off of wrecked or salvaged aircraft.


Tools is another area we could use your help. As we obtain more students every year, we find that our tools are spreading thin and kids are waiting around for others to finish using a drill or a wrench etc. and we’re wasting valuable time that could be spent building. I have yet to find a shop that has too many tools, so if you have tools that you want to get rid of and don’t think we could use them, think again.

​If you are interested in participating or want to make a contribution the program please e-mail us at,, or call 763-370-5429/763-568-3360.


We meet every Tuesday from 5:30-8:30 pm and every other Saturday from 9:00 am to noon.


29563 144th St, Princeton, MN 55371

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Travel Air

Travel Air Update: The kids have dissembled two engines and the fuselage. Several of these parts, instruments etc are on E-bay for sale. If you do not see what you are looking for please call John Bjornstad at: 763-370-5429 or Duane Kruse at 612-616-8665.

Fagen Fighters World War II Museum Tour: On November 12, 2016 a group of 12 from the Build A Plane program traveled down to Granite Falls, MN to visit the Fagen Fighters World War II Museum. We left Princeton around 8am, arriving in Granite Falls at 11am. We received a personnel tour by Ann (the museums curator). The Fagen’s have done a wonderful job recreating the history of WWII. The new items on display was a Sherman Tank and a box car brought over from Germany that did transport the Jews to concentration camps and the captured USA and other soldiers to different camps. The presentation of the car was astounding (you really need to visit this when you are in the area.)

Museum Tour

Museum Tour

Museum Tour

Museum Tour

Seasons Greeting from Flight Expo

Do you remember what it’s like to be a teenager? Trying to decide “what you want to be when you grow up?” Well, thanks to Flight Expo, Inc. and it’s Build a Plane program, many teenagers in our community have already answered that question.

Flight Expo is addressing the upcoming shortage of mechanics by working to build interest and provide skills to high school students interested in aviation through its Build a Plane program. The program provides a hands on adventure, applying facets of science, technology, engineering and math, in a fun environment through airplane reconstruction. In the fall of 2014, Flight Expo, Inc. kicked off its first Build A Plane program, with six students. Last year, that number grew to 10, and this year the Build a Plane program had nearly 20 students registered!

The program continues to grow, and so does Flight Expo. In order to accommodate the growing education programs, become a self-sustaining organization and increase our impact in the community, we are currently parting out salvaged aircraft and are in the process of starting a flying club that will not only give us the financial freedom to fund the programs of Flight Expo; such as Build A Plane, but will also give the students a chance to learn how to fly. Flight Expo has also sought professional advice in acquiring a business that allows us to earn money, which will be directly reinvested back into the organization. This will ensure we can continue our mission: To educate and engage individuals about the different facets of Aviation

The next stage for Flight Expo is to acquire our own building at the Princeton Municipal Airport, MN to house all of the programs and businesses we are in the process of starting or buying.

We are so excited about this growth and are only able to continue it because of you! Your contributions have allowed us to purchase additional tools for the Build a Plane program and grow the program to offer classes at different skill levels. To date, two of our students have graduated from high school and are pursuing degrees and work in the aviation/or related fields. One participant stated I thought I would be only watching the teacher demonstrate how to handle the tools or show me how to build a plane – not actually doing the hands on myself!

With your help, we will be able to continue to grow our Build a Plane program and embark on this exciting new adventure of moving to the Princeton Municipal Airport – it’s where we should be! Will you consider a gift to Flight Expo’s annual fund?

By investing in Flight Expo you will be helping students in our community take flight on a brand new career path!

Sharon Sandberg
Flight Expo, Inc. President

Support Build A Plane Program

Shiver Elk River

In the fall of 2014, Flight Expo, Inc. kicked off its first Build A Plane program, with six students. Last year, that number grew to 10, and this year the Build a Plane program has 14 students registered, tripling the class. Our aircraft donations have also tripled since we started. Between the aircraft’s, tooling and material needed for the classes and the kids we are running out of space in our existing location.

Currently, we are gathering information on the costs to build a 100 x 100 hanger at the Princeton Municipal Airport to house all of our projects and to expand the Build A Plane program.

One of the biggest hurdles is on the financial side. Banks are currently loaning at a 1 to 3.5 ratio. Which means we need at least $35 in collateral for every $100 dollars we borrow. Capital grants want to see at least 30% - 50% of the project already financed.

To kick off this campaign we have been invited to participate in Shiver Elk River. This is a fundraising event dedicated to helping other non-profits raise money. Yes, this is a plunge into the icy waters of Lake Orono on February 11, 2017.

When is it: Saturday, February 11, 2017
Where is it: Elk River, MN
How Can I Participate: Three ways:

  • You could jump on February 11, 2017 and raise funds to support our project
  • Donate using the button below and stating it is for the jump
  • Volunteer to help with a booth that day at the event

Here is the Elk River Chamber of Commerce Info:

What is there to do in Elk River in the middle of February?
Have fun in the snow!

Shiver Elk River, is a family-friendly community winter weekend outdoors. Events include the Shiver Plunge, outdoor hockey tournament, a 5K/10K run walk, food and beverages, and live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

New features this year included a bean bag tournament, medallion hunt, dog sled rides, and ice fishing clinic.

It’s sure to be the most fun you’ll have all Winter!

Goals for Flight Expo’s Team:

       $1,500 raised  Eric Lynas (our first year student) will jump
       $3,000 raised John Bjornstad will jump
       $5,000 raised Sharon Sandberg & Duane Kruse will jump



Support Build A Plane Program

Tsunami Rib

New vs. old stabilizer rib.

The Tsunami Project Update

During the first half of November we continued building the various brackets and clips found throughout the fuselage. This is was a monotonous task but needed to be done sooner or later.

The last couple weeks we pivoted back to the wing. We formed most of the ribs last winter, however I was unsure of how the outer and inner section of the wings mated together, and until we were able to pull apart the rest of the wing to investigate and finish all the ribs there was no point in moving forward.

I had a feeling the ribs were thicker than the outer wing panel ribs since the form block had a significant recess along the top and bottom edge, and it was possibly thicker than the inner panel ribs as well. Anyway I wasn’t going to know until I drilled it apart.

Once I removed more of the skin I got lucky and was able to fit a micrometer through a lightening hole and get a measurement. Just like I thought there were two .071” thick ribs mated back to back. (the outer ribs are .040” and the inner are .050”)

My next question came to me when I was going through the old build albums. While flipping through the photos I saw that they used a normal flanged rib throughout the build, however they had a similar rib mated back to back on a bench that had thick angle bolted to it along the top and bottom edge. (see photos) And what I found is that they needed to build a set of ribs strictly for tooling (to align the spars and stringers) and another set for final assembly.

So over the holiday weekend I was able to cut and form the four ribs that we need for tooling and get all the wing ribs off to C&P Aviation for heat treatment the following week. Initially I thought it would be a few weeks until we got the ribs back, but they were delivered the very next day.

The guys at C&P Aviation have supported the project since the beginning in more ways then one. Aside from volunteering their time and lending equipment they have been my number one resource for knowledge. Whenever I get stuck on a part or a process they have always taken the time to answer my questions and show me how they take on the task. So thank you guys, you have been a huge help.

​Now that all the ribs are done we need to find a few more alignment holes in the jigs and with any luck we will start assembling the wing by the new year.

Want to Get Involved?

If you are interested in getting involved with the project please contact us. We are always looking for help. Currently we are seeking individuals that would like to help with sheet-metal fabrication, engineering, computer aided drafting (CAD), writing content on Tsunamis history and fundraising efforts.

If you would like to to contribute financially to the program please hit the donate button below.

​Thank you,

John Bjornstad
Project Manager

Donate Today


The photo on the left is the many clips and brackets throughout the fuselage and the fittings on the right are the duck feet that mate the stringers from the center to the aft section of the fuselage.

Left Wing

Both images are of Tsunamis left wing. The image on the right is where the inner and out panels mate.


These are the ribs that mate the inner and outer wing panels.


Hammer forming and shrinking the ribs.


The image on the left is from the original build. The rib closest us is the rib that mates the outer wing panel to the inner panel. As you can see it looks like your typical wing rib. The image on the right is of the rib that replaces the one in the first photo. Notice the heavy angle along the top and bottom contour.

Become A Tsunami Wave Sponsor

Wave Sponsor

Become A Wave Sponsor

At the air races this year we introduced a new sponsorship opportunity allowing individual donors the option to have their name inscribed in Tsunamis wave.

For $18 your name will be embedded into the wave graphic on the side of the aircraft upon its completion and will be posted to our website.

This is a great way for individuals to get involved and show their support for the project.

Thank you to our Tsunami wave sponsors

We want to thank the following individuals for supporting the project.

Adam Hutchings - Ernie Leither - Bobby Bjornstad - Justin Eastman - David Bress - Marc Sontowski - Curt McCormick - Lex Crawly - Matt Williams - Andrew Bjornstad - Duane Kruse - Tom Lymburn - Jay Campbell - Lind Buda - John Buda - Chris & Becca Lea - Christina Lea - Jacqueline Lea - Andy Anderson - Julie Anderson - Jack Shores - Ross Shores - Ed Shores - Berley Stabler - Hitoshi Ikeda - Ron Goodpasture - Alice Francis - David Rostal - William Gibson - Paul Wheeler - Elliott Peters - Richard Frohmiller - Terri Frohmiller

We need Your Support

Become a wave sponsor today to help us rebuild this one of a kind record setting aircraft and to share its legacy with the world. (click the link below)

Become a Wave Sponsor

Flight Expo, Inc is a 501(c)3 organization (41-1869452) located in the Princeton, MN area.