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Building a dream
Feb. 18, 2013
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Winsted pilot helps students construct an RV-12 airplane

By Starrla Cray
Staff Writer

WINSTED, MN – Aspiring young pilots at the Winsted airport are eager to soar to new heights – by flying a plane they built themselves.

High school students from surrounding cities have been meeting in Marty Ziermann’s hangar Saturday mornings since the end of November, assembling an RV-12 experimental light sport aircraft.

“It’s kind of a dream I had to help the youth get involved in aviation,” said Marty, who is offering the class free of charge.

After the plane is complete, Darrin Mason of MasonAir flight school in Winsted will provide up to 20 hours of flight instruction to those students at a 33 percent discount.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Jordon Ziermann said of building an airplane. Jordon, a freshman at Lester Prairie High School, said he’s also helped his grandfather (Marty) construct other planes in the past.

The RV-12 airplane kit Marty purchased from Van’s Aircraft includes all necessary hardware, and all metal parts are pre-punched with fastener holes.

“This kit is just awesome,” Marty said, referring to the step-by-step instruction book with detailed computer-generated drawings. For added reference, Marty also purchased a video showing the plane being constructed.

Marty hopes the plane-building class will pique students’ interest in flying, a pastime he has personally enjoyed for half a century.

“I started taking flight lessons in 1962,” Marty recalled.

His interest in aviation began even earlier, after watching the planes of his next-door neighbor in rural Mayer fly overhead – and taking a few airplane rides himself.

Today, Marty owns Marty’s Excavating in Mayer, and his wife, Sharon, handles the accounting/bookkeeping side of the business. The couple has two sons – Jason, who works at Holasek Flower Power Garden Center in Lester Prairie; and Jeff, who is employed at Rachel Contracting in the Twin Cities.

Initially, Marty considered pursuing aviation for a career, but was disqualified due to a color deficiency.

“They say I’m technically color blind, but I can see color just fine,” he said.

Although he doesn’t fly for a living, Marty has logged 2,500 hours of flight time with his private pilot’s license. He purchased his first plane, a Cessna 170, in 1972.

“It’s a good hobby – you can go places,” he said, adding that flying over mountain ranges is “awesome.”

Marty owns three hangars at the Winsted airport, one of which is used exclusively for the student-build program. A flight simulator is also available for students to use. The second hangar stores an RV-8 plane he constructed, and the third is rented to MasonAir.

Current participants in the airplane-building course are from Wright, McLeod, Carver, Hennepin, and Sibley counties. They include Evan Mahlstedt, Jacob Carlson, Jansen Weckmann, Amanda Hipp, Jordon Ziermann, Eileen Guggemos, Nate Powers, and Monty Vanderlinde.

Their RV-12 plane is estimated to take 700 to 900 hours to complete, plus painting time.

To learn more, contact Marty at (612) 868-0581.

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