Arkansas aviation company puts finishing touches on plane built in one week

Mena aviation company puts finishing touches on a plane that was built in a week (Photo: KATV)

At its unfinished surface, the Vans RV-12iS plane might look like any other two-seat aircraft. But to the people who helped build it, like Jim Holdeman, it's something much more.

"It's astounding," Holdeman, the director of development at Rose Aircraft Solutions in Mena, said.

That's because this isn't your ordinary plane sitting in a hangar. Why? The entire assembly was done in one week, according to Holdeman. It's called the One Week Wonder, a project put together by the Experimental Aircraft Association.

The One Week Wonder was built in Oshkosh, Wis., through computer-designed schematics that give instructions on where to put specific rivets and panels.

"We looked at it as a point of being able to put something back into aviation," Holdeman said.

But you may be wondering -- as many often do when hearing about this plane -- how safe can the One Week Wonder be when most aircraft of its size require roughly a thousand hours of work to complete?

"This plane has probably had more scrutiny in a week than a lot of other airplanes would have in their entire lifetime," Holdeman said.

Each stage of the build was incrementally inspected by dozens of experienced eyes in the aviation industry to make sure each part of the plane was perfectly placed, according to Holdeman.

"They have been engineered,” he said, “stress-tested and aerodynamically [tested] so sound that they actually exceed most of the parameters of a factory built airplane."

If that didn't convince you, once it was completed in July, the plane was flown from Oshkosh down to Mena where it will be painted for its reveal in January.

"It's accuracy and its build was so good that it literally flew hands-off," Holdeman said.

A perfect flight, thanks in part to what's under its wings.

Written in black marker are the names of the thousands of volunteers that worked day in and day out to make sure this plane was done in a week. Names like Holdeman's.

"To have my name somewhere on this airplane,” he said, “it was pretty cool."

At its surface, this RV-12iS aircraft may seem like your run of the mill two-seater plane. But if you look a little closer -- mainly under its wings -- you see just how incredible this piece of machinery is.

The One Week Wonder will be painted and ready to go by early January, according to Holdeman.

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