This is the story of Mike Burson and how he approached the build process.
I ferried his plane from
So, the 96 short tail S7 that I ferried from near
adventure that I found quite unique and although I've purchased several S7
aircraft for myself, this transaction was unusual and I want to tell you all
What made it unique is that Mike is not the type of guy to blow his own horn or
even promote all the good things he did during the build process. Had he not
worked with me for two days helping install the thermostat, cabin heater, aux
tanks and jury strut braces, I wouldn't have learned about a lot of great things
he did. He also was kind enough to put me up at his house and provide
transportation to the airport and for numerous shopping trips.
Mike has to be one of the most conscientious builders I've seen. This was his
first Rotax so he took a course on the engine. He hadn't done much aircraft
wiring so he took one of Bob Nuckolls Aero Electric Connection courses and then
adopted many of Bob's recommendations. This meant a lot to me because with
almost every other plane I've had, the wiring left a lot to be desired which is
due in part to inadequate input on the subject in the kit manual (Yes, it has
improved a little in recent years but the mid 90's manual did nothing to
encourage aircraft standard wiring. Mike realized this and did it right.
Doing it right meant installing a battery cutout solenoid; using a properly
fused bus bar, taking all grounds back to a ground bus using twisted pair wire,
putting in an over voltage cutout and installing the capacitor. But it is one
more item that really drove home the fact that he wanted to do it right: he
fully documented his whole wiring schematic and put links on the drawing to
labels on the actual wires. This is the first S7 I've seen with that level of
Also on the electrical side, he installed panel lighting, a taxi light, a side
access door on the battery and wired in a jack for charging. Many have installed
electric trim. Mike also decide the cable operated system from 96 was not up to
his standard so he put in the trim servo but actuated with a trim wheel on a
rheostat using an after market controller that mapped the wheel movement to the
His 96 kit didn't come with the electric boost pump but he added one along with
a pressure sensor and tied it into the Grand Rapids EIS along with coolant temp
and 4 cylinder head temp probes. Since he had the input on the EIS he machined
up a special coolant fitting that had both temp and pressure probes.
He must have been keeping his eyes open because he sensed there was something a
little unusual about the forward fuel lines heading aft so he decide to do what
Rans now does and routed the front hoses forward.
To fix the issue of the air vents on the bowed out doors hitting the wing when
the doors are opened, he lengthened the shaft on the door handles. Also on the
doors, he came up with neat and simple door lock system that required a small
tab be welded to the handle shaft and they work great.
One irritant that we all seem willing to put up with is the strong spring return
on the chokes which is no problem if you have three hands. Mike didn't so
instead of the stock Rans pull, he found a locking one with a centre release
button; Voila, hands free choke.
Mike was concerned about corrosion so one of the things he did was to dip every
rivet he used in zinc Chromate. Another was to coat the tail brace wires with
some brown goop the name of which I've forgotten.
To attach the rear jury strut brace we had to remove the flap fairings. It was
only at this point that Mike pointed out he had been concerned about putting
screws into the plastic backings supplied with the kit so he discarded them and
made up aluminum equivalents for every external fairing and door.
And finally he added a baggage floor complete with built in tie down shock
You would probably guess that Mike kept excellent logs and attended to all
applicable bulletins from both Rotax and Rans and of course you would be right.
The best part as far as the buyer was concerned was that Mike didn't go after
top dollar but sold the plane at a very fair price.
When you first walk up to the plane you won't be blown away with a show plane
finish but that is a total non issue when you see the lengths Mike went to fix a
lot of issues that exist on most built-by-the-book aircraft.
Mike deserves a strong pat on the back for the common sense, concern and
ingenuity he put into his build and had I not had to work beside him for a
couple of days I wouldn't have even known about some of the hidden things he
did. I haven't met many guys like him. I'm sorry that Mike is getting away from
aircraft for awhile and hope that one day he takes on another Rans.