Out of Office: Troy Stegemoeller

Photo: Lauren Clark

The chief lending officer at $846 million-asset Vista Bank in Lubbock, Texas, has always loved life off the ground.

I am a lifelong aviation enthusiast, and I built my own airplane, finishing it about 10 years ago. I don’t see it as that unique, other than the fact that I remained married to my wife of 37 years [even though I] built the biggest part of the airplane in the garage and stored much of it in the basement until it was ready for final assembly.

It took me three and a half years to build it and to receive the required FAA Airworthiness Certification. Yes, it’s a bit more complicated than assembling a swing set, and it takes a little more time. However, this is a kit-built airplane, so I didn’t have to do much math or any of the aeronautical engineering associated with a new aircraft design.

The thought of building and flying my own plane came to me when I was 13 and saw a similar, single-seat version of this plane in Popular Mechanics magazine. I received my private pilot certification on July 31, 1976, when I was 18 years old, and I have been a lifelong cow pasture pilot since then, flying mostly simple, single-engine planes.

The plane I built is a fun-to-fly, spirited ship that performs gentleman acrobatics very nicely. My heart was beating fast before that first test flight, just like it still does before a bank examination. Onward and upward!

William Atkinson is a writer in Illinois.