A pile of spruce wood — some effort and a lot of persistence is what Marv Reese of Shell Knob, Missouri had when he took the modular plane he had constructed and decided to turn it into a plane he could fly.
“I built it, designed it and painted it — every little stinking piece. I’m one persistent SOB,” Reese said. His airplane, which he has named Daisy Mae took him 3,500 hours to build, over a five year period working on it four to five hours a day.
Reese, who says he’s far from an Aerodynamicist, has been building model airplanes since his was just eight years old. Growing up as youngster in the era of WW II, he witnessed fighter planes in ‘dog fights’ on news reel of the day. His Father, who retired from Boeing also encouraged him and help nurture his growing passion for planes.
“I thought it was fascinating to see something float through the air,” Reese said.
As an adult his obsession with planes as he called it never died. He continued building models for 30 years, and in all those years he would constantly joke with his wife Shirley, that he wanted one-day to build a real one.
In 1994 Reese got the opportunity to purchase a small Japanese bi-plane engine, which is similar to Volkswagen engine except smaller. After some planning he took the engine and with some hard work Reese built a 22 pound flying airplane with an 8 ½ foot wing-span, “It was the best airplane I ever built,” Reese said.
After finishing his bi-plane Reese decided it was time to take his modeler experience to another level and show his wife what he could do – “I wanted to build an old man airplane, a putter plane that would putter from point A to point B” Reese said.
So with the advice from his fellow modelers and some trained aero dynamists Reese began construction by ordering a pile of spruce wood and the first parts. Reese started by using a computer program that would calculate the precise dimensions of each part of wood needed.
“I’d go out and bother them to death. I joined a model airplane club. I went to the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). I’d go to meetings and ask questions,” Reese said.
Reese’s labor of love paid off, and on September of 2005 his airplane was certified as air worthy by the Federal Aviation Administration. Reese, not having flown in 40 years, didn’t think it would be a good idea to be the fist one to take it for a spin so he hired a pilot.
“It flew like a pussycat,” Reese said. “The test pilot had no problem handling the plane.”
“I could have come up with one-thousand reasons not to finish it. You have to be persistent. You can’t work on it all day. You will get burned out. Like anything — do it with moderation, but do it. You can’t quit,” Reese said.
Eventually, Reese sought flight certification and was able to fly Daisy Mae himself. Reese’s wife Shirley was there to see and he says she was “beside” herself. She took pictures the whole time while he was flying. Thirty years of saying he was going to build a plane and joking about it with his wife had come true. Sadly, a few months after the first flight, she past away due to complication from illness.
Daisy Mae is a two passenger aircraft and is seven foot tall with a 23’ foot wing-span. She has a Centennial 0.200 engine producing 100 HP. Empty she is about 780 pounds and her normal flying weight with fuel, totals 1,100 pounds. She is made from basically word and fabric with some fiberglass, steel and sports heat-shrinkable fabric, Reese said.
Reese got the name for his aircraft — ‘Daisy Mae’ by flying the small model version of her around one summer — another pilot in his plane collided into his and ironically it happened again another time in a similar accident. Reese said he scratched his head and couldn’t figure it out, so he decided “she just must like eating daisy’s,” Reese said.
Less than what many spend on an automobile is about what Reese spent on his Daisy May – around $18,000. Reese said the only bad part, “I bet I spent $2,000 in freight, easy. I remember ordering a part that cost $14 dollars to ship a part that cost $13 dollars.”
“One day I was sitting out in garage, and she was put together. I sat on a stool looking out and said ‘God, it’s beautiful. Look what you’ve done through my hands. I have to give thanks from the creator for it,” Reese said.
Reese has flown Daisy Mae many successful hours mainly around Table Rock Lake in South-West Missouri in the warmer months of the year. Not many major modifications have had to been done to Daisy Mae since she has been built and Reese is proud of his work.
Also Reese had written a book called The Making of Daisy Mae
with detailed information about how the plane was built in easy to understand non-engineering text.
Reese said, “The only thing additional that I might say is that if you don’t mind a slightly rowdy comment or two then you should thoroughly enjoy this book. If you are looking for simple answers on how to design your own airplane, then I truly believe this is the only one on the market and I think some of the above testimonials give credence to that statement. You will not have to dig out your worn Calculus or Trigonometry book to work the formulas. If you on the other hand are an aerodynamic purist you will probably go nuts about my simple explanations.
“All I can say is that I had a lot of friends that were aeronautical engineers for major aircraft manufactures and when I gave them that ‘Deer in the Headlights’ look, we finally got down to simple answers and that is all I offer in my book. I have purchased several books about design that remain on the shelf because I have no frigging idea what they are talking about,” Reese said.