What started as a dream of Greg and Vicki Canen is becoming a reality! After taking a missions trip to India in 2009, Greg and Vicki returned to the USA with a desire to help the people in India, who many times must travel for days on very poor roads, just to reach medical assistance. Greg, who is a pilot and aircraft technician, realized that a Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) airplane would be of tremendous value to those in the remote areas of India.
Starting in the basement of their home near Goshen, IN., the Canens decided to assemble a kit airplane; a two seat Zenith CH701 STOL aircraft. Once the Canens started the building project, they soon realized that it would take more that just the two of them to complete the very involved process. Thus was birthed Aluminum Angels (AA). The organization has some Members that help with the actual building of the airplane and other folks that help with the planning, organizing and fund raising that is necessary to make this all happen.
As the building of the airplane (named “Gabriel”) progressed, the Canens’ basement became too small to house the components. The project was moved to the family garage, which soon took on the name “The Hangar”. Building continued with the larger assemblies in The Hangar, while smaller assemblies were put together in the basement. When it came time to start painting the various assemblies of the airplane, it was decided to build a paint spray booth in one corner of the hangar. The spray booth was sealed off from the rest of the hangar, to prevent dust and contamination from affecting the painting process.
During the past couple of years, the number of people that were available to work on the airplane dwindled, due to illnesses and folks moving away from the area. So, in 2014, the decision was made to move Gabriel to the EAA Chapter 132 Hangar, located on the grounds at Elkhart Municipal Airport. The Chapter 132 Members have much experience in building airplanes and have taken on the task of final assembly and testing of the airplane.