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October 01, 2005
Monster Garage
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Ronnie Powers
Ronnie Powers, Flying Car
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At 17, a lot of us dreamt of buying a car. Not airplane fabricator and parts supplier Ronnie Powers, though. At that age he bought his own airplane, working on it himself because he couldn't afford to hire help.

It's no wonder, then, that the producers tapped Ronnie for the challenge of turning a Panoz into a Flying Car ... and not killing their star in the process (not that he knew the Kitty Hawk attempt was coming).

So how'd it go? Ronnie reflects.

More on: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 |

Q:   How did you get picked for this episode?
A:   I think the people at Cessna Aviation told the producers about Atlanta Air Salvage; we have always had a good business relationship with Cessna.

I believe they recommended us for the episode because of our extensive aircraft-parts knowledge and experience.

Q:   What have you thought of some of the other builds on the show? Do you have one that you really liked or didn't like?
A:   Each build is unique in its own way. Of course, I liked the flying-car episode because I got to participate on the build and because I had the opportunity to meet many really talented people. I also had the chance to learn a lot from the build team, so that was really neat.

A build that I really enjoyed watching was Wood Chipper, in which the team made a mobile mulcher out of a PT Cruiser. I just thought the whole idea was pretty cool.

One thing I can say about every build on Monster Garage is that the producers will not cut you slack on anything. What you see is what you get! There is definitely no special treatment or time extensions; everyone has to work hard to reach the end result. Some projects work and some don't.

Q:   What was your initial reaction when you heard about this challenge?
A:   What a challenge! And because the producers wouldn't allow any info about the build to leak, we couldn't really preplan, making the whole build more complicated.

Q:   Did you know any of your teammates before the show? How do you think you worked as a team?
A:   I didn't know any of my teammates before the show, but I think we have a special bond after spending day after day and sometimes night after night building the flying car. We all stay in touch — we talk once or twice a month. Our team really worked well together, and I would say we were all really compatible with the exception of one member.

We did have our differences of opinion; however, I think we worked them out in a timely manner after realizing that we only had five days to build a flying car. The design team from Cessna and Panoz really pulled their weight in getting the design ready; we couldn't have done it without them.

This build had more of a technical side so we couldn't just build it to look good; this is where the design team really brought home the gold medal. Chris Rusch and Jason Barnes were some of the best welders and tubing fabricators I have ever seen. Mark Palmer and Neil Wilford, Cessna engineers, had a lot of pressure on them to locate the wings correctly for the weight, balance and angle incidence for the flying car. They definitely had to get it right the first time ... and they did!

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Picture: Courtesy of Ronnie Powers |

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