Finally, in 1997, Cizek ran out of things to change or fix and the FAA signed off on his work. "They gave me an 'A' for airplane and an 'F' for paperwork," Cizek jokes. However, by then Cizek's medical issues had squelched his opportunity to fly. "When I could fly, the airplane couldn't, and vice versa," he says. Over the last decade, Cizek has flown the Staggerwing only 12 hours. But he's not bitter. "It was a lot of fun. I got more joy out of solving the problems and making things," he says. "Everyone has to stop flying sometime."
He pulls on the cowling and notices water leaking out, leftover rain the Staggerwing encountered on the way home from the Experimental Aircraft Association annual fly-in at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, just a few days earlier. Cizek's friends flew the airplane there, parked it in the vintage aircraft section, and threw a "for sale" sign on the propeller. Asking price: $375,000. There were no takers. As Cizek tells me this, I get the feeling that he is not entirely disappointed.
Mark Huber has written about the old, the odd, and the obtuse for Air & Space since 2000.