BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — This is the story of an airplane that doesn’t exist.
Well, not completely, but Cayenne Gutierrez wants to change that. Cayenne, sixteen, and her fourteen-year-old sister Lucie started building the single-prop plane last summer. She talks about it casually, like they’re building a fence instead of a flying machine.
“It’s fun,” Cayenne said. “It’s interesting to start because they’re all just sticks and pieces of wood and nails, and you put it together into that. Watching it come together is going to be fun.”
They aren’t the first young engineers in the family, or the first to build a plane. Dad Charlie built a single-engine light plane when he was 26.
“Building things all the time — it’s the kind of thing we do in this family,” Cayenne said.
And the project brought found family as well. Through a mutual friend, the girls met Pete Plumb, an aircraft engineer specializing in wooden wings. His impact on the family stretches beyond his design mentorship.
“I felt like I met a brother,” Charlie Gutierrez said. “He was just a really amazing person. Big heart, big, generous person.”
Tragedy struck in November, when Plumb died of a heart attack at Minter Field.
Charlie and Lucie both said they carry his memory through the project.
The Experimental Aviation Association, of which Plumb and the Gutierrez family are members, has a slogan that touts ‘The Spirit of Aviation.’ It’s this spirit, as much as any wooden construction, that brought these four together, and Cayenne hopes that sharing their story will inspire others.
“A lot of people think, ‘Other people can do this but I can’t,’” she said. “But they can, if they’ve got enough determination.”