Electronic Design

Ryan Bloomfield: Expensive Toys Take Flight

Ryan Bloomfield likes being part of a team that makes "toys" on a grand scale. People usually fly the personal aircraft he works on at CubCrafters in Yakima, Wash., just for fun.

"We really do make a high-end toys," says Bloomfield, an avionics engineer who helps wire the company's two-seater recreational aircraft. It's a dream job, he says, not only because he's hands-on in the design of planes, but also because he's surrounded by a tight-knit family of CubCrafters employees.

They get to work together on projects like the Sport Cub, a two-person propeller- driven plane valued at $125,000 conceived by CubCrafters founder Jim Richmond. One of Bloomfield's jobs was to create schematic drawings of the plane's "harness board," which detailed the wiring of the communication and instrumentation systems.

Bloomfield's rendering was on the same scale as the Sport Cub's actual harness board: a whopping 16 feet long. "Doing that was difficult but very rewarding, seeing that it was useful to so many \[engineers\]," Bloomfield says.

A redesign of the classic Piper Cub airplane, the design of the Sport Cub was in the works for about a year, after the Federal Aviation Administration allowed manufacturers to certify light-sport airplanes, or LSAs.

In the two-and-a-half years he's been with the company, Bloomfield also had the chance to work on the Top Cub, another new model that CubCrafters introduced in 2005. He's been able to work alongside about 100 other employees who are great coworkers.

"It's quite a team," he says. In the 1980s, the company was founded by a single aircraft mechanic, pilot, and designer. At that time, Jim Richmond began to rebuild another two-seat aircraft model called the Piper Super Cub. By 1998, CubCrafters was building planes from scratch and emphasizing a team-oriented philosophy. "It's more like a family," Bloomfield adds. Since that time, the company has rebuilt over 700 planes and built 150 brand-new units. And, this new gig is nothing like Bloomfield's previous job, where he was a civil engineer for a plant in Hanford, Wash., that turned nuclear waste into glass. Wiring aircraft, he says, is "quite different" and much closer to his original ideas of a dream job.

"My dream job growing up involved working at a company that made products relative to entertainment somewhere near a beach," he says, "so this is right in line, but without the beaches."

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