EAA Chapter 54

St. Paul, MN. (Lake Elmo)

3D Printing in Aviation January 8 2024

The first regular meeting the presidential term of Marlon Gunderson took a surprising turn on Monday January 8 when the subject of noise complaints around Lake Elmo Airport dominated the early part of the meeting. That's because Brad Cornell, who has led opposition to a flight school and increased airport activity stopped by the meeting and asked to speak.


Brad Cornell speaks to the chapter about noise at Lake Elmo

Describing himself as a fan of general aviation, Cornell has organized neighbors since the airport's runway reconstruction, which he says has led to planes flying over his house off Neal Avenue at a lower altitude on takeoff. But he's particularly critical of the airport's flight school, insisting that in good weather, planes are going over his house three times a minute.

He claims his photography business is bankrupt because customers, intending to use a backyard studio, "pull into the driveway and leave right away" because it's impossible to have a conversation, a claim disputed by several chapter members in the audience. Member Dan Bergstrom, for example, noted he lives near Lake Carnelian and motorboats there are much louder than airplanes. He said it would be unrealistic to ask them to shut down just as it's unrealistic to ask pilots not to legally fly.

The question posed of what Cornell saw as a fitting solution went largely unanswered. He said in a perfect world 12 years ago, the runway wouldn't be reconstructed. And Cornell and president Marlon Gunderson sparred briefly on why Cornell moved into the area and built a house next to an airport when there was a master plan to expand it. Cornell insists his lawyer's due diligence did not turn up such a plan and says unnamed MAC officials at the time questioned whether there was enough aviation interest to keep the airplane open.

According to the chapter newsletter archive, MAC held public hearings on the airport comprehensive plan at least as far back as 1991.

"He definitely has a problem over there," Gunderson said. "But it's largely of his own making."

Marlon Gunderson presents his State of the Chapter report

President Gunderson presented an extensive report on the state of the chapter after welcoming the number of new members in the chapter in recent years. He noted the assets the chapter has, including its members, its legacy, and the chapter house, as well as the advantage of being the only pilot's organization on the airfield.

He acknowledged the challenges ahead. The chapter currently has about $13,000 in the bank but chapter dues are not keeping pace with expenses and the chapter has a negative cash flow with significant costs ahead. The chapter house deck, for example, will soon need to be rebuilt. Money from fundraising activities goes almost exclusively to awarding scholarships.

A member of the audience suggested raising the dues to around $35 and Gunderson suggested the Board of Directors is considering that but wants to see resuts of a chapter member survey first. Dues have not been raised in more than 30 years.

Gunderson also asked members to think about presenting a monthly meeting program. And member Donaven Chase suggested a "hangar tour" (i.e. "hangar crawl") to visit member projects.


Jim Pearsall demonstrates his 3D printer and discusses aviation applications  at the January 8, 2024 meeting.

Member Jim Pearsall says he first got into 3D printing when the pandemic began, starting with a starter-printer, which he displayed at the meeting. He says he wishes he'd gotten a more robust one because he's spent a lot of time adding features to it that come with more expensive models. He spent around $200 on the one he featured although he' considering buying a new model, which goes for between $350 and $600. He recommended spending money on a printer that doesn't need upgrades.

What can you do with such a device?  Most aviator are using them to work on such things and farings and panels; nothing firewall forward and nothing structural. However it's possible to use a 3D printer to make molds that can be used to make structural items.

The process for making a part involves designing it on a computer using a CAD program, then transferring it to a microdisk and loading it in the printer.

Also, but a lot of Aquanet hairspray. It's what's used to hold everything together.


The January meeting marked the first use of the "hybrid meeting" approach of Marlon's. A small number of people were able to join from home and watch and interact with those at the chapter house.


To provide a better user experience, EAA uses cookies. To review EAA's data privacy policy or adjust your privacy settings please visit: Data and Privacy Policy.