What is this place?

I've put this web page together to combine a couple of my main interest areas: Homebuilt aircraft and Nautical History, especially during the Napoleonic era. My wife, Lisa, is a published author of romance novels.  She writes as Lisa McAllister (Harlequin).

Looking for some Seattle-Area EAA Chapters?

  • Chapter 26 (Seattle)
  • Chapter 441 (Kent)
  • Chapter 326 (Puyallup)

  • Who the Heck is Ron Wanttaja?

    As well you might ask. I'm a retired Space Systems Engineer.  In my 40-year career, I studied, developed, tested, or operated about eighteen different spacecraft.  I started in the Air Force, where I was an on-shift engineer for the Defense Support Program missile early-warning satellite.  After leaving the Air Force, I went to work for Boeing, where one of my first jobs was on the early design studies for the International Space Station.  After that, I worked mostly on classified programs, where my specialties included satellite orbit/constellation design and analysis, launch vehicle and onboard propulsion system trades, and operations concepts for space systems.  I worked in a "Rapid Prototyping" group, one which specialized in finding shortcuts to develop spacecraft faster, better, and cheaper (in reality, we said, you could "pick any two....).  At the time I retired in 2017, I had worked several development programs a chief Systems Engineer, leading teams of inventive specialists in doing some real wild stuff.

    Since retirement, I have done some consulting work for Boeing, a private space company, and the US Department of Transportation.

    In the meantime, I've done a few odd things...I'm the author of the old "IFR Flight Simulator" program for the Commodore VIC-20 and C-64 (Click here for a writeup on how it came about), I used to run the only submarine in North Dakota, and I'm a former Cadet Colonel in the Civil Air Patrol.  Also was a disk jockey, back in the '70s.

    Oh, and I also occasionally speak to folks about what it was like to live aboard the sailing ships of the early 19th century.  In case you were wondering about the sailor suit....

    I'm also a freelance aviation journalist. I've written for a number of magazines, including PRIVATE PILOT, FLYING, SPORT AVIATION, and KITPLANES.  I write mostly for KITPLANES, mainly because they treat freelancers very, very well. Note, though, that I have no official connection with the magazine...I'm a private individual who takes occasional assignments from them and/or submits articles on speculation. As a freelancer, I highly recommend KITPLANES as a good place to submit.

    About twenty years ago, I started studying accidents involving homebuilt aircraft.  I'm am currently one of the top experts on homebuilt accident causes; I can modestly say I'm probably the leading expert outside the Government.  I've published about thirty articles describing various aspects of my analysis.

    Finally, I write books. I've written a pair of young adult novels set in the U.S. Navy during the War of 1812. The first of the series, The Key to Honor, came out in early 1996. Other books include Kitplane Construction and Airplane Ownership, both non-fiction.

    My writing has brought me several awards, including the FLYING Magazine "Bax Seat Trophy" and a journalism award from the Aviation/Space Writer's Association.

    About My Books

    With full-time employment as an engineer during my career, I didn't have to write for the income.  So I was able to write what I wanted, when I wanted.   Now that I'm retired...heck, it's even easier! 

    Here's a quick synopsis of my books, plus a couple of ways to order.

    Kit Airplane Construction, Third Edition

    This book is a basic 'primer' covering the basic skills and knowledge necessary to build your own homebuilt aircraft. Chapters cover selecting the right kitplane, engine selection, workshop setup, aircraft-quality workmanship, and specific information on all modes of construction. The first edition won the Aviation/Space Writer's Association 1992 Journalism Award in the Technical/Training books category.

    TO ORDER: Kit Airplane Construction can be ordered from just about any aviation book supplier. There are a number of online sources as well, such as Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com .. Or you can order directly from McGraw-Hill, the publisher, at (800) 822-8158.

    Airplane Ownership, Second Edition

    This book covers the basic of buying and owning your own plane. The book includes a frank assessment of the costs of ownership, the shopping and buying process, and includes a guide to basic maintenance.

    TO ORDER: Airplane Ownership can be ordered from just about any aviation book supplier. There are a number of online sources as well, such as Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com .. Or you can order directly from McGraw-Hill, the publisher, at (800) 822-8158..

    The Key to Honor

    This young-adult novel is set in the U.S. Navy during the War of 1812. Everyone saw fifteen-year-old Nate Lawton save the Captain's life when "Old Ironsides" defeated HMS Guerriere. But nobody saw him run away afterwards. Promoted to Midshipman's rank and assigned to the United States Frigate Chesapeake , Nate is determined to regain his lost honor. The book is written for ten to fifteen-year-olds, is 180 pages long, and includes a detailed glossary as well as black-and-white drawings illustrating the layout of the ship. Before it was published, it won second place in the Young Adult category in the Pacific Northwest Writer's Conference contest.  Further information can be found on my Nautical Page .

    You can order this book from Amazon.

    The Price of Command

    This sequel to The Key to Honor finds Midshipman Nate Lawton assigned to the Lake Erie fleet under Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Much to his delight, Perry's fleet is short of officers, and Nate soon finds himself thrust into the position of acting first lieutenant of a Brig o' War. But Command has its price...a price Nate's Captain is unwilling to pay. Nate finds himself caught between the rocks of Naval discipline and the shoals of a senior officer's unbending ambition.  Information on how this book came about can be found on my Nautical Page .

    You can order this book from Amazon.

    Comments? Contact me at ron@wanttaja.com .

    Proud Member of

    Who are the RAH-15?  Fifteen participants in an Internet newsgroup who were hit with a SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) for exercising their right of free speech by publicly disagreeing with the editorial coverage of a nationally-distributed aviation magazine.  For more information, see the Zoomland page maintained by my fellow co-defendant, John Ousterhout.