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Installed 12 Years Ago, Oregon Kit Plane Owner Still Impressed With His Bifold Door


Ron Sterba, of Salem, OR, standing in front of his hangar, with his Van’s RV-9A kit plane.

Fairfax, MN - The owners of bifold and hydraulic doors from Schweiss Doors often call or email the company years after a purchase to share accolades on their doors. Such was the case with Ron Sterba, a retired telephone company employee from Salem, Ore., who recently passed on a “Hats Off” in his recent email praising Schweiss Doors for the many years of carefree operation he’s enjoyed with his bifold liftstrap door.

Sterba stopped by the Schweiss Doors booth at the February Northwest Aviation Conference and Trade Show in Puyallup, WA, where he talked to company owner, Mike Schweiss. He was seeking technical advice on how to add a couple of windows and a remote door opener to his Schweiss bifold hangar door.

“I took Mike’s advice about contacting Dave Schweiss for my question,” Sterba wrote in his email. “He, I might add, was spot-on at providing superior service. I sent him pictures of my door, windows, dimensions and he called me right back to determine the best location and needed frame support. Hats off to all of you folks at Schweiss Doors! For 12 years of operation of my straps door; never did I need service of any kind. Thanks for an exceptionally well-built door. I promote your door as much as I can, no matter where I am.”


The hangar features a bifold liftstrap door from Schweiss Doors. Sterba installed it himself.

Inside Sterba's hangar rests his Van’s RV-9A, an American two-seat, single-engine, low-wing homebuilt airplane sold in kit form by Van’s Aircraft of Aurora, OR. The RV-9 is the tail-wheel-equipped version, while his more popular RV-9A features a nose wheel. For most pilots, the RV-9/9A will do everything they want to do, at less expense and a much higher “fun quotient” than any competing design. The high-lift wing means it flies quite slow, enabling very short takeoff and landing distances, with low fuel consumption.

Sterba soloed in a Cessna 150 after joining a flying club nearly 50 years ago. He was a long-time member of the Valley Flyers (Blue Sky Pilots, Inc.) flying club.

Sterba is now in line to receive the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. The Master Pilot award is the most prestigious award the FAA issues to pilots certified under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations. This award is named after the Wright Brothers, the first U.S. pilots, to recognize individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft as “Master Pilots.” Once the award has been issued, the recipient’s name, city and state is added to a published “Roll of Honor.”

Sterba's hangar has a 5"-thick cement floor with embedded heat tubing. The structure is well insulated too, with six inches of high-density insulation panels. The interior walls are sheetrocked and painted. Remote control LED lights cut the monthly electric bill. A stereo system with five speakers inside, and a dedicated speaker for his aircraft radio, add to the relaxed atmosphere in his mancave hangar.

Originally, Sterba had his eyes on a Schweiss hydraulic door, but changed his mind when he realized, due to the close proximity to other hangars, it could be in the way of passing aircraft when open.

“My hangar is ‘the unusual one,’” Sterba says. “Anybody who comes by my hangar notices I’m the only one here out of 25 hangars who has a bifold door. The other ones are push-sliders and they all wish they had what I have. A friend of mind has a bifold door with steel cables. My goodness, it is a lot noisier than mine.”

Sterba is an all-around handyman and known by some as “Mr. Gizmo.” With help from a friend, he installed his 37' by 12'-9" bifold liftstrap door all on his own. The 50' x 39' hangar it is mounted to was built by R&M Steel of Caldwell, ID. The hangar is located at the Salem Municipal Airport (McNary Airfield), in Salem, OR.

“R&M Steel told me I didn’t need to go anywhere else than Schweiss to get a quality door. The Schweiss door actually went up easy. We used a forklift and set the top half into the hinges and popped the pins in. Then both of us carried the bottom half of the door underneath the top half and popped the pins in there also. It was way too easy. When you build the building the right way, the door goes in well. The nylon straps stretched slightly, just enough to make a slight adjustment.

“What I liked best about the door is the automatic latching levers,” he continued. “They are very stout when you close the door. The construction of the Schweiss door is more durable than I expected. It appears the door was made to be of a high-strength lifting ability. The door doesn’t wobble, there’s no movement on it, it comes up easy and firm. Even if it’s windy out, there’s never any motion in the door, none whatsoever. We take the tables out there and enjoy watching planes on the field without getting wet.”

About Schweiss Doors

Schweiss-logoSchweiss Doors is the premier manufacturer of hydraulic and bifold liftstrap doors. Doors are custom made to any size for any type of new or existing building for architects and builders determined to do amazing things with their buildings, including the doors. Schweiss also offers a cable to liftstrap conversion package. To learn more, visit or

And to learn about Schweiss' new Build Your Own Door Kit, which gives customers the plans and essential components to build their own Schweiss Doors, visit

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