Plane Powered by Rubber Bands

Most children have played with a rubber band-powered airplane. George Heaven hopes to be the first person to fly in one.

Heaven and his team of 40 volunteers have spent more than six years building the 33-foot Rubber Bandit in a hangar at Van Nuys Airport.

The team hopes to gain FAA approval after a secret test flight sometime this month. Heaven, 47, an aeronautical engineer and stunt pilot who designed the Rubber Bandit, plans a public flight in September.

The plane is designed to fly at an altitude of only 100 feet, and the first flight may last only one minute. The Rubber Bandit is powered by a 20-foot long pack of rubber bands. It started as a radio show gag in 1994.

More than $500,000 in contributions and sponsorships have been attracted by the Rubber Bandit, but Heaven is still trying to raise funds.