Interview with Vi Jenkins - By Harvard & Sara Holmes
Sara and Harvard Holmes volunteered to interview Vi Egli Jenkins, as Vi (and her late husband Fred Egli) have been
EAA members since 1979. At age 94, Vi is still active in the Chapter 393 activities.
Vi first wanted to recount all of the past EAA Chapter members who were building airplanes in the 1980’s.
EAA 393 members built 3-Christian Eagles, 3-Vari-Eze's, 8-Glassair's, 1-Lark and 1- Falcon XP. Our members also
restored a PT-26, an Aeronca, a Cessna 195 and a Luscombe.
Vi observed that there are far fewer members currently building aircraft today.
Vi and Fred were both raised in Berkeley, CA, and they lived a few blocks from one another. Their birthdays were 2 days apart and they went to the same high school, El Cerrito. Fred & Vi met at a graduation day party event when Vi noticed that there was alcohol and she said she wanted to leave. Fred offered to take her home and their relationship began.
They were married when Fred started attending UC Berkeley where Vi was attending pre-med classes.
Vi became a teacher after her college graduation. She taught first and second grade, but was struck by how
much divorce affected the young children. As a result, she returned to college and got her master’s degree in Clinical
Psychology. Vi worked as a therapist in schools as well as a therapist in private practice until age 70.
Vi and Fred’s first introduction to aviation was in 1970 Fred decided to restore a 1947 Bellanca Cruisair. The parts were scattered at various locations in San Francisco. This project took place in the garage of their Walnut Creek home which they built themselves. The home included a swimming pool.
Vi helped with the restoration while also raising three children. The Bellanca was completed and flew in 1974.
Fred’s second aircraft, another Bellanca (with a Lycoming engine), also needed restoration, which also took place in
their garage in Walnut Creek. Vi also helped with this project which took 11 years to complete.
Vi and Fred flew often when they could. They flew to Oshkosh multiple times, and found the landing with so
many other airplanes exhilarating. Fred went alone one year to Oshkosh and was so impressed with the Lancair IV
airplane that he put a deposit down on a kit.
Vi and Fred began construction on their Lancair IV in 1993. Fred was the Chapter 393 President in 1994 and 1995.
During this time Vi began volunteering with the Young Eagles program. She enjoyed this very much, especially
talking with the parents.
After they had completed closing out the wings, and they had returned from a travel trip, Fred suddenly had
to undergo a triple heart bypass. Vi asked him if he still wanted to continue constructing their Lancair IV. He
said YES! He also said that Vi might consider getting her pilot’s license, so this way she could fly as the PIC, if Fred
was not able to continue with his medical. At age 69 Vi got her pilot’s license. She said that it was one of the
most difficult things she had done, given her interest in biologics, rather than mechanical things.
They completed the Lancair IV in 1998 and enjoyed flying to many places with others friends in their airplanes.
After Fred’s death, Vi continued to go on the flyouts to lunch, sometimes riding with us in the Lancair IV that
we (Harvard and Sara Holmes) bought from Fred and Vi just before Fred died in 2008. She also sometimes flew
with Phil Jenkins in his Glassair that he built. Phil was a widower, and Phil and Barbara had gone on flyouts with
the group. Vi and Phil went together for a number of years before marrying 8 years ago!
EAA Chapter 393 is honored that Vi is still an active member and we thank her for sharing her story.
Vi Jenkins and the Lancair IV she and Fred Built