Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Good Day at the Mailbox

You know it's a good day at the mailbox, when you get a flying magazine and the informational kit you ordered from Vans.

I just noticed as I posted this picture that one of the articles was called, "Sin No More".  Since I started taking flying lessons I have used more than one flying analogy in my Sunday School lessons.

Who Am I and What Am I Doing?

     I have always had an interest in flying and as a child I read about planes, fighter pilots and flying in general.  Early in high school I had an interest in flying in the military, but when I started wearing glasses in 10th grade I knew that wasn't a reality (they didn't have lasik back then).  Off I went to college to get an engineering degree thinking that I was going to eventually work in the aerospace industry.  As life goes opportunities and circumstances took me in another direction. 
     It is now 25 years later and I am an engineer who has gotten the flying bug again.  Over the last couple of years I started lessons and have 40+ hours logged.  I have soloed but haven't yet completed my certification.  You might wonder why I would start building an airplane when I haven't completed my training (my wife asked the same question at one point)?  Well having a job that is sometimes fairly demanding and then trying to schedule flight time around weather, plane availability and  everyone else can get challenging and challenging = stress.  I have enough of that and flying is supposed to be fun, so I decided to combine it with one of my other joys in life, building things.  I will finish my pilot's certification, but in the mean time I can walk out to the garage at any time I want, pick up the tools and be totally immersed in an aviation related activity. 
     Why a Van's RV?  I had a friend and co-worker who I'd known for about 15 years.  He was a pilot and we often talked about flying and the progress (or lack thereof) on an airplane he was building (this one wasn't an RV).  When I started to get serious about taking lessons I met him for lunch and it was during this lunch that he first suggested I build an RV.  At the time I didn't have any idea what that was, but the seed was planted.  As I progressed my flight training I came to find out that a co-workers spouse had built an RV-4.  A couple of shop and hanger visits, a little more research and the hook was set. And yes it does seem a little crazy to be building a plane, but roughly 23 years ago I felt the need to call a girl I had just seen at church once for a date, and that seems to have turned out pretty well for me!  Sometimes getting out of your comfort zone brings the sweetest rewards.

Unfortunately my friend who made the original suggestion that I consider building a plane passed away and will not know (at least in this life) what he started.  Vaughn, you are missed by me and others who knew you!

A picture from the Van's Aircraft site of an RV-7 "slow build" kit and a finished product. 
Even a "slow build" kit of today is still advanced compared to the original kits sold by Vans.  Today's kits have many of the parts prefabricated and holes pre-punched simplifying alignment and assembly.  I have big time respect for those guys who built the early kits sold by Vans. 

A picture from the Van's Aircraft site of a "quick build" kit and the finished product.  The quick build kit is shipped with good portions of the wings and fuselage already assembled.  It costs more, but is a big time saver.  I expect to order the quick build wing and fuselage kits when I get to that point in the building process.   

This is a book I still have in my bookshelf that I picked up close to 35 years ago (C 1979).  I just came across it again recently.

In the book Homebuilt Airplanes is a section on the RV-3, one of the early models from Vans.  You can still order this kit, but there is no "quick build" kit and holes in the parts aren't pre-punched.  But I bet it would be fun to fly.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

This One Fit Just Right

I visited Richard King and a few of his fellow builders at Hooks Airport.  Richard has built an RV-4 and has an RV-8 in progress.  I'm a little heavy for Richard to take for a flight in his RV-4, but it was a great opportunity to visit with some other builders and try a couple of RV's on for size.  I was a little too tall for the front seat of Richard's RV-4, but fit just right in James' RV-7 (shown below).  Meeting these other builders gave me a sense of the camaraderie of the RV building community.