I worked for the Federal Government for 34 years, and back in my college days, I spent two summers as a clerk in our state department of education, so I totally get what it means to be a civil servant when it comes to following the letter of the law, and the exact text of the regulations. So I have a lot of respect for the folks that work at the Civil Aviation Registry - the people in Oklahoma City that process, record, and issue aircraft registration documents. It's because of their careful adherence to the rules of documentation that we can have clear and traceable titles to our flying machines - and such care is hard to do quickly. So it is a good idea, when registering an airplane, to get started well before you need the paperwork. Continue reading "Dotting the I's, Crossing the T's..."
Nope, it's not just for pilots - sometimes, a mechanic or builder just needs to stick a nut on the end of a screwdriver blade to hold it in a place that their fingers just won't go. Continue reading "Hey Ridley..."
There comes a time in every homebuilt project where you need to start making lists. To-do lists. Up until that time, you are simply working on whatever you see that looks interesting, or following the assembly manual, step by step. But airplane projects are well known for the old 90/90 rule - "ninety percent done, ninety percent left to do!" It is amazing just how many details crawl out of the woodwork when you actually think the thing looks pretty complete. And all of those details take time - so much time. One of the biggest time sinks is simply wandering around the shop, trying to figure out what needs to be done before the darned thing flies. Continue reading "A Time for Lists"
The job was to remove and replace a cotter pin (in order to remove and replace a clevis pin) in the nose-wheel well of the Subsonex. A simple task--all I needed was a pair of needle nosed pliers. Except that I'd done such a neat job of putting that pin in (on the workbench, before the assembly was installed), I needed a dental pick to pry the edge up. Then, of course, the needle nose wouldn't grip, so I needed a pair of dikes. That finally got it out - but of course, getting each new tool required climbing up from the floor and going to the tool box. Continue reading "It Starts With One Pair of Pliers"
One of the nice things about having all of the sub-kits and materials necessary to build an airplane in your shop at once is the ability it gives you to skip around. After two weeks of working on the tail and control surfaces of my Subsonex project, I have those all finished, and was sort of tired doing pure metal work (measure, drill, disassemble, debur, reassemble, rivet... repeat!). So I jumped in a bunch of different tasks today, sampling a variety of materials and tasks. I mounted some tires, fitted the fiberglass ventral fin, attached the skid plate to the nose come (I don't really want to ever have to use that), and trimmed some plastic fairings to size. Continue reading "A Little of This, a Little of That"
How many times have you been working in the depths of your aircraft's fuselage, a flashlight in your mouth, and a work light burning a hole in your trousers (and not providing any light while it was doing it) and wished for better lighting? I have been a cave explorer on and off throughout my life, and I'll tel you what - it was just a good preparation for working in a light airplane's fuselage! Continue reading "Light it Up!"