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Re: News and Mother Nature
On the topic of our human ability to be stupid:
Well Milton, you're right. Very very right. About straying from
basics anyway. And more importantly that we have this forum, which is
where Jean, as has Simon and several others in recent times, had the
shear courage to share their innermost embarassing incidents. Gosh I
hope I can grow up to be like these men, and I'm 50 already.
I was with Jean thru his gear repair ordeal, and can attest that his
actions at the very least were not arrogant, silly, overtly stupid, nor
downright disrepectful of Mother Nature. Altho if any one of us ever
misses ONE teeny-weeny checklist item, and THAT day THAT little item
happens to be the ONE thing that goes wrong, well, I guess I'd have to
agree that missing it was, DE FACTO, retroactively stupid. And Jean's
humility (and gratitude for safe passage of body & plane) when we met up
at North Perry airport afterward, as did his posting here, acknowledged
that as well.
I think we all understand and share Milton's anger. I had similar
feelings when I returned from a Factory weekend learning experience.
Great weekend! I did a little glass work, got good book references,
engine stuff, brake stuff, brushed up on paperwork does & don'ts, was
awed by an XL demo flight, and in general came away with raised
confidence on going about my project.
But what I also had to do was go home to tell my wife that a Velocity
owner, his wife and two lovely kids that ate dinner at our table at
Oshkosh bought the farm after losing a prop-blade after doing a field
modification to circumvent a problem that you or I might consider a
red-tag situation. I also conveyed other tales I picked up (not from
factory personnel) that were even scarier, but hadn't end in death. Now
that pissed me off.
In light of lessons like that, I must express my most humble
admiration that to his great credit, Jean had in fact GROUNDED his plane
at SNF. And this was..
1) before he had any way of getting back to his home and shop; 2)
he had Scott Swing's assessment that his gear was not entirely
fractured -just the wrappings- and could fly it home;
3) had a Sun-N-Fun Outstanding Aircraft Award burning in his hand
to show wife & friends;
4) and was facing a major (MAJOR) real estate deal that had to
be acted upon back home that day.
HEY! You're a Better Man than I, Gunga Din.
I found his judgement and restraint most commendable: he simply said
that ANY risk was not worth taking.
That was the second greatest lesson I took home from SNF: helping him
do a main gear field repair was the third; touring the Don White XL
project the fourth; tool shopping/vendor hopping with Jean the fifth;
list goes on but number one is yet to come.
I drove him down to Hollywood FL 210 miles because that was the least
I could do in the face of so correct a decision. He returned Saturday
with a van full of tools, glass & epoxy - diagnosis and repair for his
gear: hands on training for me. Saturday nite it was ground down to raw
gear, checked out, carbon & uni wrapped, glued, hot-gunned and left to
cure (you better know what you're doing if you're going to use
WestSystem 105/205) ...Sunday began the grinding needed to retract...
I'm retroactively stupid too. I could have (should have?) interrupted
his work and questioned him when I was vaguely curious about a rudder
3/8 inch from the wing, but not having finished my wings & controls, my
MIND mistakingly associated that with spam-cans where that sight is just
the way you turned when you parked. Whoops..time to retract again!
Only LATER do I recall, quite vividly NOW, that my groping at Oshkosh
and Sebastian showed that in fact Velocity rudders hold flush to the
wing and moving them out will result in a nice firm "clack" as it snaps
back in place. And what if Jean hadn't missed that landing light at
OpaLocka? Folks, if I'm around your plane sometime asking stupid
questions like a kid always asking "why this", "why that", please
indulge me. Next time I won't pass up the chance to maybe ask a good
question. And ask me all the questions you want !
So on we worked, Jean dillegently grinding carbon & glass into his
face, hair & neck for another hour or so on his butt and his back (I'll
skip the fiction about the fire ants in his shorts, but guarenteed, it
wasn't comfortable), cycling his gear over & over until he had a new
perfect fit. Then we gathered tools, picked up litter, packed the van,
and did about a minute of bounce and twist testing on the gear to assure
one landing, if not a thousand, was to come on the repaired gear.
Then we ran & took a leak, shuffled my rent-a-wheel to safe parking,
turned the plane around, avoiding the chainlink two feet starboard and
the tent 3 feet off port, did our last minute logistics: you go here,
I'll go there, no I'll wait here 'til after your gone, no it's a 3.5-4hr
drive not three, etc etc, fired up a plane that had our hands all over
it for the last 3 hours and 4 the nite before, and off we went, one by
land, one by air. And I witnessed him zipping all over his panel
mumbling all that cool checklist stuff, though it sounded awful French
Every pilot magazine every month must write it, we just got to read
it, we talk about it, we send it back & forth in our forums, and I'm
here to tell ya, regardless of our best training, regardless of our icy
discipline, dispite our disdain for OTHER dumbies mistakes, we CAN and
DO get distracted. So what I learned from a true master my friends, is
a refresher course that LESSON NUMBER ONE is:
Don't Get Hit by a Truck when You're Changing a Tire.
So next time I'm all sweaty & itchy & in a hurry or whatever, I'll
force myself to close my eyes, take 5 deep breaths, and start my
checklists all over from scratch, one teeny-weeny thing at a time, and
hope I remember to do that after every time I have any cockpit emergency
(or just serious distractions) too: Wouldn't it be stupid,
retroactively speaking, to not notice dropping down to 3 gallons of gas
after successfully battling a cockpit fire ?
Well, I had a bunch of questions on cable size (thanks Martin & Alan
mostly answered), winglet bottoms, carbon versus E-Glass modulus &
stuff, but those'll wait 'til tommorrow or the next I guess.
This flying and building and experimenting: it's pretty bittersweet
stuff sometimes. I think it's time I re-read Fate is the Hunter.
Love you folks !
just a-buildin and a-thinkin and a-prayin
Hey! there, but for the Grace of God, go I