Airplanes and Poetry

I have been recently been informed that one way to write a speech is to think of a couple adjectives that describe a subject and write about them. Personally, that sounds like poetry but I’ll give it a shot. When I think of covering the first two adjectives I think of are fabric, and toxic. Lets see what I can do with them.

The fist adjective is fabric. One of the most prominent aspects of fabric is that it is final. By final I mean it is the outermost surface besides paint. Whenever I worked on metalwork on or in the body of the plane, it was ok if part A is slightly longer then part B.  Now, if the fabric has a wrinkle in it, it is going to be visible from the outside. At the same time, it feels nice to almost be doing something that is final because it means that I’m not going to have to take it off seven times before it is finally on to stay.

Last and least is toxic. I think of the word toxic when I think of the glue that is used to stick the fabric on the metal pieces of whatever piece you are covering because it smells bad and it messes with my head. I don’t know why but smelling the glue actually makes it harder for me to think. Readers might be wondering why I keep bringing glue up. Someday, somebody will run the numbers to find out the exact fabric to glue ratio, but I am certain that I have used more glue, in my life, than I have duct tape. I’m a farm boy! I use duct tape like it grows on trees! I should not have used that much glue just covering a wing and some tail feathers!

I know I have said this before but I am going to say it again. Building an airplane is loads of fun and a great learning experience. Now I am going to attempt a Diamante poem about glue. “Thick, Thin” ,describes the different amounts of Acitone you add to the glue depending on what you plan on doing with the glue.

 

Glue

Sticky, Green

 Evaporating, Running, Withering

Tacky, Tremendous, Thick, Thin

Drip, Blop, Plop

Choking, Wheezing

Death

About to Start Covering

One third of building an airplane is covering. Covering is when you put the fabric or aluminum on the skeleton of the plane. Since we are building a Superstol, we will be using fabric. The covering process involves painting multiple layers of glue on the metal bars that are going to touch the fabric, laying pre cut fabric on whatever part of the plane your building, applying some glue on the fabric where the metal bars are touching the fabric and, finally, ironing the fabric. Ironing the fabric makes the fabric shrink and become taught, which makes it stronger and more aerodynamic. It makes sense, then, that covering is one third of building the plane. Although my dad and I have not started covering, it should only be a matter of days until we unroll the fabric. After that, all we have to do is the avionics, engine, cowling, wire the ELT, cut and install the windows, fasten on the main wheels and, the big one, paint the fabric. If my dad’s calculations are correct, we are 65 to 70% done.

Finally Building at the Farm

If you are smart, the first step of building any long project, say, an airplane, is to organize your workspace so that you know where everything is. Fortunately, my dad and I are not smart people. Therefore, our workspace mostly consists of amazingly useful tools haphazardly shoved into safe places that won’t be opened until 2021. On top of that, numerous doors are being painted next door. However, we always seem to have an abundance of music, rivets and cursing.

After my dad and I set up, we had to wait for school to end. Scool is pontlees! Then, at long last, we were finally able to work on the the plane again. Now, you might be asking your self, “what is it like to build a plane? Should I build one?” The first week of building a plane without Mr. Rob consisted of walking across our yard and into (through the door of) the workshop, working for fifteen minutes, not knowing how to do something, looking at the manual, entering deep thought, looking at the airplane we are building, quiet muttering, looking at pictures of other airplanes, talking to one’s self, looking at the airplane, talking to the ceiling, looking at Google searches, babbling, asking Siri if she knows anything about airplanes, incoherent ravings, asking the ceiling if it knows anything about airplanes, hallucination, finally calling Mr. Rob and asking if he knows any thing about airplanes, inwardly smacking yourself for not asking Mr. Rob sooner, thanking Mr. Rob for the help, thinking about how knowledgable Mr. Rob is, working fifteen more minutes on the part, feeling proud about how much you accomplished and lastly going home. In other words, building an airplane is a fun activity that I would highly suggest.

In all seriousness, Mr. Rob has been a huge help even after we left his place. he has let my dad and I crawl all over his airplane so we could gather photographs of various airplane parts and encouraged phone calls if my dad and I have any questions.

Recently, a major airplane question was solved. As many of you know, the airplane is going to be called the Transmograflyer. However, the family was having trouble coming up with a paint scheme that stayed true to Calvin and Hobbes. The current plan is to paint roughly the bottom of the airplane off white and the top of the airplane the same color as the lighter orange that this airplane below is sporting.

This, of course, symbolizes Hobbes’ personal style without making a slow airplane look like a tiger. To add to the name of the airplane, we are going to include a little red arrow that is pointing towards the words STOL. Next to the words STOL, are going to be other cool airplanes (i.e. UFO).

As seen above, the transmogrifier has an arrow that can be turned to transmogrify something into different things. The arrow on the airplane symbolizes the arrow on the box. Therefor, the airplane will have the ability to transmogrify into different things but is currently a SuperSTOL. If all goes according to plan, the Transmogriflyer should look fantastic.

The Second Week

The second week was different right from the start. The first thing Mr. Rob had us doing was covering, which is a simple process. First, apply many coats of glue to wherever the fabric is going to touch on your piece, second, lay your piece on a large rectangle of fabric then trace and cut. The last step, ironing is both the worst step and the best step. Let me explain, when you iron this special fabric, it shrinks. Now, believe me, I love it when a plan comes  together. Shrinking the top and bottom of the elevator/aileron/tail feather/wing is immensely rewarding and one of the funniest things to do while building an airplane. However, shrinking the sides of the fabric, the part touching the tube and glue, might be the worst step of building the airplane. you have to fix all the mistakes you made while applying the fabric. All in all, covering is an enjoyable rung in the ladder that makes up building an airplane. As long as you have a nice breeze to let out the noxious fumes the glue pervades.

After covering a few plane parts, me and Mr. Rob built the flaps and the ailerons. This was very enjoyable because I was able to listen to Mr. Rob, who had done everything under the sun and stares, singing along to James Taylor’s songs. Like I stated in my previous post, Mr. Rob was a great host and always kept us entertained.  But I digress, the flaps, which are eight feet long, have two hundred ninety four rivets each. The only crummy part about the flaps and ailerons was deburring . The process is as follows, put the pieces together( a little less than twenty pieces for the flaps and around fifteen for the ailerons). Cleco half of the predrilled holes with small clecos. Then, drill the other half of the holes. Afterwards, put the big clecos in the holes you just drilled. Next, unclico the small clicos and drill their holes. Then, take everything apart and debur all two hundred ninety four rivet holes. You can then put every thing back together for the last time, yay, because, the next step is to put a few clecos in and rivet the flap pieces into one piece. For those of you who don’t know, a cleco is a small cylinderesk tool that is used as a non permanent way to put soothing in a hole to keep two or more pieces together. To say the least, my clecoing and unclecoing speed drastically improved from the first day to the last. Even though I was faster than before, Mr. Rob, who was building his sixth Just SuperSTOL, smoked me every time there was a contest.

 

The First Week

So, building a airplane actually isn’t that hard. It’s strikingly similar to building a lego set, except with power tools, five times the amount of pieces , and, in our case, a professional telling what and how to do it. Also, your life depends on how well you fit the legos together. This sounds like a lot of hard work but it isn’t. The hardest part of building an airplane is the amount of time it takes. For instance, building and painting the rudder pedals took a day and a half. this usually stops pilots from finishing their build.

Having Mr. Rob there to help us saved tons of time. On top of not having to inventory the entire airplane’s parts, he helped us figure out the manual. I can not stress enough how much help this was. The inventory alone would have taken several days, and the manual skipped over some interesting parts, like how to install the rudder pedals. Mr. Rob also gave us advice on what to do with our airplane. For example, he gave suggestions on which avionics, aka flight instruments, to put in our plane.

Mr. Rob also kept us entertained.  Apparently, like my dad, Mr. Rob knows everybody in his home town. We had constant visitors, ranging from his dad, who bought us lunch and had tons of interesting stories, to the owner of the largest trucking company on the east coast. They were all cool in one way or another.  On top of all the guests, Mr. Rob had three dogs. Rudder, a old, brown bird dog who could barely hear, Birdie (I’m not sure how you spell it), a middle aged gray dog who looked like a good runner, and Banner, a cute puppy with one brilliantly blue eye and one blue and dark brown eye. Banner’s blue and brown eye gave him the appearance of winking at you. Both Rudder and Birdie were amazingly trained. Banner was as well trained as could be expected from a puppy. All in all, both the friends and the dogs provided an interesting and enjoyable break from work.

The dogs weren’t the only animals. Almost every night, one or two birds managed to penetrate the walls of the cabin we were staying in. Without fail, these birds provided comic relief as me or my dad tried to shoo them out of the house. These birds were fearless warriors and I had to dodge an attack more than once. However, it is normally whoever has the biggest stick who wins the wars. Since birds don’t have hands and me and my dad had a broom, we always won the frequent skirmishes.

The trip was loads of fun and I can’t wait to continue tomorrow.

 

My first post

In five days me and my dad are going to go to Grantsboro, NC and start to build some airplane at some place for who knows how long. Supposedly, the average build time for this kit is one thousand hours which, apparently, is a short build time. On top of that, the wings are prebuilt, so the build time should be shorter. Still, my dad is in charge so… yeah. On a more hopeful note, we already have decided that the airplane should be called the “Transmograflier,” that it should be cardboard brown, that a stuffed tiger wearing flying goggles and a flight jacket should sit on the dash and that it should have a picture of Calvin and Hobbes flying in a box on the side. Now, all we have to do is put in the x amount of hours needed to build and paint the airplane, find the space needed to keep the airplane in, clear a runway on the farm and learn how to land on a long dirt strip that’s surrounded by trees and isn’t straight or level. This should be entertaining.