Day three was a busy day. Spork and Robby worked hard to get the flaps finished while I worked on seat belts, the lockable tail wheel and its cable, and finishing the dorsal stringer.
They had to redo one of the flaps because a part was installed upside down. This meant they actually built three flaps instead of just two. When Spork and I took our EAA workshop to try all four build methods, wood, fabric, composite, and metal, his least favorite method of construction was metal. Oops. I kept reminding him that at least here he was only building a couple of flaps vs the entire airplane.
Needless to say, he was glad the flaps were finished.
I asked him later if he still didn’t like metal building as much. His answer was interesting. When we were in Oshkosh at the workshop, he really didn’t like the cleco pliers. They were hard to manipulate in his smaller hands and that was the main driver of him not liking metal work. He didn’t share that detail before, so all I knew was he didn’t like metal.
But he’s literally grown a foot since Oshkosh. He has a man’s hands now, and the grip strength to go along with it. After working on the flaps, he said that he didn’t love metal, but it was surprisingly easy for him now. So note to self, if you kid or wife isn’t in love with helping on the airplane, it could simply be that the pliers are too big for him/her.
One of the things I changed on my build was I substituted the standard tail wheel for this beefy one that was lockable. The machining on it was a thing a beauty and now I can lock the tail wheel for cross wind landings. According to Robby, I’ll use it a couple of time and then never use it again. He’s probably right (he usually is) but as a low time tail wheel pilot I just felt better knowing I could lock the tail wheel. It should help with cross wind parking and taxing too and it didn’t add much weight. Plus it looks sexy, so there is that.
After getting the tail wheel mocked up, I mounted the lock handle in the cockpit. This took more time than it should because the factory sent me the tail wheel kit for the SuperSTOL XL, not my regular SuperSTOL. This meant I has several extra feet of cable. That would mean I could move the handle pretty much anywhere I wanted to, necessitating a lot of fit up, discussion, pondering, etc. After all that, I ended up putting it exactly where the factory said to anyway.
The black writing on below the red tail wheel handle is a mockup of where the fuel shutoff will be.
We were Robby’s seventh Just Aircraft build. However his first build was performed with the help of an aviation legend, John Stanley. John was kind enough to come by several times while we were in Grantsboro and even went to lunch with us and bought us pizza one day. He was a humble and generous soul and a prince of a man.
John soloed his first airplane in September of 1966 and graduated the Air Force flight academy in May of 67. He served in Vietnam, and then later left the military to become a contractor. He flew with Aero Services based out of JNX, who was my neighbor at JNX for 20 years. John spent a considerable amount of time overseas flying on missions he still cannot talk about. He flew these dangerous and secret missions until he was 72 years old! He then decided to retire and while a bit lost from all the sudden free time, he decided to help a young guy build a kit plane. That was Robby and his first airplane build.
On this day, John stopped by and asked me if he could give Spork something. He pulled out his wings from his military flight suit. I was shocked and honored. John wanted to pass his wings along to another aviator, which Spork intends to be. I assured John that when Spork earned his private pilot certificate, that I’d pin the wings on myself. What an honor!
We gave our thanks to John and said goodbye, then it was back to work. I needed to cut and remake the cable for the tail wheel, which basically involved taking the entire cable apart, measuring it, marking it, measuring it again, and then cutting it hopefully not too short! I managed to get it together with barely enough length. With that, the tail wheel was installed! At least for now.
I needed Banner occupied while I was on my back. And Spork needed a break. Both puppy and boy were glad to play with each other for a while so it was a win-win.
With the tail wheel done, I moved onto the seat belt attach points. There are cables that are made up from provided hardware and wrapped around a cross member in the cockpit. Robby offered that I could do a single attach point and basically just use the cross member itself but I thought I’d go with the factory recommendation since seat belts are about safety and all.
It took a while to make up all the cables, assemble the hardware, etc. It also took a bit of trimming of the floor pan, removing the seats, etc. Between the seat belts and the tailwheel, I pretty much used up my day.
When running the cable for the tail wheel, Robby showed me a trick using tie wraps to make standoffs for the cable. It was simple, efficient, light, and cheap. It was also safe because it keeps the cable from rubbing and maybe wearing through.
These tie wraps come from Lowes and have steel reinforcement making them very strong and safe.
At some point I need to build a hanger door for when we finish the airplane. I wasn’t sure if I liked Robby’s design or not. I mean, I like it. I’m not sure if it’s what I want for my door though. I think I may build a bifold door instead. Regardless, I needed pics of the design.
Robby recommended this book to me. It is a condensed version of the FAA’s rules on how to do pretty much everything to an airplane. How much overlap does the leading edge of a fabric panel need to have? There is a rule for that and a requirement. Safety wire required? Find out here. How to cut a hole in the panel? Yep, all the things you need to know, and the proper and improper way to do it are contained. I have a copy on order.
We called it a day, cleaned up, and Spork and I headed out to dinner.
I made a point to take Spork out to dinner each night that I could. We used to travel to New Bern quite a bit because my buddy had a boat there. Spork and I have few favorite hangouts we wanted to hit again and we were making our rounds hitting them all over the course of our two weeks in town.
On night three or four out on the town our bartender said hello to us, again. Turns out she’d worked at the previous night’s stop, MJ’s Raw Bar. This night she was at 247 Craven, another one of our favorite places. At this point, I was starting to feel like a local. We were half way through week two and now we were starting to know people and be a tiny part of the community.
This night at 247 Craven was uncharacteristically slow so we had a good opportunity to talk to both Kristen our new favorite bar tender, and Dillon pictured above.
Kristen, besides being a fantastic bartender, it turns out is related to a famous aviator. Dillon was on standby for OCS school with the Navy. He was waiting on a pilots slot and was waiting tables to make ends meet. Dillon also cannot swim, something that I was incredulous about since he was talking about joining the Navy!
So between Kristen and Dillon, we had lots of aviation talk and some awesome food. Spending time with these fine folks was an perfect cap to our great day.