Day five started with a bit of a different energy. Today we were wrapping up and going home for the weekend. We needed to work the farm, and also there were a number of things we’d be getting from home while we were there. Things like some tools I now knew we’d need, a sleeping bag for Spork, a tooth brush for Spork (yes he forgot a tooth brush. It was one of 7 things he didn’t think to pack, or decided he didn’t need. Teenagers!)
I also needed to modify some engine stands that Jenny had very kindly gone and picked up for me at Harbor Freight.
Robbie uses engine stands to hold the airplane fuselage. They allow him to spin the plane this way and that so working on it is easier. Of course, you have to modify the engine stands to hold an airplane. I took some pics of the mods so I’d know what to do when I got home. I neglected to take any actual measurements because of course I hadn’t brought a tape measure and I never could seem to locate Robbie’s.
I wasn’t sure if these stands would be required for us when we first started work but after about 10 minutes of using them, I couldn’t imagine any other way of doing it.
It was hard to get good pics in the hanger. Robbie has the entire door made of the clear material you see, meaning that awesome light was there for working, but terrible light was there for pics. There is a 1/4″ x 5.5″ bolt threaded through the modified engine stand hold offs, then an aluminum spacer, then some nuts and washers. It holds very well and allows the entire fuselage to be spun 360 degrees.
Spork and Robbie spent their day working on the flying wires, tweaking cables, installing shim washers, etc. There was a lot of time and experience involved in rigging the tail of this airplane.
I spent my day drilling and adjusting the stringers. Those are the curved, shiny metal tubes going from front to back of the airplane.
Here you can see the stringer viewed from the front of the airplane. Each one of the little grey standoffs had to be cut to the right length to match the inside of the stringer, then a matching hole had to be drilled in the stringer. Getting the first one done was kind fun. Cut, drill, bow the stringer, look for the right amount of curve. Kinda artsy getting it to bend just right, and have the right amount of standoff.
Then you move to the other side. The lines had to be matched perfectly so that from the tail, the plane looks symmetrical. Nothing about it was hard, but it took three times as long to do the second side as it did the first. The curve had to match overall, and be curved at the same place. It isn’t just one big long curve, it changes over the length. There was a lot of look, remove, file, reinstall, look, remove, wash, rinse, repeat. Still fun though.
About this time, we heard a plane come over head. We had talked to Marco’s dad the day before. He has a live fish delivery company, the largest in the country. He hauls all kinds of live sea critters all over the country. It was a really interesting niche and he was a great guy. He mentioned he’d send Marco over the next day if he could. We dropped our tools and went outside to see Marco.
Robbie immediately was worried. Normally you approach from the cleared side of the field and land towards the trees. But it was really windy and blowing the wrong way. That meant approaching over the trees which made it much tougher. Plus Marco wasn’t in a SuperSTOL, he was in its brother, the Highlander. A very capable airplane but not one with the short field craziness of the SuperSTOL. However, it all worked out ok and you can see the approach from Marco’s perspective as he has a video he uploaded to youtube.
We chatted with Marco for a few minutes but I asked if I could get pictures of his bird. When you are building, nothing helps more than seeing someone else’s airplane to see how they did it.
Marco spent a good bit of time talking with Spork about finding jobs, a career in aviation, how to get started flying, etc. Marco is a corporate pilot for a company in Kinston and flies jets for a living. Spork listened attentively.
With pics done, and chatting over, Marco fired up and took back off. I captured that side of things from the ground.
With the excitement of having an actual airplane here over (it really was awesome), we went back to work.
No really. I don’t remember what I was working on here. Gary, our EAA technical advisor had one bit of advice for me above all else. He said I needed to be in some of the pictures to prove that I actually was present for the build. Seems funny, but when the FAA looks at your records, if they don’t see you in the picture they aren’t comfortable that you are the one that was behind the camera. Apparently it has come up more than once.
Every once in a while after we got that piece of advice, Spork would grab my camera and snap some shots. So consider this one proof of life, but not proof of memory because I just don’t recall what I was working on at this moment.
As the day came to and end, we scurried out of there about 5pm which felt early. We left Hobbes to keep an eye on things while we drove the 2.5 hours back to Raleigh. We had a super busy weekend ahead and we were planning on being back in town Sunday night to get started again first thing Monday morning.