I arrived at Just at about 6:45 am on Monday. They supposedly opened at 7 but I’m on Lombardi time. I was pleasant surprised to find the gate already open and a light on in the factory. I pulled in and got out, walking in to find a lady heading to her area to go to work. She stopped however and helped me. I explained I was picking up an airplane and that I needed air. She promptly helped me with both issues.
I later learned that she was actually Troy’s sister, Stephanie I believe it was. Troy is one of the two owners of Just Aircraft and it seemed through conversation that all of his family had worked there at one time or another. Stephanie became my main point of contact for the rest of the morning and we spent a good bit of time trading stories and walking around looking at airplanes. She does all the covering so she gave me a machine gun list of dos and don’t on proper aircraft covering. Unfortunately I’m not far enough along in my learning to absorb everything she was telling me, but I assured her I’d be calling her back for insight as I got closer to doing the actual covering work. She happily agreed.
She did spend some time pointing out some of the options that seemed to be popular with their customers but before that, I wanted to see my airplane.
It was pretty cool seeing my name on the airplane there in the factory. I can’t think of when I’ve ever gone to the factory to pick up something for myself. I’ve been on many Gold Key trips where a John Deere customer picks up his tractor at the end of the line and drives it off, the first person to operate it. It is really neat. But this time, I was the customer. Except it was “some assembly required.”
This was one option that Stephanie pointed out to me. It allows a much better inspection than the traditional inspection ring found on normal aircraft. It also happened to be aircraft 510. Mine is 511. So this is the sister to my plane. It is heading to a customer in Florida as a replacement for the SuperSTOL he’d crashed. The crashed one was in the factory as well, being rebuilt.
Stephanie let me take a picture of her personal schematic for where to put inspection panels.
This was a light I noticed them using in the factory. It really added a lot of light to a work area.
May need to pick one of these up.
Most of the boxes of stuff were placed in the fuselage, then everything was wrapped, taped, secured, wrapped, duct taped, and then wrapped some more. They say to estimate 1000 hours for the build time of the airplane. I expect at least 40% of that time is unwrapping everything.
I was finally loaded and left the factory a little after 10am. My first stop was to get fuel. I didn’t dare try to drive around and find fuel the night before on low tires. The first place I pulled into had truckers blocking the pumps and they wouldn’t move. After the adventure of the previous evening, I just wanted to gas and go but no, they were sitting there texting. I finally gave up and headed off to the next place, grumbling about stupid texting truckers. Since I need diesel I can’t just stop anywhere and as I drove away I admonished myself for not being patient. Now I’m worried about running out of fuel.
But soon, I found another place and they had fuel. Goodie. No adventures, no snacks, no bathroom breaks. Just fill up, get on the road, and start the epic drive to Grantsboro.
As I’m fueling, I hear a woman yelling. Sounded kinda angry. Seriously? I really just need to get in and out of here, I don’t need drama. I leave the pump running and walk around to see what is going on. I see a woman, elderly, yelling at a dog who is running loose. He is obviously VERY happy to be running free and he is NOT going to be caught anytime soon. The lady is yelling his name and walking around following him. A few people kinda join in and walk with her, hoping to maybe corral the dog. She doesn’t seem to really pay any attention to us, instead fuming and yelling at the dog, and not coordinating in any way with the people trying to help.
I’m not the dog whisperer, but the dog is obviously just recently free of being cooped up (she later comments he’s been cooped up for three days, traveling) and her yelling is only going to encourage it to keep going. After a lap or two of the store, running into the road, across the parking lot, into another road, etc, a lady who has walked out of the Hardees across the street opens up her to-go order and holds out some food for the dog. The dog comes up, very interested in the food, but VERY careful not to get close enough to be caught. He only approaches from the food hand side of her body, or from behind, so that she can’t use her off hand to grab him.
At this time, the yelling woman’s husband shows up and he is yelling at the dog as well. Their version of instruction for teaching a dog is to yell at the top of their lungs, “Sit”, “Bad Dog”, “Come here.” As the lady is making real progress with the dog, I politely say to the lady that maybe she should stop yelling a minute and let the lady catch the dog with food. I don’t know if the lady ignored me, or honestly couldn’t hear me. She was old and could have been hard of hearing. As the dog would calm and get closer, the two yellers would close in, yelling, and of course the dog would scamper away.
After watching this for several minutes, I proceed into the store and buy a Slim Jim. I cut it up into bite sized pieces and join the lady in feeding the dog. The dog is wary of me as well, and smart. Only approaching from safe angles and staying as far away as possible. Again, the couple keeps yelling incessantly. Finally I stand and step up the man, and explain that I think it would be best if they backed away and stopped yelling, and maybe then we could catch the dog. The man yells to his wife, who puts in another 45 seconds of yelling for good measure before finally backing away.
With quiet now restored, the lady and I work together and get the dog to eat. It is still very wary but after most of the food is gone, I finally snatch the dog as it grabs the food from my hand. Don’t mess with a farmer, I’ve grabbed bigger things than you, pup. He immediately goes limp, knowing he’s caught and in trouble. The lady marches up to me and I start to hand her the dog. She’s commenting about how much trouble he’s in and what a spanking he is going to get. I hold onto the dog and look her in the eye. “Don’t hit that dog in front of me.” Firm. Clear.
She pauses and then leaves with the dog. Doesn’t thank me. Doesn’t thank the lady who fed her breakfast to the dog. Doesn’t offer to reimburse us for the food we’d fed her dog. I honestly think she was so mad it didn’t even occur to her and it was just an oversight but whatever. Dudley Dooright deed done for the day, I thanked the lady who fed her breakfast and a few other people who’d stayed around to help.
So the lady in the van the day before had said to me that she’d prayed for help and then I’d shown up. It was polite of her to say but I was just driving along. No big deal.
Then this day, I’d been delayed at the factory, and then sent away from another gas station to this one, to be here exactly when this dog got loose. I’m sure despite the yelling, the old couple were nice folks and probably prayed they would get their puppy back safely. They were too old to chase it around and obviously didn’t know how to catch it. Enter an animal farmer, towing an airplane, who just happened to be at the pump near their hotel right then. I don’t know if that is divine intervention that put me there, but I hope so. How cool is that, to be the guy God selects to go help? Nobody likes being picked last at kickball. Being picked first makes you pretty proud. Being picked first by God to answer a prayer? How cool is that?
I stopped a few times on the way home to check straps and make sure everything was riding ok. I made it to Grantsboro about 5:00pm and Robbie, Jenny, and Robbie’s dad and neighbor all helped unload the airplane and all its associated goodies. Then it was the 2.5 hour drive home in the dark and the rain.
It was 926.6 miles total trip to get the airplane. I listed to Artemis on Audible for most of the trip and between the story, and the side adventures, the time actually flew by and was quite enjoyable.
Now it is time to print out the build manual, get tooling in place, and be ready to start on this airplane on March 5th.