Friday, August 24, 2007

Just looking

This week I drilled the canopy on my RV-7A project to the rollbar and side frame. In the process of documenting it in my Kitlog Pro log, I discovered that I've just rolled passed the 1,750 hour mark. I guess that's a lot (I noticed my friend who runs the Dignity Web site was at 1,000 hours at this point) , but over 6 years, probably not unusual. That's actual building time. It's not "just looking" time.

I think I'm not alone on this undocumented part of building a homebuilt airplane. There's building time. And then there's "just looking" time, and I tend to think the latter amounts to more than the former.

Here's how it works: you spend a day (or an hour) as I did this week working on a particular component. Around 5 or 6 p.m., you cleanup, head inside, take a shower, and prepare the spend the evening with your family like "normal" people. Perhaps you watch a little TV.

When the commercial comes on, you go back to the garage -- or maybe you fumble around for some excuse, like taking the dog out -- and you look; just look, at what you did during the day.

Truth be told, I do this a lot. OK, I do it every night and sometimes I do it during the day, and always after I get up in the morning to let the dog out (no, he really has to go out!).

Ken Scott at Van's always says "touch your project every day" as a way to keep progress going. He should've said "or just look at it."

The canopy process, while intensely enjoyable (everything on this project is to me), has not been easy and without challenges. During one of my "just looking" forays last week, I decided to take a piece of scrap plexi and drill it with the cordless (hey, they were both just sitting on the workbench as I was walking past to let, umm, the dog out!).

Snap! It broke easily. I went back inside and watched the rest of the movie, but darned if I can remember what it was about. I was too concerned about what was to come. You can read all about it on the YGroup.

Suffice it to say, the challenge presented itself and -- after I "grew a pair," to quote my buddy, Darwin Barrie -- the challenge was met.

Captain's log: 8 hours of building time, 8 hours (so far) of "just looking" time.

I mean, there it is, sitting out there on the workbench. A finely drilled canopy, with countersunk holes. I even ran some sandpaper through them to reduce any chance of cracks. I did a pretty good job, for me anyway. It's worth looking at.

And it's not just the RV project. I have a hangar at South St. Paul's Fleming Field that, other than some wings and a new workbench, is empty. I stopped there four times this week. There really wasn't anything to do there, although I pretended the hangar needed sweeping out... again.

I just go there, sit, and look. It's a hangar. My hangar, sort of. Someday it'll have a plane inside it, I think. We'll get together early in the morning, crack the door to reveal a splendid dawn, fire it up, and go fly.

Or I'll just sit and look at it.

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