I don't really like being the butt of a joke. Even less, I don't care for it much when it comes from someone I respect.
But I am and that's life on Planet RV. Deal. Still, I think the conversations we have in the community should be just that. Conversations, and not material to be taken out of context and manipulated in meaning to embarrass us in the interest of making a buck selling an article to a magazine. But that's just me; I think if we as members of a community have earned a basic level of respect, it ought to be extended. Quaint stuff, eh?
The RV community is changing. It, like AirVenture and other aspects of homebuilding, are leaving the common person behind. If you own your own company, or are successful -- and lucky -- enough to be a valuable sort of employee with skills enough in demand that you can work out of a hangar and fly whenever, great. I'm not so imbibed with hubris to judge your life, your choices, and your priorities.
But if you're a working stiff trying to raise a family, and keeping a project moving by devoting a little time here and a little time there, sacrificing the "now" in favor of keeping a dream alive, then homebuilding an airplane -- or at least the homebuilding community -- really isn't for you. This is the instant gratification generation. There's little appreciation for the journey that is airplane homebuilding.
I haven't been able to quite put a finger on it, until today. Homebuilding is a uniquely personal endeavor, enjoyed by a few close friends, usually in proximity. It is incompatible -- at least for long -- with the wider Internet-based community. Internet communities eventually build rules and eventually, an aristocracy. Maybe I'm a socialist at heart, but I don't care for aristocracy.
For the record, here's the offending paragraph:
I recently read an email from a builder who said he’s on a tight budget and needs to spread the spending out over time to aff ord fi nishing the airplane. That same builder mentioned that he’s going to install an expensive digital electrical switching system. Let’s see, thousands of dollars on some fancy screen that turns your fuel pump on automatically, or less than $100 on…um…some switches. Do I even need to comment on that?
Comment? No. But context and accuracy is needed. As I posted on the Yahoogroups:
Dan makes the conclusion that the reason I need to spread the building out over time is because of all the fancy, schmancy stuff I'm putting into the plane.
Nonsense and if anyone had asked -- no one did -- I could have at least prevented a small measure of public ridicule.
Dan's absolutely right about spreading the build time out as part of the budget process. But he's wrong about the reason, which he didn't tell the unsuspecting readers.
In asserting (correctly), that I'm on a tight budget, he didn't tell the readers that *I* have been a pay-as-you-go builder since the day I started. Dan wasn't. Dan got a loan and wrote a check and there's certainly nothing wrong with that. Dan also had a plane that he sold to help finance his construction. I didn't. I delivered newspapers
every morning in godawful weather to be able to afford just the tail kit.
Dan and I agree that people should be flying instead of buying unnecessary -- even luxurious -- stuff and what Dan didn't mention is that with *my* method of building -- in which the plane will be paid for when it flies, I'll be flying an airplane and have money for gas while others will have a lot of that money siphoned off to
pay the loans you took out to build the plane. So in the long run, is there really a difference?
The way *I'm* building has nothing to do with spending a bunch of money on a Vertical Power system. I think there's a case to be made for VP and I'll let VP do the cost
comparison but the assertion that the alternative is only a few hundred dollars is incorrect. I'm allowing myself one real luxury in the panel here and that's it. I suspect the cost of my panel will be less than the cost of Dan's. In fact, I know it will.
So the inference that is what has me slowed down (although by *my* pace I think I'm going at the proper pace... for me) is budgeting because of an overreliance on fancy technology is pure horseshit, unless you think an engine is fancy technology. I'm raising the money to pay for THAT, too.
I should also point that I'm using a manual trim cable, manual aileron control... and I've put an Air Gizmo in and intend to fly with a 296 GPS, not a much more expensive 496 with the monthly XM fees to go with it. Why? Budget, baby. Budget. I'm using paint bought off the shelf at Ace Hardware for the interior. You?
I also won't be paying people a lot of money to do a lot of the wiring. I'll do it myself. Would I like to do it the more expensive way? Sure. But I'm a working person and I'm all about reality. And have we mentioned yet that I've been building in the winter months in an unheated garage and not in the dependable climate of southern California, and because I didn't want to spend -- and didn't have -- the money for the fancy hangars or a fully heated garage.
And, finally, I have two kids. Dan doesn't. Two kids costs a hell of a lot more than anything you put in your instrument panel and THAT is part of the budgeting process, too. Even after they move out (sigh).
I'm proud of a lot of things. I've had a great marriage, now in its 26th year. I've raised two outstanding young men. I've done OK for myself in a business that's all about high performance and low pay, and I've been able to keep the dream of building an airplane alive by doing it -- paying as I go -- different than most people. I don't like having to defend any of that. I don't like being portrayed as a way not to build or not to be, and I don't want to be part of a community that finds that acceptable. It's not my intent to change anybody or anything; that's not possible. People are who they are. But I still have the luxury of getting to choose my friends and acquaintances and shutting off the noise makes that easier and infinitely more rewarding.
I'll keep the dream alive, but it's a good time to pull the plug on my involvement with the RV "community." I don't recognize the old neighborhood anymore. I want to visit the old one.
Update 6:15 p.m. Sun 2/24 - Just to clarify. I don't have a problem with the article having an opinion different from my own. I have a problem with the sloppy and uninformed way in which it was written, with no attempt at fact-checking, and a rather unethical method of gathering what little information was used to set up the author's opinion. The qualms are over the ethics involved in the article and that's on Kitplanes to settle.