Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How do you know when you're done?

If you ever to decide to build your own airplane, you'll have to learn to put up with people asking you (a) when you're going to be done? and (b) why aren't you done?

Only you will know the answer and if you're smart, you'll never answer it. Once you do, you've set a date and since you're getting pressure from your family and friends, do you really need to add some from you?

Still, you'll face a challenge when you get near the end of a project and here's why: You'll realize there are things you could have done better and you'll be tempted to do them again and there are things you wish you'd done.

In avionics, this is a constant problem but here's the secret: No matter what you put in your instrument panel, you'll find a thing you could have put in it instead when the next monthly issue of your favorite aviation magazine comes in the mail. Get used to it and ignore it. If you're building your airplane just to impress someone else, maybe you're building an airplane for all the wrong reasons.

There are, however, reasons to listen to yourself. The other day, for example, I looked at a fuel line that -- maybe -- seemed fine to me when I put it in. But when I look at it now, it looks like it's restricted at a 90-degree bend. Do you really want to be flying and wondering, "Gee, I wonder how that fuel line is working out?" So I changed it out. It's a 4 foot long piece so, naturally, it took almost all of the 12 feet of aluminum tubing to fix it.

Sometimes, change is thrust upon us. I put in only one landing/taxi light when I built the wings a few years ago -- in the left wing. I didn't know much about electrical wiring at the time, and I wanted to do as little of it as I could. I also didn't intend to do much night flying.

But I've learned electrical wiring since -- at least, I've learned enough about electrical wiring to be stupid enough to try -- and I've also seen the value of wig-wag lights when you're flying during the day.

Find any video of my friend, Pete Howell, turning base to final and watch how those alternating lights in the wings make him more visible. Now, Pete is doing all sorts of fancy stuff with HID and other lighting, but anything that might make you more visible down low is a good thing (I'm actually thinking of installing a smoke system just to be able to flip it on to make it easier for nearby traffic to find me. Is this a bad idea?).

And, Vertical Power has issued a software update to the VP-50 system which takes a switch I wasn't going to use and make it enable a wig-wag function. I don't have to buy anything or do any wiring. How could I not install a second light?

So in the last few days, I did.

When am I going to be finished? When I am.

1 comment:

  1. Bob, that's EXACTLY why I'm putting a smoke system in my airplane...