Friday, October 26, 2012

Paying it forward

I've always loved the RV community. I've said often that the best part of building the RV airplane were the number of friends I made along the way.

Today, I mailed off a pair of D-sub crimpers to a gentleman in Texas who is building an RV and didn't want to spend the $35 it costs for a pair. People on Van's Air Force were right when they suggested he buy a pair because they're invaluable in building an electrical system. I get that.

But sometimes we forget that people build airplanes while trying to minimize expenses and if we actually went out and bought all the stuff that people tell us we should go out and buy, then the plane becomes beyond our means. Trust me: I get that too.

I'm hoping to take the plane up to Massachusetts in a few weeks, and there's a lot of work to be done to make it happen. I've had to spend $225 on a new ELT antenna (hey, thanks, again, Artex and Aircraft Spruce for selling me that one that only lasted 30 hours and underperformed the guaranteed airspeed), and I've purchased an oxygen system for the safer high altitude flying. All together, that's about $750 and that's at least a month's work for me in terms of being able to pay for that sort of thing. And I'm still trying to make a dent in the debt I took on to buy the engine -- the only part of the airplane not paid for.

So when I posted on Van's Air Force this week that I was looking for someone who'd sell me a cheapo gust lock for the rudder, I figured someone would suggest buying a top-of-the line Gust Buster. I already knew about this product, which is really great. It's also $185 ($159 if you don't order from Aircraft Spruce, but order from here).

The item is on my list of things to buy, someday. But the cash-flow situation right now is such that it isn't a practical solution right now. Other folks nicely gave me some tips for building my own and that's a great idea, too, there is just this time problem I'm also having, being in the news business with an election coming up. It's all I can do to get my job done; I haven't been able to fly in two weeks and I haven't even been to the hangar in one. And yet, I needed something for the trip east because it looks like the RV-7A will have to be parked outside.

I think some people in the thread were turned off by my inability to buy the big stuff or make the little stuff, but the reality is what the reality is. Time and money, my friends. Time and money.

This arrived in the mail today. It's a Gust Buster.

"Consider it a donation to public broadcasting, payment for laughs generated by Cowling Chronicles, or just a fellow RVer making someone's life a bit easier," Kai Engstad said. "I'm glad to see you got the airplane flying, are getting a few hours in the air and hope that you manage to get your mom a ride."

I don't know the proper way to thank someone for that kind of generosity other than to say "thank you" of course and to point out the unbelievable goodness in the RV community.

I'm also reminded that a few months ago, when I thought I was having trouble with a throttle cable, an RV pal sent me one he wasn't using. When I needed to cut off the rudder strobe cable some months ago to fix a busted rudder tip, a friend down at Airlake gave me -- gave me -- enough strobe wire to get things running again.

I've benefited mightily from the kindness of former strangers in this airplane-building adventure, which is why today I've been reminded of an obligation to pay it forward.

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