It’s been a long while since I worked on my project.
Last February, I moved the whole thing out to Illinois. Six weeks later, I lost my job there.
I’ve since moved to Texas (Howdy!) where I have a great new job! One of the first things I did was try to find a hangar It took a while, but I signed up for some new hangars that were being constructed at Pearland Regional (KLVJ). I was told that they would be done in August. Alas, that was way too optimistic. I got an email saying that the project was delayed a bit because of rain, but that, for sure, they would be ready by Labor Day. I booked a flight to Chicago and reserved a rental truck. Then I cancelled it all because when I visited the hangar site, there was no sign of the concrete work, the doors and power were not installed, and my hangar was missing a back wall.
I got another email saying, “just 10 more days!” But this too was, ahem, optimistic. In October, I just flew up to Chicago anyway and moved the project down to my garage. “It’s just temporary,” I assured my wife. She replied, “Yeah. Right!”
Well October came and went. November came and an email just before Thanksgiving said, “10 more days!” (I laughed). I was hoping for a Christmas present, but alas, Santa didn’t leave a hangar under the tree. Finally, I got an email saying that “Martin Luther King Day — For realzies this time.” So last month, I moved into my hangar! Yay!
There’s another side to this story. Since I was now going to be based at the airport, and I had a huge hangar, I figured that I would buy a little “for now” airplane. I started shopping around and found some that might have worked. At first, I was looking at Piper Archers and Cherokees since I was pretty familiar with them. I actually test flew one owned by the Sheriff of the neighboring county. In the end, though, I couldn’t pull the trigger on an airplane that was built in the 1960’s. It might be a bargain or it might be an awful cesspool of expensive fixes to an unsafe airframe. So then I got a brilliant idea! I would buy a Vans RV-12! Not crazy expensive to buy. Super cheap to operate. The wings come off if needed (when the hangar gets full). And my son could afford to learn to fly in it. So I found one here in Texas. The owner flew it down to Conroe and took me up for a flight.
I was hooked and put down some earnest money and started preparing to buy it. I arranged for a mechanic to look it over, started working on insurance, and got the dollars lined up.
It failed the pre-buy. Not horribly, but there was too much weirdness, so I got cold feet and pulled out of the sale (some sunk costs, but better that than a bad plane!). About that time, I got contacted on VansAirforce.net by a local guy selling another RV-12. This one was built by local high school students as a project. I went down to Ellington to look it over and it was beautiful! Nice workmanship, it was an E-LSA so I could get my inspector’s certificate, it had a better glass panel (the kind I’m planning on putting in 4PJ), and the current owner said that he would help me do the maintenance work on it until I got the hang of it. He sold it to me at a nice price because he wanted to sell it to a real builder who would do the maintenance and take care of it. I got it for pretty much the cost of its parts (with free paint, interior, and upgrades).
So, I bought it in October — but I had nowhere to put it (See above). Luckily, the owner was able to store it for me until the hangar was done (3 and a half months!). He still stops by to see it.
Once I finally had the hangar and the plane, I still had to get transition training for insurance purposes. I went up for a bit over an hour with an instructor to get the hang of the plane. 11kt crosswinds that day made it tricky. I shook it out pretty well. Did some stalls (a bit more movement than the Archer I used to fly). Did some landings. Had to get used to the new glass display. My son went up for his very first flying lesson that day as well!
I’ve slowly been getting all the tools and parts from 4PJ unpacked, but it is slower going with a cool little airplane to fly. Apparently my new “girlfriend” will be very demanding of my time! There is a bit of maintenance to do, but I love owning the plane!
I did manage to get a new “trophy wall” started today and get some tools sorted into the new tool chest. You can see the wiring diagram for the RV12 on the wall. There’s some feedback in the headsets caused by signals getting picked up by the aux music input. I had to run down where the connectors for that come from and where they go to. The diagram was impossible to read until it got blown up to 36″x48″!
So I’ve got a couple of maintenance tasks to do on the 12 (fixing the intercom, adding a larger bushing to prevent the cockpit bubble from rubbing, and adding a safety latch to keep the canopy in place). I’m heading out to a maintenance class in June so I can fill out my airframe logbook correctly and legally.
Meanwhile, the shop is looking more like a shop. I’m meeting a lot of people out at the airport and generally having fun. I even get to see great sunsets 🙂 I am very much looking forward to pounding some fresh rivets though!