W o r d s F r o m A u s t i n
End of the Year
In some parts of the country, and indeed most of the Northern Latitudes,
Winter days and low ceilings are here.
There are a lot of builders out there, most of which I like to think of as
RV guys, but no shame if they are not...spending the colder, darker days,
working like beavers to get that airplane closer to being an airplane, so
that the next vision is paint and maiden flight.
Since Christmas is soon upon us, I am called up off my knees on the
cement floor to do that which pains me even more....crawl the
malls...shop...create ideas of what gifts to buy for those who have
everything they do not need nor really want....
Think of it..all day and many miles spending money which could go toward
somebody and something..like me...who would really like it if Santa brought
a new prop or some thing similar....
Find yourself in a bookstore and gravitate to books about airplanes
and after a while, the pain begins to subside a bit.....
I did just this today, I bought a book which told no stories, but was filled
with beautifully detailed paintings of airplanes of all ages and types and
only a few paragraphs of what they were about and why...
The book was not really cheap, but was on sale and therefore
justifiable to bring home, that I may enjoy this candy in the evening as I
slump in my living room chair and hope the day was not a complete waste
since I was not able to finish my fibreglassing.........
The book gives me balm and solace, the same as the sound of an
aircraft engine overhead, as I savour the pictures of airplanes and sky
scapes and color and think of myself as being there once.
A very nice picture shows two fighters doing a low and over for the
folks at home as they work the farm fields.....rich gold of wheat fields and
brown of horses and blue of sky whith snow capped peaks in the distance.
And can I relate to that !.........Two of us together in line
abreast, just like the fighters, used to do a low and over in close company,
over the open grasslands and pull up together like an acro team...only our
fighters were RVs...red tails from the same fighter base......
However far along you may be in the construction, whether completion
is just a few months or another year, or the year after that, it sure helps
to have a reinforcement of good feeling about how great this airplane is
going to be to fly and how greater it will be to get to know it and show it
I never get enough of a good magazine or a good book about nice
airplanes. It's like putting on the oxygen mask when the air is thin and you take a
good pull and get recharged again.
The airplane sits in the shop and the last rivet is driven, but lots
more remains to be done before I start to buy the paint, and weather right
now is unfriendly, so the picture and the page keep the fire burning.
Fellow told me once that his airplane had been finished and flying for
5 years now and yet he still got a thrill when he opened the hangar door and
let the sun display his thoroughbred creation.........
I would sometimes go to the hangar and put my nose to the door to peer
inside and all I could see was the white crescent of the spinner just inches
away and I knew that when I unlocked and opened the threshold that my
racehorse was pressing to get out and make speed..
When I play with the engine and fiddle with the fuel and carb, my
wife says I smell like an engine shop....ain't that great ?......what smells
better than engines and fuel and upholstery ?
From a few wooden boxes and many small metal parts all wrapped in a
mountain of paper, to an aerodynamic shape crafted by a man with a mission,
and signed off with his signature in colors and paints, you have a tele-
transporter, travel machine, time capsule and magic carpet all in one...all
you have to do is sit there and let your hands make the commands, and you
are lifted to great heights to see the Earth expand beneath and away...
It seems a common fact that most fliers fly alone, and that is not
always an unfortunate thing because in most cases, the whole building
project is done by one alone, and when he takes it aloft, he can be alone
with his thoughts and impressions which require no conversation except
through the stick to say what all this means to him..(or her)...
Another common thread is for the intrepid RV pilot to make an
absolute greaser text book landing on his first try, and seldom equal it
again for a long time.....
When I made the first few flights in my 6, I could not get enough wrist
action to deploy the flaps, especially the last notch. I just said "to hell
with it " and made all my takeoffs and landings without flaps..hotrod or no,
the airplane behaved with good manners all the time, even on our short
It did feel good to call in from about 3 miles out, state my position,
and be cleared #1 straight in because it didn't take long to get there
.........fast and efficient and landing like an owl in a meadow....glide in
low, flare, and set down.
Oh yes, and when you come to park, one foot on one pedal and a modest
burst of throttle and she turns on a dime and you're there....
The only way to make it all better than this is to do it with a
friend....two airplanes as a duet sure make for a nice song in the air.
Ah yes, when the day is dark and the gale blows strong and rain pelts a
drumbeat on the windows, I break out a book, or look at the pictures and
think of when two of us would take off North, join up at 1500 over the
river, set the throttle on "high", and watch the sun and light play
fantastic on the white and red of the RV, the gold disc of the prop and the
pilot's profile as he held up two fingers to point our mission and here we
Amazing how quick you learn something you never did before and how a bit of
tension to hold your place only heightens the taste of the wine that
formation flying imparts to you...
Why then, would it surprise me that my cheeks hurt so from the constant
That age and fortune and appearance mean nothing when all that can be seen
of us is a face framed in a headset under a canopy, which is moving along
just off the wingtip, a scene which has us looking as we must look , in a
mirror, outside in the air, racing along beside.....
A thing of beauty ........
a joy forever..........