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Old 03-27-2012, 10:39 PM
Flienlow Flienlow is offline
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Snohomish,Washington
Posts: 19
Default Have you ever been overwhelmed?

Have you ever been so overwhelmed with your airplane project to the point where you considered giving up and selling? Or is building an airplane so invigorating you keep soldiering on? I am trying to figure out if it starts out hard and gets easier as you go, or if it goes quickly in the beginning, and then progress slows? In essence, what was the Cadence of your build?
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Old 03-27-2012, 10:42 PM
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FresnoR FresnoR is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Fresno, CA
Posts: 485

Originally Posted by Flienlow View Post
Have you ever been so overwhelmed with your airplane project to the point where you considered giving up and selling? Or is building an airplane so invigorating you keep soldiering on? I am trying to figure out if it starts out hard and gets easier as you go, or if it goes quickly in the beginning, and then progress slows?

Um, Yes
Rick from Seattle

The art to flying lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.
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Old 03-27-2012, 10:47 PM
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FresnoR FresnoR is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Fresno, CA
Posts: 485

Well, for a more detailed answer, You will probably feel every emotion within your build. Somedays are better than others, some days you want to take a hammer to your build (or head). It's kind of like golf.

Some parts are very slow, and you feel like you will never finish, you'll probably even look on VAF and Barnstormers to see what you might get back for your half-built kit. But then again, somedays you will complete a big section in a short time, and you'll feel on top of the world, especially the first time you sit inside that fuselage and make airplane noises.

There is a big learning curve in the beginning, especially if youve never worked with al before. Take one of the classes, it will help a ton.

The trick is to just stick with it, and not let yourself get overwhelmed. The fun far outweighs any frustration. If it was too easy, it would be boring.
Rick from Seattle

The art to flying lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

Last edited by FresnoR : 03-27-2012 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 03-27-2012, 11:17 PM
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bruceh bruceh is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Ramona, CA
Posts: 2,532

Um, No.

My experience throughout this build process is that the hardest part is just maintaining momentum. Try to do something every day. Lots of new stuff to learn, master and overcome. First time riveting, first time priming, first time doing fiberglass, and first time for everything (at least for me). Fuel tanks and proseal, bending the longerons, cutting the canopy. All over hyped and after it is done you wonder what the fuss is all about. Remember there is nothing that can't be fixed. Fear of messing up can be a killer to your motivation. Break it down into small tasks and the remaining work gets smaller and smaller. I'm contemplating buying an engine (another first time experience) and I'm confident I can get that task done. The hardest part for me has been doing the big purchases. Once I commit, and spend the $$$ I wonder why it took so long!
Bruce Hill
RV-9A N5771H flown over 900 hours!
APRS Tracking for KJ6YRP and Flying Over the Hills Blog
2021 VAF donator
EAA Tech Counselor, Pre Buys, Build assistance - canopy/tanks/fiberglass/electrical/repairs
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Old 03-27-2012, 11:48 PM
pilot2512 pilot2512 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Spring, TX
Posts: 488

The only time I get overwhelmed is when I look too far ahead at what needs to be done. Most things make more sense when the parts are in your hand and you have the aha! moment, that's what the manual was talking about.
That said. I find my time working on the project (referred to as TOW. The other woman) as great theraputic time when all the problems in the world fade away for a few hours. I find I miss my building time when I'm away from it for too long.
Empennage complete.
Wings complete.
Fuselage in progress
Wiring in progress
2020 Donation made!
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Old 03-28-2012, 02:57 AM
highflight42x highflight42x is offline
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Pasco
Posts: 107
Default have you ever been overwhelmed?

When I first got the plans sheets, I looked at them carefully for a couple weeks and concluded, "This is impossible, there is no way I can build an airplane". The blueprints got used for fire-starter that winter.

The bug wouldn't go away, however. The following spring I got another set of RV plans. Looked at them all that summer. Thought about it. A lot. How would I do this? How would I do that? How much? How long? Bothered the heck out of Roger, a BD-4 builder, who was in the radar group upstairs from me at work. Every lunchtime for weeks: What's a cleco? What's an NAS bolt? Which tools? Where and how much? (I owe that guy a lot, he taught me the basics. Gotta go see him again soon, he lives on an airport...)

Bought the kit that autumn. Never shot a rivet in my life. Never worked with sheet metal (ok, I spot-welded a tool-tray in 9th grade). Never used a reamer. Read all the books, but didn't know diddly. So ... what's the first thing I tried to build? The wing spars, of course (this was pre-historic Van's, where you built your own spars). I'm an idiot - shot all the rivets through the spar caps bent over sideways like golf clubs. Had just enough smarts to take 'em to an A&P before going further. Scrap.

Ok, try something easier - the tail kit. Still an idiot - scrimped on the jig, a flimsy thing. It wobbled. Result was predictable: a month later ... more scrap.

Awright, what's wrong with me?? Go back to page one: what is the philosophy of airplane building??

1) Build parts to fit other parts, assemblies to fit other assemblies.
2) Don't build anything until you have to.
3) Always practice on scrap with new materials or techniques.
4) When in doubt, ask someone who knows.
5) Walk away from it when you're tired.
6) Be committed.

The last one is important. If you get to the end of the build and discover you've REALLY messed up something critical, will you fix it? Will you start over again, build new wings if you have to? Weld-up a new engine mount? Do whatever it takes??

If the answer is yes, you're committed.

I probably replaced half the stuff I built in the first two years - shelves of ruined parts I did over again.

I built the rudder perfectly ... and then dropped it. Big Freaking Dent. Scrap - do another one.

Cut the aileron skins wrong - get new ones.

Bent the flap leading edges wrong - do over.

Made a dozen parts ahead of sequence, to dimensions only. Skimpy edge distances with the holes in the mating parts. More scrap (always make parts to fit other parts, dummy!!)

Then a point in time came when the progress was steady. I was making fewer mistakes, ... then no mistakes. Assemblies got built and joined with other assemblies. Interfaces I had planned years before (wing/fuselage, canopy-frame/cockpit) went together without a hitch. Like a sort of critical-mass. Von Braun said you have to make 65,000 mistake before the rocket will fly. Same thing for new builders - dozens, maybe a hundred goofs before things start going smooth. You have to make those mistakes, there's no other way to learn. You will! And if you're committed, you'll get over it, keep going.

Then, first engine start - that was even more startling than the first flight. Airplane sits there silent for years, then bursts into that unmistakable, growling unmuffled Lycoming sound.

The smell of hot oil, hydraulic fluid, and cockpit leather.

Inspection & signoff. Cockpit papers.

First flight.

Flight tests, a few glitches.

Forty hours.

A point in time will come when you realize you're no longer *building* an airplane, you're *maintaining* an airplane. Out on an airport. Near a runway. With a tower and other planes and engine sounds all around.

Another point in time will come when you drive out to the airport on a Saturday morning. Sky is burning blue. Preflight. Roll the airplane out of the hanger, climb in. The seat is just the way you want it. The panel and controls have that look you dreamed about for years. The paint-job looks just right, exactly like the drawings you made. It will hit you at some point: This thing changed me. It made living worthwhile. If I fly it right, it'll take me on amazing adventures, and if I don't, I could get killed. Even if I do everything right, some freak thing could end it all: a mid-air collision, a smashing wind, a bird strike.

The question will arise: is it still worth it?

Still committed?

- Steven
700+ RV3 hours
(two more last weekend!)

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Old 03-28-2012, 07:22 AM
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pilotian pilotian is offline
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: CMH, OH
Posts: 191

Originally Posted by pilot2512 View Post
have the aha! moment
Be carefull, I think Oprah trademarked that phrase! She'll come for yah .....

As for building, I am a new builder and I have plenty of times where I look back and wonder will I ever get this done, can I really do this, why is this so hard. But for most of us I would venture to guess, that we build because it isnt easy... Without a bit of a challenge there isnt as much reward and gratification in the end.

Also, once you have that first sub-piece done and it begins to look like an airplane that is all you need to keep pounding aways at it!

Best of luck!
Ian Hoyt

N527DH (reserved) RV-8
Tail Kit: 80% done

Follow my flying journey on
Twitter: ianhoyt

Last edited by pilotian : 03-28-2012 at 07:28 AM.
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Old 03-28-2012, 07:58 AM
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LettersFromFlyoverCountry LettersFromFlyoverCountry is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: St. Paul, MN.
Posts: 4,826

I was laying up some fiberglass inside the gear leg fairing last night. When I put it on the gear leg and started moving it around, the whole layup started moving. I'll find out today, I suppose, where that layup ended up because I had to walk away from it while muttering, "I wish someone would buy this *&#)(& project!"

Have I ever been overwhelmed? When haven't I?

I've got two or three things to complete before I ask for the inspection -- wheelpants/fairings, the new Matco nosewheel axle, and priming the cowling. That's it. That's been the same three things on the list for the last two months. Like the man said, sometimes you wonder whether it'll ever get finished.
Bob Collins
St. Paul, MN.
Blog: Letters From Flyover Country
RV-12iS Powerplant kit
N612EF Builder log (EAA Builder log)
Last article: "Gonna Finish This Sucker" (Kitplanes)
Waiting for the avionics kit (backordered: chip shortage)
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Old 03-28-2012, 07:59 AM
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rv8guy rv8guy is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Watkinsville, GA
Posts: 634

Great post! and well said. What a great looking plane.

I know my early 8 kit was more advanced but yes it was a challenge.

My favorite statement however was "first engine start - that was even more startling than the first flight" SO TRUE for me at least-unbelievable, and now a long time ago--7 years.

My "spare parts still hang" around my basement, but I did not have a lot. I did fabricate a battery tray support four times till I got it right. That was when I needed a break-it happens.

thanks for the memories
Marshall Jacobson

"Miss Sue"

RV-8 80749 slow build taildragger
7.5 year build first flight Dec 2005
SOLD at 540 hours and 10 years of FUN
Watkinsville, Georgia
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Old 03-28-2012, 08:08 AM
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uk_figs uk_figs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Tulsa, OK
Posts: 1,192
Default yes but stubborness helps

Hard to follow Stevens reply but I wrote an article on the challenges of the build process for my EAA chapter titled "How hard can this be?". Obviously harder than you think
The honest answer is that there will be stages when you feel overwhelmed and feel like giving up for lots of reasons some of which do not have anything to do with the actual building but life challenges in general.
The best advice I ever received was to do something each week however small and switch tasks when getting frustrated to make some progress.
Being a bit stubborn to finish what you start also helps as will this web site, the many builder sites that are available and other builders in your local area.
Dave (Figs) (RV-7 N256F, Flying)
Dave's RV-7 Blog
Email me
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