I have given a lot of people rides in both my RV-6 and now in my RV-12, and I always enjoy it as least as much as they do. Having been blessed with owning a Van's RV for what, nine or ten years now, it's easy to forget what wonderful little airplanes they are. Just as humans can get used to just about anything, there is a similar risk of getting so used to things that they start to be taken for granted - flying with people that have never been in a small plane before, or pilots that have never experienced the physical freedom of a nimble little sport plane, tends to remind the owner of what a special privilege it is to have one of these things.
I have to be honest, though: I don't remember everyone I've given a ride to, but they sure remember me! There's one guy at the airport that has had to remind me twice now that he took a ride with me. And now I realize that I've forgotten his name. Again.
On the other hand, there are some that are very memorable. There was a 50-something guy that had never flown in an airplane of any type, despite a life-long interest. And, or course, many of the very pretty young women are easily recalled.
And then there was Phil.
Phil called me one day last May to introduce himself as a fellow RV-12 builder in search of a ride. Naturally I told him that I'd be happy to give him one, and all he had to do was let me know when he wanted to come to the airport. There was a pause.... then he somewhat reluctantly told me that doing so would be a three hour round trip. "No problem," I told him, "I'll fly out to Zanesville and you can meet me there." That's less than a half hour trip in the 12, so it was no big deal at all.
The ride was memorable mostly because of how ebullient he was. I've seen that in younger people, and sometimes in 50-somethings as mentioned above, but seldom in the late-60s to 70-something group. That's not to say that they don't enjoy or appreciate it, because they do, but this guy was almost giddy. When we landed, we went through the obligatory "can I give you same gas money" dance, wherein they offer a couple of times and I respectfully decline.
Besides the fact that accepting money flies right in the face of FAA regulations, I really don't think it's necessary. I enjoy the flying, and the hourly costs of flying an RV-12 are so low that my out-of-pocket cost is nearly insignificant. And besides, I'm really just re-paying the debts incurred from when it was I that was asking for/receiving rides in RVs.
It's really just part and parcel with the mores of the RV Community.
What I have failed to consider is that what I consider to be a small favor may very well be of a far higher worth to the recipient of my minimal largess.
Obviously Phil had been one of those. When I got back to home base and picked up my phone to close my domestic flight plan (the text I send home to tell my spouse that I had cheated fate once again), I had a text from Phil telling me to make sure to look over to the passenger side - he had left something in the plane.
I did so, and found two wadded up $50 bills.
I had to do something with them, so one of them now rides in the map box, just waiting for the next time I find myself out somewhere and short of cash. The other rides in the glove box of my car, awaiting the same type of situation.
Late last December I received a message from Phil's wife telling me that he had passed away in November.
She told me that she thought I would want to know how much that ride had meant to Phil. She was right.
I took a day to absorb the news of his passing, then remembered that I had taken a couple of pictures of him during the flight, which I try to do with everyone that rides with me. I was able to dig those out of my picture repository and send the better of the two to her, for which she was very grateful.
Then I had a thought.
I never know how to approach these things, so I cautiously composed another message to her that went something like "I apologize if this is inappropriate, but if you need help selling the kit, please let me know and I'll be happy to assist."
She took me up on the offer this weekend, so I drove out to the very nice heated garage where he had been building the plane to assess the situation. As it turns out, it's in extremely good condition, very well organized, and should be very easy to sell. In fact, I may have already sold it.
I also suggested that she would have no trouble selling the specialty tools as well. As I was winnowing them out from the more day-to-day tools, I came across one that I need myself, so I told her I would be making an offer on it.
When I had all of the airplane parts separated out from lawnmower parts and the like, I asked her how much she wanted for the tool, based on the price I found on Aircraft Spruce.
She paused, clearly thinking it through, then finally said, "Well, I guess I need to know what your fee is going to be first."
I have to confess to being momentarily stunned by the question; I can't imagine anyone in the RV community would even consider charging a fee for what I had done for her.
I told her that there would be no fee - in fact, it was a nice opportunity to use the knowledge that I spent three years building, only to never need again. Happy to do it!
She thought for a few minutes, then said "How about $100 for the tool?"
Perfect! I had half of it right there in the car, and the other half sitting in the map box of the plane!!
Oh, and she also asked if I had known he was ill at the time we went flying together. I had not, but as it was cancer, he probably did.
He very likely knew that our shared flight would be the only flight he would ever have in an RV-12 - I'm tearing up just writing this.
Now I better understand the worth people may be putting on those rides that I consider to be just another chance to fly my airplane.
It can be quite high.
There are some pictures of the tools on my blog: http://www.schmetterlingaviation.com...community.html
I'd like to sell them as a set - thinking $750 obo.