I am always looking for another way to keep aviation at the top of my “Fun to do” list. There are just so many ways to stay involved that I sometimes have problems prioritizing. I could always fly to lunch or help a buddy retrieve an airplane as I did recently. The Sky God, Uranus, undoubtedly knows my airplane could use some serious cleaning up. Winter time here in the “great white north” brings dreams of a trip to southern Dixie for a shot of our missing sun and warmth. I am always planning and something is always happening at the “skunk works.” Another flying pal wants me to rub off some of my taildragger experience on him. He has one. He flies it. But still he is searching for a bit more technique, something to keep him learning and involved. For me, nearly any mission will do. But once the mission is complete, the aviation “junkie” in me comes forward and I simply have to find the next thrill.
I have to admit here that in my past I built one really fine RV-8, and try as I might I cannot stop comparing building and owning that airplane to everything else I look at in my ever expanding aviation world. In a conversation several weeks ago my buddy Terry (with a pristine Cessna 170 taildragger) asked me, “Do you enjoy flying more or building more?” It forced me to think about the options. In the end I have to confirm that I am so helplessly addicted to aviation that I want it all! I love both building and flying. And yes, I do miss building. I also miss being able to blow the doors most of the aircraft on my local field with the RV that I built.
Still, while the speed is nice and the build is gratifying, a low and slow tail wheel would be nice again. And how about floats? I spent some time on floats and in amphibs and there is nothing like setting down in the middle of a big flat pond on a summer afternoon. Also used to drive an Extra 300 around the sky. It’s hard to beat straight up or straight down and 300 HP doing whatever else you want to do with it! I guess I am hopeless. My brother and I have joked for years that a really possessed pilot needs about five different airplanes to keep himself or herself happy. I intend to stay happy even though I will likely never have five aircraft at once. Fortunately for me, my inability to say “no” to anything to do with airplanes or their pilots continues to add to my bag of aviation memories despite that short coming. In the end I want to be able to sit back and relive all of my gravity defying milestones with no regrets.
I suppose that is why when asked by a fellow flyer to move forward with his stalled Onex project, I simply could not resist. I must confess that the idea of building a Sonex kit had never really gotten my attention. Still, I could not resist the challenge. On a recent autumn afternoon we untucked the neglected project from its cocoon and trailered it and all of its associated bits and pieces to the “skunk works” where work has begun in earnest. We must be making some progress; we have had to send off an order for more fasteners! This past weekend we simply ran out of things to complete until “Brown” brings us more fasteners. (You know you are enjoying your project when the UPS driver knows you by name and takes an interest in your progress!) It was a cold and gray day but since we were now idle, those leaden skies of Michigan began calling to me. It was time to blow the dust off the “Screamin’ Eagle.” So while Pappy, the dog, Boyington snoozed warm and snugly on the big orange hangar couch, I cranked up the Mooney and took a quick romp in the air. In the end, I bored just two perfect circles in the gloom, but, as always, it was a great time! C’mon along and be my copilot.
Author: Tom Speerstra
Tom Speerstra has had an enduring love affair with aviation for over 40 years. Countless adventures have been enjoyed flying students, people, paper, and parcels in everything from Champs to Citations. He has held positions as both Chief Pilot and Director of Operations for Part 135 carriers and holds an ATP, MEII, SES ratings and a Citation type rating. Tom makes his home in Michigan with his wife Elizabeth and the two dogs Hess and Pappy.