I am always befuddled at this time of the year. The old year has left us and the New Year is upon us but what, if anything, are we doing differently than we did before. New Year’s resolutions with, only the slightest exception, have already fallen by the wayside here in the “Great White North.” Gripped by numbing temperatures the whole region goes into a sort of forced hibernation. Even on days like today where the wind is light and the sky clear and bright and matching my blue card, I hesitate to attempt anything in my life that isn’t absolutely necessary due to the reality of a daytime high of 10 degrees. Oh, I know, it could be a lot worse. The fact is that until just this past weekend we have enjoyed a wonderful winter season with moderate temperatures (for this time of year) and little or no snow cover. Of course we were forced to live like “mole people” in the dark due to day after unending day of cloud filled air above us. I have decided that as much as I dislike the freezing cold and slippery roads and snow covered everything, I miss the sun as much as I miss warmer temps, or maybe more.
I hate that the world comes to a stop right after the holidays. I fought long and hard to find a place where I would have heat to putter away the winter darkness on airplane projects in order to beat that inevitable slow down. And so I find myself in that spot now. The past weekend would seem to have put an end to an obvious lack of winter as we are now punished all at once with what we should have had for over a month by now. I am pleased to have a Onex project in my little cavern. I guard my days spent hiding out in my hangar and worrying away on airplane parts. Time seems to stand still there. Pappy doesn’t like to spend too much time there because there are no windows. I like it because windows are absent. Gives me a chance to work undisturbed and undistracted. My phone doesn’t work in my cavern-oasis and for whatever hours I am there alone, time slows to fit the need of the project. All day spent readying parts that will be riveted together in a mere 15 or 20 minutes seems worthwhile somehow. No one is pushing me along. There are no deadlines. Let winter wear itself out while I work.
Many of you have asked about the progress on the little single seat Onex bird and I admit that I have been a bit lacks in providing updates. So, some footage of the fits and starts of airplane building have been pulled together here for your viewing pleasure. I must admit that progress has been a bit slower than I believed it would be. I lay that fact to the manufacturer methods. While I see that the airplane design is dedicated to light weight and simplicity, I find the decided lack of description and use of mostly two dimensional drawings frustrating. We live in a world of three dimensions and we see things that way. Having to decipher the drawings has taken much of our time. Imagination is your friend as in “imagine how this will look if you turn it over.” Or, “Imagine where you should look for the fastener call-out for the part you are building.” Personally I would have included all the fasteners for any specific part on the drawing page depicting that part, not on some distant page depicting the assembly. Then there is the matter of measurement. If you build one of these little rockets be prepared to shave things down to 64th’s. Plans were no doubt generated on a computer, and computers find it pretty easy to measure down to the 64th of an inch. Alas, builders do not. If the airplane were built to tight tolerances I could see the point. However measuring the length of the wing flap down to 64th’s of an inch when there is a half inch gap left between flap end and fuselage, seems a bit over zealous. I mentioned to my buddy Brad that I built the RV-8 from the ground up and never do I recall having to use a caliper, a micrometer, a reamer, or measure anything to a 64th of an inch. I’m sure there were places where I could have used those things, but they were not required. Still, Sonex believes these items should be used regularly. Despite it all we move along, one part at a time.
On a recent “airplane building” Saturday the sky was clear and cool and the snow hadn’t arrived yet. The blue card didn’t quite match and the air was a bit lumpy but, what the hell, we took a break from the Sonex project and put a little air under the wings of the “Screamin’ Eagle.” I take the opportunity here to take you along for a short but therapeutic ride in the not so typical sky over West Michigan. C’mon along and be my co-pilot . . . . We’re going to have a great time!
Enjoy, Capt. “T”
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.