We now have about 357 days left in 2013. All of us who love aviation have had a chance to consider what we accomplished in it during 2012, and have also had the chance to make some plan for this year. Weither you had a fantastically productive and rewarding 2012, or if the things you promised to do 53 weeks ago eluded your efforts, 2012 is now gone and beyond our grasp. 2013, is an entirely fresh year, full of as many options as you are willing to believe in and work for. The single biggest factor in your year remains as always, internal. What will you make for your own aviation reality in 2013?
Over the weekend, Old hangar gang members David Vargesco and Seve Upson stopped by. They came up to update Dave’s 2700 cc Corvair. The engine was built to 2005 specs, with a nitrided crank but no 5th bearing nor any gold systems. It was a good visual reminder of how far we have advanced the ‘state of the Corvair art’ in the last seven years. In 12 hours of work, the three of us took the engine down to the case, Installed a retrofit Dan 5th bearing, refreshed the valve job and installed exhaust rotators, honed the cylinders, repainted the external metal, switched to the latest valve train hardware, put on Gold starter brackets, top cover and billet oil pan and changed out the dual points distributor for electronic/points. The parts cost of these updates was about $1,600. For this modest price, Dave now has a 2013 spec, engine. He wasn’t waiting to get going in 2013. He didn’t miss the starting gun. His reality is real progress.
Speaking of reality, most people into aircraft saw at least some of the History Channel show “Ice Pilots NWT” about the Canadian group that flies cargo in radial engine aircraft in the North West Territories. I myself watched a little because I wanted to see film of a C-46 Commando flying. As far as reality shows, it seemed real….until I spoke with Seve while we were working on Dave’s engine. As many of you know, Steve has long been the Chief of maintenance on our friends DC-3. The particular plane is in good mechanical shape, but it is fighting a cosmetic issue from living outside in Florida for several decades. Last year, The producers of the TV show Ice Pilots quietly went shopping for a DC-3, Not to star in the show flying, what they wanted was one they could chop up and take the fuselage. Why? Because a lot of this ‘reality show’ is evidently fake. They wanted a plane that could live in a soundstage and be carefully rigged up to look like they were filming new airborne episodes. The producers didn’t give a damn about classic planes. The show makes money, and they had it to spend. They were willing to offer top dollar to anyone owner willing to cut up a perfectly good DC-3 so they could make some more fake TV and real money. Our friends, who have poured their life savings into keeping their DC-3 alive told the TV people to drop dead.
TV isn’t reality, and it hasn’t been since Murrow broadcast “Harvest of Shame” and Armstrong set foot on the moon. Back then, there was journalism and actual experts covered issues of national importance. Likewise, current magazines are not experimental aviation reality either: A few days ago I was cleaning up the hangar of a friend who passed away last year. I found a box of Sport Aviations from 1958-63. They are fantastic. Bob Whittier, my favorite aviation writer of all time, wrote something in most of the issues. His work is timeless and fresh. His experience was first person. Today, there is little ‘reality’ in our aviation journals. Technically, Edward R. Murrow and ‘Dr. Phil’ practiced the same profession, but the comparison draws bile to the back of the mouth. Likewise, it could be said that Bob Whittier and ‘J-mac’ (the current head of EAA publications) both have written on homebuilts, but again, this ludicrous comparison has the same gastric reaction. Everyone recognizes that we have been on a national sliding board in journalism of all kinds for most, if not all, of my lifespan. However, taking a moment to remember this at the start of a new year has a constructive purpose.
This year, and what you will do with it is almost entirely up to you. If your candidates lost, it isn’t going to prevent you from building an engine or airframe this year. If you candidates won, they aren’t going to repay your support by showing up and building your plane for you. Same goes for your NFL team, and every other external group we are trained to tie our happiness to.
Today will have 24 hours in it, and the biggest factor on what you will have accomplished at the end of the day, week and year remains “What are you willing to do with your mind, your hands and your determination?” Homebuilding is facing 1,000 moments to quit and go watch TV. successful homebuilding is reminding yourself 1,000 times that there is nothing on TV that will ever make to feel like you will the day your plane flies. What will be your reality for 2013? Exactly what you are willing to make it. -ww