breaks 150,000 page reads, 2/6/13.


We have had this site up and running for slightly over 13 months. In that time we have published 202 articles here, and about 20 more entries on the Mail Sack heading.

The average article on the page has about 1,400 words, you can read one in a few minutes. A double spaced page in 12 point font  has about 275 words on it, and most people read 5 pages in about 3 minutes. I hope readers take longer than that to consider the content and use it as a serious resource, but I just wanted to point out that a new reader could cover the whole body of it in week of evening reading.  Tolstoy’s War and Peace is supposed to have about 550,000 words in it, there is less than half of that here. I really hope builders have found it more interesting and relevant to their goals than 1,400 pages on the lives of Russian aristocrats during the Napoleonic invasion. I like to set high standards like that for my writing.

This page has really good tracking info on the control panel. It can’t tell me specifically who reads it, but it does tell me very accurately how many people a day and how often they return to individual stories. Today, the total number of page reads on the site passed 150,000. This doesn’t mean that many different people have been here.  It is more accurate to characterize it as perhaps 1500 people reading the site on 100 different days each. This is a years average, the daily total has built up slowly. On an average day now about 1,000 different readers show up and read something here. If there are 400-500 serious builders in there who are going to use the information to make something with their own hands over the next year or two, I am more than happy.

The most popular story of the year was:

Guest Writer: Pietenpol builder/flyer Kevin Purtee 

The biggest engine story (an AA-5 we built for a 750 last year) was:

3,000cc Engine Running 

And the most read story on a plane was Rex Johnson’s

Corvair Powered Davis DA-2, w/EFI 

The most popular story on Philosophy was:

Sterling Hayden – Philosophy

A big part of the high numbers for the last three stories are that they have been up for a long time, and many people who have started reading regularly since the stories were first posted have had a chance to read them since. But numbers are not the sole judge of value here.  I write a lot of stuff because it means something to me, and I don’t care if it is far from the mainstream or not what some people think of as valuable. The story I wrote on Father’s day:

A Father’s Day Story – Lance Sijan 

Is an example of this. About 350 people read it the day it was posted, but since then it has only been re-read 79 times. The numbers themselves don’t tell the story. At Oshkosh this year a guy stopped by the booth for only a minute to say that he works at the Milwaukee airport and he has spent time caring for the contents of the little glass case. At that moment there were a number of wealthy guys having fun flying overhead in restored warbirds and the announcer was saying something to the crowd about celebrating victory and honoring veterans. Inside I was thinking warbirds on a sunny day are great to watch, but the general public might better understand veteran’s sacrifices by looking in that little case an contemplating what a single family’s loss was.

I am well aware that most people in the general public are made uncomfortable by stories like that. I have been told that some of the things I have shared over time are ‘depressing.’ I can only say that contemplating these subjects has brought more value to my life than watching TV or reading Facebook pages. On Memorial day 2010 I wrote the following note on our site;

“Every Memorial Day, our little town puts out a cross in the park for each of its sons and daughters that it lost in years past.  there are a lot of crosses for a small town, but the city fathers actually put out one for each person who was from our county.  the gesture seems at home in this quiet little place. When you walk up close, and read the name, and wonder how young they were, if they died instantly or suffered, if they had kids old enough to know them or if their fathers tried not to cry at their funerals and if their parents live at the same house, and if they do, how dated are the things they had tacked up on their old bedroom walls, and if their mother still has their bicycle in the garage. When you think about stuff like that it really does seem like a lot of crosses, and you begin to think that paying your respects from across the street had been an emotionally safer idea.”

Those are not pleasant, nice nor entertaining thoughts. Here is the connection to flying: I don’t think of flying as pleasant, nice nor entertaining either. I think the valuable parts of aviation have always been, and will always remain challenging, difficult and rewarding. You could finish your plane next week, fly it alone for an hour ever other day for the next 20 years, and you still will never come up with a reason you can put into words why mankind has always wanted to fly. The fact that you will not ever be able to explain it to most people, even many good people whom you love, this will not stop your longing to go spend another hour aloft, another hour immersed in something you can’t explain. It can be your own ‘glass case’ to stare upon and contemplate the value of things.

By the middle of life, most people, even the once adventuresome, predictably seek out comfort and entertainment. For those who resist the required numbing of thought and feeling, I uphold that building and flying is perhaps the best arena to enter. It is a near limitless field of challenge. You will never find all its answers, but neither will find any boundaries. Here, maybe once in a year or so, for a brief moment you will find another person who feels just like you do…..

Last week, out of the blue, the tracking on the site showed that one person showed up every day for while and re-read the story on Sijan. The tracking doesn’t tell me anything about the person, not even their email address. Even though I don’t know where they live, what they do, or how they think, I do know something about the perspective that makes some people return to read that kind of story several times. That kind of connection makes a year of writing time well spent.-ww

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