…and the parade of animals continues.

Builders,

Not much gets the system going like an indoor water moccasin encounter. So I still have things to do today, so I toss the snake carcass in the pond, get a coffee to replace the one I spilled over the snake, and head out to the hangar and promptly jump out of my skin and spill the next coffee…..over a pigeon?

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OK, its a one pound bird, but I’m at my “startled by animals in the hangar” daily limit.  I can’t explain why, but this guy is marching all around my hangar.  He can fly, but keeps coming back. If his eagle vision was supposed to warn me of the presence of a big snake, well sorry buddy, you are 10 minutes late to work, and you owe me another coffee.

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Just outside the side door. He has some kind of a band on his ankle. Probably on probation. Someone should contact his parole officer and mention that it isn’t funny to scare middle aged men for entertainment. One more visitor and I’m going to take it as a sign I should have gone to the beach today.

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Springtime brings unwelcome visitors.

Builders,

I just was refilling my coffee, walked the 10 feet from the house to the hangar and found this 38″ water moccasin sunning himself. People attribute all kinds of qualities to snakes, but after a childhood in Thailand with cobras and a few decades with moccasins in Florida, It is my opinion that snakes are slightly dumber than cockroaches, which at least know to run.

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No matter what TV personalities think, there are good reasons some people chose to own firearms, and here is my personal reason for the day. The world record for moccasins is only 59″, and 38″ is nothing to be trifled with. The bite has the potential to be fatal, but isn’t frequently. However, the treatment will leave you very sick for a long time, and many people end up with amputations from the necrotic tissue damage.  This snake took that 20 gauge #8 hit in the middle and was still able to bite at a shovel minutes later.  I don’t mind looking after my own safety, as long as I, not others,  get to chose the tools.

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When the Hangar doors become 3″ taller overnight…..

Builders;

How do you know your morning coffee hasn’t saturated the critical neurons yet? Last week I walked out to the hangar just before sunrise, and saw something really odd: My hangar doors appeared to have become 3″ taller overnight. The gap between them and the ground, and the gap between the doors and the hanging tracks had disappeared. For 6 seconds while I just sipping my coffee at first light, the doors seemed to have gotten taller.

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One more gulp of coffee, and I realized the 40′ span front hangar beam has actually given out and sagged down until the weight of the doors was on the ground. My second delusional thought was “This is probably going to take all day to fix.”  It’s in the home stretch today, but it has most of the productive hours of the last 8 days in it.

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My hangar is a 50 x 40 wood structure, it may be the oldest original building on our airport, it predates my house by 20 years. Although it is lightly built, it survived two dozen hurricanes and nor’easters. At the time it was built, our airport was just a little grass strip, a fun place to put up a simple pole barn hangar.  No one conceived of it as the community it has become 45 years later. Almost all the hangars built here in the last 25 years are large modern metal buildings.  The gray truss is the replacement steel beam I welded up from heavy wall 1.5″ square tubing. its 40′ long and 2′ deep. the brackets on the front support the door tracks, which hang from the beam.

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The Aviation lesson here: 

When Grace and I bought the house in early 2006, my plan was to tolerate the hangar for 2 or 3 years, and then tear it down and replace it with a modern metal building, financed off house equity, because every genius in 2006 knew that house values were never going down……

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By 2010, the value of our property was roughly $100K less than we paid.  I didn’t really care, it wasn’t an investment to flip, it was our permanent home, but it was obvious that I was keeping the existing hangar for a long time. This weeks main beam is one of many projects I have done to upgrade the hangar. When external financial situations change, if you still need a hangar or a homebuilt plane, your best option is to get resourceful and productive.  The only other option is quitting, and being the kind of person who was a lot of dull stories about things he was going to do before some ‘villain’ or ‘impossible situation’ showed up.

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The type of skills, attitudes and perspectives I write about, those of the traditional home builder, are exactly the ones I put to work building the gray beam and installing it.  While 90% of the hangars on our airpark are more ‘valuable’ on paper, there is a specific satisfaction to making a major working component that other people bought…..just like your engine.

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Putting away tools in the dark last night, I was consumed with thoughts of times past in the hangar, with my Dad, Grace and the dog, friends now gone, planes and engines which flew away, times never to return. In the dark, everything seemed past tense.  This morning I went out in the sunshine, it is a warm sunny day here.  I walked out on our green runway with bare feet and a coffee, and looked back at my hangar. It seems big when you are making a beam to span it, but walk 400′ away, and  it changes to a small pole barn with a rusty tin roof. Which perspective is real?

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But, from such a little setting has come continuous flow of parts, components and builders who learned a lot. The sunshine always makes me think of things to do, times ahead, friends both old and yet to be met, to share these with.  With that thought I walked back to the hangar, pick up some tools and build the next chapter of my life.

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