Monday, August 29, 2011

It's touch and go

I can't help feeling that this canopy is going to end up being a very slow motion train wreck. While part of me is sure that it will all work out, the part of me that writes checks to replace munged up parts is convinced that I am only one step away from ruining a very expensive piece of plexiglass.

On the plus side, I've won my last two Words with Friends games, so there is that. The last one was touch and go to the very end. I was behind by a dozen or so points with only the letters in my pile remaining to play. I scored fifteen points with a well-placed US, with the 'S' combining with QUADS to produce SQUADS. Up by three, but convinced that I would be overtaken in the stretch to lose by a nose. And nothing left in my quiver but a single, solitary N. Sure enough, my opponent's next play had me down by eight. But there it was, sitting there all ripe and ready for plucking: SEW. With the N to make it SEWN, I took a one point lead and ended the game!

Okay, back to the canopy. As we left the saga, the canopy was in place on the frame but needed to be trimmed for length. It was too long and the excess length was keeping the back edge from sitting flush against the rear window. Taking a hint from Don, soprano vocalist and 12 string lead guitar of The Jackson Two, I braved the maddening crowds at the Harbor Freight (Home of Low Performance Air Tools) sidewalk sale to pick up an air-driven mini belt sander. It's a cute little thing and offers nimble control and a very comfortable (read: "slow") cutting pace.

I shaved off just enough to get the canopy to sit flush. More will have to be removed later.

With the canopy back in place, we tried to mark the tangent line on the front cross bar to find the correct place to drill the rivet holes that the front of the canopy will attach to. The idea (according the the folks at Van's) is to press the canopy against a loosely attached piece of masking tape; they theorize that this will somehow show the correct line. Well, not so much. Admittedly, I was using tape that I bought at Harbor Freight, the Home of Non-sticking Except Where You Don't Want It To tape. Figuring that the tape could use a little help, I resorted to using some blue chalk rubbed on a piece of tape inside the canopy.

A great idea (that I stole from a web forum posting somewhere), and it would have worked, too, except for the inconvenient fact that the tape was also blue.

Still, enough of the chalk was discernible (if the light was just right, and if I viewed it at exactly the correct angle, and if the chicken that I sacrificed at the little altar that I keep in a deep, dark corner of the hangar actually was a virgin) to provide a just-good-enough path to trace with a Sharpie(tm).

With the line to follow, it was a simple matter to drill the #40 pilot holes.

The canopy still didn't fit precisely right, though, but I figured that I had pushed my luck far enough for one day.

I had considered going out for some more work on it again tonight but the weather was far too good. Rather than stress out about the canopy, I decided instead to go fly the RV-6 for a little while. My landings have been pretty shoddy so I decided that a few touch and goes would do me good. We had almost no wind, startlingly clear air, and moderate temperatures to go with the relatively high pressure. In other words, perfect weather for the airplane and pilot both to excel. The only fly in the ointment was the hot air balloon (aka 'hazard to aerial navigation') that insisted on parking just off the end of the runway. No problem for Papa, though: with an empty pattern, we could scream down the runway at ten feet of altitude until we reached 120 mph on the speedometer. A brisk turning pull-up before the end of the runway had us reaching pattern altitude at midfield downwind just as we rolled out of the 180 degree turn. A nice landing right on the numbers left us most of the runway to just do it again, and again, and again, and again.

Five touch and goes in .22 on the tach: that's pretty economical flying!

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