Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Graduate

You must be tiring of the constant excuses I come up with for not making more progress on the airplane, but rest assured that I squeeze in a few hours whenever competing demands on my time allow it. The weekends are, of course, the best opportunities, but they often fill up quickly with things that need to be done, ought to be done, or are simply more desirable to do.

The latest three day weekend was a good example. Saturday was taken up for the most part with Co-pilot Egg's graduation from high school. It was, naturally, a momentous event in her life, as it is for most everyone that has gone before her. There are only a handful of life events that so clearly delineate the various segments of our allotted time, and the transition from high school to either work or higher education is probably the first. It was a long, hot day, the highlight of which was not the actual ceremony.

I confess to being at times nostalgic for a society I never knew, a period when people could gather together in large numbers for a distinguished recognition of achievement without acting like, well, undisciplined children. I think the starkest example of the many contenders for the Gauchest Oaf award was the knucklehead that brought an air horn to draw attention to himself rather than whatever friend or family member that was being awarded a diploma. But, we inhabit the world we live in, and it was worth the noise and distractions to see my child cross the stage to collect her diploma. It was equally moving to see her Prom date, the local boy-almost-next-door, do the same. His name is Travis, and he is the bravest person I know.

The graduation ceremony over, we had to face the horrible downtown traffic. It so happens that the entire area was awash with groups of inebriated revelers participating in something called the Crawl for a Cure, or something like that. Apparently since biking, walking, and running in a plethora of sanctioned events has yet to cure cancer, or anything else that I'm aware of, we're going to give drinking its turn at the plate. It just feels a little.... off, somehow.

There finally came a time, somewhere about 45 minutes into the lengthy ordeal of trying to escape from a parking garage when there was quite literally light at the end of the tunnel. Just a half a dozen more cars remained between us and blessed release from the dark environs of the parking facility and then just a drive home.... when the phone rang. It was Co-pilot Egg, herself having driven her own car to the event. A car which, we were informed, she could not find. Nor was she 100% sure of her own location. Needful of rescue, she was. Ah, the life of a Dad. Never a dull moment, no matter how much a good dose of dullness might now and then be desired.

The rescue of Egg and the lengthy search through a number of parking garages is a long story, and not particularly interesting for all that. Suffice to say, the car was found, a dinner with Dad and daughter was enjoyed, replete with a tall, malt- and hops-based beverage for the paternal side.

That, it must be said, put paid to any work on Saturday. Sunday was the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco and the Indianapolis 500. So, another day gone, but enjoyed nonetheless.

Monday was a holiday, but it promised to be a scorcher. An early start would be required. Pete and I had a quick breakfast at McDs, notable only for the discomfort of the plastic chairs they have installed to keep people from sitting there all day sucking up free WiFi. We got to the hangar soon thereafter and started looking for work. I decided to rivet the hinges on the engine cowling, which Pete picked up a part to work on that he's been eyeing for a year. Given that it was the fiberglass tailcone, a part that would need to be trimmed to the correct size, I was more than happy to let him have it. I'm sick to death of trimming fiberglass, and he's better at it than I am anyway.

That said, it didn't take long to run into complications. It's no surprise, really, that when going all the way back to section 12 of the build manual that there might be parts of the airplane in the way of whatever it is we're required to do. It has grown quite significantly larger in the intervening thirty sections, after all. Pete's problem was that after diligently marking up a piece of masking tape to act as a drill template, there was a pesky horizontal stabilator in the way of the skin edge that was to be used to correctly position the template. It looked like it would have to be removed, and that is no mean task.

Fortunately, we were able to use a straight edge to position the template, thus relieving us of the onerous job of removing the stab. For now, at least. We may have merely delayed the inevitable.

Disaster at least temporarily avoided, I went back to my riveting.

The templates in place, Pete commenced to carving out a tailcone.

I got done before he did.

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