02 Oct 2010   Aviation

While nothing is 100% guaranteed until the order forms are signed, the buzz I'm getting just from planning out the initial portion of the project makes it very likely that I'll be going ahead with the project, the biggest question simply being one of timing.   Right now is primarily a time of preparation.   I'm in the process of finishing some big outstanding projects on my house right now.   Completing these projects will allow me to recover the space that is being used to store materials for these projects in the garage, which in turn will allow me to get the garage setup as a workshop, and so forth.

At the same time, I'm in the process of preparing some of the resources I'll need to have available for the project.   Among these tools is a place to maintain a builders log.  I'm setting this up as a wordpress blog, and eventually plan to turn the entire blog website into a set of books.   All fun stuff.

At any rate, the majority of information about the project going forward will be located at www.mattshangar.info, so that it can all be nicely captured into one big package at the end.


26 Sep 2010   Aviation   skydiving

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.  - Leonardo da Vinci

Its no secret that I love flying.   Of course I take it a bit further than most too, since I like getting out of them in flight too.   There's no purer form of flight than to leave the vehicle behind!

The last year and a half I've spent flinging myself out of "perfectly good airplanes."   Never mind that there is no such thing as a perfectly good airplane to begin with - its more fun to leave the airplane behind and land under my own personal fabric wing.   So far I've made 116 successful skydives, including one cutaway.   Its been a blast to say the least.   This past season, I participated in 4-way formation skydiving.  I learned a ton over the past year with Gravity Assassins, even with only getting around 60 jumps with the team.

As the skydiving season slows down, I'm looking towards the next season.  While skydiving goes on year round around here, wind and stormy weather slows down the jumping a bit.   This upcoming season, my plan is to start jumping video.  Especially if I find a spot jumping video for a team,  this has the great advantage of having the team pay for my jumps, freeing up funds for other activities.   Besides the financial aspect, flying video should provide a different challenge, and plenty of new stuff to learn.

The side effect of reducing the funds spent on skydiving is that funds will be available for flight training.   Its long past time to get back to flying.  Currently I have my eyes on a local flying club to get flight training and continue flying.  They have a decent variety of aircraft, and the rates are pretty amazing.  As long as I can manage to keep a nice flow of funds for flying, it shouldn't take long to get my pilots license.

On a related note - I've got the 'builder' bug worse than ever lately.   I've drooled over the Velocity kit for a long time.   I've been thinking about it for a while, wondering if I'd be able to complete such a project and all.  Honestly, I probably would have a real tough time completing a composite aircraft project, at least at this point.  Lately I've been looking a slightly different direction though.   While I like the Velocity design a lot, I'm finding myself surprisingly drawn to the bit more conventional design of the Van series kit aircraft.  In particular, I'm finding the Van RV-9A quite attractive, and carrying with it some amazing performance numbers.

One of the big advantages to the RV kits is that the sheet metal construction process generally lends itself to short sessions easier than composites.  With composites, there is a lot of overhead time around any tasks - mixing epoxy, cleaning up brushes and tools used in the layups, and general setup/cleanup tasks.   Spending anything less than 2-3 hours at a time just seems like it would have far too much time being spent on the overhead, rather than on the project.  With the aluminum construction process, there are plenty of tasks that can be worked on with very little time spent in setup & cleanup.  Spending an idle 15 minutes deburring a part is certainly feasible, as is spending a few minutes setting a few rivets on an assembly.  All tasks that directly push towards a completed project, rather than getting sunk into overhead.

While I haven't completely decided on the airplane yet, if I find my desire for it holding as strongly as it is right now, it won't be *too* long before I'll be buying the first subkit of the airplane.  I did find a Sheet Metal basics workshop offered through the EAA that I signed up for.   Even if I ultimately decide not to build a plane, the workshop is not too expensive and should be pretty interesting regardless.  At the very least I can get an idea if I'm even remotely up to the challenge.

Step one of building is to create myself a workshop.   That alone is going to take a bit of time from where I am right now.  Finally some stronger motivation to get pushing on some of these outstanding projects around the house though.