Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Here's my idea of a hero

Definitions of a hero include “a man admired for great achievements”. For me that describes Andy, a neighbour who’s building a plane in his garage. Not a microlight but a real twin-seater, a Vans RV9A. He’s been at it for several years and admits the final step will probably require sponsorship, or some other external source, to acquire the £22,000 for the engine and the avionics.

Even though the Vans is a simple plane and Andy says you don’t need to be an engineer, the work requires patience and a meticulousness I know I don’t possess. He mentioned a typical recent task: positioning the tailplane so the holes to secure it could be drilled in the rear fuselage. Thereafter the tailplane was detached and stowed away again. Heck, if I’d managed to attach it I sure as hell would be disinclined to take it off again. But lack of space forces many space-saving measures.

As to being meticulous… he showed me a discarded fuel pipe. In bending it he’d introduced a tiny kink which he couldn’t live with (“I’d know it was there.”). Of course, it makes a difference when you know you’ll be flying the plane yourself. Another encouragement is that each finished sub-assembly must be professionally inspected before it’s all put together.

Total cost? Earlier, when interviewing him for a website I run, we came up with: “the price of a mid-range BMW”. Now, he shrugs his shoulders. “Let’s say one of the cheaper Aston Martins.” And there’s another vital ingredient: a radio tuned perpetually to Radio 4, according to a mate who was helping.


marja-leena said...

He sounds like a man with a passion. What, if I may ask, is Radio 4?

Plutarch said...

I'd say, too, that was heroic and in a similar mode to the hero of The Fastest Indian on Earth, another hero, and a film which I asume you will have seen.

Barrett Bonden said...

M-L: Radio 4. Back in the days when radios (which we then called wirelesses) were driven by steam power, if not by yoked oxen, the BBC was all we listened to and basically there were three options: the Light Programme (stand-up and sitcom comedy, serials, music for those with popular tastes - the word "pop" hadn't been invented, quizzes and I don't know what), the Home Programme (full-length plays, informative stuff, slightly more serious serials, Woman's Hour, authoritative news broadcasts) and finally The Third Programme (not recommended for anyone who hadn't got a serious degree, obscure classical music, plays based on translations from Norwegian and Greek myths, discussions on philosophy).

That was fifty years ago. To those capable of a historical view Radio 4 is closest to the Home Programme - in effect a string of broadcasts on widely varying subjects, none of them descending to the vulgar (other BBC channels now handle vulgarity and worse), and pitched at middle-class pretensions where the approved reaction towards culture is that popularised by Goering (ie, "I reach for my gun"). As a self-appointed intellectual I only listen to the Third Programme's latest iteration, Radio 3. This has been sufficiently dumbed down to the point where my lack of formal education is no longer a handicap.

Plutarch: I haven't yet seen the Hopkins film; Anthony Hopkins was very, very cruel to the people of Dunedin, NZ, and I still feel I owe them some solidarity. As to heroic, it may sound a big claim for someone demonstrating attention to detail, but knowing I'm on the other side of his fence forces the accolade.

The Crow said...

You missed a good movie, BB. What did Hopkins do to the people of Dunedin?

Your neighbor is an ambitious fellow, to be sure, and exhibits the sort of gumption I admire. Best wishes to Andy with his project.

(I must tell Donovan about him. Have him dream of building more than the pinewood derby car. Might have to move the workshop to the barn, though.)


Plutarch said...

I don't recall Hopkins' cruelty to the people of Dunedin. He persisted in his heroic tuning of the Indian in what I suppose to have been Dunedin, but they didn't come out of too badly as far as I can see. All I can remember was a most enjoyable film.

Barrett Bonden said...

Plutarch/The Crow: The people of Dunedin (which is the centre of the movie) rather optimistically hoped AH would attend the Dunedin premiere of the film. He said certainly if they would charter a private jet to transport him from Hollywood as well as meeting several other unrealistic demands. There was further acrimony which I now forget but it implied that Dunedin would be the greater beneficiary from AH than the reverse. The thing to remember about this NZ town is that it's in the south of South Island and therefore closer to Antarctica. Our last visit there was accompanied by an unbeatable combination of heavy rain and icy winds. As far as I can remember the tone of AH's response suggested the sacrifice he would be making in travelling to this under-privileged area for a second time.

The Crow said...

Wow, no kidding?

Still, you missed a good movie about a very determined man, long in the tooth, who defied ill health and a slew of other odds against him to not only achieve his goal of testing his ancient (by motorcycle standards) bike -- and himself -- at the salt flats in Utah, but went on to set a world's record.

Hopkins did a good job. I didn't see Sir Anthony, I saw Burt Munro. Even if what you were told or read about Hopkins and the premiere is accurate, the movie stands as a tribute to guts, gumption and courage in the face of overwhelming odds. Munro is my kind of hero.


Hattie said...

Would it be sexist of me to note that the gentleman is quite a looker?