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.