There are a lot of benefits accrued through the building of an airplane, and one of the longer lasting is the friendships built in concert with the plane itself. In the case of any airplane in the Van’s Aircraft fleet, this is even more common due to the popularity of the designs. In my case, I was building an RV-12, which is probably the fastest selling model in the fleet.
I asked the young man that would be flying us up into the mountains how something as light and relatively slow as a glider, even an aerobatic one, could possibly need such a robust structure. He informed me that this particular airplane had flown in Vietnam.
About a year after buying an already-built Van’s RV-6 and spending a very hot July earning a tailwheel endorsement, I thought I knew the airplane well enough to attend a formation flying clinic being hosted by the Ohio Valley RVators at the not-too-distant Parkersburg, West Virginia, airport. As interesting as it sounded, the very idea of it caused me quite a bit of stress.
I arrived at the seaplane base bright and early to find that I was to be the only student. You wouldn’t guess it from the Orlando traffic, but it was something of an off-season, at least with regard to people looking for floatplane ratings.
Where to go when perfect early September weather presents itself on a Sunday and there are no commitments to either the weekday boss who pays the bills or the boss at home who spends the paycheck? It used to be that one could fly to the grand metropolis known as The Windy City and land at an airport conveniently located right on the downtown lakeshore, but as we all know, Meigs Field is no longer the pilot’s gateway to Chicago.
I have given a lot of people rides in both my RV-6 and now in my RV-12, and I always enjoy it as least as much as they do. What I have failed to realize, though, is that what I consider to be nothing more than a small favor may very well be measured at a far higher worth to the recipient. Phil was one of those passengers.