This post deals peripherally with the build but is mostly about aviation and one of the motivations that we have for building an airplane. Last week I took a flight on one of BEFA’s aircraft, a Cessna 182RG whose tail number was N2365C, up to Arlington airport to pick up some supplies for our team from Glasair. It was an interesting journey.
Most of you who’ve been keeping up with out project know that the location where the airplane is being built is the Structures Concept Center in Everett. From the outset they were very excited about the project and were happy to make the space available to us. Over the past few months though the entire workshop has been undergoing a renovation as they take delivery of a new composites oven and press to add to their capabilities. This has meant several reorganizations of the shop and a shuffling around of all of our supplies.
In that shuffle we did not realize that we has run out of resin, a key component without which we were not going to get ANY work done on the airplane. We looked in several different places where we normally store the resin and could not find anything. The strange part is that I had checked a few days earlier and we had an extra gallon. Normally one of us leads keeps track of the resin level and orders more from Glasair to keep the production going. Same with many of our other consumables such as gloves, stir sticks, stir cups, dust masks, etc. It’s all part of learning about how Boeing builds their airplanes/takes care of logistics purpose of our entire program.
Anyways, this happened on a Monday. From the time we order a new gallon of resin from Glasair to when it arrives it normally takes about 3-5 days. This meant that if we were going to get any work done that week we better find some alternate way to get the resin. This meant a trip to Glasair. Of course this being weekday a call going out to the team members for someone who could leave work early on that same day to brave the traffic to make it to Arlington before Glasair closed at 4pm did not meet with much success. And so the airplane trip was hatched. I work at Boeing field and a drive to Arlington before 4pm was out of the question. But a flight, a flight was actually doable.
Then we started looking at the weather. As another team member and fellow pilot Chris Foster pointed out, this was not exactly a great day for flying. Unlike your typical Seattle day the clouds were scattered and the weather good VFR. But the winds, the winds were not cooperating. There were also cells of pretty nasty precipitation moving through.
As soon as I departed from Renton I looked back and saw this giant nasty cell moving North ( I wish I could’ve gotten a picture). Apparently I got out just in time. The flight itself reminded me of flying in a Florida summer at 3 pm where the bumps are so bad you have a bruise in the top of your head by the time you land and keeping the plane pointed in the general direction that you want to travel to is good enough. In the pattern at Arlington the winds were reported 340@15G22. Lovely. Rode the bronco down to the runway and shut down in the Glasair ramp. This is where the Glasair folks again and again come through for us and really make us happy that we chose them. I called ahead of my departure time and Harry Delong arranged that either he would be there or would leave the required materials next to the entrance so that we could grab them in case I arrived a few minutes past 4pm. Back into the air for some more rodeo fun.
Fortunately this was just a short trip to Paine field to drop of the just-acquired materials to be taken to the Concept Center. For those of you that don’t now, the Boeing factory is on the airport and we are building the airplane just next to the factory. When Foster came to the airplane to get the resin he surprised me by jumping in and informing me that we were going to do some crosswind landings. Knowing that I still needed some time to let that nasty cell pass through Renton I agreed and we did a couple of touch-and-goes to polish our skills. Also, the winds had calmed down to a leisurely 320@12G17.
After this round of fun I made my way back to Renton and landed with enough time to make my commitment at 6pm. All in all it really showed the utility of using general aviation since this trip wold not have been possible without it. It would’ve put us almost a week behind in build where we already have a tight schedule. It also taught me a little bit more about the weather here in the Pacific NW and helped me get some good skills practice that may come in useful in a nastier situation.
The kicker of the entire trip is that that shortly after landing back at Renton I got a call that one of the team members found the gallon of resin that I *knew* we had but had simply been misplaced in the process of the move. Hence the trip was wasted from the perspective of the resin but it was certainly nice in that, for all the reasons above, I do not consider it a wasted trip.