Thoughts of Christmas 2002-2009 PAGE 323. 

December 25, 2009: As I sit here on this Christmas Day and think of the last few years, I thought I would take stock of my various Christmas Day postings from 2002 to the present - - "My RV Era" of course.  The summer of 2002 and the trip to Oshkosh that year was the beginning of my RV experience.   I visited Van's Aircraft booth and tried on all the various models, RV-7, RV-8, and RV-9.  My choice for the RV-9A came from that day based on my observation of the room inside the cabin to my desire for a "cross-country cruiser" not an aerobatic airplane.

It was not long after returning from Oshkosh 2002 that I changed jobs unexpectedly, but all was fine since I got my previous job back the very next day.   Resuming my old duties and going on the road with my former job kept me away from home on business trips during the next few months.  I just opened my folder on my RV-9A project to find the very first document in there is the invoice for the preview plans dated September 30, 2002.

I have a number of receipts in the following weeks of October 2002 for the materials and tools needed to prepare the "airplane factory" in the garage for the arrival of the first kit from Van's due later in October.  I found that some of those old receipts from Home Depot and K-Mart have faded out with only my penciled notes on them surviving.  The invoice from Van's for the empennage kit shipped on October 21, 2002.  The total price with UPS shipping that year was $1,393.  I had hardly begun to build the horizontal stabilizer when I placed the order for the wing kit on November 6th to take advantage of 2002 prices.  I learned that Van's always has their price increases in January each year.  I also realized the tail section would not take that long at the pace I was proceeding. 

My first digital camera pictures of the project were taken and posted November 29, 2002.  Any photos before that date of the work on the empennage were on film and some of them got double-exposed.  By the time Christmas Day 2002 arrived, most of the metal work on the empennage kit was completed.  The wing kit shipped from Van's via ABF motor freight on Thursday, December 26, 2002.  I tracked the trucks carrying my wing kit across the country that week after Christmas 2002.   This is the route used for the all the motor freight shipments of my wings, fuselage, and finishing kit from Van's Aircraft to my home near Chattanooga, Tennessee.
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Since my job is working from my home, I had the advantage of working on the airplane whenever I was not dealing with customers on the phone, or on out-of-town business travels.  The wing kit was delivered on January 3, 2003 and work began immediately.  You can tell by my web page posting dates when I was away on business.   The left wing was fully assembled with clecoes for the first time on January 19, 2003.  My work on the wings and fuel tanks continued into the spring of 2003.
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Given the lead time on the fuselage kit, I placed my order for it on May 5, 2003.  Van's had it on the shipping schedule for the week of July 28, 2003.  The actual ship date of the fuselage was August 4, 2003.  By August 9th, I had completed the wings and stored them out of the way to prepare for the arrival of the fuselage crates.  The shipment was in Atlanta that Saturday.  The ABF truck bringing to Chattanooga ran on Monday, with the local delivery to my home occurring on Tuesday, August 12, 2003.
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I worked on the fuselage from August to November and realized that I needed to beat the annual price increase for kits from Van's.  I place the order for the finishing kit on November 5, 2003.  It was scheduled to ship the week of March 8, 2004.  On Christmas Day 2003, I was installing the brake system in the fuselage.   I got my first ride in an RV-9A just two days later when I was on a trip to Florida.  The finishing kit arrived at my place on March 16, 2004.   As spring turned into summer of 2004, I was using up those new parts to fabricate the canopy and more.  The project was really beginning to look like an airplane that would be finished someday.  I order the ECI engine from Penn Yan Aero and the Hartzell propeller from Van's on July 8, 2004.  The firewall forward kit was ordered from Van's the very next day, July 9th.  I continued to work on the fuselage preparing it for the day the engine and propeller would arrive.

The propeller arrived on September 9, 2004 (my sister's birthday).  The engine arrived the next day, September 10th.  I mounted it to the fuselage on September 11, 2004.  The propeller would not be installed until October 8, 2004.   By October 26th, it was looking like an airplane for sure.
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When Christmas 2004 rolled around I was switching between engine plumbing and electrical wiring.  I became unemployed at the end of February 2005, which gave me plenty of time to finish the airplane.  I still had money from my inheritance which had paid for the airplane and gave me the luxury of enjoying the airplane.  I used frequent flyer miles for my trip to Portland, Oregon on May 31, 2005 (my birthday).  The next two days were all about flying with Mike Seager, the factory flight instructor with more time in Van's RV's than anybody.  He is a CFI and provided me with RV transition training and my biennial flight review in those two days.  I flew home on June 3rd to get ready for the final inspection of my airplane.

The airplane was completed and received its air-worthiness certificate on June 8, 2005 with the first flight from Collegedale Airport on June 9, 2005.  After completing the 40 hours of phase 1 testing on July 2nd, I had one cross-country trip to Georgia on July 4th before I put it in the paint shop the next day.  I got it out of the shop the day before flying off to Oshkosh, the Great Lakes, New Jersey, and New England.  My second son and his growing family in Pennsylvania had a chance to see me and the airplane on the way home from that trip.  The other trips I took in the latter half of 2005 to Texas, New Mexico, and Florida are shown in the map below.   After the October trip to New Mexico, I got serious about finding a new job.
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When the 2005 Christmas season rolled around, I had a chance to show my airplane to my sister on the same day my older son got to fly with me around the Atlanta Class B area.  She does not like flying in airliners, so a flight in the "Enterprise" was out of the question for her.  This was as close as she would get.
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That December 23rd flight also included a stop on the south side where another local pilot from Peachtree City, Georgia met my son Edward and me, taking us over to the Atlanta ARTCC location for a tour and a chance to meet some of the folks I talked to on the radio on long flights from Chattanooga to Florida.  You can read all about that day on this web page.  On December 24th, I published another "looking back" on 2005 page similar to this one.  Page 200 of this web site documents my first non-stop flight from Chattanooga to South Florida that ended the year for me.

I did not make a posting to the web site at Christmas 2006, but I did put up my usual year in review on December 31, 2006.  My search for a new job was fruitful at the end of January 2006 when I was down to about $1,000 in my bank account.  There was less flying in 2006 since I had a full-time job again and had less money in the bank.   In 2006, I had installed a video camera in the cabin looking out the windshield on the left side.  That camera was used during a long flight to Denver on company business that summer, and again going into and out of Oshkosh for AirVenture 2006.  I took a second short day trip on business that had me leaving Chattanooga around 8 AM for a flight up to Frankfort, Kentucky.  That afternoon I flew to Greenville, South Carolina for a second business meeting, then made it home before 5 PM, including a refueling stop at Collegedale.

In April 2007, the original digital camera finally had suffered enough damage from being dropped and blown of the wing in Florida that it was malfunctioning and it was replaced with newer model.  In May, Monte asked me to help out another friend of his in Florida with a direct flight to the Chattanooga area for a reunion with his son after a number of years.  I had a day trip to Fort Pierce, Florida and back on two successive weekends for that mission.  I also delivered the friend to the front door of his son's house in nearby Cleveland, Tennessee after dark that night.

At the end of 2007, I again failed to create a year in review page.  I did put up a posting on January 6, 2008 relating to the holiday travels to Florida in my car and the lack of customer calls and emails during the week between Christmas and New Year's at the end of 2007.  With my job, wherever I am with my cell phone and computer is my office.

As January 2008 got going, Wendell was nearing completion of his RV-8 project.   The painting was done in the hangar in a temporary paint booth that was heated and ventilated.  My airplane was in the other side of the hangar, behind a plastic barrier, and completely covered with plastic to prevent any overspray from getting to it.   The full story about all that stuff is on my PAGE 250.
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When my third annual inspection came due in June 2008, I upgraded the nose gear fork assembly which required me to send my nose gear leg back to the place it was made in Oregon.  This is how my airplane looked while the gear leg was away being modified.
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By now you may have noticed I did not speak of Oshkosh trips in 2007 or 2008.   Budget constraints and the day job kept me working instead of off burning AVGAS and seeing the country.  I did get some flying time with my friend Marty Mason in the days before Oshkosh 2008.  I met Jamie Painter (RV-7A builder) when we returned to KLZU airport at Lawrenceville, Georgia.  Jamie Painter had pulled out his RV-7A for a quick fuel run to Jackson County Georgia.  He is heading for Oshkosh on Monday and wanted to be ready for a quick departure.  He has just recently completed his first annual conditional inspection.   He recognized my airplane when I pulled up and came out to greet us.  Jamie recently downloaded my Oshkosh 2006 arrival videos and uses them as a training aid for Oshkosh first time pilots so they get the idea of how the Ripon-Fiske VFR arrival procedure works.
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