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I’ve been casting about for the next thing I should be working on. I can’t move forward with the mains because I am still waiting for the gear hoop. I’ve put most interior details on hold pending installation of the strakes, and those require the spar to be installed. But I’m holding off on the spar because it makes the plane much harder to turn over, and it makes sense to get some bottom finishing done first, as much as possible.

So it’s on to the turtleback! On Thursday I picked up the plywood to start making the forms. I didn’t get much further, though, because John and I went flying in Slick Kitten. I cannot begin to describe the feeling of flight in this plane. I’ve seen people talk about it nonchalantly – how great it is, but as if they’re describing a nice car. Well, not me. This is fantastic! I’m getting to experience two enormous events at the same time – my first few flight hours, and in an extremely fast and agile plane! I could spend days up there, and still find tiny details like turning exciting.

It’s also just a LITTLE distracting from the build cycle. =)

Our airport, over the canard

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Tonight I cleaned out most of the hangar and got most of the workshop ready for business. John has already used the hotbox for a few bits he was working on. It took all night to get it ready, so I didn’t do much, but I did sand the edges of the firewall-to-aft-LG reinforcement in preparation for installing the mains. It was just a 5-minute job, but it counts as plane building, so I’m back in the saddle!

Tonight I watched John doing a short taxi test. It’s simply amazing how smooth and powerful the Mazda 13BT is. I’ve seen Lycomings, and they vibrate like hell – the Mazda is so smooth you can hardly tell it’s buzzing along. Moreover, in a Lycoming, the Cozy will strain against the brakes when you go WOT, rolling forward a bit even on Matcos. The 13BT? John wasn’t even giving it all the boost it could theoretically take, just doing a normal runup, and there was NO way the brakes could hold back – he was at walking speed before he let off. The brakes are fine, it’s just a powerful engine and an adjustable prop (that has a big impact, too).

Tomorrow John will help me flip the plane over, then I plan to fix a few undercarriage dings from the move, and do the LG bulkhead reinforcement that’s impossible to do with the plane on its belly. Hopefully the hoop will arrive soon…

Hangar Closer shot Couch and desk First restart job

This weekend was all about cleaning – cleaning the hangar, that is. We now have several work surfaces, pegboards, and cabinets mounted, the wings, canard, and spar stored, and the hot box set up. We still have to get the rest of the stuff out of the way so we can get around, but hopefully by the end of the week we’ll be done with that and ready to get going again.

OK, this normally comes much later in the construction cycle for most builders, so it’s normally more of an event, but my Cozy is now officially in its hangar! We moved over the weekend, and while there’s still a lot to clean up, and still a lot to BUILD, this feels very good. It’s a big step, and it feels good.

I’ve also been getting in some flight time. Nothing loggable, but I’ve been spending some time in the right seat in John Slade’s bird, and learning a huge amount from the experience. Not just about flying the Cozy, but about the build cycle, too. I think the most valuable aspect of this (in addition to the experience) is that it’s showing me what I cared about before that just isn’t important and what I wasn’t even thinking about yet. I can now shuffle my priorities to address things that are actually meaningful.

Oh, side note. We’re also probably one of the only hangars in the world that’s fully carpeted. =) We were required to tear out the carpet from our old office when we moved, and it seemed a shame to throw it out. John insisted on this, over my objections, but I’m sold now. It’s much nicer to stand on than bare concrete, and will help insulate the floor slightly when we work on cold winter days. We’ve laid down some scrap aluminized insulation sheets to catch oil drips for safety’s sake.

This coming Wednesday John and I will return to the old office with the pickup to get any last items we may have missed. John is out Thursday (build nights are now Wed and Thu), so I’ll use that time to start arranging the build space in the hangar and mounting all the work tables. As it turns out, we have rather a lot of work surface. I love using door panels for these, and have collected quite a few over the past few years. They’ve now all ended up at the hangar, so I think we have 9-10 of them to use as work benches. I just need to build legs for the ones that don’t have them yet.

With any luck, we’ll be back to building full time by the following week!

Wednesdays and Fridays are normally build nights, per a deal I negotiated with Nicole. I normally build until 9pm, so I can get home to relieve Nicole and she can go to bed (she’s up with the kids whenever they get up – I get to sleep in. So I stay up late with Ben.)

Tonight was a bit depressing. We finally set the last of the work on the project aside and started REALLY packing. The pickup is full now, and we have a box truck reserved for the 19th to move the actual plane, wings, and other big bits. Tomorrow I’ll drive the pickup (and all the tools in it) to the hangar, and we’ll start setting up shop there. It should be interesting. It’s a big hangar, but two Cozies, one of which is under construction, is sure to be a bit of work. So, no more building for at least two weeks…