Work is progressing on the L2-M airplane project at SD Air Service in Rutland.
I am still working on the different “greenhouse” parts, the plexiglass windshield and observation windows that make up the top, forward and rear part of the cockpit. (I think pilots called it a “greenhouse” not only because it looked one, but also because you baked in it when the sun is out). Each piece of plexiglass must be shaped to fit, then aluminum edges must be fabricated to go around each piece. The piece must then be lined up with the fuselage, holes drilled for the screws, and fit into place. Once all the “glass” has been fitted, it is then removed to finish the fuselage. It is a painstakingly deliberate process.
As I work, breathe, fret and dream about plexiglass, part of what makes my time at SD Air Service enjoyable are the people that I work with. Working with these men, swapping stories and indulging our common interest in flying, is a welcome respite from the day-to-day of farm life.
Scott: Scott and I share a love of aviation history. We have been known to lose way too much work time, recreating stories from the 1930’s and 40’s. As my friend, mentor, chief of the boat, and mechanic extraordinaire, I find myself having to learn as much as possible, as quickly as I can. He has me working on my L2 project next to the air compressor, just below the waste oil heater, next to the hazardous material locker, and the radio…which is blaring Rush Limbaugh. At this rate I may not live long enough to finish my aircraft rebuild.
Ray: Ray is Scott’s right hand man in the shop. Ray keeps on working, while the rest of us seem to get distracted…..by almost anything. He has saved me often, usually during the annual inspection of my Cessna 170, where by the end of the day, I am so frustrated at some part not going back together like it is supposed to and am thinking a long flight across the hanger to the wall on the other side might be just what this certain part needs, Ray’s calm attitude and intervention helps me set things straight…..He also will change the radio to a country (or classic rock) station when the boss (Scott) is out…..YES!
Dan: A cook, a Wiggin’s Airways’ pilot, a mechanic in training? He is all of the above. Although Dan lives in Connecticut, flies a UPS run to Manchester, New Hampshire in the morning and evening, he still needs something to keep him busy during the day…..mechanic training. SD Air Service has many projects going on at once, and Dan is helping on most of them. His greatest asset (to us at least) may be his desire to be a chef. He once ran a wonderful snack bar and a hot dog stand at the airport, and will often cook us lunch in the Experimental Aircraft Association Club building. We have had Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches, venison stew, sausage and pepper subs, wild goose breast, and excellent hamburgers from Under Orion Farm.
Bob: You could call him an airport fixture. Bob was in the Marine Corps for 2 years, and then the Air Force for more than 20, but still calls himself a Marine. We have a gentleman’s bet on who will finish their aircraft re-build project first. Bob is restoring a 1946 Piper J3 cub….he may well beat me. He is a guy who will do anything for you, has a good sense of humor, (I keep stealing parts from his airplane if they are in better shape then mine), and he takes fantastic aerial photographs.
Pete: Our local politico. He keeps us up-to-date on all aviation happenings (a.k.a. gossip) at Rutland and around the State. I love hearing his tales of being a volunteer member of the Mount Washington Observatory (chipping ice and cooking meals for the full time crew in that icy locale in New Hampshire) Though he has recently sold his beautiful Cessna 140 (maybe to indulge in his other passion, trains), he has stayed involved in aviation activities and is helping Bob on the J3.