Getting ready for the inspection was tough, I was under the gun as I had scheduled the time weeks earlier.
Here is Amanda, getting her all cleaned up. A clean plane is a well built plane right? Remember, first impressions.
First, I had three friends of mine, who are also A&P's, pour over the plane, several items they did not like, minor in nature, quickly fixed, and they pronounced me ready for the inspection.
Next, words I had not yet uttered. "Fill er up!"
UHHOO.. I have a leak in the right tank. UGGHH!! No picture to show you, but I was very very lucky. The leak was on the inboard rib, bottom corner, easy to get to. I did "accidentally" leak 19 gallons onto the ramp. But it was a quick fix. Now onto the inspection..
Getting prepared, I had the hanger spotless, paperwork ready, in triplicate. The DAR arrived. Told me to just relax and find something to do. He did not want to be followed around. He was a nice guy, but not very social. And how was I going to concentrate on something else while he is perusing my plane. So I acted like a kid and started messin with the canopy which was on the bench, while keeping one eye on him.
He started on the left wing tip and moved around to the tail. Obviously looking at EVERY detail at first, then moving more quickly as he got around to the right wing. He said nothing, I said nothing. The hanger was silent as the man who held my flying destiny in his hand, looked over every nook and cranny.
Then he stops, pulls out his steel ruler, and starts fiddling with the right aileron at the wing tip. "Houston, we have a problem!" he says to me. My heart stops. "Come over here", he says. "The gap between the aileron and the wing tip is too close. you need at least 1/8th inch. You cant stick a piece of paper between there. " And he was right, but I thought close was better. But of course, he says bad, its bad. So I immediately take a cutoff wheel to the wing tip and gain the 1/8th clearance. Total time walking around plane. 15 minutes. I know it does not sound long to you, but if you had to sit through that silence, it seemed like an hour.
Then he asks for a chair and sits looking at the firewall forward. For about 45 minutes. Pull and tug, takes a wrench to everything. Again more silence as I cleaned my canopy for the 10th time. "Houston, we have another problem."
He did not like the tube bend from the right tank to the fuse. He wanted a 90 degree elbow in there. So whilst I get some more tubing he proceeds to remove the filling on the tank, then. Disaster. He spun the tank fitting in the tank. Oh nooo!!!
We looked at it. The only way to fix it, was to open up the tank, from the wing root access plate. That place I vowed never again to go into, had to be done now, with the DAR there, else I not pass inspection. And I do not want him coming back at $500.00 a visit. So he went off to get some lunch and I proceeded to open her up. I was thankful he left, I did not like the pressure of him watching over me. In about 2 hours, I had removed the plate, retightened the fitting, put the plate back on, and had the tube to the fuse fixed up.
When he came back, he said "nice job on the tank fix" and crawled into the cockpit with his flashlight and mirror. He spent about 10 minutes. I did not like not being able to see what he was doing in there. But I could hear switches being thrown. I said a little prayer, "please god, no electrical fires toady with him in there"
He crawled out and proceeded over to the table to his briefcase. Still I had not received any real comment from him.
Finally, he uttered some words. "Michael, that's one of the finest RV's I have ever seen. You should be very proud. The planes ready, and I'd fly it. You have nothing to worry about." Here are some more comments he made as we finally had some dialogue together.
1. You are obviously well organized. You had all the paperwork available to me, with copies.
2. The place was clean and so was the plane. That showed me you are conscientious.
3. It was apparent to me, as I started the inspection, that you took great care in you building. That's why things moved more quickly as I worked my way around the plane.
4. Your firewall forward was the finest I have ever seen. I have never done an inspection and not been able to find something. I could not find anything. And believe me, I tried hard. Great job. Please help your fellow builders with your techniques. It would save time and lives. (Note to my buddy Scott. Thanks. He liked all your advice to me on the firewall.)
Then he pulls out a ready made pink slip, with my name and tail number, signs it, and hands it over. The RV grin begins. Whew! Its done. 4 hours, 2 of that fixin the tank, and I am good to go.
I got all my operating limitations, and he was off.
I sat back, drank a beer (which I never do, but today is different), and stared at my creation. Realizing that the big day is almost here. So the plane is ready..... but I'm not. I need to get some time in transition then Ill be ready.