formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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December 21, 2010 EAA Sheet Metal Workshop

The Liberty Gazette
December 21, 2010
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

The Experimental Aircraft Association hosts full weekend workshops around the country, offering courses relative to building an airplane, such as gas welding, sheet metal, fabric covering, composites and electrical/avionics. These workshops teach the skills necessary for constructing various types of amateur built aircraft, either from kits or plans, providing a place to learn and develop skills before starting a project and making some expensive blunders.

We hadn’t taken any of their courses so when the EAA scheduled one in Houston earlier this month we signed up. With all the great choices offered it was hard to choose just one; we chose sheet metal basics.

Mike: I had been scheduled to work that weekend and didn’t know if I could get the time off for the course which, coincidentally, was being taught at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance next to door to where I work. After a bit of schedule juggling it all worked out. The timing was good for me, as I was in the midst of acquiring yet another type rating, this time the Challenger 601. The Challenger’s systems are completely different from the Hawker aircraft I’ve been teaching in lately and my brain was crammed full of newly acquired knowledge of the electrical systems, hydraulics, flight control systems and all the things that make up that particular complex jet aircraft. On top of that I was still teaching in the Hawker 800XP so switching my brain between the two aircraft with very different systems was wearing me out mentally and physically. My check ride in the Challenger took place the day before the start of the sheet metal workshop, so with that behind me the workshop was a great way to do a mental dump and spool down while learning a new skill.

We learned how to form wing ribs, how to do press rivets, pop rivets, back riveting, and dimpling while constructing a small wing section with a trim tab on it. The inspection hole on the bottom of the wing we backed with a doubler, with nut plates to hold the cover.

We showed off our wing project at our EAA Chapter 12 meeting the next Tuesday night. When you have a close-knit group of folks doing something like this the atmosphere is jovial as fellow members describe their learning experience, compare rivets, and pass around the projects for examination.

EAA workshops will be offered in Houston once a year, and anyone can take the courses; you don’t have to be a pilot or airplane builder.

Linda: A couple of days after our workshop I spent an entire day at NASA for high altitude training. This training is part of what is required of a pilot in command of an aircraft capable of operating above Flight Level 250 (25,000 feet). The purpose is to give the pilot a thorough understanding of the physiological effects of altitude on the body, and to be able to recognize one’s own bodily reaction and symptoms of hypoxia. Experience is the best teacher and experiencing hypoxia in NASA’s altitude chamber offers a safe learning environment. I’ll share my hypoxic experience next week. Till then, blue skies.

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