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January 2005
Since flying my time off, all I can think of is how the plane will look after paint. I got the plane back to my home hangar and did a few little body work tasks that I never got a round to before. Minor things like doing a micro release on the aft end of the nose gear doors, finessing the trailing edge of the wing root fairing and stiffening the oil door. (It had been flexing up in flight and I needed to add a 10-bid stiffener to kill that problem). More reasons to fly your plane in primer first. And fly I did! On one clear Friday I flew over Monterey, Pebble Beach, Carmel Valley and down to Big Sur. I love this plane. What a delight to fly.

I had chosen Steve Green as my painter early in the project after seeing several planes he painted, and from the times he would call me on his own dime to give me advise on bodywork and materials. He had come down to see the plane and gave me a rough estimate of what he'd charge based on what he saw a year and a half ago. OK, so I like this guy. Steve is one of the best, and to have him paint, I committed early and called him regularly to stay on his schedule (waiting list). By December I was ready and he called me to ask if an RV-8 could slip ahead and he'd be done in January. No problem. I continued to enjoy my Legacy and got to go here and there adding hours and stretching my grin further. Mid-January Steve called me and said it was my turn and asked if I was still interested. I think my reply was something like "hell yes!". Now, the wait for good flying weather.


My son Patrick really wanted to come along and help. I kept a watch on the forecasts and it finally looked as if we'd be OK during a break between storms the last week of January. I snuck him out of school early, pack our bags, tools, cooler full of food, wine, sodas, bread, and blasted off to Oregon ahead of a new incoming storm. The flight was marvelous beyond words. I had a music port wired in to my audio panel so I could plug in my Apple iPod and we enjoyed music and clouds the whole way North. I treated Patrick to a fly-by of Mt. Shasta and after ducking under a cloud deck, we were in Ashland, Oregon. Probably the happiest landing to date.

The next day we got to Steve's hangar early and I gave Patrick the task of taking off the ugly 12" numbers. I thought he'd be busy until lunch, but after a half hour he was asking what he could do next. That guy was on fire and turned out to be a huge help. He set me up with individual dixy cups to organize our screws, parts, and such, and he was there to help me get the fastener rings out of the cowl ( what an incredible pain-in-the ass that was). So after eight hours of tinkering slowly we had the plane apart. In between, we would wander in the paint booth to admire the RV-8 Steve finished. WOW. Beyond being an incredible painter, Steve is just the nicest guy you'll meet. VERY soft spoken and quiet, but he is a monster when he has paint in his hands. Paint loves Steve and I'm blown away how nice he can make an airplane. What he lacks in a modern, state-of-the-art painting booth, he makes up in experience and talent. Sigh, I can't wait to see me little chick all dressed up. Before I left, Steve shot a sample panel of the color I'll use and Patrick and I sat out in the sunlight deciding on our options of white. We picked a winner and said good-bye to Steve.

I was so hasty in getting my plane dropped off, I never formalized a ride home. Kirk Hammersmith offered me a lift in his ES. He happened to be a little sick Saturday and needed an extra day to get well. Patrick and I were stuck in Ashland for the day so we rented a car and poked around the area. We went into downtown and saw "The Aviator" Both of us were fascinated by the H-1 after seeing it in Reno a couple of years back and enjoyed the story brought to the screen. As beautiful and as quaint Ashland is, there's no place like home. We were happy to see Kirk land and to get back.

Now for the next two months I get to wait for my plane to be finished. The above image is of the final paint scheme I have designed. It's Mercedes metallic burgundy with pale gold striping. I've had this scheme worked out for a year and a half now and still like. And that's the way it should be.


March 2005 (early)
The plane is beginning to take shape. I went up to check on things and a lot was accomplished including fine-tuning the straightness and dorsal fin, painting all the access panels and cowling (inside and out). I fixed one little gap problem in the elevator counterweight area. After I left Steve got primer and guide coat on and was taking another week to prep prior to its base coat of white.


March 2005 (late)
My second visit this month found the wings and cowl painted with clear coat applied. The rest of my Legacy was in white and ready to mask out for color. I had custom masks made for the N#s and logo. The design I taped out and realized a new found appreciation for painters. I got the proportions correct, but will leave getting it straight and fluid to Steve. What you see in the photos took me two hours just to rough-in.

My trip flying home in a rented Skyhawk was long. I have sworn off out-of-rig slow airplanes. I saw Ron Jones tinkering with his new-flying Legacy and stopped by his hangar for a visit. He's getting ready to begin his final bodywork so it's painted in time for Oshkosh. After a quick ride he offered me I'm really missing my Legacy. Thanks again Ron!

I can't wait to get mine back. Look for finished photos when I go back in April to reassemble it and bring it home.



April 2005 (early)
Above are pictures from my last installment of the paint process. Steve Green has been kind in sending me images along the way from spraying the first coat of platinum, to red and finally clear coat. I will be going up towards the end of April to reassemble the plane and was lucky enough to get Mark Manke to come help with all the little tasks and final rigging. He had been with me when I first closed the wings and horizontal, so it'll be great to have his help in its very last torquing of the controls. I'll post images of the reassembly and my trip in the Homecoming page soon.

Counting the days...










April 2005
Prior to coming back to put the plane together Steve spent two solid weeks doing the final color sanding and polishing. Until you have done this yourself, you have no clue as to the amount of effort this task takes. All I can say is the finish is perfect. Just perfect. Like a sheet of glass. A lot of what make the incredible finish is some of Steve's signature tricks like scraping, sanding and cutting the clear coat down before going over the plane with a polishing compound. I may have done a large part of the body work and getting it straight, but Steve made it a gem. I am still blown away by what sits in my hangar. As I rub my hand over lines and graphics it is completely smooth.


After getting up to Ashland in the air taxi network I subscribe too, I got right to work putting things back together. I brought along Patrick who helped me with the tedious reassembly of hinges, wires and components. I laid out all the parts on a table and just kept picking away from tip to tail. First thing was the speed brakes, access panels and tip lights, then ailerons, flaps and lighting. Next tail feathers and gear doors. Final rigging, cowl fasteners and a thorough double-check and it was once again a flying airplane. FLY TIME!

Patrick and I spent about sixteen hours putting it back together and really enjoyed the process.


Getting back in the plane and turning on the power was exciting and I was really ready to go for a short little hop. I told Steve that there was no way I was going to leave without taking him for a ride first, so he strapped-in.

My main concern Saturday was whether we would even be able to get home. The forecast was for bad weather in California and Oregon, so I had offered to help Steve get some things done at his house and we were deciding what we'd be doing for dinner whlie we left Steve's house in the Oregon drizzle, but when we got the airport I could see a few blue holes overhead and broken layers toward the South. This flight would also be good to go up and look around a bit. After an exciting take-off, we cut clouds and did a pass over Steve's girlfriend's house. What fun!


Things did seem fine and after checking TAFs and METARs I decided we could get out and fly above the weather and decend through the broken layers in Central California. Patrick and Steve helped me stuff the plane with all our gear, I topped the tanks and off we were. The ride home was incredible. Flying along at 11,500', we found a bright sunny day above some beautiful Northern California cloud decks. Upon getting to Stockton we found a series of large holes and came down to 3000' for the last 15 minutes of the trip. Good to be home and have my plane to enjoy once again.


The next day I went out to the hangar and took several friends for a ride who had come over to enjoy a last-minute homecoming party we threw together.

What and incredible experience this has been. I have enjoyed every day of this journey and the many friends I have made along the way.

Don

(The happiest pilot and aircraft owner in California)












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