I had a wonderful flight on a recent cool Saturday morning out into the middle of Nevada – Winnemucca, Nevada, to be precise. Cold and smooth with 20 knots of tailwind at 11,500 feet, it took only about 45 minutes from my home base near Carson City. Now if you look at a map of the United States, Carson City is fairly remote from any major metropolitan area (yes, its just down the road from Reno, but Reno bills itself as the Biggest LITTLE city in America, so it hardly counts as “major”). And if you consider Carson City as “out there”, what does that say about Winnemucca? Yet, there is a dedicated young homebuilder out there, a mining engineer putting together an RV-10 – and he needed someone to take a look at his riveting to make sure he was on the right track. It was a beautiful day, I had a fast airplane, so why not have an excuse to travel and trade stories with another aviator.
As we finished up the visit (he’s doing very well by the way), I told him to be sure to let me know if he has any questions in the future, and to get me back out to have a look when he hits major milestones. in the meantime, I suggested, we could take a page out of the book of Vic Syracuse. Vic – in addition to being a regular Kitplanes columnist – is a DAR, builder, A&P, head of the EAA Homebuilt Council, and generally all around good guy. And as important, he makes good use of technology. Facetime is what many of us who grew up with early science fiction dreamed of when we were young. It’s a video phone – and most have it for free on their smartphones today. And the best thing is that you don’t just have to look at the caller’s face. Vic has been using it for remote Tech Counselor visits for awhile now, and it works great. If a builder has a question, he Facetimes, and shows a live image of the problem area. It’s quicker than email, because the counselor can ask for different views in realtime. And while it does away with the need for lovely Saturday flights to Winnemucca, it also saves a lot of Avgas!
The other HighTech thing that came out of this visit was my first time using the new iPad form to submit my TC report. What a difference form the old days of triplicate paper copies that had to be mailed! I opened up the form (Tech Counselors can get it from the EAA Web Site), had the builder fill in his information and “sign” it like you sign a credit card on a little screen, then I filled in my part and made my comments. I then hit “Send”, and the report went directly to Oshkosh – plus copies went to the builder and myself for our records. Wow – this thing is slick! Makes me want to make the rounds of builders I counsel, just to use it again!
It’s only appropriate that Tech Counseling remains on the cutting edge – it is, after all, what experimental aviation is all about.