Playing Hooky – Going to Class!


I’m sure I won’t get much sympathy from readers, but after four days at a show like Sun ‘n Fun, I’ve sort of had enough – at least for a little while. So what do I do? I look for a way to disappear for a couple of hours. Today I followed the advice of Kitplanes contributor Nigel Speedy and found the workshop building in the trees between the forums and the main show. I showed up just in time to find a spot in the Fabric Covering class sponsored by PolyFiber, and since the last airplane I helped to recover was way back in the mists of time (when I was a teenager), I figured I’d get up to speed on modern techniques and methods.

It was good to se so many people looking to get a little education on the topic – all of the work stations had three people, which was close to ideal. Most were getting ready to cover their project plane, and a few of us were taking this as a way to add something to our quiver for future adventures. Florence, working with me, was taking the class for a second time this week because her husband and son were building a Legal Eagle, and as she said “I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up being asked to lend a hand!”

The session lasted about two and a half hours, and was an excellent introduction to the PolyFiber system. It  included a little history lesson on covering, a discussion on how modern fabrics shrink with heat, and how its very easy to fix mistakes with the modern adhesives and fillers. Starting with a bare frame resembling an elevator, we applied the fabric, shrunk it to fit, and finished with the filler coat. The instructor wrapped up with tips on the finish coats, and we all left with a much better handle on how it is done, and hands on experience doing it.

Like anyone on holiday, I returned to the show a little sad that the interlude was over, but happy to have refreshed a skill I hadn’t used since my long-ago youth, back in the frozen north, when we had to turn the heater in the hangar off to prevent blowing ourselves up when spraying butyrate dope. I think I like the modern methods!

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


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