The New Guy

Getting the spark back.

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I’m not talking about magnetos here. I’m talking about a stalled project. In every major project, there is always a time when you suddenly look around and ask: “What was I thinking? I can’t do this! I’ll never get this done!” This can stop all progress and lead to ED (Experimental Devaluation) and premature sale of a project at a significant loss. This project stall is not just unique to Experimental aviation. Whether you are restoring an antique car, remodeling a bathroom, planting a new lawn, building a tree house, or even developing the next great million-dollar app, we all hit this wall. The secret to success is getting past the block and moving on.

I’m going to convert this stuff into an airplane? What was I thinking!

Here are my 10 tips for getting your project back on track:

1. Open and review all documentation you have for your project. This includes any project plan you have, calendars, plans, instruction books and your builder’s log. Review all the progress you have made to date and celebrate a bit.

2. List current roadblocks. This includes budget, space, skill limitations, and equipment requirements. Try to list one or more solutions for each roadblock. Remember, thousands of projects have been completed before yours. Even Orville and Wilbur got stalled.

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3. Clean the shop. Organize your tools, parts, equipment, workspace and supplies. Double-check your inventory. Getting rid of the cobwebs in the shop will get rid of the cobwebs in your head, too.

4. Visit a project. Spend a little time visiting a project similar to yours, but one that is six months to a year ahead of you. Do not visit another stalled project!

My recent block: Making the big cut to separate the windshield from the aft portion of the canopy.

5. Get a ride in a completed project. Nothing is more motivating than getting airborne!

6. If you are blocked by a major step, complete some smaller sub-projects. Every rivet you buck is one more you do not have to do later.

7. Go to an airshow, fly-in or breakfast. Get the smell of avgas and dripping oil back in your life.

8. Reconnect with the Experimental aviation world. Read some magazines, surf your favorite Internet sites, attend an EAA meeting, go to the EAA web site and wander around. Watch a few EAA videos.

9. If you are reading this article in a bookstore, renew your subscription to Kitplanes.

10. Have your project visited. Find an EAA tech counselor who will stop by and see what you have done. Even if you are early in your project, a pair of experienced eyes will help you get going.

Every project can hit a block. Often you can hit a block more than once. Getting past the blocks are how projects get completed.


David Boeshaar is a systems analyst for corporate Disney. A former mechanic, teacher, and computer help desk guru at a major university, he is now building a Van’s RV-9A for fun with his brother-in-law. As the new guy in aviation, Dave has learned lots, both good and expensive, and hopes to pass along a little help to the builders coming up behind him.

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