Friday, July 26, 2013

7SW (Seven Sierra Whiskey) II

(Continued from previous post)

When I got back from Buenos Aires I found an e-mail waiting from the guy in Atlanta. The Grumman had sold. That was a disappointment but no surprise. The same day another e-mail came from Dave in Tucson. The widow came off $5K from her price on the RV-6. Was I still interested?

This seemed the signal I was waiting for to pull the trigger, but I spent another few days pondering and canvassing the airplane market. I finally leveled the question at Eleanor that I had been avoiding all winter. “Do you want me to have another plane, or not?” She said yes, but—

But, she was afraid. George’s death was still fresh with both of us. It had hit closer to home than the loss of any of my many friends that crashes had taken. Still, she gave me the nod, and I called Dave. I wanted to go to Tucson right away and work with a local mechanic to get the plane’s inspection done. But Dave dealt my new-found enthusiasm for the plane a quick blow. He said that wouldn’t work until sometime in July (this was April). He needed to be there when I came, but he had trips abroad planned for business and pleasure.

I soon found out that the delay was exactly what I needed. It would take weeks to prepare for my trip to Tucson to fetch the plane. A mechanic needed to be lined-up to do the inspection. Same for a check pilot to help me get familiar with the plane. An avionics shop needed to be found to re-certify the pitot-static system. New parts needed to be ordered and sent to Dave’s place. The Garmin’s database needed updating. I needed to read up on the plane’s systems and equipment. There wouldn’t be time for that when I got there. And then there was the problem of actually buying the plane.

I paid my hundred bucks to a title agency and received the plane’s documents. The title was clean. It had two owners since its builder custom-built it for the first one. I tried to contact the builder. I had questions. But I couldn’t find him. Yet what was I going to ask him anyway? “Did you build that plane right?” “Did you take any shortcuts?” “Is it safe?” I realized I already knew his answers so I gave up on trying to find him.

Next was the problem of dealing with the widow. Dave knew her. He told me she was a nice person but impulsive and unpredictable. I worried about sending her a big bank check (she lived in Alaska) and hoping she would respond by sending me a bill-of-sale. It didn’t seem like a good way to do business. I called the title agency back and asked if they could arrange the deal using a safe escrow account. Sure, they could do that, for the tidy sum of $6,000. No way.

I pondered going to Alaska to see the lady face-to-face and make the exchange. Eleanor wisely suggested I let Dave do it, since he was already in Alaska fishing. Dave agreed, but he said I needed to send him the check fast because the woman was preparing to move back to the lower 48.

I wasn’t ready yet. I was financing the plane partially with a home equity loan and was waiting for that to come through. Plus I was having other problems.

I wanted to find an EAA “Tech Counselor” (TC) in Tucson who was familiar with RV aircraft to go over the plane with me when I got there. To find one, I e-mailed groups in Arizona asking for names. I got back a list and some personal recommendations. I began calling down the list. One by one, all the TCs got crossed off. It seems most of them were “Snowbirds.” They had gone back east for the summer. The others either did not want to do the job for various reasons, or didn’t return my calls. After a frustrating two weeks of this, I felt very alone with the little “6” sitting in the corner of Dave’s big hangar. July was approaching. I didn’t have the check ready. The woman was about to leave Alaska. I had made no progress in finding help with the plane in Tucson. The summer thunderstorm weather across Texas was setting in.

I was pondering all this during yet another trip into the Deep South when a source of both encouragement and troubling news unexpectedly emerged right across the Boeing 767’s cockpit from me.

 Sitting in this:

 Daydreaming about this:

What sense does it make?


Anonymous said...

Captain, i hope you don't realize this is cruel, unusual and mean (what you're doing to us, that is).

we are all "patiently" waiting. i for one nearly sighed of relief "it's not a damn boat".

have mercy.. :)

Alan Cockrell said...

You don't know that yet. It could be a damn boat.

Bradley Smith said...

I may have missed it somewhere, but has the cause of George's crash been determined? Also, why do you bid SA routes.

Alan Cockrell said...

The NTSB's final report is not yet out. They botched the preliminary and I let them know they did. They promised to correct it in the final. We'll see. At our base, we 767 pilots only have South America trips, with the exception of one London route. Being a reserve pilot I never seem to get London.

Dave W said...

Hey Mr Cockrell, Alan - should you ever get London, it would be an honour to buy you a beer - please email me if it ever happens!

From an enthusiastic reader of your blog...

Dave from the UK

Anonymous said...

"You don't know that yet. It could be a damn boat."

you are enjoying this.. foolish of me to think you were not doing it on purpose :P

i do realize that, i did say "nearly". but it's not a boat, i have faith in you. maybe it's a challenger? :)

Alan Cockrell said...

Most blog readers only want to read a particular piece 3-5 minutes. Making your blog longer than that invites bailouts. Besides, I don't always have the time to write the whole story.

Anonymous said...

Captain, my apologies. I meant it all in good fun, and mostly as a compliment. Of course i understand blog posts can't be as long, and you might not have the time, or be in the mood to write the whole story. Maybe i took the joke too far, apologies if i have.

now excuse me, i need to go read the third episode :)