There’s a saying that duct tape is the handyman’s secret weapon. Add a Swiss Army knife to the arsenal, and you’ve got the makings for a makeshift airplane repair kit. Lothar and Hannelore Klingmuller of Lakewood, Colorado had to learn about the emergency took kit hard way.
During a trip to Mexico, the tail of their RV-6A plane, named Indian Summer II, was damaged by a small boulder. The rock was likely thrown from the wheel of a vehicle making its way across the remote landing strip where the plane was parked for the night. The rock ripped a hole in the tail – damage that would render the airplane unsafe to fly.
Neither the help nor the tools to make repairs were to be found. So, the couple pulled out a Swiss Army knife and began the process of securing the metal back into place by making a series of small rivet holes with the knifepoint.
But the outer shell of the tail had been destroyed, so even though the knife put the frame back into flying shape, the “skin” still needed repair. Enter into the scene duct tape – ratty, worn tape that held an old backpack together for years. Hannelore peeled it from the pack and placed it over the damaged area.
Amazingly, the couple was able to fly safely to Tuscon. There, they debated the merits of having the tail repaired, but decided the patch job had worked so far, and continued home to Colorado for permanent repairs.
This sporty RV kit plane (named after designer Richard VanGrunsven) has gained notoriety in pilot circles lately. Just 3-1/2 years old, the aircraft has been featured in pilot magazines and Web sites, according to the Klingmullers. The couple has taken the RV-6A to Central America, Hallifax, Nova Scotia and countless locations across America.
In addition to the Klingmullers, 11 other people and six planes represented the Colorado Pilots Association.
* * *
White’s first airplane ride was in a B-17, seated on
his father’s lap. After that, he was hooked. He has been flying
for 40 years.
After a walk-around safety check of the 1958 Cessna, pilot, inspectors and passengers board the plane.
Along with a full fuel tank, the loaded plane is at its maximum gross weight for take-off. While not a difficult chore for the “workhorse” aircraft, the full load was White’s idea – a good opportunity to practice taking off with a load larger than to what he is accustomed.