Another RV9A Wife Response
I LOVED your article - I really thought you were writing about me and my life story! My RV9A pilot and I built ours (okay he did 99% of it) in 2007 but I helped where I could with moral support and cookies - we have about 320 hours on it. When he first finished the plane and he was taking it up for the first time ... well you can just say I was a bit of a basket case. I have come a long way since then - enjoying my first loop and barrel roll this past weekend! It was wonderful!
As I read your article it reminded me of a short synopsis of our first flight for family and friends and thought you might enjoy reading it to. I will post it below.
Thank you again for sharing your article - I really enjoyed it!
Carla Snow - wife of N214D, Gilbert, SC
An RV-9A Pilot’s Wife’s Perspective
Undoubtedly my Pilot will have his own version of today's events but as the ground crew (a/k/a wife), I have my own version.
It actually started last night, I had a hard time going to sleep, anticipating today's first flight. I said a quick prayer and finally fell off to sleep. 5:00 am was the waking hour for me. I got dressed and was still not believing that after one year and 4 months of rivets, instruments, paint, the first flight was here. I was excited and only marginally apprehensive about the day to come. That changed though on our "pre-flight briefing" we had on the way to the airport. It is basically about a 5-7 minute ride to the airport from our home – he used every minute of it. He has never talked so much, so fast. The first thing my brilliant pilot said to me was - there's a hammer in the trunk of the car in case you need to break the canopy to get me out....while I'm absorbing this horrible thought he says - do you know where the hospital is and how to get there? And then proceeded to give me instructions on how to find the hospital (in my defense we haven't lived here long and I have had no use for the hospital up to this point.). I'm panicking a bit now because I'm muddling the directions to the hospital...do I turn left by Walmart or right?? What's the hammer for, again? Why do I want to smash our new canopy - this isn't making sense. Do you remember how much a canopy costs? I do! To add more confusion - my pilot says - in case you can't get through with a hammer I have a cordless reciprocal saw you can use. Ok, I don't know how to operate a reciprocal saw but that doesn't phase my pilot... I'm thinking didn't we just spend the last 16 + months of our lives following every direction to the "T" on how to build this thing? I still haven't figured out the hammer thing -- it doesn't matter - we are at the airport - no wind, a clear day -"we" are flying shortly.
For the first time in 16 months I'm staring at every rivet wondering if it will hold...did we get a big enough engine....are those lights suppose to blink one at a time .... Why didn't I pay more attention when he was talking about the lights! I am about to shut this whole thing down -- there is no way we are flying today, “we” just aren’t ready and I turn around to put my coffee cup on the tool bench and decide I have to convince the pilot that "we" aren't ready to fly - there are some rivets on bottom I haven't looked at - and he is pulling the plane out of the hanger - with a nervous smile.
Okay, I realize I could be over reacting a bit so I take a deep breathe - he hands me a hand held radio, camera, video camera, cell phone, blackberry -- where is the hammer? He kisses me goodbye - why is he kissing me goodbye - he will be up such a short time - oh my, I realize I need my hammer...
He cranks the engine and to my satisfaction, it starts the first time. I hop in the car and head to the pre-appointed place I will stand during takeoff. He taxis to the end of the runway. I'm still not ready - I'm holding the camera and the video camera - trying to decide when I can safely put my hammer down - and here he comes down the runway ... Before I knew it he was airborne and I managed to get a few shots of him taking off.
Luckily I was "briefed" about what would happen during this first flight. After a variety of maneuvers, speeding up, slowing down, turning one way, then another my brilliant pilot decided he had to find out the stall speed. Luckily I was "briefed" so I was "ready" or so I thought! All I can say is I have never been happier I had not eaten breakfast because when he said "I'm at 55 knots, 50 knots, 45 knots...at 43 knots MY pilot and airplane started to fall from the sky! I held my breath - the motor started going faster and I bent over to hurl!
All in all it was a good day - the plane and pilot made it safely back to the ground. I never want to do this again. I feel sick. I never want to see a hammer again. My pilot is all smiles and thumbs up. I just smile right back – with a smile that says, “there was never a doubt in my mind”.