Welcome to a work in progress

This blog is dedicated to the restoration and modification of a Glasflügel Standard Libelle H201B, and a tribute to those who have dared to do the same, and to those who are helping with seeing this dream take flight.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I'm WHAT!!!!

Yes, that is what I was thinking when I received a phone call from my work. Friday, May 28th at 4:30pm, the end of the company bi-weekly pay period, I received a call from my supervisor informing me that I was being let go. Seven and a half years with the company, and that was it! I have just joined the ranks of the twenty percent of this country!

Now I had to put my project on hold. There is no way one could justify spending anytime or money on a frivolous project when you now had a bigger worry, how you are going to afford keeping a roof over your head!

The company gave me a stay of execution by letting me stay on for one month to allow them the time to break the news to the clients of other companies I was working with. There were all sorts of conditions that I had to keep secret, or they would terminate me on the spot. You've got to love that upper management and the value they have toward their employees! (which of course is based on their bottom line, and I'm sure they're not skimping on their bonus either). So, I played by their rules, in order for me to get a jump on finding new employment.

For the next four weeks, I concentrated on keeping the clients unaware of what our company was doing. I was keeping them happy, and looking for work (averaging ten to twenty applications a week), and worked on my school assignments.

Any donations sent to my paypal address axflyer@aol.com to help me finish this project will be gratefully accepted!   ;-)

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Any way , all kidding aside, .... on the following weekend, I vented my frustration by starting the sanding off of the gelcoat on the fuselage, and the removing of the last of the linkages in the rear area of the cockpit.

Let's look at those parts.

When you first look inside the fuselage through that access hatch, you realize you need to have small children around to help with removing parts. It is a tight squeeze.

As you can see, there is a great deal of surface corrosion that will need to be addressed.

Here is a detail photo showing the copper tubing used for the original oxygen system, and also the black COAX used for the antennae. This COAX was a heavy, non aviation grade wire. This appears to have been a replacement since it was not pulled thru the original holes in the ribbing . To add insult to injury, they left the old COAX still in the ribbing. Note the white wire in the top left side of the photo. It's the one in the middle of those three wires fished thru the rib. Who ever did this mod needed to be shot!. If you look at the center red circle, the Black COAX was held in place by a single plastic zip-tie. They also drilled a hole straight thru the rib and out thru the bottom of the fuselage.

I thought this hole was from a BB shot by someone on the ground. No, just some drill happy person doing a hack job while mounting the antenna cable. And then not taking the responsibility to repair the damage. 

Continuing the examination and removal....

This is a shot of the left side with left aileron linkage and airbrake actuator.

And below is a shot of the right side, with the elevator control rod , airbrake actuator.

Before removing the push rods, linkages and actuators, I had to remove the old copper tubing and electrical wiring.

Then starting with the airbrake actuator rod, I began removing the nuts and bolts and parts, one by one, only leaving the landing for another day.

As the parts starting seeing the light of day, the extent of the corrosion and what would be needed to clean them could now be appreciated.

Next, the extent of the corrosion.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Surprise, surprise, surprise! Part 2

After correcting the problem with my fuselage cradle, I removed the seat pan. It is now quite apparent that the cockpit belly was subjected to a gear up landing. Another bit of damage history omitted from the records.

During my pre-buy inspection, I did not know what I was looking for, but seeing the mis-matched fiberglass inlaid is very noticeable.
More lessons learned.

I removed the seat back completely by cutting the steel cable, and placed all of the fittings and nuts and bolts into marked Tupperware containers.
I inspected the seat back. The old polyester resin repair job was separating and I will need to grind it off and repair the damage with the correct material.

Another point noted in my pre-sale inspection was that Charlie stated that the mechanical vario wasn't working for quite some time, and that he relied on the Audio during his flights. Right after I removed the seat pan, I noticed something unusual about the condition of the plastic tubing for the pitot static system.

The T-connector for the tubing that supplies air from the TE probe to the Vario's was disconnected (note the red circle) ... Gee do you think that could be the reason why the mechanical vario wasn't working! I'm surprised that the audio vario worked as well!

As I nosed around inspecting the Pitot Static / TE probe tubing, I found a Thermos bottle attached to the tubing, glued behind the seat bulkhead and against the outer wall of the main wheel well. It was crudely glued and taped together. This was being used as the capacity flask for the TE / Vario system.

This seemed to be to be an unusual item to be used as a capacity flask, but then again. It was officially certified, I think??? The thermos had a label on it identifying it as a certified part, well kind'a.

Robert came by the house to check on my progress. As he looked at the nose and inspected the tow release, he stated, "yep, that's the original release and it needs to be replaced".  It's a PTT looking for a place to happen!

The next focus was to remove the stick and the linkage's that followed back to the aileron controls and elevator.


It was a chore to remove the stick in such a tight spot, but I now had room to remove the pedals and the nose bulkhead. I next removed the electrical wiring (which was not aviation grade material) and the tubing for the Pitot Static system and TE probe.

The pedals came out easily. They are held in with one bolt. I just needed to cut the steel cables, and they too were free. The next task was to create a tool to allow me to reach in three feet and pull off the nose bulkhead. I had to create a rod with a flat-angled knife edge to remove the sealant around the bulkhead, and then use the same blade to pry the bulkhead off.

This task is not for the faint of heart! It was a royal bitch to get it off. The bulkhead is held in with six bolts, and a thick seal of what looks like plumbers putty.

Once that was accomplished, I was able to take the bolts off of the nose release hook. But before the hook would come free, I had to cut the Bondo away from the nose ring that completed a lip in the nose opening.
This was the last task for me to complete for this weekend.

By the weekend of May 15th, I had removed the landing gear actuation rod and the control rod for the airbrakes. I also removed the CG hook release.


Once I completely gutted the cockpit , I started sanding down the loose fiberglass on the floor and cut away the mounting blocks and bolts for the lead weights.

But my life and project were due for a shake up in the weeks to come!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Surprise, surprise, surprise!

On the weekend of May 8, I began to remove the contents of the cockpit.

The seat pan was covered in canvas.

And bolted to the floor, there were two canvas covered bags of lead used to correct the weight of the glider.


                                          Twenty pounds of it!

While I was working on removing the seat pan, I noticed something strange with the sides of the fuselage. At the widest point around the cockpit, the sides were flat! 

While the glider was sitting in the trailer, in the hanger for two years, the fuselage cradle squished the sides in.      Who ever made this rig, did a horrid job.

The cradle was constructed out of thick fiberglass, but when they made the shape, they did not take in account for padding, especially for the heavy indoor-outdoor astro-turf type crap carpet thickness they chose to use. The carpet was glued in the cradle, and then forced the fuselage into it, which over time changed the side wall contours.

Since the fuselage was finally free of the constricting cradle, the sides were gradually starting to push back out to the original shape.
Here is the problem, my measurements for my jig where based on the measurements made while the glider was in the cradle, and now the strap and 2x4 uprights where digging into the expanding glass sides.

I removed the fuselage from the jig, and worked on widening the upright supports. When this was corrected, I replace the fuselage back into the jig.

I pondered over the flattened sides and was disheartened to think of this deformity. I called Robert and told him of my findings. His recommendations were to take measurement of the Albuquerque Soaring Club's Libelle 201B there at the Moriarty Airport, and then create an expandable press to push the shape back out. Also, I would need to create templates of the contour to ensure an accurate shape.

To help the shape to expand, the fiberglass would need to be carefully heated while the press was in place. He also suggested the possibility that painting the outside of the cockpit sides with black paint, and setting it over turned in the sun. There might be enough heat to cause the sides to return to their natural shape without creating the press, but a contour template would still be a good tool to have.

While all this planning was going on, the fiberglass started to return to it's natural shape on it's own, after I corrected my jig, that provided a wider span.
As soon as I noticed this, I tried to warm the sides with a heat gun to see if that would cause the sides to widen even more. To my surprise, it did!.

It's funny how the cradle dolly doesn't fit on the undersides of the fuselage now. I removed the astro-turf and retried fitting it, but it is still too tight a fit. I even used a belt sander to thin the glass down, but it's still too tight.

There is no way in hell I'm using this cradle the way it is. It will need to be cut corrected, or refabricated.

Now, lets get back to gutting the cockpit!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The work has started

The following weekend after I brought the glider home, I began working on making space in the garage to create the room necessary for this project. My plan was to work on what I believed to be the most complicated part of the restoration, the fuselage. I had to create an elevated cradle. I measured the fuselage width at the widest area, forward of the leading edge pins.

I modeled the cradles from the ones Robert Mudd had at his hanger, where he used the same style to work on the repairs in work shop. 

As soon as the cradle was finished, I pulled out the fuselage from the trailer, and carefully rolled it into the garage. With the help of Louise, I lifted the forward portion of the fuselage, and slid it into the jig.

I still needed to build the wing dolly, which I finished the following weekend. 

With the cradle made and the garage cleaned up (for the most part), it wasn't until the first weekend in May that I was ready to start the restoration.

The first thing I tackled was removing the registration numbers, pilot name, and a thick US flag. This was an easy task since the lettering was vinyl. A heat gun and a plastic scraper made short work of that!

Before the day was over the lettering was removed, and also the tail wheel!

Now the most exciting task ahead of me, clean out that cockpit!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

From 42 Charlie to Naughty Nixie!

A little history during the early stages of the restoration

As soon as we started the process of new ownership registration of 7742C with the FAA, I moved to change the N number from 7742C to 623NX. It's funny, that during the time I spent looking up the history on 42 Charlie, (an not finding any history with the NTSB),  it wasn't until I looked at the aircraft records first hand to discover that the original registration was 41R.

They say when you are looking to buy an airplane, it's best to contract a broker to run a history on the plane you are interested in. The problem there is timing. It's a Catch 22, while you are in the works on running history and title report, someone can jump in an grab the plane you are interested before you hear back from your broker.

The NTSB did have at least one record of a hard landing with 41R. So, I knew that she had a sordid history, and since 41R already had a register change once, I felt that there was no bad luck in changing it again, like renaming a ship.

Just before I picked the glider up, Louise and I discussed possible new registration numbers. I was also looking at the contest registration at the SSA. Since our balloon was 623KL "Kolibri", we settled on the same number, but it was the last letters that jumped at me, "NX". It reminded me of all of the early aircraft that pioneered advances in aviation, Their prefix registration always began with "NX". Also, the SSA had the NX opened in the registry. So we reserved the N number 623NX with the FAA.

Later we pondered on a pet name for the bird. A few days after we received the new registration papers and the confirmation of the N number change, I sang out "Nixie is ours"... The strange thing is, the name Nixie , or Nixe in German, are river or stream Nymphs (river mermaids) from old German Folk Lore. Libelle in German means Dragonfly, and a juvenile dragonfly is known as a nymph. How fitting!

So, say hello to Nixie!

Our unfinished, unofficial Nose Art

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A new roost for an old bird

On April 18, Sunday morning, Louise and I drove to Moriarty to have Robert Mudd inspect the bird for the first time.

We pulled up to the hanger of Composite Aircraft Repair. We were greeted by Robert and a few other pilots interested in seeing what I bought.

As we started unloading the glider from the trailer, many ideas and suggestion started flying around.
Robert commented that he liked the trailer, and some modification could be done to better protect the glider.

Just then, Rick Kohler of Sundance Aviation, and my all time instructor, walked up and gave the Libelle a look. He smiled and said to me, "Looks good, "Just fly the hell out of it!"

 Robert started his brief inspection and started pointing out areas that I should focus on for repair. Most of the issues where superficial trailer rash damages that needed repair, like the big ding in the trailing-edge of the rudder. Here is where we first started the disassembly. Off came the rudder and now I have a bag of bolts.

 He then stated, "I would really like to see the condition of the wing mounts and spars. You need to get those cleaned up a sanded down". At that point, I knew that a complete overhaul and strip down would be the best overall plan before flying this bird.

The proud owner of a project!

"The battle to buy a glider is over, the battle to restore one is about to begin".

Home again, home again!

Thursday morning, in order to avoid the morning rush hour, I started my way to Tacoma Narrows Airport at the crack of dawn. The roads were quite, and just shortly after I arrived at the airport, Charlie showed up to open the hanger. We loaded up the trailer, and I put the temp tags on. I inspected the tires and they did need air. As Charlie and I departed I stopped at the FBO to see if i could get the tires filled with air. A kind line mechanic added air to the tires and I was off to Pasco Washington to pick up my truck.

The loaner truck and trailer handled well while I traveled through the mountains and in no time, I was pulling into the Ford Service station to pick up my truck.

They had the truck ready when I arrived and I hooked up the trailer, and I was off to New Mexico. I again made my evening stop in Idaho. The truck was holding up well. Saturday morning i was off again, with my plans to get home that evening. For the most part, my travels were uneventful. the roads became busy as I drove through Moab Utah. It was spring and every Jeep, dirt-bike and four-wheeler where hitting the trails in Monument Valley.

I pulled into my driveway about 9pm. The end of a long road trip, over 3200 miles in four days.

The next morning I was looking at a new sight in my driveway.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Travel and turmoils

As soon as I returned from Tacoma, I scrambled to get ready to drive back to pick up my new toy!

First, I drove my truck to the service department to get it checked out, and to have an oil change. Next there was the need to get a temporary tag for the license of the trailer. I brought the bill of sale for the trailer, but since we used the same pen to fill out the form, the New Mexico DMV would not accept it. I had to email the form back to Charlie and after he filled it out, he had to rush it back to me. Once I received the form from Charlie, the NMDMV accepted the document and provided me the temp tag needed for the trailer so I could legally cross state lines.

I hit the road at 5am on Wednesday morning. my plan was to drive all day and then spend the night in Twin Falls Idaho.

The drive was for the most part uneventful.
Blue skies and good roads driving through Utah.

And with some interesting rock formations! (looks like Mrs. Butterworth)

Once I arrived in Salt Lake City, it was the height of the 5 o-clock rush hour, which slowed my progress, but as soon as I cleared the city limits, it was smooth sailing again.

It was around 9pm when I arrived in Twin Falls. Just as I pulled into the hotel parking lot, I noticed a strange sound coming from the engine when I was turning. I inspected the truck, but I didn't notice anything. I figured that I was just hearing things due to fatigue.

The next morning, I did another walk around on the truck and inspected the engine, but still, I did not see or hear anything unusual.

Well, there was a problem. When I was just east of Pendleton Oregon I noticed the steering started making a sound as I applied the brakes. I pulled into a rest stop and looked under the hood again, this time I noticed fluid dripping from the left side of the engine in front of the left wheel well. It was the hydraulic fluid that is used for both the power steering and brakes. I called Louise to have her check the Internet for the nearest Ford Service station. It turned out that the nearest one was sixty miles away in West Pasco, Washington.

I called the Ford Service to ask them if I could still drive the truck long enough to get it there, they stated that it was possible providing that I was conservative on my braking.

So I carefully drove the truck to the Ford Service. I now was concerned on what happened and how much it will cost to fix it.

I pulled into the Ford Service Center at 12 noon, and without waiting, the technician pull the truck into a bay. After 45 minutes., the verdict was in...... the main seal on the hydro boost blew and the impeller on the power stirring shattered. OMG! how much was that going to cost, and how long would it take? The Service manage stated that the cost to repair the truck would be just over $1000.00 and would take most of the day to complete the task. Now this was something I didn't need. I was already counting on that cash to help with the cost to get the sailplane flying. I called Charlie, and informed him of what happen and I would be delayed in getting to Gig Harbor.

A short time later, the Service Manager wanted to show me what needed to be replaced, as soon as I rounded the corner I noticed that the area that was being repaired was located near the exact location of where my wife just four months earlier was involved in an accident. I informed the Manager of my suspicions that the damage could have been related to the accident. After he and his tech both looked at the parts, they stated that it was possible that the damage could have been the results of the accident.

As the time was nearing 5pm, I was getting concerned, when the sales manager walked around the corner and informed me that they need a part to finish the repairs, and that the truck would not be ready until the next morning.

Just when things where looking bleak, the General manger offered me the use of one of their demos to pick up the glider.

They new that I needed to get to Tacoma that night and were OK with me keeping their truck overnight. So by 6pm, I was back on the road to Tacoma. I knew that I had over fours of driving ahead, and it would be too late to pick up the glider. I called Charlie and informed him that I would pick the glider up first thing in the morning, and that I would be spending the night in Seattle.

The drive to Seattle was uneventful, and I was able to get a room at the hotel I stayed at four days earlier.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sweat Equity

Pre-Sale Inspection. Part 2

I continued my inspection, and followed my checklist. I documented my observations of the condition of each bullet point on the list. I knew that I was going to miss something due to my inexperience in doing this type of inspection. Next was to install the instruments to see if they all work.
 Charlie stated that the mechanical variometer wasn't working, so they install a Borgelt electric vario (which I believe is not TSO!). I found out why the mechanical vario wasn't working., but that will come later.

After completing the inspection, it was time to review the airframe log.

What a history! "What do you expect for a forty year old glider!?"
Charlie was only aware on one major repair that was documented in the log, but it in the folder that was being used to keep the aircraft documents, I found a title search report that was made a loan company hired by the second buyer. The aircraft had a accident three years later, and the damage was in the same location as the first repairs. During the inspection, I could barely see the repair work that was completed back in the late '70s. This repair was not documented in the logbook, what else wasn't documented. Some record keeping!

Damage, lets just say that she was flown hard and put away wet! I noticed some minor repairs on the gear doors, which is an indication that the craft had at least had one gear up landing (which is not an uncommon thing). Again, the surface condition of the gelcoat was such a mess, that there would be a lot to get this bird returned to factory fresh condition.

I completed the inspection after three hours of crawling around, and my head was swimming on what do I want to do next. The price was too good to believe after seeing the photos the first time, but seeing the plane in person took the wind out of my sails. This was a bit of a let down. I could just remember seeing the other two Libelles back in Moriarty looking to clean and smooth, and then there is this poor bird, wasting away in a hanger in Washington. I needed some help with my decision, I need to call Robert for help!

Here's the Deal!
I called Robert and he was willing to help with putting my head around on what is a good deal and when to walk away. I know that I would be hard pressed to just walk away. I discussed my observation from my checklist and included my discoveries in the missing repairs documented in the log. All of this was to no surprise to Robert, Being in the business for over twenty years, he has seen a lot of the good, bad, and the ugly. Robert then asked me what the selling prices was on the glider. I told him that Charlie originally was asking $9500, which included the trailer and a new parachute, but if we forgo the annual, he would deduct that cost.

Robert was silent for a moment, then came his response to the analyse. He stated that he would be hesitant on buying this bird and it might be best to just walk away now. My heart sank after hearing that. That was something that I really didn't want to hear, knowing that I could not afford to buy a new glider, or find something that I could afford. I then asked Robert what was the main concerns I could expect to have by going through with the deal. He stated that the Airworthy Directives and some of the linkages might need to be replaced, not including that the poor condition of the gelcoat would effect the performance of the glider that would discourage me. He said that all of the problems could be corrected, but it would require time and sweat equity to put her back in shape, "if you are willing to do that, then it just comes down to finding a fair price".

A hole in the sky you throw money into! Just like buying a boat, "how much do you wanna spend?"
So, I told Robert that I was willing to invest in the sweat equity to pull this poor bird back into shape. I asked Robert if here would be willing to help oversee my work, which he said, he would. Then my next question was, "what is a fair price?" His response was, "if you can get $8500, you got a good deal".

It's a deal!, Well, that was the plan. I was able to split hairs and with the counter offer of $8800, we closed the deal. "how soon will you be up here to pick it up?"

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Off to see the Wizard

I completed a four page document that became the checklist that I would use to help me with the inspection of the plane. I drove back the the airport to discuss with Robert the document that I had prepared. He looked over the paperwork and added a few addition bullet points to the list. He also reassured me that he would gladly help me if I had any questions while I was up there doing the inspection. I know that Robert is really busy with his operations, and I really appreciate his offer to help. He of course interjected "I look on the bright side on getting all that new business from you!" (said with a big cheesy grin!).

I contacted the seller to determine when a good time to schedule the inspection. My plan was to fly up to Tacoma on a weekend to inspected the plane, then to drive up the following week to pick it up.

I managed to get the approval to take Friday, April 9th off from work to fly up to Tacoma. I booked the flight, a hotel room and car for the weekend, and fly back Sunday.

The seller was anxious to sell the plane and have it out of the hanger before the first of May (to avoid paying for the hanger space another month.) He asked if there was anyway that I could get there sooner, but since the weekend prior to my planned trip was Easter, the airlines blacked out those days. It was April 9th or later.

Friday, April 9th, I was off to Tacoma. My flight arrived at SEATAC at noon, and there was no problem with getting the car or my room. The seller was out all day, so there was no way that we could get together sooner to inspect the plane. Such is life.

Saturday, after having sleepless night just thinking about the inspection, I decided to get an early start driving to Gig Harbor, which was about forty minutes from the hotel. I made good time driving to the airport (without speeding) and arrived early. Since the airport required card access, drove around doing a little sightseeing.

Fifteen minutes later I headed back to the Gig Harbor Airport. The Seller, Charlie Long was waiting at the gate. He escorted me in and we made our introductions. we walked into the hanger where the Glider trailer has been parked for two years. Charlie had made periodic inspections on the plane and trailer, but he and his wife had been spending more time on their boat, that his love of soaring had to take a backseat.

Charlie and I pulled the trailer out and started to unload the glider.

She was dusty and looking like she was needing some loving.

As we pulled the fuselage out and I started noticing that the gelcoat cracking was worse then what the photos showed. Argh! The cracking and blistering was not localized, it was all over the fuselage.

I pulled out my checklist and started documenting the conditions bullet point by bullet point. We assembled the wings and tested the linkage.The wing mounts were worn, but the attachment points were still in very good condition.

As we assembled the glider, Charlie instructed me on how the aircraft went together.

Once the glider was assembled I continued the inspection. This was going to be a learning experience.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Trials and Divine Inspiration

The Pre-Sale Inspection!?!?!?! Now what!!??
Oh yes, I asked the following questions, What was the date of the last major overhaul, last annual inspection and last avionics check?, Are all airworthiness directives completed and in compliance?, Is there a damage history, major and minor (if any)?, What are the conditions of the avionics?, What is the overall condition of the interior and exterior?, What is the condition of the gelcoat?, Blah, Blah Blah. But where do I find someone locally who can seriously inspect this plane? With this new task in front of me, I needed the extra time to pull this together.

After contacting the seller requesting permission to schedule the inspection, I started asking around to find out who was available to perform the inspection. My first contact was with the SSA. They called me back with a few suggestions to get me on my way. The first suggestion was to call the local glider port and ask someone their, the next was to contact a local A&P, and lastly, call the local authorized glider repair station (now that opened a fresh can of worms!) I did just that.

Now in Washington state, there is not a plethora of Glider operations to choose from, and almost no one is local to Tacoma. After two days of trying to find someone, it became quite evident that I was on my own.
The local A&P that worked on this glider was not a glider expert, the local glider port all suggested that the glider needs to be taken to the only glider repair station in the state (which was almost a two hour drive north of Tacoma, one way). The Glider repair station was willing to do it, but it would cost $500 (and I was told by almost everyone I talked to, that the owner of the repair shop was notorious for finding all sorts of minute issues and would want them repaired before he would release the glider back to the seller, adding another two grand to the pre-sale inspection).

Finding someone to perform the inspection was looking grim.So it was off the the airport to talk to Robert about what is involved with a pre-sale inspection, maybe I could do it myself?

Robert was again very helpful in educating me on what I needed to look for while performing the inspection. He even instructed me on what to look for using the Libelle 201B that the Albuquerque Soaring Club has in their fleet. There was a suggestion that I send Robert up to take a look at it, but I was counting pennies now.

Robert informed me that Robin Forster (a young pilot from Germany that stayed in Albuquerque last summer) sent in a series of photos he had taken of the newly restored Libelle Ship #1.

It was gorgeous. I could not believe that this craft was well over forty years old.

The finish was glass like, smooth, shiny, flawless.

And the cockpit could rival the latest sailplane manufactured today!

Robert instilled a feeling of inspiration when he said, "you know, the Libelle you're looking at could look like this!"  - my mission statement is this poster child!

Another comment Robert made was about the number of Eugen Hänle designed aircraft based out of the Moriarty airport. Stating that if I were to purchase the plane, there would be five Glasflügel aircraft here! Too cool!

With notes in hand, it was off to develop a plan and inspection process before heading to Gig Harbor to inspect this plane myself.

Yes Sensei!

Ask and ye shall receive.... Too scary a thought.

As my thoughts began racing through my head on what I need to do in preparation before committing myself to the purchase. I knew that I needed to work fast if I were to acquire this plane. Even though the Libelle is over forty years old, they are still quite popular and they get snatched up quickly. I went back to the Airport in Moriarty to talk with Robert Mudd of Composite Aircraft Repair. On a few occasions, I dropped by his operation to see what goes on with glider repair. Robert is very helpful and interested in seeing others taking interest in the sport of gliding.

On this visit, I talked to him about the Libelle I found for sale on the Internet and what I needed to find out about a plane that was forty years old. Robert was interested in seeing the photos of the plan and the trailer. The days that followed, the seller of the Libelle provided me with a number of photos per Roberts request, and forwarded them to Robert for his review.

While Robert was reviewing the photos, the seller was getting anxious to sell, and request a security deposit. I was able to put the seller off while I was pending the results from Roberts review.

When the call came in, Robert was optimistic about the overall condition of the plane based on the photos. He was also impress with the condition of the trailer since it was a homemade one.

There were some questions about the strange blistering in the gelcoat, but without a pre-buy inspection, those details could only be speculative as to the cause and what would be needed to correct them.

There were other problems noted, such as the surface cracking in the gelcoat on the fuselage, but that too required someones impartial inspection.

So with that being said, Robert believed that a pre-buy inspection would be worth investing.

I contacted the seller, and made the arrangements to provide him with a security deposit to hold the sale until I could make arrangements for a pre-buy inspection.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Journey Begins

Welcome to the restoration diary on my Glasflugal Standard Libelle. I'm a bit late in publishing this, but better late than never.

But first, a little background history:
I have been hot air ballooning since 1992 and became a private LTA pilot in 1995. It wasn't until my wife and I moved to Albuquerque (the ballooning Mecca of the US) that I started my training in powered flight (weird, huh). After we moved to Albuquerque I was unable to find crew to help with our balloon. The best crew in the world was back in Ohio. Out of frustration from the lack of flying, I went to the local FBO to see what it would take to get me back into the air. Eleven months later, I had my SEL rating and was back punching holes in the sky. But I still had this fascination toward soaring flight, and I found myself driving to the Glider Port in Moriarty NM (seven miles from my home) to watch the glider operations in action!

This story began in January of 2009, I decided it was high time to learn how to fly gliders. My love for soaring was first sparked after seeing the Disney film "The Boy Who Flew With Condors". On a cold January weekend, my gliding lessons began. We had a hard winter that year and a late spring that dragged my training out into the summer. Rick Kohler is the owner of Sundance Aviation and one of my instructors. Rick was joking with me on how this unusual weather was my fault since I was so close to getting signed off for my Glider add-on rating. So, by mid-July I was finally certified with my Glider rating. I knew I would need to get a sailplane of my own. After six months of looking and saving money for a sailplane, I found my first fixed wing aircraft.

So now, we get to the point of this blog!

It all started on March 2010. I was looking in the SSA classified ads when I found a Standard Libelle 201B for sale in Tacoma Washington. I opened a dialog with the owner, who was very helpful and willing to provide photos and the history of his glider. 

The sailplane is a Standard Libelle H-201B serial number #106. She was manufactured in 1970 and was originally registered N41R.

She had a long flying history of over 1500 hours and was a bit brused. After being sold the third time, she was re-registered N7742C and resided in a hanger in Gig Harbor WA.

Upon receiving photos of the Libelle, I found that this little bird was going to need some TLC. I knew that without the support of a knowledgeable mentor, there would be no way that I could tackle the task of cleaning up the glider in preparation for the summer soaring season.

My next task was to find someone who could provide me with their unbiased opinion before I make a dreadful costly mistake.