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.

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.