Wednesday 19 June 2013 07:42 UTC
This forum is for anything to do with light aviation
“I want that one” I said to my wife in a Little Britain voice as I spun my laptop round to show her the multi-coloured Isaacs Fury. “Course you do dear” replied Sybil Fawlty without looking up from her ‘Manage Your Husband Monthly’ magazine the cover of which shouted the headlines ‘Cattle Prods, The Answer!’ and ‘Don’t Feed Him Meat!’. In fairness to her I’d said the same thing many times over the years and never done more than fire off a few emails or make the odd phone call to ask about engine hours but this time it was different. By the way if you are reading this and I ever called you asking about engine hours let me apologise now for wasting your time. Also, I wouldn’t get too excited about the title ‘Manage Your Husband Monthly’. It’s not an instruction for your woman to book a regular diary date so don’t waste your money on a subscription.
The reasons for my procrastination in the past were two-fold. Firstly, my would-be partner in aviation always pulled out at the last minute citing pressure of work, another deal or the phase of the moon. Secondly, my passion for TVRs meant that all my spare cash went into a car and until I either won the lottery or sold the car of the moment browsing the internet and wasting people’s time was as close as I’d get to owning an aircraft. Except this time it was different. This time irresistible forces were coming into play in the form of my eldest daughter and her DNA. The fruit of my loins had her 17th birthday approaching. She's the offspring of a car fan and a strong-willed antipodean (her mother) so I didn’t stand a chance. At 17 years of age the main thing........well alright, one of the main things, on your mind is learning to drive and as I had carefully, some might say craftily, planned my acquisition of an aircraft so too had she plotted obtaining her driving licence, her theory test (passed first time) and driving lessons. I mean, she’d even drawn up a spreadsheet, a spreadsheet for f.....flip's sake(!) listing local driving schools and their charges, vehicles and popularity among her peers. It was like facing up to Rommel in a desert campaign armed with a scabby camel and a catapult. I was outgunned and there was nothing for it, my car had to go to finance this teenage, female, would-be speed fiend’s plans for road domination. On the upside though I could use a relatively small percentage of the sales proceeds toward her car (which she’ll poke into the scenery within the first couple of weeks anyway so no point spending a lot) and blow the lion’s share on an aircraft for me. Hurrah! I could even pretend I was doing it as some paternal, altruistic act while pulling lots of ‘woe is me’ faces and making her do extra home chores while I laid on the guilt in spades. Oh yes. This was going to work out extremely well. Just watch.
In fairness I’d already resolved to sell the car because whichever deity saw me home safely from the pub had been running a sideline keeping me from speed cameras and the rozzers (not at the same time I hasten to add) and it was only a matter of time before my unsullied driving licence (well alright, it has a few rubbed out endorsements from the distant past) gained graffiti in the form of messages starting ‘SP’ followed by a very high number proportionate as a square to a large chunk of my pay packet and perhaps even a stretch at the pleasure of Her Maj. The thing about tinkering with fast machinery is that there’s always that nagging thought that you could do a bit more, take that bend a little faster, shave a few minutes off your journey home late at night and I had this niggling feeling that I’d had more than my portion of luck. In fact if you subscribe to the yin-yang-balance-of-the-universe type of thing it was due to me that every time some poor Bangladeshi fisherman pulled up his nets they had massive holes in them, he clumped himself on the head with a float and fell overboard to be eaten by sharks. In short I’d had my fair share of the universe and needed to wind it down a bit. To about 90 knots would be nice.
So the Isaacs advertisement was a sign from the gods. I’d always hankered after one, I would soon have the money, my wife had wholeheartedly (cough) agreed..........well, she hadn’t objected had she? Had she? And ummmm, it was in an outrageous colour scheme akin to my motorcycle leathers last worn in 199mumblemumble and if that wasn’t a nod from the heavens, what was? This could be my last chance until Halley’s Comet came around again so phone calls had to be made.
To cut a long story short the aircraft had been built over about thirteen years by a very careful man named Graham who clearly hadn’t accepted second best. He’d put a lot into her and it was clear from my conversations and correspondence with his family that she meant a lot to them. It was sobering to hear that having only flown her for a couple of years he fell ill and after a long illness, passed away. The aircraft remained in the family and they arranged with a good friend, a fellow aviator and classic aircraft restorer, to have her flown to airshows and fly-ins. After several years they agreed to de-rig her and put her into storage in a warm, dry hangar. While she was there several people made offers but all were turned away. There was (and still is) a strong emotional tie between them and the aircraft which became clear early on in our conversations. I knew that I could easily buy a newer, more frugal yet less soulful aircraft but where’s the fun in that? It would be like buying a fridge. “It’s white. It’s oblong. It keeps your wine cold”. Nope, not my kind of thing whereas a Fury in the colours of the Persian Air Force ........................ahhhhhhh, now there’s a machine with character.
Negotiations were somewhat simplified by the asking price being fair, my wanting her and the family wanting me to have her. A deal was struck, subject to survey, and I set about contacting my engineer/partner in aviation who had assured me, swore on oath, spit in me ‘and and cut me frote if I lets you dahn this time guv’nor that this time, this time we were going through with it come what may. I confess to a little resentment when I made the call to say I’d looked the plane over, even sat in her and made “Brrrr” noises, so needed him to give it his professional seal of approval. I was already thinking that I didn’t want to share her in a Smeagol-like fashion but a deal’s a deal and I didn’t want to upset him so I wasn’t altogether too peeved when our conversation took it’s usual course. “Well, ummm, there’s this other aircraft I’m looking at and ummm, it’s a good deal and ummm....”. You can guess the rest. Was I upset? Was I ‘eckaslike! I was delighted. She was The Precious and she was all mine. Slightly embarrassed I broke the news to the family that it might take me a little while to find someone to conduct a pre-purchase inspection. Not only did they not mind but they also gave me the names and numbers of a couple of LAA engineers who knew the aircraft already. I chose one who inspected the aircraft two days later on a Sunday and charged me the princely sum of £60. Sixty quid! His report was even more pleasing. ‘......properly inhibited......excellent compressions......dry......spiders......minimal work required to become airworthy...’ followed by a comment to the effect that if I didn’t buy her, he would. Ever get the feeling that the gods are moving pieces around on a board? I swear I heard a snigger from somewhere up by the lampshade.
For all her good looks though the aircraft was about to be in the way. The hangar in which she was stored was used as part of a restoration business and several other aircraft (jobs) were inbound. Even with her wings off and stored in a cradle (or toast rack as I prefer to think of it) the fact remained that she was taking up room and anyway Suffolk is too far from home for me to be schlepping back and forth with a bagful of spanners. I began making arrangements to hire a van for the toast rack and a trailer for the fuselage. Oh, and to rope in my long suffering brother who happens to own a Land Rover blessed with a tow bar with the added benefit that he’s a professional photographer who wanted to record the event.
D-Day approached but at T-5 the trailer company announced that they’d rented ‘my’ trailer out to someone else because they wanted it for two weeks. My protestations fell on deaf ears and I set about finding a replacement. Aha! Got one! Fantastic! Up yours ‘We Rent Your Trailer To Other People Ltd’, I’ve got another trailer so won’t be needing you (two-fingered gesture......two fingered gesture). At sparrow’s o’clock on the designated morning I set out for the van hire company. Small, one man band. Very courteous, efficient and reasonable. Then headed off to trailer hire company #2. “It’s not here yet”. “What? It was supposed to be here an hour ago” “It’s errr, on the A14” “Well get it here. I need it” I explained while pointing at the van and making towbar coupling gestures at my brother’s Land Rover. “There. Now. Click. Brrrm. Drive away. Come. We go. Ungowah” I said, wondering how I’d morphed into Tarzan. A waste of time when you’re dealing with a company more used to the intricacies of renting out Kango hammers and mini-diggers. “Aeroplane? Ugg? Grunt”. Don’t bother. The trailer eventually turned up but it seemed that someone had misinterpreted ‘2000kg’ as 20 feet for which I blame the guv’mint and our woeful education system. I’ll leave you to work out how I was supposed to fit a fuselage on to a trailer half its length. We hired from elsewhere a week later.
Ditching the Land Rover we piled into the white vaaaan, threw a copy of The Sun onto the dashboard and sped toward Suffolk demonstrating scant regard for road signs, markings and other road users. Two full englishes in a lay-by later we drew up outside the hangar, silenced the clattering diesel and were met by the family. We talked at length about the aircraft, her builder and some of their exploits together which raised plenty of laughs and made me realise I had a hard act to follow. A large box of documents, photographs and log books were handed over and we set about loading the wings into the vaaaan. Although the cradle/toast rack had been more than adequate in which to keep the wings in a hangar they sat, by design, in loose straps which would pendulum horribly on the road. We spent two hour swaddling them with blankets and bubble wrap before strapping the cradle into position in the vaaaan. That part of the job should have taken only an hour but that bubble wrap is just so damn irresistible, isn’t it?
We drove toward Hertfordshire in a considerably more careful fashion than we’d headed eastward that morning, stopping every fifteen minutes or so to check that nothing had shifted. Several old people on zebra crossings were sacrificed to ensure that we didn’t brake hard. Once home we opened the vaaaan doors, released the ratchet straps and contemplated at least an hour of removing and popping bubble wrap. Then it began to rain. “What if we just lift the cradle and wings out in one go?”. Gingerly we rolled the whole ensemble backward and lifted one end. It weighed not a lot. A couple more trial lifts and we went for it. Placing the cradle on the ground we smiled in the realisation that we had just saved ourselves some pub time. After a quick ferret round in the garage I produced a lightweight tarpaulin which was tied over the whole bundle. It was wheeled up against the garage door and wedged into position. Then we went to the pub to plan Phase II, The Fuselage.
Last edited by Flintstone on Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:55 am, edited 2 times in total.
Brilliantly written - you should do that professionally. Loved the details vaaan, throwing a copy of the Sun in the front for versimilitude (what word am I looking for???), and the whole thing what 'we' go through lusting after a new (old) car/motorcycle/aeroplane.
Trouble is in my case further inspection has always revealed a downside, hopefully not in your case!!
Only quibble, Kangol I think are berets. Kango('?)s are jack-hammers.
Wilma is such an understanding woman.
Suiting the action to the words
Do you offer consultancy services? Its just that I have Wife and Child who need convincing that it is time, again, for our own aircraft.
I think you've cracked it Dave, 'our' rather than 'my'!
How about something small, light and economic, an AT-3 perhaps?
Suiting the action to the words
Great write-up, made me smile despite being afflicted with a nasty bout of man flu!
Thanks folks. I'll start on the next chapter which to be honest isn't exciting as it (collecting the fuselage) went smoothly. I'm hoping to get my LAA inspector round to draw up a work sheet in a week or so though so no doubt that will raise much hilarity
Dead right. I bow to your superior knowledge of percussion tools and slightly camp headgear Edited.
In the meantime, a couple of photos.
A few more here Isaacs Fury They are just thrown in there as I didn't have much time this morning. A few duplicates and some from t'web but you get the gist.
That was just about the funniest thing i've read here.
Thanks for sharing.
Lovely aircraft BTW
Brilliant! Eagerly awaiting the next instalment.
Not an IFA, but I can show you some clever stuff with pensions and investments.
Engurlish levul 6 profishent
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