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98. Meanwhile back at the ranch…


… Rick, who’d been unable to come to New Zealand with us, has been making steady progress with finishing off the cabane struts and making inspection covers to go on the undersides of all four wings.

And I’ve made a big step forward in my personal relation with the aircraft, in that I’ve discovered that I may actually be able to fit in it! The problem has been that, like Granddad 100 years ago, my knees barely fit under the instrument panel. At least, they do, but only if my knees are knocking together, which means that I can only operate the stick and rudder together in a complicated sort of dance; when I want to operate the rudder to the left, my knees also have to go to the left, and so, therefore, does the stick. Under normal circumstances, that’s exactly how you would want to operate the two controls, but no-one would suggest this as a satisfactory method of flying a very ancient aircraft!

Granddad’s solution was to remove the cushion, and this lowered his bottom (and therefore his knees) just enough to be able to fly it satisfactorily, and I’d already tried that. It helped a bit, but not really enough.

So today I followed up my wife’s suggestion and took my shoes off, and the net result is that I can now get full movement of both controls in opposite directions.

With the cushion removed from the seat, and my shoes off, I can at last get full and free movement of the controls. Hooray!

With the cushion removed from the seat, and my shoes off, I can at last get full and free movement of the controls. Hooray! The photograph is courtesy of Katie Smith.

Unfortunately the absence of shoes is no help with the precarious business of getting in and out of the aircraft. It was famously difficult in 1915, and we grandchildren are generally larger and a good deal older. It’s hard to tell at the moment exactly how hard it’s going to be, since we don’t often have the wings fitted and the cockpit surround isn’t made yet, but we haven’t discounted the possibility of a crane system like that used for medieval knights.

Clear for take-off!


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