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Plane gets close to completion

By George Fletcher.

The following are excerpts from two Plane Build newsletters (7 and 14 June) sent out from the Mercury Bay Area School. These newsletters or Plane Build Logs are published once a week, written up by George Fletcher who is Head of Metal technology at the school and oversees the Plane Build. There is no other college in New Zealand that has a plane build programme. This programme sits under the Mercury Bay Student Aviation Trust and has the support and skilled input of local pilots and engineers. At this present time, there are seven students taking part in this programme which takes them through every practical aspect of building a small plane and experience at the controls of a plane. The current plane the students are building from a supplied kit was purchased by Leigh Hopper of The Waterways Development.

From George Fletcher

“Sometimes it’s difficult to write about the tasks at the build because there is so much happening all at once. Today (June 7) was one of those days. That log needed to be documented in bullet points.

• Mounting the cowling/fairing plates to the fuselage

• Cleaning and vacuuming the interior of the aircraft and then fitting the internal inspection covers.

• Locating and fitting the seatbelts

• Fitting rubber fairings to the landing gear legs

• Filling rivets on the fuselage with epi-fill

• Sealing any gaps between the firewall and the inside of the instrument panel with high temperature sealant.

• Fitting the pitot tube mount on the engine

• Fitting the upper and lower cowling/fairing hinges

As you can see there were a number of jobs completed. It was also nice to have one of our student’s grandparents come along to check out our project and see how everything operates.

From June 14 - The plane gets close to completion

Canopy Frame Fitting - The main task was to get the main frame of the canopy fitted. Unfortunately, a task like this restricts the movement of other students who may have tasks to complete in the same area of the aircraft.

As a result, there was a bit of standing around, so we decided to get a couple of students up for their trial flight. It was Casey and Rita’s chance to see Whitianga from the sky. The weather was absolutely perfect! Getting students up flying requires a strict set of requirements that need to be met, mostly around weather and equipment. However, after ticking off all of our checks, Tony and I were happy to commence the flights. The smiles on the faces of the students were just priceless. As you see from the pictures, it was an absolute stunner of a day.

Hooking up the Heater Hoses

Sidney’s job was to connect the hoses from the exhaust shroud to the air vent that enters the cockpit. This allows the cockpit to be heated when the weather is cold. It’s quite a simple task. However, getting the hose the right length can take a bit of time as hoses cannot interfere with anything else in the engine bay.

Pro Sealing Gaps under the Mid Fuselage Section

As we get closer to completing the aircraft, we need to tidy up some small jobs. Siobhan worked under the plane to fill in any gaps that were present mainly around the boarding steps.

If you are a regular reader of this log and are ever in Whitianga on a Wednesday afternoon, we would encourage you to make contact with us to come along and check out what we are doing. Our doors are always open.

Remembering Jim Evans:

June 14 was the anniversary of the passing of Jim Evans who was the founder of the Plane Build programme at MBAS. In George Fletcher’s words, “We remain thankful for all that Jim did for us and for all that the Evans family still do for us. We sure do miss Jim.”

Caption: Hard working team of the plane build.


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