This isn't really a normal review, as
much of the class has already been documented in the
empennage section in the
builder's log, so you
can follow our day-to-day progress, and look at the rather ridiculously large
number of pictures.
A few background things, and then I'll start making editorial comments. The whole
week was a good, but exhausting, experience. By all means go, but don't expect a
vacation in the sense that you'll get to sleep a lot and not have to work. This
was more exhausting than my normal job. Given my job, this is actually saying
something fairly substantial. You'll be tired after standing a lot, make sure you
have a good pair of tennis shoes.
A week before I was going to go to this workshop, my work schedule took an
unanticipated turn, and I had to push the date back by two weeks. The Alexander
people let me do this without any trouble at all, which probably bodes well for
all you out there in readerland who are thinking about going but have unpredictable
schedules. Just don't change the schedule five or six times.
Things that were good:
- Good instruction - the main instructor for the class is Jacob
Biang, who has
been invovled in the construction of about 120 empennages
of various RVs - mostly 7s, 8s, and 9s.
Also as of now (June 04) they've done two RV-10 empennages. (These don't fit into
the normal week schedule, though.) Jacob has more experience building RV empennages
than anyone else you're likely to meet, and unless you're building a -3 or a -4, he's
built multiple versions of whatever airplane you're working on.
- Lots o' tools - the workshop has all sorts of tools, and
this presents a great opportunity to figure out what your favorite (for example)
hand squeezer is before you charge off and buy one. I bought the Avery Tools
RV toolkit before I went to this, and although I'm happy with this, I think if I had
spent a week
with both the Avery and Cleveland hand squeezers before I bought one, I probably would
have ended up with a different one. This is almost all personal preference - it's nice
to have extended periods of time to try a bunch of different tools if you're not sure
which one you want to buy.
- Hospitality - rather than rent a hotel room in Griffin, we stayed at the
Tech Center. This is really the best way to do this - you're right there, you save
on driving time, and there's a kitchen right there so you don't really have to go out
to eat if you don't want to. You can just walk into the kitchen and make a sandwich.
The folks at ATC were really terrific about making us feel welcome and even turned on
the internet access in our room when we asked. They went out of their way to make
sure we had a great experience, and it was really appreciated.
Things that could have been better:
How you can prepare/what to expect:
- Bring another person - attending this workshop with my dad
made it an extremely different experience than what others have experienced while
this workshop. If you have an opportunity to bring someone else along, you'll probably
get done quicker, you'll both be less exhausted by the end of the week, and you have
another set of eyes and another brain to help remember what the instructor is telling
you. All of these are extremely nice to have. Besides, if you bring someone along,
you've got a default shop helper when you get back home.
- Attempt to go on a week when the class is not full -
this is less important than bringing another person, but it can make
a difference in how quickly you get done. It probably won't make a difference in how
much you're able to talk to the instructor or how much attention you'll get, however, if
there are four people in the class, you'll end up waiting to get tools and ask questions.
You'll still get done, it will just take the maximum amount of time, and will probably
take several late nights.
Conclusion: if you have not built a metal airplane before, and you do not have
a large amount of shop experience, this workshop will be extremely helpful.
Contact Information and Cost:
- While this class may not be necessary for all RV builders,
I think it was necessary for us.
Everyone that I have talked to that
has attended this program at Alexander has recommended it to other people. On
the other hand, most
people that have built an RV without going to a program like this have told me
that it's not really necessary. I extrapolate from these two facts that it's
necessary for those with less experience in the shop or who feel like they want
to be jumpstarted when they begin construction. If you have a large group of
RV builders in the area that are willing to help you get started, this program
is probably less necessary than it would be if you are on your
own. There are a large group of RV builders in the
area, though, and I still attended this program.
Update - 29 May -
I'm extremely pleased with the quality of workmanship that came out of
this workshop, and got confirmation of that from other RV builders, too.
Today, I brought a few of the completed empennage parts to a
TVRVBG meeting, and all the RV builders
there agreed that the workmanship on these parts was excellent.
- Web address:
- Location: Griffin-Spalding Airport (6A2), south of Atlanta, GA.
- Cost (at time of review): approximately $1700, add $200 for a second person to attend.
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