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My Moddy in Waddy
The little brown dog sniffed around the airplane and looked up at me with contempt. The son reported to his father with disdain that someone used the wrong kind of screws on the wheel pants. I was the someone in the wrong; and the day was the day my plane went to
Waddy on a trailer. My Zenith 601 was damaged in a storm in Cambridge , Maryland in the spring. Jeff Garrett traveled all the way from Waddy, Kentucky with his family (including browndog) to tow my plane in for repair of the damaged ailerons and the upgrade modifications.
Seeing my plane being disassembled and loaded on a trailer was an awful sight. Like accidently walking in on your mother undressed. Something you never want to see and suddenly everything feels wrong. Airplanes with their wings off are a pitiful and ugly
site. The image was burned in my memory as the trailer pulled away.
Every dog owner knows that there are dog years and human years with one human year equal to seven dog years. I learned after my airplane went to Waddy that there are Virginia years and Kentucky years with a Virginia year being five months and a Kentucky
year being forever. So, it took forever to get my plane back.
Weird things happen during forever. Two shipments of ailerons are damaged and the day temperatures in Kentucky are something akin to summer in the Mojave Desert . Jeff had to wait for parts and had to wait until sundown to work all night and sleep during the
hot hours of the day. I imagined Jeff as some kind of mad monk, feverishly working on my airplane all night like Quasimodo ringing the bells in Notre Dame Cathedral.
Given these conditions and the fact that he was working on the airplane that I would have to, you know fly, I didn’t want to rush him. I called once a week and each week Jeff would explain the condition and reassure me that the plane would be “better than expected.” Many weeks passed and there was one phone conversation that led to Jeff giving his mobile phone a flying lesson while I listened on the other end… but we won’t dwell on that.
The happy day finally arrived when Jeff called to say the plane was “ready” and I quickly booked a flight to Louisville on a Sunday with plans to fly home on Monday. I rented a car, and after a couple of hours, completed the 30 mile trip from Louisville to Waddy and met Jeff. I couldn’t wait to see my perfected golden airplane glistening in the sun
“ready” for my maiden flight in a 601 XL-B.
In Virginia , we think of “ready” as meaning something very close to “finished”. I soon learned that “ready” in Kentucky means a few things left to do before “finished” and the clock started ticking away in “ Kentucky time” as I surveyed an array of parts and pieces and a missing interior. Jeff assured me that the plane was going to be much better than when he got it but I had some doubts.
Jeff’s answer for my doubts was for us to take a drive to Madison to see an airplane he built. I thought a quick half-hour jaunt. It was a two-hour back-country escapade
to Madison , INDIANA ! I told my wife I thought I heard the faints sounds of “Dueling Banjos” in the distance during the ride. She said, “that sounds nice.” I said, “you didn’t
see the movie.” We arrived in Madison and Jeff showed me a finished work.
It was a beautiful 601 and everything was great – nice plane. After all of ten minutes, two hours back through the dark night in Indiana .
Just because Jeff and I shared a different concept of time, I don’t want to give the impression that I was dissatisfied with the work. With Jeff, it is like going to a restaurant that notes on the menu that each item is painstakingly prepared to assure the highest
quality. Jeff takes his time and does the job right. He also tends to fix things as he goes. I didn’t ask Jeff for new quick drains in my wings or to save my butt by noticing a worn out bungee but he noticed and he fixed things. His mantra, “It will be better” proved true and was worth the wait.
The magical day finally arrived and I was strapped-in to the Golden Zen and ready to fly-off some test time in the Kentucky hills and brush off any rust on my pilot skills. I was very excited and took off from the grass strip at 3KY9 (my first grass take-off in the
601 and not pretty) to a nearby airport for some pattern practice. The plane
flew fast and straight and time slipped by. I barely noticed the approaching clouds and I hadn’t thought too much about finding a grass field in the middle of grass fields in Kentucky. Needless to say, most of my test time was trying to find 3KY9 in a “haystack” with Jeff and his mentor Pat trying to give directions on the radio as the clouds
gathered. Me, “I am over route 64 heading west.” Them, “turn left at the McDonald’s and we are right there.” Hours later, by somepilot miracle, I found the place.
Flying home the next day from Waddy was an adventure with lowering clouds and rising terrain. Jeff wants me to bring the plane back for its annual. I will too, if I can ever find 3KY9