COMMENTARY / DREAM BUILD FLY
Becoming an Experimenter
Making peace with a major mistake
“WE CUT OUR SPAR 1/2 inch short last night.”
Those simple words in an e-mail from my building partner sent
my heart plummeting.
Since the spars will one day be the backbone of our wings,
Caleb and I have treated every bend, hole, and cut like spinal surgery. I measured the length of the spar—167 inches—three times
and even had Caleb sign off on it before making the cut. There’s no
way it was wrong, but it was. Was our spar now just one long, beautiful piece of trash?
My head sank into my hands. I thought back to a sentence we
read in another builder’s manual mere seconds before making our
cut. The words were red, bold, and underlined—obviously a lesson
learned by another builder before us.
CAUTION: Check all measurements carefully! On the plans, the length of the overall
spar (167”) is measured from the center of
wing attach bolt hole (not the end of the spar
plate). … Look carefully at the drawings to
determine where to measure.
“Thoughts?” Caleb’s e-mail continued.
“Just leave it 1/2 inch short and cut the other
one short as well?”
Was he crazy? Caleb had obviously gone
off the deep end. He’s an engineer; he should
know better. This is the most important
piece of metal in our plane. This is spinal