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SNA Seawind kits, kit support, and building: Seawind kit production has been halted for the foreseeable
future kit support, the main point is that builders who need parts should
order them NOW. Future parts may only be available for the certificated
version. They will probably be more expensive, and may be somewhat
different. We can only speculate.
SNA Certification thoughts and speculation: Paul
Furnee's letter (posted on the "News" page and the "Seawind
Piloting" page) was discussed at some length. The discussion by
experienced Seawind pilots was especially fascinating. Two overriding points
seemed to come out of this discussion: 1. Everyone
who is even the least bit familiar with the Seawind wants SNA to succeed. 2.
The consensus is that the published time table seems overly aggressive, but
we're all pulling for SNA. We collectively wish Dick and all at SNA the best
hopes for success.
ISPA website format, content, and requests for
improvement: Since most of us bookmark the Hangar page and always go
directly there, it was requested that a note be placed in the
"Hangar" when the "News" page is updated. (Great idea. A
brief message will be posted when the "News" page is updated and
then removed later.)
Seawind resale value and liability considerations:
Since Seawind kit production has been halted, our
feeling is that their value will probably go up. There is some thought that
they may become highly sought after collector's items. In light of this, the
value of keeping a Seawind registry, and the actual number of existing kits
The latest number of Seawind kits is 169 (as published by SNA in the news
articles about Dean Rickerson's Seawind, see links page. Kit #170 has since
been sold to ISPA member Tom Thunnell, and is scheduled for delivery in mid
October 2003). The point was made
by many long-time builders and owners at the meeting that some of these kits
only consisted of the ailerons. For now, our only reference for registry information
is our members. Please review the registry often, be on the lookout for any
information about Seawinds, and (as Tom did here) send me any information you can add.
Piloting the Seawind: The cross section of our
members includes individuals from all occupations. Many are high time
pilots, however many are not. For everyone, but especially those of us who
are low time pilots, this discussion carried the day. Actual piloting
techniques were covered in some detail, and followed pretty closely with the
information presented on the "Seawind Piloting" page. Two
of the pilots in the room, Larry and Keith, who are not pilots for a living,
discussed their experience with learning to fly the Seawind. This discussion
alone could fill pages, but in short, the summary goes something like this.
Low time, and general aviation pilots can learn to
safely fly a Seawind.
Insurance for the seawind: A great discussion was
held about insurance. Here's the summary. None there had hull insurance.
Most seemed to have liability insurance, as it is required in order to store
your airplane on some airports, particularly in America. Most
had Avemco liability insurance and the cost seemed to be between $1200 and
$2000 per year depending on Seawind specific flight hours. It was also
mentioned that the coverage was pretty anemic. As I recall, the coverage was
limited to $100,000 medical per person and $1MM per incident.
As the truck driver drove along one day, he saw a priest hitchhiking; he pulled over and asked the priest, "Where are you going, Father?" The priest said he was on his way to his church up the road. "I'll give you a lift."
The priest climbed into the passenger seat and the truck driver continued down the road. Suddenly, the truck driver saw a lawyer walking down the road and instinctively swerved to hit him. At the last minute, he remembered he had a priest in the truck and swerved back onto the road. Even though he knew he missed the lawyer, he still heard a loud "thud." Unsure of where the noise came from, he glanced in his mirrors. When he didn't see anything, he turned to the priest and said, "I'm sorry, Father. I almost hit a lawyer."
The priest replied, "That's okay, I got him with the door."
(Apologies to our ISPA members who are lawyers, we think you're alright.)
Fuel system configuration. Mike finally talked briefly about his fuel system, which includes slight modifications to the SNA configuration, but has now been flight tested for many hours. Mike's system enables selection of left, right, or both tanks the way most of us have become accustomed. Mike's system uses the same SNA vent scheme, and arguably could be viewed as a simplification to the original system. From an engineering perspective, Mike's design is "elegant." (yes, that is a legitimate engineering term) Later, at Mike's shop, he showed us the components of his system, and a new pump/filter system that is being installed in Dick Wolf's Seawind. OK, we have to state here for the record, "don't mess with the fuel system (unless you damn well know what you're doing)." A page describing the N369JB fuel system, including photos from the fly-in, and a sketch provided by Tony Jurcan has been added to the "Builder Tips" pages in the "Members Only" section of the site.
The group talked in the conference room from 10:00 AM until about 1:30 PM. Following the discussion we went out on the ramp to look at Keith, Larry, and Mike's planes before going to Mike's Shop. Nothing could have prepared me for the delight in visiting Bowes Aviation. It's even better than everyone says. As most of you know, Mike has Three Seawinds, a Lion Heart, and a Giles aerobatic plane in his shop.
Of course, the discussions at the shop were going at several different locations, so no one person was privy to everything. It would be nice if each of you who were there would please write a brief paragraph about things you may have listened in on, or that I failed to report, so they can be posted here. Just write them in an email and send them to me.
Any discussion about Mike's shop and his people simply has to start out with a comment about the following: Mike and his people are true artisans and professionals. Their work is superb. In addition, they are just super nice people who are willing to share and help in any way they can.
It is impossible to list everything I saw in the shop. Some of the interesting items included the following:
One of the Seawind owner/builders who's plane is in the shop is ISPA member John Parks. I spent a lot of time looking at John's stainless steel hydraulic line installation and talking with him about it. John is using stainless to avoid any possibility of corrosion. A side note, after a separate discussion about the cabin heat system with John, he handed me a handful of SNA cabin heat parts so that I can get started on building my own. (SNA does not currently have any cabin heat options available for kits.)
John also mounted the aileron pulleys that are located behind the146 bulkhead in an interesting way. At Mike's suggestion, he widened the 146 bulkhead below the aft floor so that the lower aileron pulley could be mounted below (and clear of) the removal hole for the landing gear leg pin. Time spent talking with someone like John, who has experienced the building process is invaluable. John, like everyone at the fly in, is knowledgeable, genuine, and helpful. Thank you John.
Instrument panels that come out of Mike's shop are stunning when seen up close. But the reasons aren't all that obvious. Dick Wolf's control console and instrument panel installation was at a point where everything could be inspected.
I learned that part of the reason these panels look so different, and so nice, is that instead of canting them back at an angle, "Mike and the Mechanics" position them straight up. This is the kind of thing you look at but don't see. I have already cut my panel supports to the configuration shown in the builder manual, so now I have to do some rework, and as you know, rework takes longer than doing it right.
One other lesson I learned (and just-in-time for a change) is that you don't want to position your mixer assembly and drill the associated mounting holes in the bulkheads until you have the wings on and properly position the flap drive bell cranks relative to the hull. Thank you Ed Lynch.
(This page, added September 28, 2003,
has more to come.)
(All photos B. A. Carlson)
The two pictures above are from our 2002 Splash-in, but weren't received
until the 2003 fly-in. Everyone loves Art. No other caption necessary, except that
Art probably didn't enjoy it as much as we did.
(Thank you Keith Walljasper for the Photos)