A friend of mine once told me that he didn’t read most flying magazines because they were full of gloom and doom. Airplanes crashing and pilots doing stupid things were not high on his agenda for enlightening reading. Where, he wondered, were the stories of pilots who did the right things? Of those successful forced landings or those good experiences of aircraft ownership? Where are the happy stories?
Well my friend, here’s one for you! Lester, my very fine Luscombe 8E, is being transformed. I don’t really know if this is a story of happiness or possible insanity. I feel happy, but if I’ve finally gone off the deep end, I don’t know it. So I guess it’s good either way.
What, the gentle reader asks, is happening to Lester? Well, I couldn’t make up my mind how I wanted to paint him, so Lester has sat for nearly two years naked. Did I want a modern look with metallic paints and an unusual scheme? Did I want to go classic with vintage colors and creamy paints? Perhaps, I might choose a combination of both: metallic paints and a traditional Luscombe circle S and stripe. The possibilities were endless. It’s said that it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. Well, it’s also her prerogative to never make it up either.
I was apprehensive over the cost, both in materials and labor. Airplane painting is expensive, period. Whether you hire it or do it yourself, it’s going to cost you! What if I have an off day, pick a weird scheme or color, then change my mind after it’s done? That thought and dozens like them paralyzed me, so I did what any sane woman would do. Nothing. I just flew.
Then one warm December’s day a strange thing happened. I found myself with a can of Mother’s aluminum polish in my hand, the familiar brand found at any auto parts store. We keep some around for a few items we polish on our birds. Without conscious thought, I rubbed some on my cowling. I rubbed it off. I rubbed on some more. I rubbed it off, and before I realized it I had polished the cowling door. I could see myself. And I liked it. A lot.
It’s possible that I once said that I would not polish my airplane. I may have even have gone so far as to proclaim I would “”never”" polish my airplane. Well, you know what they say about saying “”never.”" But in an odd acceptance of fate, I was prepared to eat crow with the best of them and enjoy it. Polishing on my Lester made me happy.
Perhaps my hormone medication has caused this phenomenon. Perhaps I realized that polishing my airplane is no harder than any other project I’ve tackled. After all, everything’s relative. Perhaps the vision of my baby in all his bare-naked, gleaming glory swelled my vanity to the point that it overcame my good sense. The thought of causing traffic flow problems due to the sunlight reflecting off the brilliance of Lester’s skin makes me happy.
It also makes me happy that I am going to buck sacred tradition. Lester will not sport the traditional Luscombe stripe! This is sacrilege. It is another case where I am following the will of my vanity. For the past two years, I have noticed that my Luscombe looks bigger than most of those I see out and about. I’ve come to realize that it’s the stripe that is slenderizing. Non-aviation folks think my airplane is bigger and, personally, I think Lester looks…tough. There, I admitted it. I will place the circle ‘S’ on his cowling as befitting his 8E status. But no stripe — and those tough looks will make me happy.
In the past weeks, I’ve been initiated into the world of polish, to be precise the world of Perfect Polish. I have been lectured about grades of Nuvite (a very well-known polishing system) and the joys of the Cyclo polisher. I’ve also been introduced to a product called Busch Super Shine Aluminum Polish. It works well, too. Compounding is a term I’ve come to know too well, but in the end I know it will make me happy.
If you think about it, getting Lester ready to shine isn’t much different than working on a woman my age. There’s buffing and polishing. Both processes try to remove blemishes and scratches (wrinkles). There are creams. There are pastes. Some are fine, some are coarse. Sometimes, the light tools are used, and at others the heavy-duty stuff is needed. In the end a new you — or Lester — emerges. This will make me happy.
I have not gone off the deep end completely, however. Watching men polish my Luscombe for me makes me the very happiest!