Just a chunk of metal

Yesterday, my first tungsten bucking bar arrived from Aircraft Tool Supply. I believe by the end of this project I will have funded the summer cabin of whomever owns that company with my monthly tool budget.

Anyway, tungsten bucking bars are expensive and considered to be luxury items in the aircraft tool industry. And boy can I see why. It’s just a little chunk of metal, but in the hands of an airplane builder, it is a work of art. It weighs a ton, it’s small and compact, it is a lovely shade of silver, and I just love it. It’s the simple things, right?

So I got to thinking, to the outsider, all the components of kit airplanes are just chunks of metal, but put together and in the right hands, they become fascinating and beautiful flying machines. What makes the difference? Is it the craftsmanship? Is it the time and sweat? Is it the love? It has to be all of it that makes the transformation.

I have second guessed myself more than once on this project. Wouldn’t it be better to just sink that money into an airplane that is already flying and ready to go? Wouldn’t I be happier having something right now? Well, to quote the late, great Harry Chapin, “It’s got to be the going, not the getting there, that’s good.” At the end of this project, I will have not only a work of art, but an airplane that I know down to the last rivet. And that knowledge has already made me a better pilot. Knowing how the pieces fit and how they work has made me safer.

And at the end of the day, if I had not decided to do this project, I would not have a brand new tungsten bucking bar. And that would be tragic because I am already ever so fond of this little chunk of metal.

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