Category Archives: SJSU

A&P School: Almost Done

It’s been three and a half semesters since A&P school started on August 10th, 2011. Here I am getting ready for my last mid-term in the program. It feels really good to be so far along but there is still a ton to get done in a short time. There is a mid term, several quizzes and tests, and a final. After that there are still the FAA tests, the written, and the oral/practical that need to be passed to add the Powerplant rating to my mechanic certificate.

After finishing my mechanic ratings there is still the matter of finishing my AS in Aviation Maintenance Technology. The good news on this front is it looks like I will be able to finish my AS over the summer with three classes, one of which is a single unit in kinesiology (P.E. for those over 30.)  Then I can transfer to San Jose State to finish my undergrad work with a BS in Aviation Maintenance Management.

Ever since I embarked on this journey making plans has required factoring in lots flexibility and not making any plans too dependent on outside influences. In short, not making plans so much as having general ideas and making sure I can easily divert from one to an alternate without too much upheaval in the universe. Building all of this flexibility into the planning process has made it very difficult to do any advance work down one path or another. In one sense this has been beneficial because it has kept me on a fairly narrow focus towards completion and has been an education in and of itself. I have been keeping projects at arms length because I know I don’t have enough time to complete them and along the way I have also learned the importance of the word “no” and how to use it.

Another important skill set I have been honing is applying value to my time going beyond coming up with an hourly rate by encompassing the value of learning from projects. Deciding if a project is worth taking on or is the time better served by farming it out. Sometimes when I know I can do something, it’s not the can I that is the important part, it is the should I part that needs the thinking. This is where the time and resource Black Hole can rear its ugly head and make a fun project suck, or a profitable project turn into a money pit.

With all of this learning and self realization going on you might think I would awaken from this aviation dream and realize that it is a bitch to make any money in this industry. Nope, no such luck. I’m hooked. I do think I have learned a few “secrets” to aviation/business success though. Keep it simple, keep the scope narrow, get and stay known in your niche, and never compromise on the quality of your work. An aviation business can always fail, but these are the key things that seem to cause a business to fail, aviation or otherwise.

What is the take-away from all of this? Work with what you have. Take on only the work you can do now. Grow slowly with well planned steps. Never stop learning. Keep an eye to the sky, an ear to the ground, and your nose to the grind stone, then you just might make it.

Blue skies and tail winds,
~FlyBoyJon

life on campus…

Back in January I made some decisions about major changes in my life. I know that making more than one big change in life(style) has consequences and it usually makes it more difficult to succeed in any of the proposed areas of change. Having this information going into this year I set up several goals for myself.

First off was the decision to pursue my aviation career whole-heartedly. I have a large and complex design of what that means, but this is not the forum to go into great detail on that, let’s just say that much of it comes down to credibility, and developing that credibility. Step one is to do the traditional credibility builder and get that sheepskin.

For me the sheep skin includes finishing a distance learning program I started in 2006 for an AS in Aviation Operations, second is to go back to school full time while still working the day job. I enrolled in classes back in January for a GE AA at San Jose City College that fulfills transfer requirements to San Jose state where I intend to earn a BS then MS in Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineering.

Another big change/goal is to get back on the weight loss train and get down to a weight more acceptable for a test pilot and competitor in aerobatics competitions. I set up an ambitious but very doable plan to loose 150 pounds in a about two and a half years, 60/50/40 ponds a year respectively. To do this I am using the calorie counting method.

So far school is going well as is the weight loss. I have a mid-term 4.0 at San Jose City College, and I just wrapped my first quarter with a 15 pound weight loss. I am tracking weight loss success by quarter rather than daily or by month, it seems more practical.

What has not gone so well is that I have not been getting as much done on the day job as I would like. School has been taking up much more time than I had anticipated, mostly due to the way I scheduled classes. This is something I can fix relatively easily. Changing my schedule next term and knowing how much time I need for study I will be able to make better use of my time.

Another goal that has not gone as well as planned involves building the Volksplane. It has been several weeks since I last posted here and it has been longer since any work was done on the airplane. I have been keeping up with my time-cards which points out vary clearly just how poorly I have been doing in this area. Frustrating yes, but I am not stressing out on this one, I know life happens and I know I am trying to do a lot all at once, so this is not a huge surprise. With any luck this too will be fixed with my scheduling changes next term.

Things that have just not happened are, getting up much earlier consistently to get personal stuff done and any last minute homework before classes, and going for daily walks and stretching. I also toyed with the idea of starting ether yoga or Ti Chi as part of the early morning regimen. Here again, not all that stressed out. These were set out as part of the over-all move towards getting fit. As long as the weight loss continues, I have time to add these in as I get closer to my goal weight.

As you can see, I am 2 for 6 as of now. It is still early though, the second quarter of the first year of a ten-year plan has just begun. All things considered, I am pleased with how things are shaping up. I hope to have my goal ratio up to 4 of 6 by the end of this year.

There are still lots of things in motion and school is a very fluid thing, being engaged with three institutions and having opportunities from outside my major come up keeps the decision making cycle in high gear. Right now the major stress is figuring out the particulars.

As Cornelius Robinson would say “Keep moving forward!”

Until next time, blue skies and tail winds,
~FlyBoyJon

too much going on…

Wow, it has been way too long since I last posted. My sincere apologies to you. School has been keeping me very busy. I started out with five classes and ended up dropping one, as it turns out that was a really good move.

The hitch in my giddy-up? My choices in scheduling. The original plan was to spread things out over the week, one or two classes a day four days a week, this turned out to be a bad idea. I was hoping to leave plenty of time for work, ya… right. With everything spread out, I am always scrambling for something and there is always something due.

Next term I will be trying a new schedule format, all of my classes on one or two days back to back. I would make for one or two crazy days a week, but less transit time and more focus time. Thats the idea anyway.,

While I am on the subject of school, some interesting developments have been brewing. First off, I have been elected as President of the SJCC Philosophy Club. I have gotten a few quizzical looks from people when they find out my major is Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineering and I am hanging around with the philosophy and theology majors. It is rather amusing actually.

Along with my Philosophy Club activities I have been given some interesting opportunities. One in particular will get at least my foot in the door at San Jose State University a full year and a half earlier than expected. There is a really interesting program in the new Global Studies department that is participating with the Soliya project and I have been invited to be one of the students involved. This would mean registering as a SJSU student, which by the was is awesome.

Why is this awesome? Well for one, I have been wanting to join Alpha Eta Roe, an aviation professional fraternal organization and it would make life much easier if I was a student at a chartered school, SJSU. Another reason is that I am planning on transferring to SJSU once I finish my General AA at San Jose City College to pursue my BS and MS in engineering. It just sort of tidies things up a bit.

Another education thing going on is that I am hoping to wrap up that ongoing drama filled AS in Aviation Operations at Mountain State University that I started in 2006. If I can just squeeze one class in per term there while taking one class per term at SJSU and three or four classes at SJCC I can get that one done too. Thats a lot of schooling going on.

This is why it has been a little while since my last post. On an aviation note, I did pick up some new plains at my newly-opened Harbor Freight Tools. It made my tool-geek heart skip a beat when I saw that they were finally opening a store closer than 30 miles away. This one is less than a mile! WOOT!

😉

Things are leveling off in my schedule as I get back into the academic swing, so I expect to be back in the shop this weekend. With even a small bit of luck I will have something to post about on Monday, so stay tuned for next weeks exciting episode.

Until then, blue skies and tailwinds.
~FlyBoyJon

10 days since my last confession

Ack! I had hoped to get something posted by now. Well here we go, this post will cover a lot of ground, aviation and otherwise.

In the other category… A lot of stuff has been going in my world over the last few years. I started an AS in Aviation Operations degree program at Mountain State University in 2006. With my aviation experience credit and classes completed, I have 50 units out of 60 for my degree. Before I could finish the program my mother passed away. I had to drop out in the middle of the semester so my grades took a nose drive. All of my aviation credits are pass/no pass so thy don’t affect my GPA. My Presidents List earning 4.0 was now a pathetic 1.8. To keep my financial aid I need to maintain a minimum of 2.0 which presents a problem for me.

To get my GPA back in order I decided to go to San Jose City College and take some classes. I made this decision a while ago but recently I had a bit of an epiphany. It became clear that I needed to do more than I had planed back in 2006. I decided to pursue an Aeronautical Engineering Degree which means I need to cover all of my GEs. Very few units at MSU are transferable to San Jose State so I need to fulfill them at SJCC, hence a complete over-haul of my education plan. I still want to finish my AS at MSU, but that will have to be part time while I work on my AA at SJCC. I’m guessing you can see why I have been busy. I start classes again on Monday.

Now for some of that airplane stuff. Today I worked on the firewall bulkhead and the stern post. I started by marking out everything I wanted to cut. The Doug Fir I am using for the core of the stern post was laid out on a piece of 1″ x 6″ board and the skins for the stern post were laid out on a piece ⅛” ply. With the wood for the stern post cut out I turned my attention to the firewall bulkhead.

   

The work operations for the firewall bulkhead included cutting out the block shape and drilling the holes to attach the stiffeners. Once the stiffeners are in place the beveled edges on the sides and top can be cut as well the curves in the upper corners and drilling all of the holes. I cut the rough shape and drilled the stiffeners. Then I bolted it all up.

   

The aft side of the bulkhead looks good, the forward side however, didn’t come out the way I was hoping it would. The countersinks are a little too deep, so the screw heads that are supposed to be flush are a bit deeper that they should be. The only solution for this predicament is to cut out a new firewall. While I’m not happy about it, I would rather hold myself to a higher standard than let something slide.

I didn’t feel like pulling out the table saw again so I decided to wait until tomorrow to redo the firewall. I still had some time to keep working so I bonded the Doug Fir lumber for the stern post core. Another to-do for tomorrow will be to bond the skins to the core.

   

Since I don’t have any bar-clamps *hint, hint* I had to come up with another solution to keeping the wood firmly in place. This is where my improvised cord clamp comes it. It is just some nylon cord with the ends tied together. Take a piece of scrap wood, put in between the work piece and the cord and start twisting. Simple but effective. The T-88 structural adhesive does not need a lot of pressure to hold the joint together, in fact you need to be sure not to apply too much pressure or the adhesive will squeeze out of the joint, so the cord clamp works well.

That wraps it up for today. Tomorrow is another day in the shop so we’ll see how much gets done.

Until next time, blue skies and tail winds,
~FlyBoyJon