Chapter 91 Comes to Aid of AirVenture Aviator
By Jim Berry, Chapter 471 (Abilene, Texas)
August 21, 2012 - We all know that airplanes will occasionally need repairs while away from home base and most of us carry tools, safety wire, and duct tape-but not TIG welders. My time came on the return trip to Texas from AirVenture 2012.
On Friday, July 27, I left Baraboo, Wisconsin, in my Wittman Tailwind, headed for Lee's Summit (LXT), Missouri, flying at 10,500 feet above a scattered/broken cloud deck on one of the smoothest flights I can remember. I had chosen Lee's Summit as my first fuel stop on the recommendation of a good friend from the RV community. He had told me that "it's a real sport aviation airport."
While preparing to refuel at Lee's Summit, we found that my exhaust system had failed and would have to be repaired and some things just can't be fixed with duct tape. EAA Chapter 91 is based at Lee's Summit. The chapter president, Larry Young, saw that I would need some major repairs and welding on the system, so he put my Tailwind in one of the three chapter-owned hangars and called another chapter member, Tab Sunderland.
Tab recently completed a very nice RV-7A and happens to be a master fabricator and welder in a metal fabrication shop in downtown Kansas City. Tab came to the airport picked me up and we took the system to his shop. About four hours later, the exhaust system was back together. Larry Young even called the local Hampton Inn, reserved a room for me with a "stranded aviator" discount, and provided me with transportation. At 8:40 the next morning the Tailwind and I were climbing to the southwest headed for Abilene, Texas.
Thanks again to Chapter 91 and especially Larry and Tab for their help. Like Larry told me, "It's what we do in sport aviation."