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The Spirit of EAA
By David Griffin, EAA 647967
July 14, 2016 - I recently had the misfortune to suffer an engine-out on a flight from Rock Hill, South Carolina (KUZA), to Rowan County, North Carolina (KRUQ), and was fortunate to find a gravel road pretty much in line with runway 02 where I proceeded to land. I had declared an emergency and within minutes was surrounded by the usual emergency services people who quickly realized that I was unhurt and that there was no obstruction or danger being caused by my damaged bird. They departed and were replaced by a couple of members of the local EAA chapter, Chapter 1083, who offered to help but I was not yet sufficiently recovered from the experience to make sensible suggestions. My wife had driven up from Rock Hill and we headed for home.
The following day I returned with a trunk load of tools planning to remove the flaps, wings, etc., so that I could think in terms of trailering the dismantled airframe back to my hanger at UZA. The airplane had nosed over into a wet ditch at the side of the gravel road and was a sad sight. Within minutes of my arrival a local guy and his 10-year-old son arrived and offered to help. Despite my discouraging them and not wanting to take advantage of their father and son time together, they insisted on staying and after about four hours crawling in the mud, sweating and heaving, we had the airplane dismantled to my satisfaction.
The following day I borrowed my pal Hal Todd’s trailer and returned to RUQ where I was quickly met by several Chapter 1083 members who organized the loading and movement inside the airport perimeter to an area near their chapter hangar. Those gentlemen offered every kind of possible assistance, tools, etc. without which I could never have gotten the job done.
Two days later I returned to RUQ with the objective of re-positioning the airframe on the trailer so that it was better balanced for the 60-something mile journey down the interstate back to UZA. Once again the spirit of America prevailed; the manager of a local Parker Hannifin plant offered the use of his forklift truck and driver for the half hour or so that it took for us to lift the airframe and safely reposition it on the trailer. Back at UZA the folks at Skytech our FBO immediately had their fork lift truck and driver at my hangar to help unload everything.
At every turn in this unfortunate incident I was met by nothing less than amazing kindness and unstinting support. It made me very glad that I chose to emigrate from my native England to live in America some 50 years ago.
I absolutely must not omit the support and encouragement that I met from our local FSDO in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the form of Paul Fodor who visited the site and declared the airplane repairable when I was at a low point and ready to declare it a total loss. Thanks to his counsel my airplane is now well on its way to being repaired.
Perhaps the best news of all is that the father and son who came to help me on that first day have become firm friends and we will shortly be adding another Young Eagle to the ranks of our community.