Guest Blogger: Handyman Husband

Part One: The Life of a Blogger’s Spouse

One day last year my wife was extremely nice to me and told me she wanted to attend a Blogger’s Conference in L.A.  My first question was “What in the heck is a Blogger?” (Notice I am using my inside or polite voice.  As a retired military officer, I have often been accused of using my outside voice; let’s just say I get in trouble for that.)  She patiently explained that a Blogger was someone who writes a type of online diary, usually about something they are very passionate about, then shares it with other people on the internet.   Since I already knew what her passion was, I was very supportive in her request.  Wow, was my world about to turn upside down.

Involved with this request was me taking care of our kids while she was gone.  No big deal. Cereal for breakfast, Daddy’s Special (future Blog post…I’m catching on) or hotdogs for dinner, bath, bed-time story, then put them down…I mean asleep.  No problem.  I used to think I could be a stay-at-home Dad after I retired from the military.  Holy cow, what an idiot I was!  Let’s just say if it were not for my in-laws with their unconditional love and support, I would still be in group therapy somewhere.  We had a great week, but I must have hugged my wife for several hours when she got home.

So what did I learn from her when she got home?  She was so excited and motivated.  I also learned that Bloggers are very friendly, passionate, outgoing, sharing, and most of all, love to party!  My kind of people.  Also, blogging is a very popular way to communicate one’s personal details without any social interaction.  Then I had an epiphany.  Maybe she would allow me to be a guest blogger from time to time; after all, I am the Handyman Husband.  BTW, I am no longer known by my real name, now I’m either referred to as Handyman Husband or Jana’s husband.  Heck, I have to look at my old flight suit’s nametags to remember what my real name really is…or was.

Jana, now affectionately known as “part-time paparazzi” due to her unique ability to take 600 photos in a single outing, reluctantly agreed.  I could, on a limited basis, write something about my “jack-of-all-trades, master-of none” skills that I use around the house.  Remember the TV character Tim “The Toolman” Taylor? Not too far off the mark.  She did however want to maintain editorial control over my inputs.  Probably goes back to that outside voice thing.  No way, I wanted academic freedom.  I told her I would never embarrass her; I have too much respect for my wife and what she is trying to accomplish.  She got tired of me whining (a pilot’s God-given right) and finally said yes.  Mission accomplished!

Part Two: My First and Longest Project

I have always had a passionate love of aircraft and for flying.  That is the one place where I am at ease and the most relaxed; it’s my true “man-cave”.  Ever hear the phrase “Hours of boredom accentuated by moments of sheer terror”?  No matter how hectic flying can be at times, I always feel calm and in control. I know, right now my “part-time paparazzi” wife is laughing at the fact I actually admitted to being a control freak.  Hey, what Type A personality isn’t?  Despite having had the opportunity to fly multiple “latest-technology” aircraft, I always felt like I was born a generation too late.  I think the most romantic airplanes ever designed and flown were the vintage World War II fighter airplanes; the  P-40 Warhawk, the F4U Corsair, the P-38 Lightning, the British Spitfire, and of course my all time favorite, the P-51 Mustang.

P-51 pedal plane in front of real P-51

Knowing my love of flying and airplanes, Jana bought me a set of plans for a P-51 pedal plane.  If my memory serves correct, I think it was even before we were actually married.  What did she know that I didn’t?  Giving a single man plans for a kid’s pedal-plane and I wasn’t smart enough to connect the dots and run?  Ouch, I was just kidding!  What happened to academic freedom?  Yes Dear (two of the best words of advice my wife ever gave me).  Actually, I am very blessed and right where I always dreamed I would be someday; surrounded by a wife and two kids that love me unconditionally.

So like any man, I procrastinated and delayed for a while before I actually got started.  In fact, two years.

Handyman Husband cutting out the stencils.  Wait, did I just call myself that?  Holy cow, is that a bald spot? Where’s the photo editing software when you need it!

And more stencils…

And more stencils…

Finally, when I finally got all the wood, metal, and required parts purchased and gathered, it was time to get started.  I read the 40 pages of plans for the umpteenth time, then finally got up the nerve to begin fabricating the parts and putting them together.  I mean, how hard could it be?  I used to build airplane models as a kid.

First piece cut…the elevator.

How hard could it be?  When Elizabeth was born, I intended to have it completed for her to “fly” and watch her perform death defying ground loops and 0.5 g turns and other highly-trained acrobatic stunts.  Next came the arrival of our son Daniel, and I still wasn’t done.  While it did take several years, I must revert you back to my new name and role in our family…”Handyman Husband.”  Let’s see, there was removing the bushes in front of our new home, trimming the overgrown trees in the front of the house and trimming back the garden in the back, painting the interior of the house, hanging (silent g) a 500 lb. chandelier in the dining room, pulling miles of unwanted monkey grass…okay, you get the picture.  Let’s just say my wife kept me gainfully employed.  Thank heavens for duck season.

Fast forward to 22 September, 2012; almost five years later.  The aircraft was built, the self-propelled engine was mounted, and the aircraft had finally left the Handyman Husband paint shop ready for it’s first test flight.  

Final assembly.  The pilot’s handgrip for “the stick.”

The aircraft was painted to reflect Bud Anderson’s P-51 that he flew in WWII.  He was a famous Ace, and his original aircraft is still flying.  The name of the aircraft was the Old Crow. For all you history buffs out there, it was painted in the pre-invasion paint scheme.  The pedals supply the power, and the props actually spin while the aircraft is being “flown.”

Since Elizabeth was intended to be the first pilot, she had the honors of taxiing the aircraft out of the hanger (another silent g).  After extensive briefings and the required ground training, she proudly kicked the tires, lit the fire, and flew the first test flight.  Words cannot express the pride in her face.  After all, look at who she received her undergraduate pilot training from…no, not me.

At age 4, the Thunderbirds recognized a future pilot immediately.

Show-off.  Try telling your daughter you’re the best pilot in the world after this occurs!

Taxiing out for the first test flight.

Daniel and I provided the required wing walkers for safety.

That a girl!  Respect your Crew Chief!

I didn’t think she would ever land once she took to the sky!

 “Hey, when’s my turn?”

Priceless!

I thought he would be too small.  Thank heavens I was wrong; he would have been crushed!

Big Sis providing little brother with valuable “lessons learned” and much needed flight instruction.

This look was priceless.  In his mind, he is going up against his first German fighter in an aerial dog-fight.

The proud Crew Chief.

Even prouder pilots after their first solo flight!

When once you have tasted flight you will always walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward; for there you have been and there you will always be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   – Leonardo da Vinci

What’s your passion?

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