When Jack and I met in 2003, he was more than 75% finished with the Pietenpol Air Camper that he was building. This unique 1929 design open cockpit airplane was sitting in his basement and he was working on the fabric covering.
I learned that building things was Jack’s hobby and that aviation was his passion. Every day after work and dinner, he would go to the basement to work a few hours on his airplane. It was at that time that I started writing my first book, a poetry book entitled Love to Share .
I compiled all of the poems I had written over time for people and about events. This project was more in keeping with my hobbies and helped me pass the time while he was in the basement completing this airplane.
It was a fun day when he first took the first flight in the Pietenpol (2004). In June 2006, we got married. And of course he was already flying the Piet around the Raleigh area where we lived. The cute plane was getting a lot of acclaim and people thought it was a great piece of work. I agreed. He even won an an Outstanding Workmanship Award at Oshkosh for his masterpiece.
That summer (just a month after we were married), we went to Air Venture in Oshkosh, WI where the biggest international fly-in event is held each year. He wanted to know if I wanted to look at the RV-10s. It was during that fly-in that he decided this would be his next airplane project. This man always has to have an aviation related project going on, it would seem.
The RV-10 came in a series of kits to be purchased. Whereas Jack built every last wooden piece of the Pietenpol according to the Pietenpol family blueprints, the first RV-10 kit arrived looking like an erector set.
It was a project that I would never have tackled. But Engineer Jack thrives on this sort of intricate mechanical puzzle.
The instruction notebook alone was massive. He highlighted each completed section.
Of course I wanted to be involved with what he was working on so here’s a picture of me holding some of the initial structure of what was to later become a completed airplane. There were sooo many rivets to hold the plane together and I “bucked” my share of rivets.
The tail kit was the first to complete. Apparently a lot of RV builders never get beyond this point. It lets you try your hand without a great deal of investment. We started work on it in our basement in Raleigh, North Carolina.
One of the most astonishing steps, I felt was when Jack announced that he had bid on a refurbished airplane engine on E-bay! I could hardly believe that this was something he could count on. He claimed that because the logbooks were included and the engine had just been overhauled, according to the seller, that the engine would work just fine. Ho boy! That engine sat in the crate about 11 years.
After a few years working on the wings and tail, we made a big decision to take a bit of an early retirement and move to an airport community at Smith Mountain Lake. We closed on the land actually a month before we were married.
Once our house went on the market in Raleigh we knew we had to put the RV-10 pieces that had been completed in the crate to store them safely in order for our house to show and for us to move and eventually build our dream home, which became Bedford Landings Bed and Breakfast. This photo shows the trailer loaded down with the crates of pieces and parts that had been completed that were to go into storage.
It was during the housing crisis (about 2012)that we decided to sell our home in North Carolina. Taking over 3 years to sell the house and another 18 months to build Bedford Landings, the tail and both wings remained in storage for over four years. During that time, of course, he could not make any progress on the plane but we built a house! Once we had our business up and running, we were able to uncrate the parts of the airplane that were completed and he spent a good deal of his 401(k) on purchasing the next kits.
One of the largest (and most expensive) purchases was the instrument panel. He traveled to Oshkosh in 2017 to get the show deal (and of course gawk at the 100’s of thousands of airplanes at the fly-in. The installation of the “built to specifications” panel required exact wiring to be sure each control was properly wired.
Every phase of this project has brought new shape to the airplane; adding the landing gear, mounting the very heavy engine on the fuselage, eventually disassembling the entire project and taking it on a trailer to the paint shop located in Salem Virginia, and then finally taking it part by part to the Martinsville airport to reassemble it where Jack would do his first flight.
This total project has taken him 12 1/2 years to complete and I must say I’m very proud of the tenacity in sticking with such a long term and involved project. I’m not sure I’ve ever worked on anything for such a long period of time to see it through until completion except of course raising my children.
And what did I do while he was in the hangar building an airplane? So far, I have 5 books. Three are children’s books written with my grand children as key characters. Each book also features airplanes. One is about my mom’s journey with Alzheimer’s Disease and then there is my first poetry book
Jack is half way through his (FAA) assigned 40 hours of flying the plane solo. This time flying the plane helps him trouble shoot and learn all the workings on the electronic systems. Once the 40 hours have been logged, he can take a passenger. Who wants to go first? Wait, I think I will!
Lastly, some have asked what the significance of the call numbers are on the plane. There is a pilot’s alphabet so that making calls over the radio are clear. A= Alpha, B= Bravo, C=Charlie and so forth. Generally the numbers and letters that come after the “n” are used as the call letters of the plane. All American airplanes start with “N.” N= November but in the case of the new RV-10, we would just call out 142KW.
Well, K= Kilo and W=Whiskey.
Say his call numbers fast (reference the title of this blog) and see what you have!
Parts of the last two blog posts have focused on steps that we are taking to reduce our carbon footprint. To that end, we had an opportunity to collectively report these steps to Virginia Green Travel Alliance. Recently, we were awarded a certificate recognizing that we are a Virginia Green Travel Partner.
Referencing last month’s blog, our solar panels have not been inspected yet but we are hoping that we can report that we are collecting the sunshine soon!
And for those who know that Jack built a GREEN airplane, he now has it back at the Smith Mountain Lake airport. After he flies 40 hours on it (to be sure all is working properly), I plan to fly with him! It is a beautiful work done by a fine craftsman, mechanic, and engineer!
Thank-you for the part you are doing to be green as you reduce, reuse, and recycle.
When we decided that our retirement home would become a Bed & Breakfast, we knew it would not really be a money making venture. Instead, we looked at this endeavor as a way to have a retirement project that was a new life and a totally different one than our corporate or academic worlds. We have found that it is a life change. But, we are thriving while being involved in a vibrant community and enjoying this interesting vehicle to meet fascinating people, to build a business together as a couple, and to experiment in the kitchen.
Having built our home/Bedford Landings six years ago, we are now starting to experience some of what every homeowner dislikes…repairs. During construction, when the stone mason and the roofer had a disagreement on the roof, the chimney was not properly flashed. Neither of these subcontractors would take responsibility for fixing it over the past 6 years. Instead, we have had a parade of subs to estimate; then never show up for the work. Two of them applied some sort of tar substance hoping for the best. Others were simply not interested in climbing on the roof 50 feet off the ground.
Every time we experienced a torrential rain, there was a drip that ran down one of the timbers and dripped on the window seat below. We put down towels and buckets but were fearful that we would have mold growing underneath. I am deathly allergic to mold and mildew. Using word of mouth (through the Residents of SML Facebook page) there were an overwhelming number of recommendations to call on Bob Riddick Home Services.
They gave me an initial estimate of $3000 to make the repair but once they removed the first layer of stone, they found bigger issues. To make a long story short, our investment in this repair ended up being about $9000 instead. However, we feel confident that the problem has been resolved. During this two-week period, they were a great crew, cleaning up as they went and were cordial with our guests. Since then we have had several torrential rains and no leaks.
That brings me back to money making. We had a good July with only one day off the whole month and earned enough to pay for this roof repair. All months are not like that. That was one of our best.
Next we go to the screened porch. Jack was DONE with building the house when it came time to screen the porch. Neither of us has ever been happy with the resulting screened porch. When the screen pulled away (in yet another wind and rain storm) and started flapping in the wind, our staple job just would not hold. We enlisted a screening company. Jason Nuckols at Vinyl Porch Railing, who agreed to re-screen the porch. In June, he promised it would be scheduled in about two weeks. However they were unable to work us in until mid August. This wasn’t a huge concern since we were still working with the roofers and welcoming guests to enable us to pay for the repair. The screen replacement totaled $1650 but they did a really neat job and we can check that off the list. Next, who do you know that can repair (and waterproof) the ceiling of the screened porch? Maybe next summer’s project!
During the end of July and midway into August, we have been without our primary washing machine. After diagnosis, a gearbox (third one for this Maytag in 6 years) was ordered and needed to be installed. Sears Home Warranty gives consumers a designated window of time in which the repairperson will arrive. My window was a large one…8-5. The repair guy arrived at 4:40 and we had dinner plans with friends for 5:15. He fixed it and we headed out the door a little late for dinner. In the interim, we used the washer in the hangar. Recall we had lived in the hangar and never have gotten rid of the washing machine that is there. We use it when we have to flip all four rooms in one day. That little craigslist washer was a lifesaver with our busy July. Housekeeper Patty got in plenty of extra steps those 3 weeks. I had purchased a home warranty on all of our appliances and am glad I did but am totally considering purchasing a Speed queen washer when our coffers build back.
To power a 5700 sq. ft home we range from $400-600 per month in electric bills depending on the weather. We have considered Solar power for some time and we finally bit the bullet and had Main Street Solar install panels. This expense required a line of credit, which needs to be paid off in a year. We are hopeful that with the $10,000 tax credit and continuing to market the B & B through the fall and winter we can pay for this investment.
It is estimated to show a pay off in about 7 years.
We had the panels installed on the hangar. There is no shade and it’s a nice flat surface. Andrew from Main Street Solar took a photo of the 48 panels. They are yet to be inspected but we are really excited to watch this investment pay off!
Referring to last month’s blog, recall we are trying to minimize our impact on the environment and the installation of the solar panels is yet another way we are attempting to reduce our “footprint!”
Money Pit or Money Maker?
So the original question—is this B & B a moneymaker or a money pit? Referencing a book we read when we were deciding if we should or could run a B & B, “…it affords you to live where you want to live.” And for us, we have been able to realize an allowance to re-invest into the business. Of course greater than that, Bedford Landings provides a home to share with new and old friends and family as well! We still like it!
Do you consider yourself to be “green;” as in conserving resources? When I was an Extension Agent, I recall teaching 4-Hers about energy efficiency in the day when we were rationing gas! I have practiced preserving our precious clean water to be a good steward of our natural resources. But last week, when I was asked to light the pilot light for the gas logs in a guest room (while the temperature outside was 90 degrees), I was a rather uncomfortable, knowing that the ambiance would be coupled with the overworked air conditioner for this lovely couple. We did it …but I cringed!
When we designed and built Bedford Landings to be a Bed and Breakfast, we paid attention to being energy efficient. We purchased energy efficient windows and installed Structural Insulated Panels as walls and installed heating and cooling units with the highest SEER rating at the time.
We installed Energy Star rated appliances, we use LED bulbs, and we manage the guest rooms in terms of heating and cooling so they are not using a great deal of energy when nobody in in the room. We designed the house to be situated on the lot to take advantage of the passive solar benefits and designed a sort of outrigger to shade the hot sun in the summer and allow the sun in the windows during the winter months.
This August (next month) we are installing solar panels on the hangar to collect and convert the warmth of the beautiful sun to not only offset our heating and cooling bills but, also to use a renewable resource that does not emit any greenhouse gases. Yes, we have to take out a loan to do so, but as we understand it, the savings will be realized within about 7 years.
Speaking of Greenhouse gas, what are they? Perhaps you have heard the term in the news and bantered around as believable or unbelievable, but what does it mean? And what is a carbon footprint?
A Greenhouse Gas (GHG) causes a greenhouse effect. Have you walked into a greenhouse? Mainly that is the production of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. We need these to maintain the Earth’s temperature. However human activities (since the mid 1700’s) have produced an increase in GHG. Of course this is where the Global Warming arguments occur so I will stop there.
Your Carbon Footprint is the total amount of GHG each individual produces and is usually expressed in tons of carbon dioxide (Co2). This includes your usage of all forms of transportation, heating and cooling homes, use of plastics, etc. It is your personal consumption of things that cause fuel consumption.
My husband is a pilot, we own a plane and have 4 vehicles, and we manage a business in our large home. My Carbon Footprint must be the size of Big Foot! As American’s, are we too self-centered to do a lot to make a difference? Really? Recently I saw a friend in a restaurant pull out of her purse, a recyclable (stainless steel) straw. And it made it think that there are at least small personal choice we can all make that could add up to make a pinpoint of a difference.
As a business owner and one who cares about her environment, I feel I must at least do my part. These seem so small in the big scheme of things, but I recall the Starfish story and realize that even the small steps matter! We are trying to be responsible at Bedford Landings.
One step is to grow locally. We serve wonderful omelets and I grow my own basil and tomatoes. Right outside the kitchen door, I can grab these organic items and collect my chicken eggs! It’s just a small something, but it’s something.
We have always recycled. We can recycle plastic, aluminum, tin, glass and cardboard in Bedford County. We have to separate it and collect it in the same manner.
But we are announcing our biggest change yet! If you come to Bedford Landings, we are no longer offering plastic water bottles. Sorry, even though we recycle them, we go through a ton of these! Instead, we will offer water bottle usage while you are here. Sure, you can purchase one if you like, but we will wash and recycle these wonderful aluminum water bottles for guest use.
We use only cloth napkins and reusable hand towels. We just throw these into the laundry (only a full load) to sanitize and reuse them.
Small steps yes, but we are trying. Maybe you would like to share other creative ideas with us about your practices and how we can continue to improve our carbon footprint. Sell a plane? That’s probably not gonna happen! In fact Jack will be test flying his 12 year project next week after the (hopeful) Tuesday inspection! We wish him luck and congratulate him on conserving funds by building his own GREEN plane!
In the meantime, we will continue to consider personal practices that will make even a small difference. How about you?
So far, Summer at Bedford Landings has been busy! Jack and I sang with the Lakeside Singers in concert June 8-9, 2019. We rehearse from March 1 until concert time each year. It’s a wonderful group and a rather short-term commitment sponsored by the Smith Mountain Arts Council.
The following weekend was Father’s Day weekend. That annual event brings Lyrics on the Lake featuring about 25 Nashville Songwriters to benefit Children’s Miracle Network. We sure enjoyed meeting many of the artists and Karen emceed for one of the events at Mango’s at Bridgewater Plaza. We have hosted songwriter, Bill DiLuigi for the past two years.
Bill has a new CD with some very thought provoking songs. The CD is called Pennsylvania Avenue but two of my favorite songs are about his parents. One entitled “Things my Father Gave Me” and the other “Son of Betty Jane” are both worth the listen and download (I-tunes and all of the other platforms). Bill gifted me with his CD and I gifted him with my new book entitled “Sweetness Begets Sweetness” about our family journey with Alzheimer’s disease.
Each day, Jack has been traveling to Salem, Virginia to a paint shop to work on and monitor the progress of the RV-10 airplane he has been building for 12 years. Anticipating flying it to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for the big Air Venture Fly-in, he is slowly losing hope that the plane will be ready in time. Air Venture is just one month away and the plane is in pieces and parts in the paint shop. What has to happen in order to go would be a minor (maybe major) miracle. The parts must be transported on a trailed to Martinsville where Jack has rented a hangar. Martinsville has a longer runway and it’s not situated over trees and water as we are a SML (W-91). There, he will re-assemble these parts; wings, tail pieces, fuselage, etc. into an airplane. It must be weighed and inspected by the FAA representative. Then, he will be assigned at least 40 hours of flying it solo in a 100 mile radius or box before carrying any passengers. He will eventually fly it back to our hangar at the lake.
Maybe we will need to host a welcoming party! But, it just does not seem like we are going to make it to Oshkosh! Sad, yes! But better to make safe, wise decisions by checking it completely to be sure he didn’t forget any important element to keeping this bird in the air! The photo (right) shows our friend, Jonathan’s completed RV-10 so you can picture what ours will look like!
Today (June 18, 2019) the Google Calendar is not functioning. It’s not just me, but corporations around the globe are suffering from calendar-itis! Bedford Landings interfaces with Google Calendar for tracking our reservations. If you need to check a date, contact us by phone (the old fashioned way) and we will check availability for you. 540-488-4600.
What will July bring at Smith Mountain Lake (I would check my calendar but it’s down!). Actually I will have my grand daughter here for the month of July and she and my grandson will be involved in Vacation Bible School. There are Pirate Days around July 20 for those of us who are not going to Oshkosh (sad face) and lots of other lake activities! Come join in the fun!! Happy face!!
(Postscript: The Google Calendar has started working. It was down about 6 hours)