Blog,  Musings

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

W. Edwards Deming is credited with the phrase:

“If you can’t describe what you’re doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Well, when it comes to building an airplane I don’t know what I’m doing. I do have a process, but it is a process of general confusion and occasional learning. It usually goes something like this:

  • Read the plans
  • Stare at the parts
  • Read the plans again
  • Check the VAF forum for clarification
  • Check for YouTube video demonstrations
  • Read the plans one more time
  • Identify the tasks that need to be accomplished
  • Learn how to complete those tasks
  • Give it a shot and hope for the best

It is very much a process of learning, but one that has worked well so far. One thing that has become abundantly clear is that learning to build an airplane is a slow process, especially without prior metalworking skills. It seems that each new page in the plans brings with it a new skill to be learned akin to drinking from a fire hose. I’m just holding onto the hose and trying to get as much water in the gullet as I can! It is a rush of information that takes time to digest; requires the purchasing of tools (I’m a firm believer in buying the right tools for the job); and takes time to learn the necessary basics of the skill, practice, and finally attempt the work on an actual aircraft part. Sometimes that doesn’t really work out all that well but overall it has been an enjoyable and rewarding – albeit slow – experience. I’m confident that over time the process will improve, learned skills will become commonplace, and the mean time to actually create airplane parts will decrease. And just maybe I’ll be able to describe a process that would make Mr. Deming proud.


  • Bill

    Are you building in your garage or in a hangar? I have a C172 and it would be fun to fly in and take a look at your RV-14a as the build progresses. I am home based out of KSSF (San Antonio). -Bill

    • Eric

      Hi Bill! Sorry for the late reply…I’m not getting notified of new comments for some reason. I am building in my garage, but I’m not far from 2R4 or KPNS. If you ever did decide to fly in (2R4 is likely much cheaper) I could probably pick you up there if you didn’t want to get a club car for yourself!

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