Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Did I get my very own ultralight?

In between the two flights I had with Dennis, somthing else was going on that's important to the whole picture. It's somthing that I will remember for the rest of my life. Somthing I'll share with my grandkids when I'm older. Every once and a while the story will gnaw at my brain and start teasing me. My gosh!, writing up this one will be hard.


Ebay is theplace where you can buy anything and everything. From used socks, to boats, to airplanes, ebay has it. There are normally a couple of ultralights on ebay, but they normally sell for $1,800 and up (non dammages ones). I try to watch for patterns and stratagies that could be usefull for me in the future.

Normally watching these ultralights sell is painful. They sell at very low prices for the quality aircraft that they are. Yeah, prices are low, yet not low enough for me. Comparing the amount of money I have to the amount that's being sold, I realise that I have a long way to go, yet I try to ignore the truth and tell myslelf that a miricle could happen.


Miricles do happen. And they happen at very suprising times. I love composite airplanes (fiberglass), and I also love the canard configuration (where the tail is in the front) in airplanes. During the milddle of the week, an ultralight with these same charachteristics popped up. It was a Eurowing Goldwing.

Doing more research on the Goldwing, I found that it was a beautiful airplane that doesn't have the popularity that it should. The composite construction made the aircraft much more durable than fabric covered aircraft, yet the weight stays within the legal FAR 103 limit. No need to purchase expensive sails every six, or seven years. It cruises at 55 mph, and stalls at a slow 25 mph.

It was a kit, which means that I'd have to assemble the aircraft. The average construction time to put one of these together is 400 hours. I figured that it would take a little longer with me because I'd have to learn proper building methods such as fiberglassing, dealing with epoxy, etc. I'm also a perfectionest, which is a good thing when it comes to building an airplane. Every edge would be sanded smooth, every bolt would be properly tightened, wireing would be cleenly organised, etc. It would probably take me at least 800 hours to build, but that's fine with me, as my life would rely on the airplane when I finally got to fly it.

What was really nice was that it was located very close to my house. Even closer to my families vacation cabin. Soo close to the cabin, I could walk to the airport from the cabin, and still have hours of daylight left. Just about 10 miles away. No need to trailer the aircraft across states. Just right to the cabin. Geting it home wouldn't be a problem either, as it's only about 100 miles. That's 100 miles that we drive regularly. It was soo close, it was killing me.

A Eurowing Goldwing on the Ground

This was an aircraft for me. I felt like it allready belonged to me, as it had (and still does) a special place in my heart.
Although I figured that bids would quickly go over my budget, I dreamed that a miricle. There was nothing else in the world that I wanted more. Just a miricle, just a miricle...my fingers were crossed.

As days, went by my fingers remained crossed. Strangely enough, and to my suprise, there had been very little bidding action going on. The last day of ebay auctions are allways the most intense and the bid price also has the greatest spike during that time. I was leaving to go to the delta that same day (when I just happened to fly with Dennis), so my mom decided to take the responcibility of bidding for me. She asked me what was the highest price that I was willing to bid and I told her $450 (told you it was a miricle). It was a rough guess. I knew I had a little more, but I didn't want to give her a number that was higher than what I actually had, so to be safe, $450 was the magic number.

A couple hours after flying with Dennis for the first time, I called my mom to see what was happening. We were the highest bidder at that time, although there had been some rough competitors. The bid was at $417. Later, my mom called me and said that one of the sellers put in a bid for $431. He must have had an automatic bid thing going on because the next bid my mom made was $450.......the magic number. It was dark when my mom called me again. She informed me that my agressive competitor had made a bid $5 over the magic number. I knew I had $5 more, so told my mom to put in a bid for $460. She refused and did not bid. My friends around me all said that they would pitch in some money so I could get this aircraft, but my mom was still stiff.

To this day, I don't understand why my mom did not put in that extra $10. I would have that debt payed off within a week, probably before she even collected my money. If I ask her if she's afraid of me flying, she says no, but maybe deep down inside she doen't want me flying and is afraid. The real answer remains out there.

The final bid was $455. I had lost the plane by five dollars. That's less that what it probably costs you to drive to the grocery store. Less than a good burger. Less than a cheep, flimsy, plastic cup. Less than a large pack of paper plates.

What is the moral of the story? Do what you have to do. If you can recover quickly, make small risks. Give yourself a little bit of slack, but not too much. If I were allready following the moral of this story before it happened, I wouldn't be talking about what a loss this was, I would be talking about what a good deal it was and how great it is to be flying.

"If you got to do it, do it!"
-Ben- high school band leader

Goodbye my lover,
Goodbye my friend,
You have been the one,
You have been the one for me.

My eyes turned skywards,
Mark Zinkel


papapaul said...

Mark--take it from an old and experienced UL flyer. Wait till you can afford a more contemporary "trike".You'll live longer--Best------ WTVpanana@yahoo.com

Thomas said...

Dude, I am a computer tech freelancer in New Zealand researching ULs as I too have the "bug". This is the first blog I have ever read...the "craze" had previously passed me by.
Great blog to start with!
Loved reading your experiences.
It must be tough being a mum, thinking they are doing the best thing for you - mine would do a dumb thing like that and in her mind be teaching me an important lesson about fiscal responsibility and boundary/limit setting.
She just loves you, but shheeesh.
Any shrink could tell you that mums deep inside don't want their young to leave the nest, even if consciously she used a different justification.

I love your careful, safe attitude to flying.

papapaul's comment will lead me to research WHY he thinks trikes are safer. My research indicates the Quicksilver MXL2 are superb with great safe predictable handling, proven record, service and support.

I haven't got a ML either as I am only married three years and when married your individual wants have to be considered against the resposibilities in a union.

Don't fret dude, you will get wings...FYI flying IS better than (most) sex.


Anonymous said...

mark, i wish to you all the best on the way from dream to raellity (in a ula-plane); i have the same virus for the 40 years, from the time when i didn't know that such movement exist at all: small aircraft, home-made or cheaplly bought;
good luck,
zoran, belgrade, serbia

Old Farmer Bill said...

Moms are women. Women have this on the spot whats right whats wrong emotional decision making ability.
Part gut feeling, part worry, part what their hairdresser tells them.
Strangely enough, they are usually right.
Kudo's to your mom. She's a good lady!

Mark Z. said...

Thanks Bill. I appreciate the comments. It's what keeps me updating the blog. I guess adding this URL at the bottom of the Skypup group really pays off.

John said...

Let me give a tid bit of advice, don't be looking at ebay for prices for ultralights or sport aircraft, that is a wish list and for rip off artist.

Go to sites like Barnstormes.com or better yet join a ultralight club and get first hand information from the pilots that could help you with your selection.

Stop waisting your time with your ideas based on wild ideas, get some facts behind them. It does help and you might live longer making better decissions.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Jim said...

Hi Mark,
I actually bought a ultralight from Ebay about 6 months ago paid 2,300 and it was a absolute bargin the ransaction was smooth and i didn`t have a problem at all. I think your really staarting to get a great blog here why don`t you try to make ssome money with it Mark ? There must be some way to make a little cash and keep building this great site of yours

Thanks Jim

Immunization Schedule said...

Salute you Mark. Flying is my passion too!

none said...

Just saw your blog. I'm the guy that bought the Goldwing. But I didn't bid on it. I watched the time tick down and I thought surely someone would bid it much higher. They didn't so I thought after it was finished I'll contact to seller to let him know I would buy it if the deal fell through. It did. So, I ended up buying it. Long story short, it was a real, complete kit in great shape.

Mark Zinkel said...

Wow, that was you! That's absolutely amazing. It's a small world. Is the Goldwing flying right now? Where are you based out of?

none said...

Well, I still have the kit in storage. Been waiting to build until I get my shop finished and I have the parts to build it right. Mainly a parachute, because I know the temptation will be too strong to fly it if I have it finished before I can afford a new chute.

The fellow I bought it from was a former Goldwing dealer. He's an A&P who has built numerous homebuilts and he still lives in the area. Great guy.

The rest of the story is that I basically got it for free. I paid him for it and then the next year when I went to pick it up he paid me the same amount for fuel to haul an airplane to him.

One of the other reasons I've been waiting to start is because I want to make templates of everything and document the construction in case I decide to build another one. It's a good design but was designed to be built quickly, so some areas could be engineered better with updated materials and techniques.

I'm based in Tennessee.

Anonymous said...

Hey i just bought a Eurowing Goldwing off of Craigslist its a beautiful ultralight just need to fix up the motor a little bit. Would u be willing to sell ur Eurowing or the motor for it? Im basex out of Stockton,Ca but i will travel for it. Of i would trade u my 2001 Dodge Durango with 87,xxx original miles for it.

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