By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Dog house? What dog house?
Placeholder Image
So what does your wife think of all this?

Excellent question. By January of 2012, I had been involved with the restoration project for nearly eight months. It is worthwhile to note that the Fairchild 24 is a fairly big airplane. When disassembled, there is an incredible array of parts; everything from engine cowls, to wheel pants, to the dozens of various sheet metal fairings that cover the irregular joints between the wings, fuselage, landing gear, and struts. These fairings are what give any airplane its streamlined, "clean" look, and there were enough fairings from the Fairchild to fill the bed of a pickup truck, including the cab.

By early 2012, the restoration began to come home in a very big way. I needed a safe, secure area to store the parts - a place where they would not get moved or shuffled until I was ready to reassemble the aircraft. The spare bedroom was just the place. In went the six-foot propeller, nose bowl, cowling, wheel pants, side steps, radio stack, navigational equipment, doors, struts, seats and upholstery, and the dozens upon dozens of sheet metal fairings. There was not even room for a walkway; to cross the bedroom required perfectly choreographed steps worthy of A Chorus Line.

Friends and guests who visited the winter of 2011 - 2012 were required to sleep on the sofa. The entire house was permeated with a slight but noticeable pang of cured paint, like an automotive body shop. You ask, what did my wife think?

She actually laughed it off. Guests were told, with a smile, that the spare bedroom had been converted to a temporary "nursery" for our 'Child, which was due to take flight in the spring. But wait - that's not all.

In addition to the physical encumbrance of the spare parts, I had work to do. There were a dozen or so fairings that, when assembled, butted against various surfaces of the airframe. To prevent the sharp metal edges from chafing the Fairchild, my job was to glue a special rubber channel around the edge of each fairing. Each piece had to be individually measured, cut, formed into place, glued, and then lightly clamped to allow the glue to cure. In total, I would cut, shape, and glue nearly forty feet of rubber channel.

To sit down and do the entire set of fairings would be tedious and mind-numbingly boring, so I devised a brilliant and incredibly enjoyable tradition. I'd come home in the evening after work, open a bottle of wine, grab a block of cheese, and turn on my HBO series Band of Brothers DVD set. Each night I'd watch an episode or two while gluing up the fairings. You ask, what did my wife think?

To answer the question, put yourself in her shoes. It has been a long day. You are coming home from work. It is dark and cold out; winter has barely begun. You park the car in the garage, noting wearily that it is past 8:00. Your husband is obviously in the TV room; you can hear the unmistakable sounds of a Hollywood battle scene pounding the house. You push open the door.

In the half-light of dimmed bulbs and television screen, you are greeted with a scene of comedic organized chaos. The overstuffed spare bedroom has burst open, spilling airplane parts into this adjoining room. The coffee table (thankfully) is covered with stained butcher paper. On one side is a half-empty bottle of wine and a partially eaten block of cheese. There are tools scattered about; Xacto knives, utility scissors, tape measure, and some pungent-smelling glue. A long string of rubber winds its way across the floor like a snake. There are clothespins, chunks of rubber, and crusty bits of dried glue everywhere.

Your husband looks up with a huge grin. He is in his underwear. He takes a sip of wine. Sometimes he actually uses a glass. He proudly presents to you the 'latest' part that he's finished. "Can you guess where this goes?" To you, the part is indistinguishable from the half-dozen or so he has already finished. Not to worry; he doesn't give you time to guess, "This bolts to the lower left-hand landing gear, where it attaches to the fuselage. Next I'm gonna do the wheel pant guards."

The scene would scarcely be different if he were eight years old and staying up late to build a new Lego set.

You ask again, what did my wife think? Throw every stereotype out the window and prepare for the shock of your life - she actually sat down and joined me. We watched the entire 10-part Band of Brothers series together (I watched it twice, there were so many parts to glue). She enjoyed the series, and looked forward to those evenings where one of us would pick out a new variety of cheese, and pair it with wine.

That's not all - when I worked on the wings and airplane in Brodhead, she'd stop by to see how I was doing. She'd grab a tack cloth and wipe down the wing so I could brush another coat of varnish. She'd help Mike and I flip the wing, in order to paint the other side. Some days she'd bring lunch, and we'd sit at the Brodhead Airport and have a picnic.

She'd listen to me tell her about the progress I made, or vent about the difficulties encountered. We'd talk about the places we'd fly when everything was put back together.

To me, sharing it with her has been the greatest joy of all.

- Dan Wegmueller of Monroe writes a column for the Times each Monday. He can be reached at