Sunday, January 29, 2006

Yeah, but they’ll be cheap tools imported from China

No bones about it, I am NOT a Wal•Mart fan. I do get sucked into their Supercenter a mile from my house occasionally on their produce prices, but hang my head low when I think about how little the farmer received for the oranges I am buying, and leave the store disgusted by the way Sam’s monster has obliterated the landscape of American business.

That said, I found it interesting that in a recent company news brief published in General Aviation News, Eclipse stated that all but two maintenance tools [used on the Eclipse 500] can be bought at Wal-Mart, as if this is a selling point.

Sure, I get their intent, and it is a good one. I consider the engineers at Eclipse to be beyond brilliant, and to simplify the tool requirements on the –500 will make big points with buyers, maybe at the expense of ticking off a few A & Ps.

I remember looking at the big Klein Tools semi-truck parked just off Aeroshell Square at Oshkosh and wondering how an airplane could require that many specialized tools. But I am a self-admitted retard when it comes to working on cars – while I understand their systems fully, I usually f**k something up every time I touch my truck with a wrench.

I applaud Eclipse for simplifying the tool requirements on an Eclipse as it will further soften the perception that aircraft are to be considered "exotic" by the general public.

Would I buy the tools to work on the Eclipse of my dreams at Wally World?

Forget about it, I'll stop by the Klein Truck next time through OSH, as they sponsor Mike Mancuso's Extra 300 and they deserve my business, simply for the fact they support aerobatic competition. And I really don't care where their tools are made, because I've spoken to a few A & Ps who swear by Klein, and they tell me you won't find a better tool anywhere. As one pilot who barely knows my socket wrench from my ball peen, who am I to dispute that?