The Gipsy Moth was ready at last for rigging again, and the ground outside the cargo shed had become an island meeting-place. Some volunteers carried the float undercarriage out, others carried out the fuselage with the engine attached, tediously secured by thirty-six bolts and twelve bracing wires to the float undercarriage. I sighed with relief when after an hour and a half we had the fuselage level and ready for rigging. The trouble we had had to get the seaplane level was explained when I happened to turn the spirit-level end for end. The bubble rushed to one end of it; the instrument itself was not level and I could not find an accurate level on the island. Now I was face to face with rigging. I had watched in awed silence a rigger performing this mystic ritual and I studied the book. The wings must be dihedrally rigged, three and a half degrees upwards, and this angle must be correct to one sixth of a degree, measured with a variable inclinometer. In other words the wings must be cocked up.
‘Roley, I said. You will have to make an inclinometer. ‘All right, he said, ‘if you can draw one, I can make one.’
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I marked an angle of three and a half degrees on a piece of wood 3-foot long, which Roley took home and planed until it was a long thin wedge. It was so accurately made that I could not find it the slightest degree out of true anywhere. We laid this along the wing spar with the rather dubious level on top of it, and cocked up the wing by adjusting the rigging screws until the bubble was at least in the centre of the level.
The leading edge of each wing had to be higher than the trailing edge, so that the wing made an angle of three and a half degrees with the horizontal fore and aft. After that we had to rig for ‘stagger – the upper wings had to be 3% inches ahead of the lower wings. At the end, it all appeared to have been so simple that I started looking round for something I felt sure must have been forgotten. No, by lunchtime next day the seaplane was finished. I thought she looked handsome, superb with her white enamelled body and floats, her bright aluminium wings with Kirby’s jet-black lettering. My pride went flat on finding a large bolt in the cargo shed that had obviously been left out from somewhere. We ferreted round the seaplane but could not find any place lacking a bolt. In the middle of the night I was woken up with the solution; there had been a duplicate rudder bar in the front cockpit, so that the seaplane could be flown from there if necessary. I had dismantled this, because it would never be needed, and the bolt had come from there. The Gipsy Moth was in perfect order.
She was ready for launching, but I could not think how to launch her safely. There was a 6-foot drop from the edge of the bank down to the sand. There was not enough room to pass the seaplane between the bank and the side of the sheds to reach a steep wooden boat-launching slip in front of the sheds. I was scratching my head, when Gower passed. ‘How much does it weigh? he asked.