3 Money Lessons I Learned From Building a Super Seawind Airplane

Money, money, money! Everything costs more than we think.

3 Money Lessons Building my Super Seawind

Building an airplane is the most complicated project I’ve ever done. First, building from a skeletal kit to a finished flying airplane involved a host of systems and for every system there seemed to be a specialist – even sub-specialists who charged accordingly (more on that later). There were four super categories, airframe, engine, avionics and regulatory (FAA). Specialists were either advisors, workers or both. For instance, my avionics shop did all of the above. They helped design and build my instrument panel and gave me valuable and helpful advice. The company that sold me the engine sold me on the advantages of having a turbine engine power my plane.

Building an amphibious super seawind, N71RJ, money lessons

Money lessons building a super seawind

The airframe team provided practical ways to make my airplane stronger to support the 550 HP PT6A-20 turbine engines.
Last, the FAA team provided me with all the readings and documents I would need to certify my plane as flight worthy.

Looking back now, I realize that what all of these teams and “specialists” didn’t say turned out to cost lots of money and lots of time to fix later. The collective failures to consider and address unintended consequences could only have two roots; laziness or ignorance. No matter where we look in our society today, these two phenomena seem pervasive. Further, I think we can all agree that they impose huge economic costs on companies and on our national economy. Further, there is another dimension to this experience and that is failure to understand the problems. This problem is rooted in communications: knowing there is or could be a problem and failing to ascertain that the buyer of services, me, fully understand to problem and the solution. As Paul Newman famously said in the movie, Poor Hand Luke; “We have a failure of communications.” Hence, failure to say “I don’t know here’s a resource or two for you” or “this is what I didn’t do or document” could have save me the barrel full of money and the ton of time it took to repair these categories of mistakes and negligence.
Reviewing old correspondence to former financial planning clients I found that sometimes I failed to communicate effectively to them also. Planning money matters is like rocket science to most people. It’s planning a trip and an arrival way off in the future seemingly light years away. Further, technical jargon thrown around by media and professional advisors often confuses clients. In my case, I failed to communicate in money language and with metaphors they answered that they understood. That’s a huge, huge difference over one way messages such as emails and voice and text messaging.
Lesson 1 is to keenly listen and repeat back what buyers are saying. If it’s not right they’ll correct you. They’ll give you cues to respond on point to.
Lesson # 2 is to distill complex topics to simpler ones until you see heads nodding.
Lesson # 3 paint buyers a picture of the desired end result through storytelling and metaphors. This is exactly why I always insisted on meeting clients in person. If I couldn’t read their body languages I wasn’t fully communicating and they, like me, were left holding the stick. In their case the unintended money consequences were delayed retirement, higher costs, and lower future income. Building an airplane is like building a comprehensive financial plan. It helped me understand how all the components come together and how crucial it is to communicate a clear understanding of exactly what you they buyers are getting including unintended consequences.

For the history of building my airplane please click  http://www.superseawind.com/history/

My Super Seawind is featured in kit planes magazine: https://newsline.kitplanes.com/?s=super+seawind

For more of my writings on money issues please visit http://www.womenwealthwisdom.com

Steve Wightman

Super Seawind, N71RJ, pilot.

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