Thursday, July 31, 2008

I'll level with you...

Think back to the French Lick trip. We climbed and climbed and climbed until we reached 11,500' in order to get over the clouds for the flight back. If you remember, we did it in increments of 2,000' because we could not tell whether we were above the cloud tops yet or not. What was needed was a way to determine whether we were above or below the clouds in front of us. I remembered seeing a sight level thingy available from Sporty's years ago, but back then I had an underpowered airplane and my only real choice was to stay below, at least for the short trips.

Well, last week while flying down to Tennessee with Ted, we had occasion to ask the very same question: where are those clouds in relation to our current altitude? Well, Ted had an answer for that. He reached into his center console and retrieved a sight level that instantly made the determination that our altitude was just fine, and no more time or gas would need to be expended to get over them. I decided right then and there that I would not rest until such time as I had a gauge like that to carry in Papa.

Being as I am both cheap and lazy, I decided (without even looking) that Sporty's would be too expensive. Those Saturday hot dogs are really free, after all. So I wanted a deal, and deals are available at Oshkosh. Which, well, was a problem in that I would not be going. This is where the lazy comes in. Co-pilot Rick was going to Oshkosh, and I managed to catch him on his cell phone between traffic tie-ups on his way up there to ask that he keep his eyes open for something similar. Upon his report that such was not available at OSH, I decided to let Google do the work.

I found the Stanley Sighted Level easily enough:

But... almost $23 at, plus shipping. Unless I could find something I wanted for $2.01 to get over the $25 free shipping hump, anyway. But I've learned that free shipping from Amazon means that items are sent strapped to the back of a arthritic, paraplegic mule, or so it would seem. Not that there's any hurry to get this thing, mind you, but it rankles nonetheless.

Well, I had occasion to be in Home Depot today, and decided to see if they might have one of these gadgets on the shelf. They didn't. They had two! Both, however, were taped into their packaging in the manner of a returned item, and the price was $29.96. So, the dilemma. Buy it for more than I could get it for from Amazon and be done with it? Again, I'm not in any hurry, so the extra $7 or so would be hard to justify, but... well, a bird in the hand, right? And they looked like they had been returned and I'm generally reluctant to buy returned goods. But... it's just a level - what could go wrong with such a simple device??

I decided just to buy the darn thing and be done with it. I went to the checkout and was pleasantly surprised to see $10.98 come up as the price. Ah, open package discount!! So, as long as the thing wasn't returned from a crash site on the side of a mountain caused by an inaccuracy in the level, all should be well.

Oh, and the one Sporty's sells? $19.95 plus tax and shipping.

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