Van's RV-9A in Aurora

The Big Picture

The Big Picture
Flying! 8/28/2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Today marked a very special milestone. Today we used the plane for it's intended purpose - a run to the beach! Back on my first posts in the build log I explained that a grueling trip to SanDestin FLA rekindled the idea of someday getting a pilot's license.

With a cold front two days in the past, today was a great day to fly. Light surface winds, but a bit of bumpiness below 5000 ft. Lynne and I had lunch at TerryP's and then about 1:30 launched to just fly south. We set the Dynon for KPKV, Calhoun County, on the bay near Port Lavaca. I had read good reviews about the FBO. We taxied into parking and there was some sort of event. It turned out to be a Young Eagles event. We stopped and did the watering stop business, then talked with Blaine of Houston Hobby's tower museum. They were raffling a '59 172, in awesome condition. The important part was that Lynne learned about the 40's flight museum at Hobby, and now she wants to go! Score!

We left Port Lavaca and headed southwest along the coast.

We ended up landing at Mustang Beach, KRAS, in Port Aransas. This will be where we will spend Thanksgiving.

And then we walked to the beach. And it sank in what the airplane can do - allow us to spend a day at the beach without the nasty drive!

I put in a bit a fuel, which wasn't necessary but made me feel better. Then we loaded up and headed back home. We enjoyed smooth air at 6500 ft, 145 knot ground speeds the whole way. In less than an hour, we were on the ground back at home.

Lynne is now fully excited about the possibilities! Mission accomplished.

I almost forgot, but this was the first time the plane left the phase 1 test area.

Squawks. The 430W has decided to not see the GPS antenna anymore. NEED to fix that. I think I figured out why the right aileron is out of whack. It is raised up at the outboard hinge. I think this is fixable.

On the side I'm making a set of control locks, gathering tie downs and a tool kit, and getting other sundry items required for overnight stays away from home. A canopy cover from Van's is on the way, and I'll get a canopy lock from Seth.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An update is long overdue. And I just got off the phone with Ed Rupp who requested more posts! Also talked with Jim R. The grandbaby is doing well, but Orion may not be able to take a break from Dad duty to go flying with me. Just teasing!

Looking at my blog, I haven't posted about any of my passengers. So here we go.
First passenger was Wayne Wagner. Thanks to Wayne, my airplane has a home. He was also able to simulate flying with my Dad, so that part of the flight testing is complete! We just finished Wayne's electrical system and panel, and then we spent three evenings riveting on the forward top skin on his 7A project. Wayne is doing a fantastic job on the detail. He's going to have really nice airplane, lot's of power and a very capable panel.

Second passenger was Jim Darrah. Saturday we flew down to San Marcos and visited with Mike Collier at the Commemorative Air Force Hanger. Mike is a fellow Lakeway Airpark board member, and he's one of the pilots for the warbirds the CAF has. He own's a BirdDog, and a T6 Texan. He was showing off the P63 King Cobra that is very close to flying. We got to sit in the B25 and ask lots of questions.

Jim was wearing his B-29 Fifi tshirt that day - what else do you wear when spending a day geeking out on airplanes? So Jim is driving to Lakeway to meet me when Fifi, the worlds only flying B-29, flies right over him! The B-29 and a B-17 happened to be at Bergstrom that day. They made multiple flights using 3R9 as a waypoint. I was able to see the B-17 later in the day. Verrry Cool!

On Sunday I took Lynne up for her first flight. We started about 10, and it was already a bit bumpy by then, but she did fine. We toured the lakes, and then had brunch at the T82 Airport Diner.
After leaving we did a flight over Enchanted Rock. She enjoyed the flight, and we're starting to plan the next real trip.

Monday morning I took up my boss, David Huebel, during our regularly scheduled meeting time. He brought his camera and took a bunch of pictures. I'll have to post some when David sorts them out. Waiting for David I did one lap around the pattern. It was a perfect morning, cool, calm wind, great visibility. The plane rolled out on downwind at pattern altitude, on speed, with the right power setting, smooth as silk, followed by a great landing (with a wary eye out for deer). It made me look like I knew what I was doing!

Tonight I went for a short spin, .7, practicing turns, slow flight, a 45 degree spiraling descent. Reasonably smooth, all in all a good evening to fly.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Phase 2

I took advantage of nice weather this weekend and finished flying the 40 hours of Phase 1 flight testing. That included redoing climb performance data at a lighter weight with the wheel fairings installed. This allowed me to establish the Vx and Vy speeds for the new configuration. I also repeated stall testing. Then I loaded the passenger seat back up and flew again, doing stability checks, more climb data and descent data.
I also ran climb to altitude tests over several flights to measure fuel consumption, time to climb, and distance from departure point for +3000, +6000, and +9000 foot departures. The climb to 4000 feet only burns .8 gallons, and that includes starting the engine, taxiing, runup, takeoff, and the climb (starting from 900ft). The climb to 10000 took only 2.8 gallons, and got the plane 27 nautical miles toward the destination.

Somewhere in all that testing I landed at Fredricksburg and had lunch at the airport diner.

The final flight of the 40 hours was a trip to KAUS (Bergstrom) with 200 lbs in the right seat, and 80 1bs in the baggage compartment. I wanted to check the operation of the localizer and glide slope information on the ILS approach to 17L. Unfortunately it didn't work. I guess I should rule out the ILS being out of service before I declare my equipment not working.

All this weight was in the airplane!

So with 40 hours, Vx, Vy, and Vso (stall speed with full flaps) and all the important testing and data collection done, I made the aircraft log book entry to officially end Phase 1. So my operating limitations are relaxed. I can now take a passenger, fly at night, fly over populated areas and in congested airways during cruise (which I'll tend to avoid anyway), and file an instrument flight plan.

Another interesting thing happened. I had been burning about a quart every 6 hours. When doing climb testing, it was much more, like 1 quart every 2 hours, which might mean it was going out the breather tube. With the wheel fairing on, I can fly about 10 knots faster, which allows the prop to finally turn at full RPM. In fact I can now redline the engine at 2700, which I couldn't do without the wheel fairings. With the faster cruise and high RPM/manifold pressure, I am able to really push the engine hard in cruise. So after about an hour of that, the oil consumption has dropped so that I've probably only burned 1/8 quart in the last 3 hours. Which hopefully means that the rings are seated and the engine is broken in. We'll see how the next 10 hours go.

And finally, on the same day, I went over 300 hours and 500 landings, and my repairmans certificate came in the mail. What a weekend!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Flew today with the wheel fairings on. They survived the trip and seem to be sturdy enough to trust for more flights.

Started with a climb to 4000 to measure fuel consumption, but realized that having the plane sit for a week throws off any measurements. During preflight I opened the right tank and fuel gushed out, it had expanded since filling it up. I'll have to repeat the experiment right after filling up. The climb took me 7nm from the airport. CHTs were OK, but I did reduce power and flatten the climb a little to make sure they stayed OK.
I was seeing 1300 fpm when climbing at 80 knots, no pax weight, 15 lbs in the back, but I wasn't too focused on that.
An 80 kt descent only lost 600 ft in 1 minute. The prop was turning 1000, and I think all the power was out.
I did a few speed points, at 3800 ft, setting manifold pressure to an even number.
At WOT I can now redline the engine. I couldn't do that before. In fact I have to back the throttle off quite a bit to stay below redline. I briefly saw 140 knots indicated, but it was slightly bumpy and the airspeed is the first thing to start jumping around if the air isn't perfectly smooth. But the plane is clearly faster with the fairings, at least 8 knots faster.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stopped by the hangar and put the seats back in, so the cabin is ready to fly. Also got the upper cowl in place, but it still needs to be fastened.

Removed the main gear fairings and brought them home.

After dinner, mixed up some epoxy and flox and bonded the intersection fairings to the wheel fairings. I expect this to work very well, and I may even be able to fly tomorrow.

The nose wheel fairing has cured nicely. I slopped on the epoxy, and it is really hard to sand off. It's going to take a while to get it ready for painting. Because of this, I was much more careful with the main gear fairings.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Spent the weekend working on the gear leg fairings and wheel fairings. Installed 30 nutplates yesterday between the upper intersection fairings and the wheel fairing halves.
Saturday I fit a small intersection fairing to the front of the nosewheel fairing. Not overly happy with the work I did on the nosewheel gear leg fairing, which needed trimming to clear the intersection fairing. Tonight I got the main wheel fairings in place with screws and then fit the lower intersection fairings and got them trimmed and clecoed into place. Next step is to bond the intersection fairings into place.

I need to hurry, the next few days will be really nice for flying

Sunday, October 9, 2011

60 rivets today, installing nutplates for the gear leg intersection fairings and for the wheel fairing halves. As far as I can remember, these are the last rivet I have to set. My spreadsheet gives the total as 17111. About 2700 hours, but I stopped tracking hours accurately at 2650.

Got the interior mostly put back together, should have the plane flight ready by the end of tomorrow evening, this time with wheel fairings installed. Still need to glass on all the lower intersection fairings.

IFR conditions all day. We got almost 2 inches of rain last night. It was desperately needed.

Wayne is essentially finished with his panel wiring. We are shifting gears on his project, and got the brakes charged. Top skin riveting will happen soon.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Confidence is growing that I resolved the stray fuel smell problem by tightening up that right vent line fitting. I ran a test card Wednesday night (150+45) and did not smell any fuel during the steep attitudes. As the CG shifts aft, the plane definitely gets more squirrely. It has almost neutral stability in the slip test that the card performs. This might have been due to a less than smooth ride. All the other tests were fine, although stall behaviour is incrementally less polite.

On returning I refueled. This took care of one of the test items. Climb to 3000 feet (from 900 feet), including startup, short taxi, runup and takeoff: .8 gallons. Call it 1. Another data point for the Pilots Operating Handbook. And I think I have the fuel flow adjusted pretty close to correct. It's registers a slight bit more than I actually use, but that's better than the other way around. I need to check this more, but I also need to look closely at the fuel tank levels to make sure they are reasonable.

That flight got me to 33 hours, 7 to go.

We have cloudy weather for the next few days, so I decided to take the plane out of service and get the gear fairings installed. The first part of this is removing the seat pans so I can install nutplates.s
So tonight I took out the seat pans, and inspected the wiring runs. It all looks OK after 30 hours. I also took out the aileron trim and brought it home. I cut an ample notch for clamping pressure and now I should be able to use the aileron trim.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Got in another hour yesterday, flying test card 12d, 125 in the right seat and 25 in the baggage. Next up is 150 + 45.
Found problem that's been nagging me. When ever I had a steep attitude, during climbs or stalls, I would get a smell of fuel. And occasionally on the ground. I had somewhat suspected the vents, but I kept looking at the fuel selector with greater suspicion.
Yesterday I refueled after the morning flight, so the fuel was cool. I pushed out of the hangar in the afternoon and the warmer air made the fuel expand. I was noticing a fuel smell when I saw it: A drip of fuel from the lower right fuel vent fittings. These are routed inside the cockpit. It was actually dripping!
I put a wrench on it. I appeared it had never been tightened. After all the inspections, nobody caught it, especially me. These vent lines blend in to the background and don't get much attention. We'll see if this fixes the fuel smell during flight.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Put in about 4 hours over the weekend. Started by changing oil on Friday. That was at 20 tach hours. About 28 on the hobbs. Also took out the #2 bottom plug and cleaned it up real good. It ran very well for a while. Saturday, flew to Georgetown to meet Seth and pickup a new spark plug and a spare wire harness. Next time the lower cowl is off I'll trade out the harness to see if it makes any difference. When routing wires for the bottom left side (#2 and #4), I used Adel clamps that may have been a bit too small. If the new harness fixes the issues, that may be the actual cause. If not, then it may just be a break in issue.

Back to Georgetown, I got to meet the local RV dignitaries that had just done an overhead break arrival. Stu, the Card's, R.W., and Bobby L. (who I had met a year earlier at Seth's shop). I wanna be able to be part of a four ship overhead break! It looks cool!
I had planned on zipping down to San Marcos to visit Mike who has a T6 at the warbird hangars. But a mag check showed that #4 bottom plug was not firing. Dang. The engine was running OK on both mags, so I scrubbed San Marcos and returned to Lakeway to fix the problem. That plug was firing fine by the time I got back and pulling it showed it wasn't too bad. I think my leaning habits on the ground need to be improved. These engines are bit finicky.

With that problem resolved, Sunday I flew a planned circle around Austin. The route was 3R9, KERV, KSSF, T20, 3TG, KRWV, KPWG, KMNZ (these last two about two miles out of my 75nm circle, so I didn't actually overfly them), and then 81R, T92, then back to Lakeway.

I flew the first half on plan. Picked up flight following around San Antonio, verified altitude with the controllers, and stopped at Fayette Regional for a break. What a treat. I walked in and fell in love with the place. No one else there. This great little airport embodies what I love about small airports. I took a bunch of pictures with the iphone, but only one turned out acceptable.

Finally coming over the north side of the Hood MOA (which was not active) I was getting unnecessarily nervous about fuel, so I stopped in Lampassas. I had been cruising at 6500, where it was glass smooth. On the descent, at about 5000, it started getting rough. The days heating had kicked in.
Refueled and then just returned to Lakeway. I was hungry, and didn't feel like getting beat up by thermals.

Skyview in action.

Finished the weekend at 30.9, only 9 hours to go!