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Sunday, September 1, 2013

First BIG Trip !

Bekah and I took the RV out of state for the first time over labor day weekend.  We took it way out of state..  Our first stop was Medford Oregon, just north of the Siskiyou Range (Mt Shasta).  Was a great flight, but 20 knot headwind the whole way.  At Medford we refueled and continued our trip to Santa Rosa, Sonoma County Airport.  Again with the 20 knot headwind, but all in all we still made it from Seattle to Wine Country in about 4.5 hours flight time.

Everything went really well with the flight except for two things.  In Sonoma it was 90 degrees and the canopy swelled up due to the heat and I couldn't close it.   WHAT?  I didn't realize that it swelled so much, the aft part was binding with the rear windshield.  I will work on sanding it down a bit more to get a larger clearance in that area.  We waited till it cooled down, and were able to close no problem.  Also, the CHT’s got a little warm as we were up at 9,500 over the Siskiyou’s passing Shasta.  The hottest I saw was about 389, no problem, but I am thinking I might need to open up the lower cowl a bit.   My 2 pipe heat box and 4 pipe exhaust kind of plug up the exit and I need more space for air to flow through.  I might put some louvers on the bottom of the cowl, we’ll see.  Also I think at similar power settings at higher altitude the air cooling isn’t as effective as at lower altitudes.

Coming home, that 20 knot wind had turned into a 30 knot wind, but this time was a tailwind!!   We were cruising across the earth at 220 mph most of the way.   This turned the flight home into a 3.5 hour event and even though we were delayed due to fog at Santa Rosa we still made it home by early afternoon.   We could have made it nonstop, but the plane is more efficient than our bladders.   Nature called around the Eugene area, so we stopped in for a quick pit stop.    All in all, what a cool trip !

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dynamic Prop Balance/ Oil Change and Continued Flying

So I am not updating this blog much anymore since really I haven’t’ been doing much work on the plane.   I don’t want to take it offline and risk missing a weekend, so I am waiting until later in September for some of the remaining fiberglass work.  I did get the prop dynamically balanced, which does make a noticeable difference.  The plane isn’t any smoother, but when you touch the metal structure, or the wiring up under the panel during flight you can tell there is less vibration in it.   So I am glad I balanced it knowing that it does make a difference.   I also changed the oil/filter for the 3rd time after 25 hours.  I think I will stick with changing every 25 hours since from this point forward I will be putting consistent hours on the plane.

This weekend I took Bekah over the Cascades for the first time and we headed to Spokane to visit a friend from college and his family.   Was a great trip, had to go VFR on top at 11500 to get over there.  Coming back we were between layers but were able to get in at 8500, so some better views of the mountains.   All in all it was a great trip to eastern Washington, but I was anxious to get home when Sunday came.   Getting back over the mountains can be dicey no matter what time of year.  We made it though, so all was good.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Magical day to circumnavigate Puget Sound and the Islands !

What a fun day in the RV. !   Bekah and I took off from Paine field and I promptly gave her some exciting “unusual attitudes”  (RV Pilots will know what that means) followed by the short flight over to Port Townsend (Jefferson County Airport).   We landed there and realized that the Spruce Goose Café was closed due to fire a week or so back, but it will be reopening soon which is great.   But no problem for us because we are in an RV, so we taxied back, took off in route to Skagit Bay View airport.   Stopped and grabbed lunch at the Kitty Hawk Café which Bekah had never been to, so that was fun.   From there we decided to head up to Eastsound on Orcas Island.  Landed there and walked down to the water for a bit, then headed back to Paine Field.   What an amazing and magical day to circumnavigate Puget Sound !

Click "HERE" for a great short video of our departure from Eastsound !

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Aileron Rolls

I know I haven't posted for a while..  I have been flying every chance I get though.  Fixing a few items here and there and getting Bekah familiar with  the airplane.   We have flown together about 4 or 5 times.   But since I have taken some aerobatic training I figure it was time to see what the RV could do.  I've been practicing rolls for the last several flights and I figure it was time to get a camera in the plane and share some of my fun.  I apologize for my hamming it up in the video a bit, I can't help it and looking back afterwards, its pretty silly.  Oh well, I had a Blast, always do when I am flying the RV..


Also snapped a shot out of the video and posting as a pic..

Monday, June 24, 2013

Our First Destination !

Bekah and I finally got the opportunity to let the plane take us somewhere wonderful.  Weather was perfect, winds were perfect and we launched off to Friday Harbor on Saturday morning.  Pretty much flew direct there over Whidbey Island, grabbed some flight following and at 23 squared at 4,500 was cruising at 200mph.  Made the trip there about 25 mins from Paine field.  We spent the day walking around the island, bucket of clams for lunch, and generally taking in the sights.  Everyone who travels to Friday Harbor is pretty excited about how they got there, people either have their own boat, or take the ferry in from Anacortes, but as we walked around it was fun to think that nobody there was in Seattle just 30 minutes ago like we were.   Only a few people get to fly in !  ;-)   The airport is only a 10 minute walk to town, so you just can’t beat it for a great island get away.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bekah's First Flight

With Phase one behind me and things looking good on the airplane, Bekah and I decided to head up for her first flight.   All went well, and fortunately for us it was the smoothest weather I have experienced in all of my phase 1.  We flew up over the San Juans for a quick evening flight and returned to Paine field after about 45 minutes of flight time.   Great experience and now Bekah has flown in the RV  !

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Counter Weight/Balast and Phase One closure

I have been flying with different weights to simulate “Bekah”.  ;-)   Also to simulate luggage and different loading configurations.  Things went well and while I didn't hit every single weight I proved the plane flies well and that there is not a major difference in control feel.  With heavy luggage you end up with a bit slower tail rise on take-off and more pitchy movement on landing, but now that I have “felt” the characteristics I am good to close out my phase one.

Flying down to Renton Field I hit the fabulous 40 hour mark.  I didn't get a pick in the air, but now the plane has been test flown the appropriate number of hours, I have signed it off and am now entering Phase 2 which means I can take passengers to experience the airplane with me.  Oh, the reason I was heading down to Renton was to catch some aerobatic training in a Pitts..  Not cheap, but valuable experience for flying and for future aerobatics.

Also including what I think is just a great pic of my plane tied down for the first time at Renton Field.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lower cowl and gear leg fairings

I have been working on the lower cowl and gear leg fairings over the last couple weeks.   Finally got them to a point where I am happy with how things are working/flying.   At first the gear leg fairings affected my trim a bit and the Slip/Skid ball was about ½ off.   I simplify adjusted the gear leg fairings and after two flights of adjustment by trim was dead on.   Not sure why people are so concerned about these, or why they add tabs to their rudder.  A simple minor adjustment on the gear leg fairings straightens things out perfectly.   Anyway, I will probably do some more minor tweaking and fiberglass work/priming then call these done for the summer.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Breakfast flight and Gear Fairings

Bekah and I took our first airplane trip together (sort of) this weekend.   She actually flew with friends since I am not up to my 40 hours yet, but we flew in loose formation, so were able to see each other from the air.   In fact they snapped a pretty good pic of me from the air that you can see here.  It sure was fun to fly over to Pt. Townsend for breakfast and have Bekah there on a perfect weather day.

I have been flying off my 40 hours as quick as I can.  At this point I am up to 30.3 which means less than 10 hours and Bekah can fly with me.  Weather isn't supposed to be great this week so I decided to get into my gear fairings.  Turns out they are just like everything else and harder than I thought.  After about 5 hours I have them mounted, but still much more to do with them.  Tricky part is you have to jack the plane up so that there is no weight on the gear.  Then somehow make them straight with the center line of the plan.  There is no real spot to measure from on the fairing, so it’s just kind of do the best you can with plumb lines down the fuse.   I drilled a few extra holes in the fairings as I zeroed in on the best spot to fix them to their supports, so I will need to patch those as I continue to fit and drill them.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tulip Patrol

I am now 8 flights into phase one and up to about 12.5 hours on the airframe.  Things are going well and I am just starting to get my head around some of the things I want to work on.   I don’t have a heavy wing so that is good, most RV’s come off the line with the need to address what is perceived as a heavy wing.   The airplane also seems to be fairly well coordinated, although I do find myself resting my right foot on the pedal to keep the slip ball exactly centered..  I still need to get the gear and leg fairings on before I do any adjustment to coordination though.

I changed the oil at about 5.5 Tach hours, looked at the oil screen, found nothing, cut open the filter, found nothing..  Very happy with that.

My Oil temp does seem to be a little low at 160, probably due to the northwest temps, but I might put some reflective heat tape on the cooler to see if I can raise it up to the 170-80 mark or so.

Fixed the canopy air exiting noise by using some stick on felt over the roll bar, makes it a bit harder to lock the canopy down, but the reward is a clean seal that is soft on the plexi to boot.

My morning flight today before work rewarded me with nice views of the Tulips over Skagit Valley.  I also did a stop and go at Arlington which is the first time my RV has touched any surface besides Paine Field.  Its only about 12 miles or so, but  was so exciting to actually touch down somewhere new for my RV ! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Back to Building while in Phase 1

So Phase 1 is going pretty well.  I have had a few issues, but at this point most of them have been resolved.  The funny part is that most of my issues were with vendors work not mine.  Re-assuring, but at the same time I have given money to the vendors and when things don’t work it really is frustrating.  For example my fuel pump.   I really would not recommend the EFII pump to anyone, I’ll do a write up on that later, but that thing has leaked out of every single possible place that it could have.   Working with the vendor and doing some stuff on my own, it is functioning properly now with no leaks.  All other items except some really minor stuff have been resolved, so the plane is online fully and I have 5 flights with about 6 hours on the plane. 

So in my off time I am getting back to building.   Here is the first step on the wheel pants, basically getting each of them to fit together as good as possible.  Lots of sanding fiberglass, but I got them to the point where I am happy.  These will come together slowly over the  next few weeks, but at least I got a start on them.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Continued Phase 1 Flight testing and Squawks (Items needing attention)

So now that my first flight is complete, I have flown the airplane a total of 3 times.  Logging a total of about 4 hours.  Each time getting more familiar with everything and trying to identify and address issues between flights.  The weather around here has been a factor, so it slows me down just enough to try to work through each item between flights.   Issues that have come up and I am tackling are outlined below.
  • Cabin heat door pulls shut due to pressures in the lower cowl.
  • Slight sound of air exiting the cabin where the canopy connects with the roll bar, need to address that.
  • My oil filler tube started to loosen as the paper gasket became lubricated with Oil.  It was safety tied, but I could tighten it about 1/8 inch so I tightened and re-safety wired it.
  • Ensuring my engine alarms are set correctly for right pressures.  I had a high fuel pressure alarm due to incorrect setting, and an alarm on takeoff roll due to alternator not being turned on..  These issues are mostly ironed out.
  • One of my Capacitive fuel senders is not reporting and I need to dive into that.
Tonight I will be going through everything again and getting ready for the 4th flight.  Then probably an oil change after 5-6 hours of engine run.  Once things stabilize I will be starting work on the gear leg and wheel fairings.

Slowly working my way to 40 hours so that Bekah can fly with me !

Friday, March 29, 2013

704CH First Flight !

See the video Here:   704CH First Flight

I think I might have set a record from airworthiness inspection to first flight.   Funny enough as soon as Steve left I started putting the plane back together.  All the covers went on and the plane became ready to fly the same night.  Then I checked weather and found that over this weekend Seattle was scheduled to have unbelievable weather..  So I told Bekah I wanted to get out and fly Friday morning before the airport became a zoo over the weekend.

All things looked good the next morning both with the weather and with the machine itself, so literally less than 18 hours after I got my airworthiness 704CH was airborne over Paine field.   First flight went well and everything as planned.  Basically first flights are mainly to just pretty much make sure the plane flies as designed, and nothing more.  I was incredibly nervous to the point where even my radio calls were not as smooth as I had liked.  Lucky for me I called the tower ahead of time and told them my plan.  Take off, climb in the pattern out of their airspace, and orbit directly above for about 30 minutes, then descend into the airspace in the pattern and land.

Bekah had a handheld and monitored from the ground, also she caught a few pics, and a I got a full length video from inside the  plane.   I cut the video down to less than 5 minutes so that all the good parts can be viewed for those who don't have a lot of time.   ;-)   I mainly got the takeoff and landing on the video..  Please, no peanut gallery comments about the slight left turn on takeoff, which catches a lot of first time pilots in RVs.  I did nail the landing pretty good for a first landing though.   All else went well, but boy was I nervous and excited when finished to have flown the plane !

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Airworthy !

I had some challenges finding a local DAR, but ended up getting Steve Knopp from Camano Island.  He signed up late notice, pushed my paperwork through the FAA and showed up on time less than a week after I contacted him.  He was great I would really recommend him for any aviation type maintenance or DAR work that you  might need.

He and his wife who helps run his business showed up on a great sunny evening in Seattle.  We started at 3:00 finished by 5:00 and I got my airworthiness pink slip and Phase 1 documentation.   He gave me a 100nm radius for my Phase 1 flying.  This means in my first 40 hours where I can't have any passengers  I am at least good to hit most any airport in western Washington.  Also, I know it looks like he  is handing me a blank white paper, trust me, its not !  :-)

The plane became something more than a hunk of expensive metal in about 2 hours, with the airworthiness certificate, this is now an actual airplane !

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Taxi Test

So, as I wait for my FAA Inspection I wanted to run the engine for another 5 minutes or so and check the brakes along with a taxi test.   All went well, did a quick run-up at the end and things are looking good.  The airplane really wants to Fly..

This is how it will look on the first flight.   I will get the bottom cowl primed white soon, but probably not until later in the spring, I don’t want to delay anything right now..  The FAA is delaying things enough for me to have to deal with.

Here is a Low Quality Video of my first Taxi ! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Transition Training and final touches

I went down to Oregon to train with Mike Seager who is a factory endorsed Transition instructor.  Things went well and I got 11 hours with him after a few weather delays.  Flying the RV is definitely different than the other tail draggers I have flown, so I am glad to have taken the training.  We ended up doing an extra hour so that I could get to my 25 hour insurance minimum, but it was fun because we were able to go deeper into wheel landings, short field landings, slips and engine out scenarios etc..  It really was a great well rounded training.

When I got back I decided it’s time to get serious, so I got my data plate on the plane and put the wing root fairings on for the last time before first flight.   Everything in the plane is ready to fly now, but my inspection won’t be for a few days.  After some challenges with scheduling of my first DAR, I have a new one who is much more responsive and looks to be able to turn things around pretty quickly.   So I am looking forward to having him look at the plane and sign me off by end of next week  !

I still have some minor things to do on the plane, so the next week or so will consist of another quick engine run with the cowling on; wrapping my fuel flow transducer with fire sleeve, double checking everything for leaks, and making sure the Skyview is set up correctly, checking the tires and getting ready to Fly !

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

First Engine Start !

After being so quiet for so long, my engine finally was able to make some NOISE !    The first engine start was a success, but it didn't go without a couple hitches..   First the plan was to see all the fuel line junctions by removing all the fairings that I had to install for the weigh in.  That didn't take to long, then I had to verify all my fuel lines were torqued and looked good.  Also I had to upgrade my Dynon to 5.1 which includes data logging which is perfect timing for me because I can track multiple times a second all the temps and pressures of my engine during start up and break in.
To prep the engine I had to turn the prop several times to get oil up the oil pressure hose.  This also pushed oil all around in the engine so it was good to do prior to the first start.  Vans indicates you pull the top plugs and hit the starter to do this.  I found turning by hand several times pushed oil up the hose and primed the pressure line just fine.  So I replaced the plugs including anti seize and torqued them.  Things were looking good at this point.  

Now it was time to start working with the Blue 100LL Avgas, it sure was pretty in the sunshine.  I put a gallon or so through each tank and sloshed it around, then fully drained each tank.   I am almost 100% confident that the tanks were pristine to begin with, but just in case, it is a good idea to rinse them out. 

First glitch came up when I tried to run fuel to prime the fuel pump.   Turning the pump on didn't do anything.  I had disconnected the fuel line at the spider and nothing would happen.   I had to get fuel to the pump so used a siphon technique to get fuel to the pump which worked fine and from that point forward fuel pump was able to pull from both tanks with adequate pressure.

All was looking good, pulled the plane out of the hangar, tied it to the car and set up a few cameras..  Confirmed that all the assistants there were looking for the same stuff and communication was working OK.  Went over everything a final time and then jumped in the plane, full of stress ready to fire it up.   Sure I had a checklist and knew exactly what I was going to do, I even read it and double checked it but sure enough the first couple attempts at starting I had forgot to turn the mags on..   No way would it fire without the ignition on, so once that problem was corrected it fired right up..   Man was I stressed..

BEKAH TOOK A PERFECT HD VIDEO :       Click here for the Video    

Then I noticed that my RPMs were reading as double due to the Electric ignition sending two pules per revolution vs just one.  I have since corrected this, but during the engine run I just idled it at an indicated 2000 rpm (which really was 1000).   The engine ran great, but was rich at idle causing a bit of roughness which I will need to look at over time.  I ran it up and cycled the prop, tested each ignition and then back to idle.   I then leaned it out quite a bit at idle and it started to run much smoother.  Did a quick idle lean test and noticed it raise a few hundred RPM, which is consistent with being too rich..  Then shut her down.  You really don’t want to run the engine much on the ground when you need to break it in.  The only way to break in an airplane engine is to run it at high power in the air for several hours.

I will never forget the slight smell of burning as the new engine came to life.  It really smelled brand new, sort of like a new car, but it was a new airplane.   It was wonderful ! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Empennage Fairing

I wrestled with the Empennage fairing for a couple hours toward the latter part of last week.  My plan was to get it to a flight ready state, then come back through and clean it up later.  Well that is sure what I did..  From my perspective it is unacceptable for long term, but definitely safe and fine for the first few flights.   I need to go through and do a lot of fiberglass work on it to make it fit better, but the weather needs to warm up and I might as well do the fairing work when I am doing the wheel pants and the gear leg fairings since they are all fiberglass too.

Here are a few shots.  The current fairing puckers between screws and it doesn’t really sit well on the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer.   But functional and safe..  yes..

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Weigh In !

I borrowed scales from a fellow EAA chapter member to do the weigh in.   After a couple snafus with getting the scales to power on, things went pretty well.     I used a bathroom scale to weight the tail, but calibrated all the scales by jumping on them myself and confirming I weight the exact amount on all three scales.  Now I don’t weight as much as an airplane, but definitely enough to confirm the scales had plenty of weight on them and were all providing the same results.

I rolled the plane up onto the two main wheel scales first, then raised the tail to level out the longerons at the cabin area which confirms a flight level attitude.  To achieve this the tail has to be really high, but this is the only way to properly weigh the plane.  Here are some pictures and the final results..   Basically she came in at a great empty weight and light enough on the tail to give plenty of loading options.

Empty Weight:  1087 lbs
Useful load: 713 lbs

Tail Wheel:  66.5  (Rounded to 67)
Right Main:  508
Left Main:  512

The empty CG came it at 80.34 which isn’t as far forward as it could be (the further forward the better) but definitely in a good position.   The valid CG Range is 78.80 -86.82..  I won’t go into all the details of aircraft weight and balance, but it’s very critical and things are looking good for 704CH !

Places we have been in our RV-7 ! (Blue 2013, Yellow 2014, Green 2015, Purple 2016, Red 2017)