Chapter 29 - Flight Testing part 7 - the Home Stretch?

Tuning the Beast

After a few days of solid rain my new EC2 chips came in, so I headed down to the hangar to install them. The main storm seems to have passed. It was a perfect cool evening with a layer of stratus at around 12,000. I was tempted to take her around the pattern, but resisted myself. The chips came with a cryptic note saying that all programming on the earlier chips will be lost so there's no point doing any more testing anything until the new chips are in. Also, Tracy seemed quite insistant that all turbo users install the new chips. I asked him what was different, but didn't get a reply yet. They're an upgrade, so they must be better - right?

The EC2 chip installation took just a few minutes. I checked the map tables. They looked normal and smooth, so I pushed her out onto the ramp and started up. Full rich and cold start was too much for it. I had to back off on the mixture to get her to fire, then with cold start off and mixture in the middle she was obviously running very rich. I used mode 3 and reduced the injector pulse width by three clicks to allow for my bigger 550 injectors, got her running fairly smoothly and taxied out to the ramp to avoid annoying the neighbors.

Once the EGO sensor warmed up and the air/fuel ratio reading was reacting to the mixture knob I switched on the autotune and sat back. I started at about 20 inches and could see the bars adjusting themselves one by one as I gradually incremented the throttle. Cool. Autotune took about five steps (roughly one per second) on each bar, then I'd increase or decrease throttle to the next bar, once in a while going back to be sure it didn't want to adjust the previous bar any more. In the 18 - 22 MAP range, each bar started off at just below mid height and went down in stages to almost zero. That seemed strange, but the engine was running much better as we went along. I decided that the autotune knew what it was doing and let it do it's thing. At the lower end of the scale the engine started it's surging. The trick here seems to be to tweak the mixture knob a little toward rich until the surging stops and the rpm is steady, let the autotune adjust the bar at that MAP, then tweak the mixture back to center and give autotune time to take a second shot at it. I got down to about 17MAP and up to about 25 before the temps were starting to get high. I didn't do a full power runup yet, but the engine now seems pretty happy at anything above 17. Below that (you can tell where I stopped tuning on the map table) it's still a bit rich. I'll work on the untuned parts of the first table in one or two more ground runs, then take her up, get some altitude, and work on the second (low map, high rpm) map table.

It's very refreshing to have an ignition system that's working as it's supposed to be, and apparantly always has for everyone else. Before I found the intermittent plug seating it was very hard to tell what was going on. Lots of things were wrong at the same time, things were changing by themselves, and I didn't know enough to know the difference. Very frustrating. Now it all fits into place. So far in the recent flight and ground runs, not counting the slight misunderstanding with mixture at low map and high rpm, I only have two anomolies. The EM2 fuel pressure reads way too high, and the analog coolant temp is about 20F higher than the EM2 reading. The oil temps both agree and stay close to the EM2 coolant temp reading, and the engine doesn't seem overly hot on shut down, even though the analog gauge says it's at 240F. Coolant pressure does seem high at 25, but I've never lost any coolant, and there are no boiling noises. I'm pretty sure the sensor is bad. That's the second bad sensor I've had from egauges. I guess I'll order a replacement.

Next day I did some more tuning. The weather was clear with a high overcast. Perfect pattern weather, but that dark cloud to the West didnt look too inviting. Trying to keep the engine temps down so I could get more done, I did much of the tuning on-the-roll. I don't think this pleased a local TV crew who were doing an interview spot on the ramp. Sorryeeeee.

I worked my way up through the map table. Its amazing how fast you can build up speed when trying to hold 32.5 MAP for 5 seconds, then moving to 33, then 33.5 etc. I decided it was time to close the canopy and move on to the runway for the higher rpm settings. I got about three map bars done before having to back off the throttle and taxi back around. This method worked well for the cooling, which didn't get above 210, but the brakes didn't do so well. I noticed a little fade on about the fifth run, so that ended the fun for the day, much to the relief of the TV crew. After shut down the brakes were hot enough that I need to take the pants off and check everything. Two other minor squarks are that the batteries need a charge, and the EM2 fuel pressure needs recalibrating. There's no more sign of soot on the prop and no more oil trails or drips. I checked the map tables all the way through after shut down and adjusted a couple of bars that were obviously out of sync. The tables now look very smooth with a dip to almost zero in the 17 - 20 map range. Above 30 map the bars are all fairly high, as you'd expect, and the autotune didn't seem to want to change anything. The next step is to copy the data to the B computer, then program the high map table in the air. It started raining (again) just as I closed the hangar door. Forecast for tomorrow is more of the same.

More of the same

It looked clear in the morning, so I snuck down and worked on the wheel pants while the batteries charged. There was a fair amount of brake dust inside the wheel pants, but no sign of damage to the calipers or fluid lines. The tires are looking fairly well worn now, and it wouldn't hurt to replace the brake pads either. The fluid levels were unchanged. I did catch one nasty little item. One of the lower wheel pant attachment screws was too long, the tire was down to 40 lb pressure, and the screw was just long enough to touch the tire scribing a line around the side. There was no significant damage, but a hard landing could spoil the day in a hurry. I cut the screw back, checked all the others, and inflated the tires back to 55lb.

Finally I copied the A data to B then took her out on the ramp. The run-up was fine except for a couple of items - there was a low overcast headed my way, and the engine didn't seem to want to run well at lower rpm. I tried some more auto-tuning, but this didn't seem to make it better. It's as though the autotune wants to make it too lean. I can compensate with the mixture, but then it shows overly rich. While I sat at the hold point futzing with the mixture and tuning, the temps got higher and the overcast got closer. It was a close thing, but I decided not to launch. Back at the hangar I looked at the map table again. The settings below 20 map looked erratic. I decided to start again with new plugs, recovered the default settings for the map tables and went home. As I pulled out of the airport the rain started. Back at the house I called JD at Infinity to order new tires, tubes and brake pads. Tomorrow I'll pick up some plugs. Since I have to remove the cowl to install them I'll also check and on the fuel pressure and coolant temp sensors. The weather's supposed to clear up by the weekend. Then it'll be too hot. No wonder everyone leaves Florida in the summer. Time to move to cooler climes.

Friday evening was another perfect flying opportunity. Hoping I could get done in time for a flight before dark, I removed the cowl and installed the new plugs. The old ones were fairly black with soot. Next I removed the EM2 fuel pressure sensor and installed my trusty Harbor Freight $10 mechanical oil pressure gauge. It read 38PSI with the either pump, or 41 with both. I had a spare 100 PSI oil pressure sensor, so I installed this and calibrated the EM2 to suite. I checked the coolant temp sensor connectors, but left the existing sensor in place since I don't have a spare. The EM2 and analog sensors are both near the thermostat housing within a few inches of each other, so it must be an instrumentation issue. I remembered that my number 4 EGT thermocouple is connected to the main radiator feed, so I'll use this to confirm the coolant temp. By the time I got the cowl back on it was dark, but at least she's ready to go for the weekend.

Shirt Weight Alarm

Saturday morning, 6/25, I pushed her out and taxied to the hold point. The engine was running much better on new plugs and the default mixture settings, so I dispensed with further auto tuning for now and launched into the blue. There was a split second of hesitation as I past 800 feet, but other than that the engine performed flawlessly. I stayed in the pattern and practiced my approaches for a while keeping an eye on the gauges and the 172's. Coolant pressure was the usual 25 PSI on take-off, but was now reading zero. I've read on the fly-rotary list that high (20 PSI+) coolant pressures at start-up have been experienced by Tracy Crook and Ed Anderson. They think it's something to do with hydraulic pressure from the pump when there's no air in the system to compress. Last night I removed about 1/2 cup of coolant to provide an air gap. I still had the high pressure, but now I was airborne it was reading zero. Cooling was fine at about 190F and the engine was purring happily. I checked coolant pressure on each downwind. Zero. Hmmm. After a few more circuits with no change I came in for a landing. We were using the short (2900') runway. I put her on the numbers at 75 kts and rolled most of the length of the runway with the nose wheel off the ground. Paul M would have been proud. As I taxied in I noticed coolant pressure at 8PSI. After two hours of cooling off while I attacked the paintwork the engine was cool enough to remove the coolant pressure cap. Full to the brim. Ah well. I'll just have to watch the coolant pressure and try to figure out what it usually does. Unfortunately, by the time the engine had cooled off, I was overheated. I judge my personal heat level without a gauge. I just estimate the weight of my shirt. More than 2 lbs and it's time to go home, change shirts and cool off. I figured it was close to 3 lb today. Another 1.1hrs on the hobbs takes me to 33.2.

I was back at the hangar by 7pm for a cool late evening flight. All was well as I circuled the pattern with a Commanche for company. Call me chicken, but I like having an airfield under me. Since I had the pattern practically to myself I decided to hang around the field for a while. Coolant pressure was 25 PSI for the first two circuits. Next time I looked it was 8 PSI. Go figure. The commanchee did a full stop, so I gradually pushed the throttle from the 3500 rpm I was using up to about 5000 rpm and 160 kts. Ambient was 86. Coolant and oil were both around 180. When I reached about 38 MAP the engine seemed to hit a limit of some kind. A bit of vibration, but no increase in rpm. I backed off and tried again. Same thing. After a few tries at this I richened the mixture and it went a little further. Then I spotted the fuel pressure - 20 PSI. Hmmm. I was running left tank. I flipped on the right pump, pressure went up to the normal 38 and the engine settled down. It's nice to have a spare fuel system. I landed the next time around and got the same results running up on the ramp. The left pump is obviously having problems. I had something like this once before which turned out to be crud in the pump inlet. I installed a new left pump at that time. I ripped out the back seats and checked both pumps. No signs of crud, but I blew out the lines anyway. Next I removed the gear cover and checked both filters. Both seemed clean. Very strange. After reassembling everything I had full pressure on both pumps. I didn't find anything obvious to explain the low pressure, so I'll check the vent lines before flight in the morning. While I was working on the pumps ex-cozy builder, now 172 rebuilder, Blake came over. He'd seen me taxi out and had caught the take-off and some of the circling on his digital camera. They're a bit segmented, but better than nothing. Blake also took the above picture of me in the far distance.

First part of the take-off run
Second part of the take-off run
1000 ft fly-by

If I'd know, I'd have done a low level fly-by. Perhaps another day. In the final scene you'll notice some writing in the sky. That wasn't my turbo. We have a local guy who just lives to go up on clear days and sky-write his religious beliefs. One day I'm gonna go up there and write a few comments of my own.

Monday Morning Blues

Monday morning was a bit of a bust. There was low scud hanging over the field and darkness to the South. I scraped (or should that be scrapped) paint for an hour or two, gradually making the kitten less and less slick, until the weather looked a little better. At 10am I taxied out and did my runup. The power was there with full static rpm of 4060, but I got a couple of "spits" at around 42 MAP, just like the split second hesitation I'd noticed on climb-out the other day. I didn't like the feel of this, so I experimented with mixture and continued runups until the temps were too high for a flight. Back at the hangar I did another full power runup before shutting down. No spits. I sent a note to Tracy asking if he had any suggestions. I'm considering pulling the new EC2 chips and reinstalling the old ones. As you'll see from the clipped image of our weather forcast, the prospects for good flying over the next week are... weak. Hot, Steamy, Muggy or just Thunderstorms. You pick.

Final Approach

Someone asked for a shot of the approach, so here you go. This was at about 400 ft and 90 kts, and I was a bit high. After putting down the camera I dumped the speed brake, pulled the throttle to idle and held both rudders out almost all the way down to touchdown 50 feet past the numbers at 75kts.

While waiting for the weather I spent a lot of time reading Marc Z's flight test reports and rereading my well worn copy of FAA AC 90-89A that I picked up at the FAA booth at Sun & Fun. I made a check list of tests to do and took them with me on a clipboard. While ready to make some progress on the recommended tests I only really wanted one thing out of the next flight. Consistancy. I gave the timing a couple of clicks retard having read that this worked for Dave Leonard, and it seemed to help. The runup was fine and the weather was acceptible, so off we went. I spent some time in the pattern at various speeds, then called approach for climb clearance. The nice lady gave me a block of airspace over and south of the field from 5000' to 7500'. At one point she gave me "not below 5500" and a couple of minutes later a Lear screamed past 500 feet below me. I was tempted to give chase.

I took 50lb of weights with me for the ride, so C of G on this flight was 99.4 and gross weight was 1820 including take-off fuel. The climb tests call for wide open throttle. Hmmm. I can make more boost that I want to feed the engine, and I'm still watching the temps like a hawk. I decided to limit myself to 40 MAP for these tests and, since my climb rate doesnt change much with height, I did them between 5000 and 7000 feet recording MAP and coolant temp on each run.

Speed (kts)MAPtime/1000ROCTemp F
110342:20430184
95341:12830183
80400:461300186
75341:15800182

Yes, I know the numbers are a bit rough. I need to get better at holding speeds and I need to pick a throttle setting and stick to it for any of this to make sense. I'll get better at it as I work my way through the weight and C of G range. While I was busy climbing and decending over the field, among scattered clouds, West Palm, 7 miles North. was reporting heavy rain. I could see it clearly coming in from the Southeast. After an hour or so the next batch looked a bit further south, so I got decent clearance, thanked air traffic for their help and headed down. I'd been very comfortable at 5000'. As I decended into the pattern the heat hit me like a brick. By the time I climbed out of the plane I was dripping. Ugh. Gotta get that AC fitted.

You may have noticed a first in the above flight report. No list of problems. No spits or burps. No engine sputtering, panics or precautionary landings. I haven't mentioned oil temperature, coolant pressure etc. because they were all in the green. Just honest to goodness flying for the fun of it. I think I could start to enjoy this. I added 20 gallons to the tanks, then headed home to cool off. Total on the hobbs is now 35.5.

A whole bunch of pictures

For anyone interested in seeing intricate detail, I've just
added a page with the very high resolution images Nathan took during his visit. No sign of the video yet. I hope it doesn't show up on the discovery channel. Oh, and by the way, congrats to Chrissi and MT who both spotted the deliberate error on the videos. Yes, I DID leave the landing brake down again. Second time, and just my luck, Blake was there to record it. In my defense, I'm getting MUCH better at spotting the problem and much quicker at raising it on the crosswind.

The Weather in Boca

If you have nothing better to do, and want to check out the current weather in Boca Raton (10 miles south of Lantana) check out the the live webcam for St Andrews School. If you go there this evening you'll see it's perfect flying weather. Why, then, am I sitting here typing this? Answer - I grounded myself. After doing a long session of paint scraping this morning while waiting for the weather to clear (it didn't) I went back to the hangar for an evening flight. The weather was excellent. Cool, light breeze down the runway, and a high overcast to keep the sun off. The plane behaved well during taxi and runup. The only problem today was the Loose nut in the cockpit.

We're trained to consider three things in the go/no-go decision. Aircraft condition, weather and pilot. In this case the first two were ok, the third one wasn't. I must have a thing about "three things". You may have read about some of this in the first flight section. I apply the three things rule to my own performance too. This evening, when I made the third mistake, I decided this was not a good day to fly. A definate case of the short night - long day syndrome. The mistakes were little things, like forgetting to turn on the injectors during start-up, then wondering why it wouldn't start. Forgetting to call "crossing runway 9/27 on the ground" and not spotting that there was an airplane running up on that opposing runway. He spotted me, but I missed him. Enough. I taxied back to the hangar and went home for a rest and some crab legs.

If you're really, really bored, here's a satellite image of Lanata field. I won't say who it was, but the same person sent me the webcam link and the satellite link. In my opinion, this person, who shall remain nameless, needs to get a life and get on with building her airplane. Also, for those with nothing to do, I've added a labels to all the buttons, switches, lights and knobs on the Panel Shot.

More Flight Tests

Palm Beach International Airport from 11,000' Thursday 6/30 was hot, but nice otherwise. I loaded another 30lb of weights on the passenger seat. With the fuel at 45 gals this took my gross weight up to 1930 lb and put the C of G to 97.6, very close to the forward limit. Take-off was fairly normal, except that I had to pull the nose wheel off the runway a little. A little longer and a little faster, but still plenty of room on the 3100 ft runway. I'd guess that I was off at about 1/2 way.

I'm feeling more confident about the engine with each uneventful flight. B computer (which has the autotuned MAP settings) seemed a little smoother, so after testing A during the runup, I used B for the entire flight. Maybe this autotune works after all. Now I'm happy with B over the entire range I'll try autotuning A while airborne where it's so much easier to hold a steady MAP.

Approach was pretty busy, so I headed South to Boca Raton at 1199' and 160 kts. Hey! Maybe I should do a low pass over St. Andrews School. Chrissi could watch the video.

Once out from under the class C airspace I climbed up to 4000, then pointed her back over the field. This time I picked a MAP setting of 38 and continued the climb at different speeds, noting readings along the way. Thinking about this later I realized I'd have to increase the MAP by 1 inch / thousand feet to keep the power output the same. That's why the ROC falls off with height. Duh! Ah well. The experiment was interesting anyway. Next time I'll pick a MAP and an altitude and just vary the speed.

Speed (kts)Altitude Rangetime/1000ROCTemp F
906500 - 75001:20750198
957500 - 85001:33645199
1008500 - 95001:55521203
1059500 - 105002:05480201

At 10,000 I did a wide circle at cruise settings and averaged the TAS.

Speed (kts TAS)IASAltitudeGPHOATMAPIntake Temp
16614010,0008.757F36141

Next I did some stalls and accelerated stalls. As I pulled back on the stick to lower the speed I noticed a very slight bobbing of the canard at about 73 kts. I nudged on a little power to hold it there, took my hands off the stick and sat back for a minute or so. The canard would go up a little, then gently down by about 4 inches or so. A very slight bob which repeated over a 3 or 4 second cycle. Fascinating. I was thinking that 75kts was a bit high for canard stall, but I was at a fairly high deck angle, at forward C of G limit and 11,000 ft. Next time I'll try it lower and see how much difference it makes. OK. With the speed at 75, just above the bob speed, I tried a 15 degree bank turn and the bob came back. A nudge on the power and it went away. I bumped the speed up to 80 and tried a 30 degree bank. Same thing. A little nudge on the power and she stopped bobbing. Talk about benign behavior. I held off on higher bank turns for now. After a couple of hours of playing I ran out of pink lemonade and headed back down. I called approach from 10 miles out at 5500 and, with their permission, decended into the pattern.

This was when the fun started. There were four 172s and a couple of choppers in the pattern. I snuck onto the downwind ahead of a 172 on crosswind and behind a 172 on base then timed my base turn. I'd been busy with the timing and hadn't paid enough attention to my speed. As I headed down short final I was struggling to get the speed below 120 kts. Forward C of G, high gross weight. Hmmm. There was a helicopter taxiing 5 feet off the ground along the side of the runway about 15 feet offset. Maybe he thought that was plenty of space. I don't trust those contraptions, and my speed was still too high, so I went around. As I climbed out the low oil level light came on and the voice warning went off. Plenty of oil pressure, and I know it goes off when I'm a quart low and level, so I wasn't worried. I hit the STFU button and the light went out as I leveled out on the downwind. The second approach wasn't a hell of a lot better. She didn't want to slow down even fully dirty at idle. Hmmm. I got her on the runway at about 90 kts and braked hard. It didnt take long to realize that I had lots of room to spare, even on the 2900' runway, and I let off the brakes and rolled off on the second to last exit.

Another fun flight in the log book, and another 2.0 on the hobbs. If the weather holds, maybe I'll do some more this evening. Aft C of G is next. Back at the house I got an email saying that my new tires, brake pads and special Michlin non pourous tubes are on the way. JD says these new tubes don't leak air. Ever. It'll be nice to start the real flying with new treads. It's interesting that my tires are bald on the outside, even though the wheels are towed out on the ground from my gear sag. I guess the main wear comes from touch down when the wheels are hanging towed in. I could reverse the tires and get some more use out of them, but I'll keep them for spares instead. There's no evidence of wear on the nose tire, but I may replace it at the same time so I'll have a spare nose tire and tube too. Time to start accumulating a travel kit....

Almost There

I took the cowl off to check for oil leaks. There was just a little oil around the back of the engine near the flywheel but no evidence of anything major. I cleaned the plugs, checked around for any other problems, then reinstalled the cowl. I added a quart of Mobil 1 and got her ready for the next flight.

I'll only get to say this once and get away with it, so here goes....I loaded up my 200 lb lump-o-lead spouse....phew....and carefully checked my weight & balance spreadsheet. (Thanks, Marc). With 200 lb of lead in the front seat, 50lb in the back and 55 gallons of fuel on board I was at a C of G of 101 and gross weight of 2053 lb. I'm well away from rear C of G limit but, just to be sure, and in preparation for the next few flights, I tied a wire around a 10 lb diving weight and checked to see that I could retrieve it from the rear seat. No problem. Moving 10 lb from the back seat to the floor at the front moves the C of G 0.5 inches forward. It's not much, but it could tip the balance, so-to-speak.

The next chance for a flight was Sunday morning, July 3rd. Take-off was a bit long, but otherwise normal. There's really plenty of room left on the runway, even at fairly high gross weight, but I'm used to having room to stop at the lift-off point, so anything else feels a little uncomfortable. I'll either get used to it or order an IVO Magnum prop. Ambient was 86 and the roll was probably 1800 feet. I'd set the trim this time, so I didn't have the feeling of dragging her into the air. Once airborne she flew normally, although the climb out angle was a little less and it took me to the downwind turn to make 1000 ft. Everything was in-the-green, and approach were cooperative today so after a few trips around the pattern I took her up to 10,500 over the field. The climb was fun. Lots of cumulus with bases at 2500 and tops at 6500. I was glad to be under flight following as I picked my way up in between the clouds trying to guesstimate my horizontal distance. I noticed a big difference between doing this in a Cozy and my old Cherokee. In the Cherokee you had to work hard to stay out of the clouds and often turn back because an approaching cloud was too high. In the Cozy I just added a little power, pulled back on the stick and zoomed up and over them. Cool.

At the top of the climb I repeated the canard bob experiment. Same 73 kts. I expected it to be a little lower with the C of G further aft, but then - I'm at a higher gross. Hmmm. I spent the next hour cruising at various MAP readings and taking in the changes in engine readings. EGT is the first to react to throttle. At 36 MAP it sits at around 1550F. Nudge the throttle to 40 MAP and it jumps up to 1700F. Oil and coolant temps gradually go from 175 to around 190. Coolant pressure has been sitting at about 7 psi since I added my cup-o-air and doesnt change much with throttle. The most comfortable cruise rpm seemed to be around 5100 which equates to about 36 MAP and 8 GPH. I think a little balancing of the prop would change this. 5100 seems to be a sweet spot right now and it gets me a TAS of about 170 kts at 10,500. Most rotary flyers seem to cruise at around 6000 rpm, so there's plenty left to work with. I'll do some fuel burn and speed numbers once I can fly straight and level for more than 8 minutes at a time. For almost two hours I worked my way South toward Ft. Lauderdale, then North to Palm Beach, East to the turnpike and back around. As I passed over the house Char told me later that she'd heard me and recognized the engine tone and, eventually, spotted me very high up between two clouds. One of the gauges I was watching was the Hobbs. As it clicked over 39.3 my low oil level warning came on again. Damn. I headed back down into the heat and humidity, joined the busy pattern and gently set her down. The gross weight and C of G seems to make very little difference to the feel of approach and landing.

Back at the hangar I was greeted by a "virgin". Ken had been cruising the ramp when he spotted this "cool looking plane". A retired ATP with bags of energy and fun left in him, Ken had heard of the LongEZ. I gave him the tour starting with the VariEZ, then Al's Long, then My Cozy and a description of the Velocity. He was facinated. I left him with this web site address and a drool hanging off his lip. I think we'll hear more from Ken.

Total time after today's flight was 39.5. Just 0.5 hrs, one oil leak and a few more tests to go. The oil was 1 qt down again. There are no drips when still or after a flight, so I must be blowing it out the back. The prop shows oil stains to prove this. I removed the cowl and, once again, saw some - very little- oil near the back of the rad. I suspect the rear oil pan / engine mount interface or the redrive oil return. When she cools off I'll recheck the oil pan bolts, add some RTV along the join and take a look at the gasket for the redrive return.

That evening I looked around for signs of where the leak was coming from. The area forward of the flywheel had a little oil but most of it seemed to be on the mount plate at the rear starboard corner. I cleaned the oil off with brake parts cleaner and an air hose, then took the plane for a taxi test with the cowl off. When I got back Al was waving his arms in the air frantically. Am I on fire? I parked and jumped out. No fire, but Al's LongEZ was in shuttle take-off mode. Nose high in the air and (crushed) winglets on the ground. What a pity. Al's Long (originially build by Paul Mason) is one of the prettiest LongEZs on the planet. Certainly the nicest one I've seen. He'd slipped while pushing it into the hangar and it went over on him. We righted it and, while Al surveyed the damage, I checked my oil leak. No doubt about it. It's coming from the mount plate to engine join. Again. I cleaned the oil off with brake parts cleaner and compressed air, did it again, then applied a bead of RTV along the join. Tracy says this has worked for him. I hasnt worked for me so far. Maybe this time I'll be lucky. I reinstalled the cowl and topped the oil. The RTV has to cure overnight, and it was almost dark by then anyway. Tomorrow is Independence Day. Perhaps this Brit will finally have something to celebrate on the 4th of July.

Independence Day

Monday morning, July 4th, I took her around the pattern for a half hour. I stayed local because it was hot and muggy, I didn't have a lot of fuel on board, and I wanted to see if the RTV had worked on the oil leak. The airplane behaved well and a local at the airport said it sounded sweet as I flew overhead. Throaty was the word he felt described it best. The hobbs clicked over 40.0 and I brought her in. Nothing to report really, except that there are still some signs of oil at the back of the engine. I'll check the level when she cools down, and after I've had a cool one to celebrate.

So, after a little over 5 years building, and just under 15 months flight testing "Slick Kitten" has gained her freedom, by co-incidence on a most appropriate date. While there are always small improvements to add, the job is essentially complete. The kitten is now potty trained (almost), and is free to roam wherever she pleases. She has a pesky oil leak that needs to be fixed, and she needs painting before being seen in public at a range less than 1,000'. That'll get done over the next few months. The air conditioning system will be refitted and filled with freon before next summer comes around. Over the next few months I'll move the EM2 off to the side, remove the analog gauges and the handheld GPS, and install a basic instrument stack, possibly using EFIS Lite as the head for an sl-30 nav/com.

This, therefore, is the end of the formal, almost daily log. I'll be summarizing my Cozy building experience in a seperate page, and will add the occasional trip report. Now I can fly straight and level for more than 8 minutes at a time I'll accumulate and publish performance data. I'll also publish any relevant problems or discoveries, but the daily detail is done. I'll keep the hobbs number of the main page current.

Where do we go from here?

Short answer: Anywhere we like.
Long Answer:
While the FAA says I'm done, I'm actually still testing, expanding the envelope in small steps. Char is anxious to take her first ride in the plane, but I'm not ready for that quite yet. I want to do some cross country leap-frogging. By that I mean climb to altitude inside my local cone of safety, then fly North along the coast of Florida where there's always an airport in gliding distance. I'll stop for lunch somewhere like St. Augustine, then fly home. A couple of long durability flights like this, and then I'll be ready to take Char up. I haven't completed what I want to do on the VNE and max gross weight tests either. Right now I'm keeping them at plans numbers. 190 kts indicated at 15,000' is lots of TAS and well above any kind of economy cruise. While it's certainly useable the way it is, I'd like to have a few more static rpm for short runways, hot days and high loads. I think I'll try the IVO magnum prop which will involve going back into phase 1 for 5 hours. At that point, with the plane repainted and polished for maximum slickness, I'll rent a chute from the local sky diving school and see if I can find out where that old demon lives. During the 5 hours I'll get Char to drive some weights up to North County, where they have a 5000' runway, for the final gross weight work. The nice thing about the way the operating limitations are written is that you, the manufacturer, can put the plane back into phase 1 any time you like. At the end of the testing you write up the new numbers and off you go. A good point was made by Paul Mason later - The roughness of my airfoils right now will be adversely affecting lift. The plane needs to be painted before pushing these numbers.

After all the hours building instead of flying, I need to bring my currency up a notch or two, so I'm doing a two day IFR written course next week with some airborne instruction to follow it up. This will be both progress toward the IFR ticket, and also a good refresher in airspace and procedures.

Once these steps are accomplished it's travel time. Unless I change my mind on the spur of the moment, I will not be flying to OSH or Sun & Fun. I do, however, have lots of people I'd like to visit starting with Bob in GA to take a look at what's left of Paul's plane, my buddy Jim in TN, then moving on to visit the Girrrls in MO (they want to dupe my prop). I have family and friends in PA, OH and NY. I consider these "short hops". The first real trip will be West to visit my girls (and soon my grand-daughter) in CA and WA. I may even do a fly-by over Mesa, AZ. Shady Bend will definately get an unannounced Buzzzzzz, and I'll try to make the fly-in there (landing at Cross City). There'll be lots of weekend trips in-between to family in FL and MS and wherever the fancy takes us. In August I'd like to take Char up to Tanglewood-on-parade in MA. Rough River, of course, is a must. Suggestions for other venues are welcome.

I know there are cozy builders along the way on every one of these trips, and I'd love to drop in for a visit whenever it can fit. The trick is scheduling and knowing who's where. I know MT's fairly close by in GA, so he's probably up for a visit soon. Who else? "Clutch" on the West coast of Florida. I've always threatened to do a fly-by over Wayne's project in VA, and I'd love to fly formation with Rich up in NY one day. Maybe I'll even make it to "plane day". I keep a "travel" folder and I'll check it before each trip. If you'd like to see, or even maybe ride the cat, send me an email to sladerj at sbcglobal dot net telling me your local field ID and how to reach you when I land, and I'll try to fit you in. Someone should do a map with the airfields of Cozy builders plotted. Anyway, that's what all this effort has been about - travel for both business and pleasure. I'm looking forward to meeting many of the friends I've made on-line over the years. Prospective or actual wanklers or canardians are always welcome to visit if you're in the West Palm area.

A Few parting Thoughts

Those readers who have constantly sent me words of encouragement and advice along the way, or even visited to help me through some of the tough parts; I thank you. Those who've sat up till 4 am reading this; my apologies - but before you go to bed, stop and think why did you do that? - could it be that you, also, have a dream? Do you think, perhaps, you should DO something about that dream?......tomorrow? To the guy who CARRIED a print-out of this entire web site from England to Sun & Fun - I'm honered. Now put that rucksack down and start making bulkheads! Anyone who finds that they're suffering withdrawal symptoms; I'm sorry. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Now it's time turn your energies toward your own dream.

The only thing you'll ever regret is not starting sooner.

John Slade
Experimental Cozy, November Niner Six Papa Mike...departing your webpace. Radar service terminated. Frequency change approved. Good day.

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