Sunday, June 28, 2015

Flight Testing: Flying High

This was the best part of flight testing. High altitude long distance flying. Particularly in the summer heat. I also wanted to use the autopilot for this multiple leg flight. I was basically flying the entire perimeter of my Phase 1 flight test area, which was a pretty big area.

163kts, 10.8gph, at 10,500ft, OAT 48F

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Flight Testing: Gremlins

Ready for a science lesson. As ferrous metals repeatedly move through Earth's magnetic fields they can become magnetic. World War II war ships would need to be degaussed (de-magnetized) to prevent setting off Nazi sea mines. They would get magnetized from moving through the earths magnetic fields. Well, as I've been flying around apparently my steel seat belt cables became magnetized. They're magnetic fields during turbulence or steep turns (therefore they were moving a lot) would result in my magnetometer being confused and I would get the error messages shown below. This took some head scratching at first to figure out what the problem was. But after taking out the seat belt cables and watching a compass go sporadic when placed next to the cables I was convinced they were the culprit to this gremlin. I replaced the steel cables with stainless steel cables and the problem was fixed. Although later tests showed that a tow bar (made of steel) placed really high in the baggage compartment can cause the same issue, so beware.

Here you can see the steel seat belt cables and their proximity to the magnetometer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Flight Testing: Flying to Work

For the next several weeks I was a flying fool. I flew before work, after work or for a few days I even flew to work!

I had an installation to support at our company's hangar so I decided to fly to work today.

Easy parking when you're the only one that commutes via airplane.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

DAR inspection, Taxi Tests, First Flight

Before first flight I had a lot of ground running time. First engine start, first taxi, high speed taxi down the runway and slam on the brakes. I actually did that one a few times to condition the brake pads. And there is magnetometer calibrations which require the engine running. Lots of run time before you even get to take off. I tried to keep the engine cool and did a lot of this during the evening hours to try and not die of summer heat.

Somewhere in the midst of all this taxi testing I had my DAR inspection. Went really well. He had a few pointers and suggestions but nothing show stopping. We signed all the paperwork and I got my airworthiness certificate! All in just a few hours.

First flight. 
I am hangared at a Class C airspace. And no they didn't care that this was a maiden flight for an experimental aircraft. I requested to stay above the airport, denied, " well can I stay next to the airport?", denied,.....ok, I guess I'll head to the next closest airport. "cleared as requested have a good flight".    Ugh.   So I line up for take off and throttle forward, man this plane moves, accelerating down the runway and off the ground in just a few seconds.....I am now flying in an airplane I built! OK, focus Justin, whats your airspeed, 140KTS!!! jeez ....OK pitch up a little....climb? 2000FPM!!! damn this thing is fast....3500ft altitude already...OK....keep the throttle open we need to break the engine in....150-160-175KTS!!!! wow....(there is so much going on this time I can't even describe the complexity) I then discover my trim isn't working...crap....OK fly the airplane. With lots of stick force I flew the airplane wide open throttle for almost an hour. I tried different power settings and simulated landings and then finally decided it was time to head home. 

174kts! that's fast. (for you non airplane types that's 200mph! in something I my home)

I got clearance to land on 36R and followed the landing procedure I had written down and it resulted in a great landing. I call tower "Successful first flight for experimental 521 Tango Whiskey!" Tower answers back "Except you landed on the wrong back to hangars via Juliet" .....dang it, I was so focused on my landing speeds and procedures I turned into 36L instead of 36R. But you know what...that's fine....I had a great first flight, a great landing, and I'm still alive. All is good.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Finished and Ready to Fly

Finshed and ready to fly!  After 3 years 2 months 2 weeks and 2 days (March 23 2012 - June 8 2015) and over 2000hrs of work.

The plane is finally complete.

Interior lights on and the wing walk light in the door shining down. It all looks really nice lit up.

System Testing and First Fuel

LOTS and LOTS of system testing and tweaks after all the parts came together. I also wired the wings and wing tips as well as the tail light. Chasing small gremlins and finding a few things that should have been wired differently but nothing major and nothing was destroyed : ).

First fuel! ....I was really nervous about leaking fuel tanks but not a single drop leaked out. I then worked on calibrating the fuel tanks. For those that have floats, take note, the float can get stuck to the bottom of the tank after sitting for a while and it won't move when you put in fuel. But it will shake loose after taxing around with fuel in the tank. But you then have to re-calibrate that tank. So go fly around until you run that tank dry, can be a startling event, but it's a good test to be sure you are using all of your fuel. Then re-calibrate while refueling. 

Custom vinyl decals around the fuel caps.