Archive

Archive for October, 2010

Great Weekend Flying

Sorry, no pictures this weekend, but it was a great weekend for flying!
.
My weekend actually began on Friday with some early morning touch and go’s. I was excited to try out the larger, 5.00 x 5 tires and 1/2 degree alignment shim I had installed late Sunday afternoon before I had to go to work on Monday. I’m very happy to report that one or the other (the shim or the tires) turned my airplane into a much more docile bird on landings and ground handling.
.
I’m not ready to call it a pussycat, but it’s MUCH more controllable now. I still like the concept of using 11.000 x 4 x 5 tires because I think they look more proportional. I plan to re-install the little tires and try them one more time with the gear more properly aligned before I give up on them completely.
.
I’m still dealing with camber issues. My gear legs splay out a fair bit which causes the top of the tire to tip inward toward the fuselage. From a handling standpoint, this isn’t all that significant. However, it really burns through the tires because all the stress from ground operations is focused on a small segment–perhaps 1/3–of the tire rather than spread out over the entire width of the tire.
.
I can’t believe the amount of controversy a thing such as landing gear alignment can cause on the internet forums. For camber, the debate is whether or not you should have the wheel at 0 degrees of tilt with weight on or off the wheels. I.e., is it desirable to touch down with the wheels at zero degrees and then accept a certain amount of splaying out when weight is applied or should the bottom of the tire be pointed inward somewhat so that as the landing gear absorb the weight of the plane, the wheels reach a zero degree state.
.
I’m going to do my best to achieve zero degrees of camber with weight on the wheels. My reasoning is that the majority of time the wheels are touching the ground, the tires are supporting the full weight of the aircraft. The time with the wheels on the ground without the full weight of the aircraft is transitory and short-lived. If nothing else, I’m sick of listening to people tell me my tires are tilted.
.
As for toe in/out. I’m shooting for zero. If I have to error one way or the other, I’m going to error to slightly XXXXX. Ha! I’m not saying. Talk about controversy. You’d think we’re arguing about Ford vs. Chevy when people start talking about toe in versus toe out. I’ve got a pretty good idea which I prefer based on discussions with experienced folks who’ve flown and built a wide variety of aircraft. So far, it’s working very well.
.
After I’m finished fooling with my alignment, I plan on having a machinist bevel the bases of a new set of Grove aluminum axles that I recently purchased. I’d rather not fly around with a half-pound of shims on my axles, so I’m hoping that beveling the bases will get me in the ballpark and only minor, if any, shimming will be required.
.
Enough of the technical stuff. I built this thing to fly, right?!?
.
Yesterday morning, I got up very early. I wanted to get to the airport in time to make sure my plane was bug-free and ready for the airport open house that was being held at Syracuse, KS (3K3). A little bout of insomnia provided me with plenty of extra time so I decided to start my day of flying with breakfast at Greeley, CO (KGXY).
.
I had the biscuits and gravy while I sat and read a few pages on my Kindle ebook reader. I dragged my plane 100 feet over to the self-serve pump and topped off for the 200 nautical mile journey to Syracuse.
.
I’ve been tweaking the K-factor on my JPI fuel flow for about 30 hours now. For all practical purposes, I’m done tinkering. The JPI said I needed to fill 5.8 gallons and I actually filled 5.74 gallons. That’s pretty danged close in my book! A VERY useful piece of equipment, if you asked me.
.
The trip from Greeley to Syracuse was uneventful except for some cloudy sky. I stayed low for the first 30 miles or so and then popped up through a hole. I flew between solid layers for about 150nm until the clouds broke up about 20nm prior to Syracuse. I ran into a little light rain and slowed down a bit to keep the rain from eroding my Catto prop. As it turned out, I don’t thing the rain was heavy enough to have damaged the prop in any case.
.
Arrival in Syracuse was uneventful. I tested my crosswind technique with an 8 knot crosswind, but the plane handled it without a problem. The winds were blowing and it was overcast and rainy most of the day. I was actually pretty cold standing on the ramp. Dumb me, I didn’t bring any sort of jacket or sweatshirt. Lesson learned.
.
I had to shoo one toddler away from my airplane as he threw his first leg up on to my wing as he tried to climb on the extended flaps and on to the wing. I thought I was pretty calm about the incident, but his mother was pretty offended. Oh well. I can’t believe how parents think their little darlings can do no wrong and are offended when other people step in to do the job that the parent is too stupid or uncaring to do themselves! Honestly, stuff like this is enough to make me want to avoid going to any fly-in event where the general public is invited. I think the organizers should publish a list of tips for airplane/fly-in ettiquite in all advertising materials and on a HUGE sign as guests enter the event.
.
The organizers originally asked me if I would park right at the entrance next to a real P51. I wondered if I would have problems after I saw that the P51 pilot had roped off his aircraft. Sure enough. I moved my plane to the far corner of the field after about a half-hour of watching people feel-up my plane. Even after moving the plane, I noticed that somebody moved the propeller about 30 degrees when I wasn’t watching. How frickin’ bold is that?
.
I really enjoy going to these type of events, but I’m going to have to fabricate a system to rope off my airplane or I’ll go nuts with all these inconsiderate people! I’m thinking I may try to assemble something out of PVC pipes that I can carry with me and set up quickly. I really wouldn’t even mind letting children sit in the plane with my supervision, I just can’t stand all the hands-on (or feet-on) attention I seem to attract.
.
Rant off.
.
The nice folks at Syracuse sold me 8.7 gallons of 100LL at $2.00 per gallon, gave me a free T-shirt and served me a nice BBQ lunch for free. It really was a nice time in spite of less than perfect weather conditions. The Yak group was there in full force and did a few formation fly-bys. There was a wide variety of aircraft including a Sea Fury, a P51, a Chipmunk, a Hyperbipe and a bunch of RV’s.
.
I burned 4.8 gallons per hour on the way down to Syracuse and 4.9 gallons per hour on the trip back home. I’ve been running at 2750 rpm and about 22-23″ of manifold pressure. Since I’ve got a fixed pitch prop, the manifold pressure is extra information that I share for comparison purposes. If I push the throttle up all the way I can get 2950 to 3000 rpm, but I don’t usually run it that hard because it feels like I’m abusing the engine.
.
This morning, I had the pattern at KFNL all to myself for about 20 minutes while I did a series of touch and go landings. I can’t tell you how rare it is not to be duking it out with a bunch of 172’s on a nice morning. I guess they were all sleeping in! After I had my fill of touch and go’s I headed for Longmont (KLMO) for some less expensive 100LL. I caught sight of a Cub doing low level recon so a brief “hello” diversion was necessary before proceeding to Longmont.
.
I had planned on spending the rest of the day diagnosing and fixing my inoperative fuel quantity gauge. I was, instead, happy to see that a fuse had fallen out. I couldn’t find the original fuse so I just installed a new one. Works like a charm. The only thing I can figure out is that I must have missed the actual fuse slot when I originally installed the fuse while standing on my head and using my fingers to feel for the opening.
.
With the big fuel gauge issue resolved, I had some free time so I called my Mom and had her bring her car out for an oil change.
.
I finished up with Mom’s car just in time to greet some visitors from Durango, CO. I won’t publish his name because I haven’t asked his permission, but he’s building an O320-powered Midget Mustang and wanted to see my project. We talked for an hour or so and he went on his way. I’m always fairly self-conscious when someone who’s obviously got a lot of flying and building experience wants to come see my project. I’ve learned quite a bit during the last 6 years, but I’m by no means, an authority on anything!
.
I had a string of visitors the rest of the day with one person arriving as the other was about to leave. It was really great. I visited a few open hangar doors as I left the airport and was able to see an RV-7A under construction that I hadn’t even known was on the field prior to today. On top of that, I also found that there’s a guy on the field who’s building a Radial Rocket. That’s a VERY cool airplane. If somebody told me I could have a Lancair IV-P or a Radial Rocket, it’d be a tough decision. That’s one very cool airplane.
.
Well, this entry is rapidly approaching the ridiculously long point so I’ll wrap it up. I’ve got to get my 2009 tax stuff together tomorrow because I’ve got a meeting with the tax lady on Tuesday. Probably won’t be any flying tomorrow. A bunch of us have a photo shoot planned for Wednesday morning up in the mountains. We’re hoping to get a few shots with the fall colors early in the morning. Since I’m bringing nothing to the table in terms of photo-ship capabilities, I’m planning to buy somebody some fuel and maybe even breakfast!