First Flight Thoughts

On Sunday I headed to the hangar with Teri in the hope of a first flight. The plan was to do a little more high speed taxi to work up to it, although I did have some doubts as we are in “late September winds” and we really want calm winds for a first flight. Why make it harder than it needs to be?

Winds at the airport seemed calm enough so I buckled in and set off to do a couple of taxis to get used to the plane again. First taxi down runway 26 was somewhat uneventful but there was some pulling to the left again, which I had not experienced the weekend before. I taxied down to runway 8 for round 2, announced another taxi test and set off.

Pretty quickly down the runway I felt the wheels come up and I reduced power to settle back down. However, the settling turned into a bounce and at that point I realised the safest thing to do was take off so I pushed the throttle in and up and away we went. I’m not entirely sure of air speeds for a good climb out but I pushed the nose down to build up some air speed before climbing again.

After a good height was achieved to give me a cushion for emergency I tried my first turn to get on to the downwind. I found that it took more effort to push my pedals in than I remembered from the training, and because of that I think the rudder turn was more heavy handed than I was looking for. I’ve talked to Wayne about this and he wonders if the block that the rudder control sits on needs smoothing out, which it will over time. It might also just be my first flight jitters. Will no doubt get the hang of that with more time in the air.

A couple of thousand feet in the air I just let the plane settle into straight and level flight and I got to enjoy the view which I have to say is fantastic through the front window and the bubble doors. The air was unexpectedly a little bumpy for a lot of the flight but I was able to take my hands off to take some photos and I’m pleased to say that the plane stayed straight and level.

The throttle spring still pulls the cable in all the time though it is with a lot less force than the original one. The throttle lock easily holds it in place but it was a little irritating to either have to hold it all the time, or unlock the cable when I wanted to make a change. Not a big deal on a cross country but a pain when just doing local maneuvers.

Eventually I decided it was time to land so I set myself up on downwind at pattern attitude and announced my intentions. My turn to final was so wide I was almost in Mexico (and my pattern was way too tight to start with) so I had no choice but to climb back up and try again. On the training course I was making steep 180 degree turns to final, hopefully I will get back to that after a couple of hours more familiarisation.

Second time around I took my downwind leg much wider but still rolled out slightly south of the runway. I was also too high though that is largely by sub-conscious design (better high-safe than low-sorry). Although in the video it looks like I’m quite off the runway until the end, it didn’t feel that bad from inside the cockpit, and I never felt like I wasn’t going to make it. So while it was definitely not my finest approach ever, I did manage the descent and airspeed very well all the way down and got a very nice touchdown. I’d say that my money spent with Buzzy for the training was well worth it.

One item for work is to further adjust the propeller pitch. RPM at WOT (new acronym I learned this week – wide open throttle) was 5400 which is still below what I want (somewhere between 5600 and 5800). My prop is set to 15 degrees and a little web reading suggests that it needs to be more like 13 or 12, so I think this weekend I will take another two degrees out and see what the effect is.

It is still sinking in that I actually flew a plane that I built myself. Hopefully I will quickly develop a lot more finesse over the next few hours and then the 40 hours of Phase 1 flight testing will pass quickly. I will continue to post updates and videos.

Thanks as always to everyone who has supported me during the 7 years.

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