[ The Frye RV-7 Project ] Thursday, May 23, 2019  
 

 

General Information / Getting Started


 
This section details the various things I did prior to actually starting work on the RV-7, as well as general events which occur during the construction. Think of this section as a "catch-all" for stuff that doesn't go into any specific construction category.

The style of this log reads much like a diary. Many people just log their time as little more than a simple line-per-day entry on a ledger with the time spent. I write more because I like it, and many folks have asked if this level of detail is required. No, it is not! This is simply my preference. I can enter the text on my computer and since I'm a "professional typist" (in other words, I'm a software geek who types all day) I can make these entries, even with all the detail, in just a few short minutes.


Velocity Assembly Class
I attended a Velocity assembly class at the Alexander SportAir facility in Griffin, GA which ran from June 1 through June 3. It was taught by Travis and Brendan from the Velocity factory. I was very pleased with the class, and with the caliber of the instructors.

You'll likely wonder why a Velocity class shows up in this building log, and I'll explain. I have been drawn to RVs for years, but did not want to make a decision without any real evaluation of other options. I like the Velocity, a lot, and even thought I would do fine with the composite construction techniques (though, I have to admit, the sanding is daunting).

In the end my evaluation of my flying needs (and pocketbook) seemed to indicate that the RV was the better choice. It has a wider speed range, doesn't have any of the negatives that come with a rear mounted engine/prop, and the premium that I would have paid for the two extra seats in the Velocity didn't seem worth it given that in my Cherokee I usually flew only myself, or myself and one other person. If I need to haul more I'll just rent the C-182 and be done with it (unless, of course, I later build one of the four-seat RVs which is coming down the line!).

'Nuf said. The Velocity is a great airplane, just not the one for me right now.

RV-7A Preview Plans
I ordered, and received, a set of the RV-7A Preview Plans and started to read. It is both daunting and encouraging to read the plans. Daunting because it helps to drive home how much there is to do in building the plane. Encouraging because while there is a lot there, it all looks as if it is actually possible.

Shop Prep
This bit of effort was spend preparing my garage to be an airplane construction shop. Over the span of a few weeks I built two of the EAA Chapter 1000 Standardized Work Tables. These are great tables, easy to build, and sturdy. I also put up another shop light in the garage (but think I'll need another before I start to build), and picked up a bench grinder and drill press from Grizzly tools.

Joined EAA Chapter 1114
I have long been a member of the national EAA organization, but only just joined the local chapter. Chapter 1114 meets at Cox Field in Apex, NC. This private field has a wonderful collection of aircraft on the field, and the people I have met have been tremendously friendly and welcoming.

Better yet, we do have an EAA Technical Counselor in the chapter. I contacted (though have not yet met) Thomas Rudisill via e-mail and introduced myself. He was very enthusiastic and encouraging, and immediately offered to come lend a hand getting me started as soon as my empennage kit arrived. This was a very welcome response, and I was greatly encouraged by his enthusiasm.

Demo Flight in RV-7
I was on a business trip to California and decided to take a side-trip to Portland. I stayed with friends and, on Friday, took a drive down to a little airport near Aurora, OR. I got the factory tour from Tom Green, and it was great to see the piles of airplane parts on the shelves and to watch the computer controlled machines turning out new parts.

The highlight of the visit, of course, were the planes. I sat in an RV-9A just to see how it fit, and then got my shot at a flight in the RV-7 (N137RV) with Scott Risan. Scott was great to fly with, and gave me a super overview of what the RV-7 was like. The flight was over, of course, all too soon. :)

Visiting friends was part of the trip as well. I was able to visit an old friend and we had a fantastic day wandering around Portland. To the right is a thumbnail which shows us standing in front of a fountain in downtown Portland. Two women had been sitting by the fountain and, as we walked up, asked us to take their picture. In return for that favor we asked them to take ours as well. Click on the thumbnail to see the full-sized picture.

Ordered Empennage Kit and Tools
Thats right, I ordered them. Today. This is the first bit step down the road, and I'm very nervous about what I'm getting myself into! I'm excited as well, as I have dreamed of this literally for years.

Before now all the tools I have purchased had multiple uses. Drill presses are handy gadgets all 'round, and more lights and benches in the garage are useful no matter what. However, there is damned little use for a rivet gun for anything other than riveting, and therefore this step feels like the first really big step.

Part of what pushed me over the edge and had me do it now rather than a few weeks from now was the sale Avery was having on their pneumatic rivet squeezer. Many folks claim this is a real work saver, and since I'm lazy I am all in favor of saving on work. I had them keep the manual squeezer, and with the pneumatic included in their "RV Tool Kit" the price for the whole kit went up only about $200. Quite a deal given some folks have spent as much as $500 on a pneumatic squeezer (and still have felt it was worth the price!).

Gotta get that compressor now, though. :) A rivet gun is not very exciting when all you can do is pull the trigger and make riveting noises with your mouth.

Empennage Kit and Tools Shipped
Both shipped out on the same day. The kit from Oregon, and the tools from Texas. Everything was shipped except for the pneumatic squeezer (which is on backorder, and then was shipped just a few days later) on September 4. According to the UPS tracking web site they should arrive on Friday, September 7. (The squeezer will be right behind them on Monday, the 10th.)

I'm going to try and get some riveting practice in prior to the arrival of the empennage kit ... but need to find some rivets beforehand if I expect to do that! Maybe I need to call Aircraft Spruce and get a few. Having a few extra rivets couldn't hurt anyway, could it?

Compressor Acquired
I'm picking up the compressor tonight. It got a 5hp, 26gal, oil-lubed Husky from Home Depot. After lots of worry about whether I should get a bigger unit (7hp, 60gal, 220volt, two-stage) I got advice from the tech counselor (and the archives of the RV-list) and easily decided that the $1000 difference in price was not worth it. That is money better spent elsewhere.

Terrorist Attack on WTC
I don't know why I'm putting an entry in my logbook for the terrorist attack on New York and Washington. It has had a profound impact on me, even though I personally lost nobody in the attack. Still, I find myself deeply saddened by the events. At the same time there is talk about the possibility that VFR flight might never resume, and that makes me wonder if my working on the plane will ever be rewarded with flight. I have a deep-seated belief that we will not let essential freedoms be taken away, because that is what this country is all about. So I continue to work having faith I will be able to fly. I also work to keep busy, as I think about those who have died.

Started Empennage Construction
This is the start of the "long march" of building. First rivets will be driven and first assemblies put together. I'm anxious and excited all at the same time. There is so much to learn, it is daunting, but I'll look for the help I need and I'll figure it all out. It seems to me that the trick is to simply not quit ... and eventually an airplane will magically appear. We'll see. :) To get an overview of the whole Empennage Construction click on the highlighted link. To read about my Horizontal Stab building experience just click on that link.

Built Clothespins and Dimpling Table
Today I spent some time building clothespins ... and hated the plywood version. I read in the RVator about using 1/4 inch rod and foam pipe insulation, but wasn't happy with that either. What I ended up doing was using 1/2 inch PVC pipe with the foam insulation and it worked GREAT. The PVC forms to the shape of the surface nicely, has 1/4 inch threaded rod at the top and bottom so you can tighten them well, and are easy/cheap to build.

I also built my dimple/back-rivet/bending table. I had no good large flat surface upon which to put the C-frame dimpler so I opted to build one. That, too, got finished last night and looks great. The only thing left is to get some carpet scrap to carpet a few 2x4s to use as padded risers for the skins to slide on.

I'm very pleased with the results of both of these activities, and will include pix here when they are available.

Ordered the Wings
Yesterday the family and I made the decision to order the wings. Given that we are not rich (how is that for an understatement) we are doing the pay-as-you-go routine. In general, bonus money from work and other non-salary sources of income are paying for the airplane, and I just got my (fervently hoped for) mid-fiscal-year bonus. It wasn't enough to pay for the wings alone ... but with other bits-and-pieces of accumulated money, we can get the wings. Today I faxed in my order and we will start the wings on the way. The only annoying thing is that the lead time on the wings had gone up from 8 weeks to 12!!

I saw the empennage as a "toe in the water" and a way to decide if this building-an-airplane thing was really for me. Committing to the wings is more like diving on in. I can almost justify a $1300 trial to see if I like something, but once we make the leap to spending $5K on airplane parts, we are in this for real. (We'll ignore the amazing amount of money spent on tools.)

As a (somewhat strange) former co-worker was fond of saying .... "Onward and Upward" :)

Sun-N-Fun 2002
Last week I went to my first Sun-N-Fun, and it was fantastic. We (Theresa, Marilyn, and myself) arrived around 5:30 on Saturday and checked into our campsite. (We started to set up in a clear space, just to find that some campsite-pigs had appropriated it even though they were not going to USE it in any way. The staffers agreed they were being pigs, but also pointed us to what I thought was a better location anyway. That was the ONLY negative experience of the whole week.) We set up camp in Camp Cowchip (our name, given it was normally a cow pasture ... see picture) and promptly collapsed. It had been a very long day, even if the drive down was totally uneventful.

The week was great. Airplanes everywhere, vendors (some of which had long ago gotten buckets of our money) were there, and there was a non-stop parade of aircraft in the air. We would wake up to the sound of engines, and watch the evening light die to the sound of engines. We walked til we dropped, and then walked some more. We watch air shows, took in forums and workshops, saw the museum, visited Paradise City, and generally figured out the lay of the land. This first year was a "training session" for us .... and next year we will better know what to expect, what to take, and what to do.

We left early, bugging out Wednesday night after having done everything we had on our "must do" list. Stopping in Brunswick for the night, we finished the drive home on Thursday. Our original departure had been planned for Thursday morning, but this allowed us to miss the rain that was clearly on the way ... and saved a soggy packing experience. It also let us break up the drive a little more and saved wear-and-tear on the crew.

We already intend to go back next year, no question. There are thoughts that we might even volunteer, but decisions have not been made on that front yet. After talking to a handful of volunteers, it sounds like a great thing to do and we are giving it serious consideration. What a great experience!

Wings on the Way!
I just got a call today from ABF Freight saying that my wings would be delivered on Tuesday, May 21. My shipping number is 145881317 and the freight bill will be a (very reasonable) $258.61 as delivered to my house. Woo hoo! Exciting. :)

Wings Arrived!
As promised, ABF delivered the wing kit today in two fairly hefty boxes. There was little damage to the outside of the boxes and none to the sheeting which makes up the box sides themselves. I have to make some room in the garage before I can uncrate the stuff, though! Life/work has been too busy for me to take care of that yet, so I am left with two big boxes on the floor until I get a few shelves put up later today!

RV Stick Time / Visiting Van's
I was able to leverage a business trip to Seattle so that I could (finally) go down to Portland to fly with Mike Seager. Friends in Portland were amazingly kind and let me stay in their guest room for three days while I visited. I had a great time and they were wonderful hosts!

My goal was to get some taildragger stick time to get a sense of whether I would enjoy building/owning/flying a tailwheel machine, or not. I spent 1.5 hours with Mike, and made 5 landings. They weren't pretty, but they were acceptable .... and that being said, I'm glad I had Mike on the controls beside me. :)

The upshot of the deal is that Mike was sure I would easily transition to a taildragger. He felt that with just a couple of days of instruction he would be able to sign me off. That was comforting news.

As a side-note, it was a beautiful day to fly. We took off from Vernonia Municipal, and headed east. From about 3500 feet we were able to see Mount St Helens (55sm), Mount Hood (82sm), Mount Adams (87sm), and Mount Ranier (105sm)! There was a little bit of haze (by PNW standards) so we could not quite see Mount Jefferson down to the south. :)

When I finished with Mike (and after asking about 3 different ways whether me going the tailwheel route would be reasonable ... and getting a "yes" each time) I headed down to the factory. Since I was in the area, it seemed a reasonable thing to do. Also, I wanted to get the story from the factory on the RV-7 rudder/spin issue.

The deal on the rudder is that all RV-7 builders will have a new rudder kit shipped to them free of charge. They are going to send them to the "most needy" first, meaning that those who have received their finish kits are at the top of the list, and those who have only gotten their empennage kits are at the bottom. There is no need to get on any list (yet, at least) as everyone will be sent rudders. (I still intend to see what is said in the next RVAtor.) Clearly, I don't need to work on my existing rudder right now after all. Time for elevators! :)

I also asked about lead times on RV-7 quickbuild fuselages and was told they were running 7 to 9 months. Since it is going to take me a year to build the wings, if I order the fuse in August (the "gods of year end bonuses" willing) the timing will be just about right. Also, it seems well worth the money.

Finally, I talked to the guy at the factory (name not caught) about tailwheel vs. nosewheel. He is building a -7A (nosewheel) and his reasons were that ground handling is easier, insurance is cheaper, and the market for resale would be a larger pilot population. I think he has some good points, and I'm back on the fence. Mind you, I need to decide by August or September if I order the quickbuild!

NOTE: While the bonus came through no problem, I hit a spell of slow building and time lost to upgrading the garage (see below) therefore ordering the fuse in August or September just didn't make sense. In fact, the lead times pulled in on the quick-builds so that has been all the more reason to not order. I write this in March of 2003, and think it might be THIS August before I order the fuselage! Then again, my pace of construction has gone way up lately and that time estimate might be drawing in over the next month or so. Time will tell

All in all, it was a great trip. I would HIGHLY recommend flying with Mike for transition training, as flying with him was a tremendously enjoyable experience.

Oshkosh 2002!
Christopher and I just got back from Oshkosh, and what a trip we had! This was my/our first chance to experience Oshkosh, and we had a great time. We got to experience three days of the show, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

We flew up to Chicago on Wednesday, and planned to drive from there to Oshkosh. As luck would have it a co-worker had booked some of the dorm rooms, but didn't need then after all and let us have them. The nights he had were Thursday through Saturday, so we had to do something else for Wednesday night. The decision was made to bum around Chicago Wednesday afternoon and then catch a hotel about halfway to Oshkosh that evening. Oh ... and while I had reserved a compact car from Hertz, they were out of compacts when we got there so we got a Volvo instead! It was a leather-seat, full-electric-everything, sun-roof, and GPS equipped Volvo too. A very nice vehicle.

In Chicago we first went to the Chicago Art Institute, and what a fantastic museum they have there! I have visited it before, but it was well worth a second look. Then, just to say we had done it, we went up to the Skydeck at the Sears Tower. It was a rather overpriced experience, but it was interesting.

We stayed at a Days Inn in Milwaukee and headed up to Oshkosh early the next morning. We got there, saw the field full of airplanes and campers, then checked to make sure our dorm room was going to be there as we had hoped. With that checked out, we headed out to the show.

What can I say about the show that hasn't already been said by others? Very little, I suspect. It was fantastic, and Christopher and I had a great time. We walked until our feet killed us, and then walked some more. We tried to see everything, but feel sure we didn't quite succeed. :)

Sunday morning we headed for home, and had reasonably acceptable flights home. There were some delays, but in the end we landed in Raleigh pretty much on time. Can't complain about that, really. There is no question, of course, that I would go again, and no question about taking Chris again as well. It was fun!

Reserved N4932L!
I have been wondering if there were some N-number I might want to reserve, and the only one available is one that used to belong to our 1967 Cherokee 180. We sold it to a pair of brothers in VA and within a month or so we got bad news from them. A tornado had come through the airport, ripped the plane up from its tiedowns, and tossed it across the ramp. It landed upside down and was totaled.

The loss of the airplane caused it to be deregistered and the N-number to become available again. That number has sat there for about 10 years now, and given that situation was unlikely to vanish suddenly over the next few years. However, on the off chance I might want to reclaim that number, I reserved it. I now own N4932L again! Click on this little link right here to see my registration details. :)

New Job
Along with other things getting in the way of working on the plane, I have changed jobs. More correctly, I have switched groups within my company but this has been much like a total job change. I had to interview, they had to find an open requisition for a body, I had to give notice to my boss, and we had to work out a transition plan. The transition has not gone well mainly due to some difficulties from my boss in the old group. With all of the job change activities (interviewing, travel to the west coast, etc.) the stress has caused me to not get out into the garage and work on the plane for about a month. There were some activities around the house which caused some delay too (painting, mainly) so once you add it all up, I have lost a bit more than a month. That being said, I'm back to working now ... and intend to make good progress.

New Camera
Well, pictures should show up more rapidly on the web site now that I have acquired a new digital camera. It was long enough coming me deciding to get one! I got a little Nikon Coolpix 2000. It is an amazing little package with a lot of capability for under $200. The major thing I wanted (along with your usual snapshot capability) was to have a macro capability so I could take extreme close-up pictures of assemblies. The 2000 has that and a lot more. To show the macro capability I took a picture of my van key held out a few inches in front of the camera. No extra lighting was used except ambient and the flash. Click on the thumbnail here and see what I mean! I think I'm gonna like this new toy. :)

New Benches
Before starting on the bulk of the work on the wings (mainly along with needing to put up the wing construction supports) I wanted to do some upgrades of the shop. First, I wanted another pair of benches that I could arrange side-by-side to get a full 10-foot bench length on which to work. These were built in one day with a lot of help from my son Chris. Hopefully I'll get the new electrical circuits installed next weekend and the wing construction supports done shortly thereafter. I want to have everything ready for a lot of wing-work over the Christmas holiday break!

Garage Upgrade
This activity actually ran from December 23, 2002 through January 5, 2003. After the benches came some new wiring. This has taken a long time due to holiday activities intruding and needing to get help from friends who have more electrical experience than I have! Still, it is about done now though my work on this is not "on schedule". It'll be nice to have the new circuits and lights in place, though. My goal is to get the bulk of the work finished up in the next day or so (this is my last day of "real work" before the holiday break) and then I'll get on with the wings. I've already started some prep on the ribs, but need to finish them up ASAP.

Along the way we constructed a "tool cart" on which the bench grinder, the belt sander, and the bench top bandsaw are mounted. It is on casters and is parked in a niche at the end of the benches. We had to make room for an additional fridge as we seriously needed one for our large household. All of these new things (new benches, new fridge, etc.) displaced stuff which had to go somewhere. The work just added up and time vanished.

The work on the garage has taken a LOT more time than I expected. I also have had many more holiday interruptions as well. Suffice it to say that my whole holiday break was consumed by "infrastructure upgrades" and virtually no airplane work. On the other hand .... I love having more light! A single flip of a single switch now brings on a total of seven overhead fluorescent lights. All the dark corners are bright for a change! The reorganized space is fantastic too. I've gotten the long parts (like those mondo-long aluminum angle pieces that come in the wing box) hung on the wall with ladder hangers.

Another interruption in the whole process was the acquisition of a new table saw. I've been promising myself one for years, and the family finally talked me into it. I got one of the new Jet Supersaw's, and am quite pleased with it. Of course ... we had to find space for it too, not to mention the time it took to assemble. :)

Sun-N-Fun 2003
We headed down to Sun-N-Fun again this year. It was a more eventful trip than we anticipated! The picture to the right is our campsite, Camp Palm Terrace. If you are curious about our 2003 visit to Sun-N-Fun, feel free to take a look at the sidebar web page which gives all the details (and a few more pictures, too!).

Ordered the QB Fuselage
Last week the family and I decided that it was time to order the fuselage. I've had bonus money sitting in the checking account waiting for the right time to order, and that time has finally come. It has been comforting knowing that the money for the fuselage was sitting there for when I was ready to order! Take a look at the Fuselage Builders Log Page for more details.

Oshkosh 2003
At the last minute I decided to go up to Oshkosh for a few days. We worked out packing a tent in the largest suitcase we had (along with all the other stuff needed for a trip) and I headed out. Oshkosh itself was great! The trip, however, was one of those "challenging" ones.

Travel via the airlines is not exactly fun these days, and this trip was no exception. I made a scheduling mistake (which I was able to rectify) but from there things continued to be frustrating. It seems that the mis-scheduling set the tone of the trip. The trip home was frustrating too! The self check-in machines could not find my flight. We had gate changes. We had departure delays. And at my connecting flight the incoming aircraft was delayed for about 1.5 hours. Eventually, though, I made it home ... and my luggage didn't get lost. I will confess that even though these flights were somewhat frustrating, I have definitely endured worse at the hands of our National Air Transportation System!

I set up camp at Oshkosh after a tremendous t'storm rolled through. It was still raining lightly and lightning and thunder could be seen/heard in the (not so far away) distance as a fellow camper helped me get things set up. I wandered the site a bit, and that night the t'storms continued eventually revealing the fact that my rain fly wasn't completely water tight. I only got a little water in the tent, but it sure made me paranoid that I'd be flooded out! :)

I walked my feet off, and saw as much as I could. I really only had two full days there so we all know that means some real picking and choosing of what to see (and what to miss) had to be done. All in all I feel like I was able to get enough seen/done to make the trip worth it though.

Soon I'll get some pictures uploaded to the site. Watch for them if you are at all curious or interested.

Technical Counselor Inspection
Tonight I had Tom Rudisill come by and take a look at my progress. Partially I wanted him to look at some of the rib-to-spar riveting to insure it was adequate. I got a thumbs up from Tom, and was surprisingly relieved! I had not thought I was that worried about possible problems ... but once I had him scheduled to come by my imagination started up and I thought of a whole host of possible problems that would have me completely reworking the wing!

Fuselage Ready to Ship!
I just got a call from Van's (2 months early!) saying that my fuselage is ready to ship! What the heck am I gonna do! I still have my wings in their stands! *shesh*

Helped Pete bring N19007 Home
My friend (and fellow Cisco employee) Pete Beal has been struggling to find just the right plane to buy ever since we met. The long search finished just recently and today I helped him bring his new plane home. Pete found an absolutely beautiful RV-4 in Rock Hill, SC and made the extremely wise (and brave, and foolish!) decision to buy it! Good move, in my opinion. This plane is a superbly built example of the type and Pete is going to get many years (and much adventure) from acquiring this beauty. You can see more pictures here if you are interested.

Pete, myself, and Tom Rudisill met out at the Wings of Carolina Flying Club "shack" around 1:00 on Sunday. Tom is an extremely experienced RV pilot, EAA technical adviser, and EAA flight adviser. I can't imagine a better choice of pilot for bringing home a new RV-4 when the new owner is not yet checked out in the aircraft. The weather was less than perfect but good enough to make the trip. We launched a little late and fought a nasty headwind (and bumps that made me think of middle-of-summer flying). We got down to Rock Hill, did the deal, and loaded up the Warrior with all the "extra stuff" that came with N19007. (Yes, I was to play "freight dog" on the return flight.)

Tom and Pete took off first, with me launching right after. They did a pass over the airport to say goodbye to the previous owner and then passed me on the right moving out quite briskly. While I had moments of seeing 130KT on the GPS (that nasty headwind now turned into a friendly tailwind) they were seeing more like 175KT on theirs! Suffice it to say that when I got into TTA they were already tied down and had folks coming over to look at the new bird. :)

Congratulations, Pete!

Fuselage Arrives!
We picked up the fuselage today from the ABF freight terminal. The crate made it home and into the shop with no problems at all. In fact, it went easier than I would have ever hoped! Wow. To see more about the pickup of the fuselage take a look at the Fuselage section of the logbook.

Instrument Checkride Passed!!
I finally went for my instrument checkride after about 6 months of training with George Scheer at the Wings Of Carolina Flying Club in Sanford, NC (KTTA). You can read the details of my checkride experience if you wish.

Sun-N-Fun 2004
We headed down to Sun-N-Fun again this year, this time with the kids. We avoided visiting the local hospital, and in general had a great visit to Florida. We stayed at Camp Palm Terrace once again, with this year's picture shown to the right of this entry. If you want to see more details take a look at the detailed Sun-N-Fun 2004 story.

Extra Storage Space Acquired
I have been grumbling about what I was going to do for storage space once the finishing kit arrived, and finally broke down and got some space at a self-store facility. I wanted something close so I could easily run down and get parts when I needed them, and found a good choice only a few miles from our house. (I had thought about storing the kit at a friend's hanger but due to the distance to the airport and various other issues, I decided to just get my own storage space.)

My plan is to put some shelves in the space and inventory the finishing kit there. I can then pull batches of parts out as I go forward, and I also now have space for all those things I didn't want to keep in the garage with the project as well (like 3 bikes, etc.). Also, once I get the wings fitted to the fuselage I can store them out of the way in this facility too. This might end up being overkill but I'm happy with this decision.

Update (1/9/2005) : I purchased a pair of 6' high, 4' wide, 18" deep shelves and installed them in the storage building. They were on sale and are the heavy-duty wire-style shelving. Eventually they'll migrate to the hanger, so I thought that going ahead and buying some fairly good shelves (particularly for a good price) sounded good. You can see the new shelves in the picture included here.

Finishing Kit Arrived!
This is an amazing day. My finishing kit arrived. This is the last of the major sub-kits from Van's, and that milestone is thrilling. When the day came for my empennage kit to show up ... it was hard to picture this day ever happening down the road. There was so many steps to be taken before a finishing kit could be part of my reality I just couldn't see that far forward. Head over to the Finishing Section to see more.

Sun-N-Fun 2005
This is our fourth Sun-N-Fun, and it was another great week of airplanes. Once again Theresa and I went down with the kids. Once again we camped out in the "overflow camping" area. We like it back there. :)

As usual I walked until my feet hurt. Highlights this year for me had more to do with Fantasy of Flight than anything else. We got to finally work in the Restoration Tour at FOF, and it was fascinating. I also got talked into doing the Stearman ride ... where you supposedly got 30 minutes of hands-on flying of the Stearman. Well, I was unsure how much you would really get to handle the plane .. and I was VERY pleasantly surprised. I took the controls at 600 feet (after doing all the taxiing, and the run-up) on takeoff. Aside from one or two things that Rob wanted to demo, I flew the plane.

We did shallow turns, then steep turns, lazy-eights, partial-power stalls, and power-off stalls. At my request I got to slow flight it for a while as well. Once done I flew back to Fantasy of Flight and, directed by Rob, flew the pattern. He finally took control at just under treetop height and once we landed turned it back over to me to taxi back. Way cool. :)

I got to meet a number of other RV-folk this year as well. I tend to be the shy retiring type, so getting out to meet-and-greet is something I have to work at a bit.

I avoided spending much money on airplane-stuff, but did pick up some odds and ends. All in all it was a great trip, and we expect to head back again next year. Maybe by then I'll be well into my finishing kit work! Only time will tell. :)

More Shelf Space / Two-Year Push
Today I decided I needed yet more shelf space (after a big shelf rework a month ago) and created a short-shelf for holding flat skins. Basically I got two brackets for the shelf system we use, and moved my big piece of plywood onto them (with a little safety-wire to insure the plywood didn't tip over off the slightly short brackets). This opened up another whole regular shelf to put the various finished assemblies I'm creating onto (and out of harms way).

I also realized two weeks ago that if I can average 10/hours/week there is a reasonable chance I can finish this in another two years! That may sound long to you, but it sounds short to me. :) (Also, if you are one of those builders who is retired ... 10/hours/week may sound like a piddly amount of time. However my building time has to be carved out of time for the family, including two teen-agers, a job, spending time on my EAA chapter, another side-business effort, and working on new ratings. I figure 10/hours/week is, for me, a LOT of time!) So as of the start of May 2005 I'm trying to average 10/hours/week .. and we'll see how I do.

AeroElectric Seminar
I spearheaded getting Bob Nuckolls to bring his AeroElectric Connection Seminar to the EAA 1114 chapter meeting place at Cox Field. The seminar (even if we had a few SNAFUs along the way) was great. While it consumed a weekend (a big chunk of building time, in other words) it was valuable to hear the straight story from Bob in person. Highly recommended!

Airflow Performance Visit
I'm using my first "building day" in a few weeks to drive down to Airflow Performance in Spartanburg, SC. (I was going to fly, but the forecast ceiling was lower than my .. currently pretty high .. personal minimum. Darn it.) I need to get the fittings on my electric fuel pump adjusted so it will all go together the way Van's shows in their plans ... and since AFP is only 145NM away, I'm heading down. Not only that, Don Rivera offered the option for me to come down on a weekend, so I'm meeting him today at 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon. That is what I call service!

But, no riveting today is the cost of this trip. Oh well.

Stride Tools Tubing Bender Saga
This post isn't so much about the tool itself, as it is about the experience I had trying to buy one. The short version of this story can be summed up by saying do NOT buy from Amazon.com, and DO buy from Stride Tools. Of course the problem here is that Stride does not sell to individuals, making it not as simple as it sounds.

I had heard comments from another list-er that buying via Amazon.com was a problem for him too. I figured a single report of problems is too small a sample to draw conclusions from, and decided to gamble. However, I add my voice to his saying that if you want an Stride/Imperial tubing bender do NOT go to Amazon.com. (Update: Avery tools now sells these benders!)

I wanted a 470-FH bender, and found the best price on Amazon.com. Foolishly a mere $10 difference caused me to order from them, and it was a disaster. In the end it seems Stride had ceased their Amazon experiment a while back and even though my credit card was charged (the day after I ordered, none the less) .. the order was never received or processed by Stride.

After waiting the absurd amount of time Amazon gave me for shipment I called Stride and ... after some understandable confusion ... was soon talking to the directory of corporate marketing and customer relations.

He remembered the Amazon experiment. After I tried to see what Amazon had to say (I filed a complaint, and got little in the way of useful responses from Amazon), I asked him to just go find a bender and put it in the mail to me. It was almost more in the way of a joke than anything else, but surely seemed as good a plan to me as any.

Well, he did it! The bender arrived today, as promised, and I am thrilled at the superb customer service I received from Stride. Now I just hope the bender is as good as I've been assured it is. :)

Maybe there is more to the story than I know. Maybe Stride dropped the ball with Amazon somewhere along the way. Maybe Stride *did* get my order, and they screwed up. I don't know, but I do know that when the problem was brought to the attention of both parties Stride made me happy, and Amazon didn't. That is the bottom line, from my point of view.

Ordered (Put a Deposit On) An Engine
I finally identified the correct Airflow Performance choice on the Superior web site, and placed the order for my engine today. The Superior folks gave me a call, confirmed that I was serious, and e-mailed me the order form. I have filled it out, and only have to write a deposit check ($1000, which is refundable if I bail out) and send it to them to lock in my order. This will also lock in my build class date ... as I am intending to build it myself. (Look in the Engine section to see more information.)

Sun-N-Fun 2006
Theresa and I went solo this year ... and had a great trip down to Sun-N-Fun. We missed having the kids there, but felt it was a good opportunity to get away just us two. I'm glad we did as it really was a special time we got to spend together. We were in a new campsite that turned out to be a great choice. You can read about the trip more if you wish.

Engine Build School
I headed down to Dallas to build my engine, and had a great experience at Superior. Evan Yearsley is a fantastic instructor, and kept the class fun even when we were having to hussle to get work completed. See my XP-360 Build School section of my logbook for details and more pictures.

Engine Lift and Stand
I decided I needed an engine lift and engine stand to handle the newly built engine when it comes in. I could have probably borrowed a lift, but the price at Northern Tool was such that having it full-time seemed reasonable to me. I went ahead and put the lift together wanting to have that done to handle the engine when it shows up. The stand I'll put together later ... and will likely mount a "plywood firewall" so I can fiddle around with the placement of stuff on the firewall before I ever drill hole one in the real stainless steel firewall.

Engine Shipping!
I just got a call from Dena at Superior, and my engine finished its run-in with flying colors today! It'll ship out tomorrow, and should be here by Monday mid-day. Wow. This is MUCH faster than I expected. Maybe it was a good thing I went ahead and got my engine lift last week after all!

Kitchen Remodel / Airplane Work Stoppage
So ... why have I not been working? Look at the picture above (when I get it uploaded, that is) and you'll see why. We are renovating our kitchen and my shop is filled with new kitchen cabinets. All the airplane stuff has been shoved to one side, and the only way I could work is if I pulled stuff out into the driveway. I'd do that, but every possible work-day it has been way too cold. *grumble* On the other hand, we are going to -love- the new kitchen. :)

Airplane Work Restarts (not really)
Finally paint is on the kitchen walls so the sheetrock is finally (mostly) completed, the tile floor is down, and most importantly .... the kitchen cabinets are going in. This means they are going OUT of the garage. While there are a few things still in the garage, I have enough room to really work again. Sadly, almost all my time today will be spent in cleaning up and arranging things to have space ... no time I can log on the plane itself. But, we have progress!!

UPDATE: Even though the cabinets went out, more stuff came back in very shortly thereafter. *shesh* Progress ceased, again.

Sun-N-Fun 2007
Once again we made the trip to SnF. This year it was myself, Theresa, and our daughter Kat. It was an almost perfect week weather-wise, even if the weather on the drive down was -tough-. We had lots of wind and rain until into GA, then the rain backed off and we were left only with howling gusting wind. Not fun in a SUV (Chevy TrailBlazer).

Since we drove down early (again) we had Monday to do non-SnF stuff, and this year we headed to the Kennedy Space Center. I honestly expected to be disappointed, but was anything but disappointed. Theresa was the one who really wanted to go, and she picked the "Up Close" tour. WOW! It was pricy ($70/each!!) but ... I hate to say this ... was worth every penny. Go look at the KSC website for details, but it really was a great 2 hours of touring the facility.

This year I went without much of an agenda. I just wanted to be there and have a week of non-stop airplane stuff (which beats the hell out of being at work). I talked to the EFIS folks again, and came away with the same impression of the one *I* want to use all over again. We walked through lots and lots of airplanes, attended one (slightly disappointing) forum, did the night airshow, and spent a little (lot, actually) of money.

I swear the food on-field was worse this year. But, then again, we did not eat on-field that much. Thankfully. We had a great spot again this year, going back to the same area we had last year. It is the back of the "north pasture", and after about mid-afternoon has shade from the treeline west of us. Fantastic. The only gripe is that for the first time ever we didn't have any toilets -near- us. We had to hike more than usual.

All in all it was another great week in Florida. I know many complain about SnF being so commercial these days, and that there are too many factory-built folks crowding the vendor area, and the prices are too high, and the food too poor, and that there isn't enough in the way of grass roots homebuilder focus any more. All true. But I go to have me a week of being totally surrounded by aviation and pick and choose what I do and don't focus on. In that way I tailor the week to my tastes and always have a good time. I'll be going back, I'm sure.

The only -real- disappointment is that the kitchen work STILL was not done when we got back. We have maybe another week to go and then ... finally ... my shop will be all mine again. *sigh*

Shop Reclamation :)
With the kitchen -done- as of last Thursday, I spent a lot of today just cleaning out and organizing the shop. Good grief, what a mess it was! I think tomorrow I can get in there and .. *gasp* .. actually work on the airplane. How will I ever stand the excitement??

Tailwheel Time Builder
I've been fairly silent about this because I was unsure whether it would work out or not ... and even now things are still "in the works". But, it looks firmed up enough that I think I can share the fact that I've bought a share in a Citabria. It was being sold by a friend, is a perfect fit for what I want/need to do, and I have a situation where a 3 way partnership can be worked out.

The picture you see is one sent to me -months- ago when I heard plane this might be up for sale. And ... this logbook entry can't possibly convey how thrilled I am that this has worked out.

An interesting coincidence is that this day, the day I handed the earnest money check to the seller, is also my daughter's 16th birthday. That sure will make it easy to remember the anniversary, even if I -didn't- have this log entry. :)

UPDATE: We have successfully finished the purchase of this plane, and I'm already building time in it. It is proving to have been a -perfect- choice (for me, at least), and my partners and I are excited about our new aquisition. Initially we were keeping it at Lake Ridge Aero (8NC8) but have managed to find a hangar at TTA (for now, it may not be long-term).

Sanford/Lee County - KTTA

Aeronautical Charts
at skyvector.com

If a long-term hangar never becomes available at TTA .. I don't know -what- we are going to do. I know we'll figure it out (click on the link to see how it got figured out).

Kat Gets a Ride
My daughter had been wanting a ride in an RV-7 for a while, and today she got it. I asked a dear friend Denny Mercer to take her up and he (being the generous guy he is) was more than happy to do so. Now she has a much better idea of what it is I'm building!

Denny's RV is -very- close to what I'm building. It is a 180HP RV-7 with a constant-speed prop. The differences are in mine are that I am building a tip-up canopy, and I am going with fuel injection. Other than that, they are essentially the same airplanes.

Rav/4 Comes Home
I took Theresa up to Danville, VA today to pick up a Rav/4 she has been shopping for. What does that have to do with building an airplane? Not much. :) But it did give me an excuse to take a day off of work to drive her up to Danville. And then I had some time after we got home to work on the RV. So .. so .. -that- is what this has to do with building airplanes! So there. :)

Beyond Fuel Injection 101
Today I got my advance copies of the January, 2008 EAA Sport Aviation magazine. I got advance copies because an article I wrote FINALLY got published. This has been a very long, but rather educational, process.

When I took the Airflow Performance FI-101 class, I knew nothing about fuel injection (thus the desire for the class). During the class I made a comment about building my engine, and Don Rivera (API owner) suggested I could come down and build my own FI system too. I took him up on it in a flash! Driving home thinking about the upcoming build experience it ocurred to me that an article might be a cool thing .... so we made plans to do it. I brought down a friend to take pictures, and went home (after a successful FI system build) and wrote the article. A year or so later, it finally shows up. Amazing.

Technician Exam Passed
What does this have to do with building an RV-7? Not darn much, except that I've been intrigued by the idea of 2-meter APRS tracking of my flights ever since I heard about the idea. Then I read a web-page write-up written by Sam Buchanan where he detailed what it took to get himself set up. He made it sound very do-able, so I launched off to do it. I ordered the same study guide, and the same tracker for starters. As of today, I passed my Technician exam (after only studying off and on for a couple weeks while I waited for the exam date to finally arrive)! Now I just need to wait for my call sign to show up in the FCC database. Yes, I'm a geek. So sue me. On the other hand, I now might want to put a ham rig in the plane so I can make auto-patch calls while en route. :) Ah well.

UPDATE: Amazingly enough, it only took four days from the time I took my exam to my call sign KJ4ECK to show up in the FCC ULS database! I'm now an officially government certified ham. Good grief. And, heaven help me, since I'm on a bit of a roll with the ham-stuff I'm studying for my General class license. We'll see how that goes.

Now that my license is in effect, and I've got my Micro-Trak (though I am still waiting on a mobile antenna, and it won't work worth squat until I get -that-), I can work toward starting to get tracking. When I do, you can watch me at the aprs.fi website as I move around. There are no tracks to be seen yet, but I'll update this when there are.

Training with Greg Koontz
This weekend was spent down in Lumberton flying a few hours with Greg Koontz. The short version of the story, for those who don't want to read the whole entry is .... flying with Greg is an absolute blast.

For those of you who want to hear me babble more .....

Weather was less than ideal. It was windy (240@14G21) with clouds hovering rather low. At least they were scattered/broken so we could work between them well enough. The haze was bad in the morning, but got a little better in the afternoon.

Flying the Decathlon was a hoot, though. Greg, brave man that he is, had me do both the takeoffs and the landings (in his brand new, 41-hour total time Super Decathlon!). If the wind had not been almost right down the runway, I'm not sure he would have been so brave (nor am I sure I would have been either). This was to be a "spin/upset" pair of training sessions, with the spins on Saturday and the upset training on Sunday. Would it be that things would work out so nicely, but this event was plagued repeatedly with challenges (rescheduling from the original date, changing of "organizers" along the way, troubles getting Greg's plane back out of the hangar Saturday morning, etc.).

To top it off, because Greg -had- to head back home Saturday night due to weather coming in ... put a crimp in plans. We had to fly a lot of back-to-back flights, but for the most part Greg's ability to stick to plan allowed us to get virtually all the flights in we wanted.

Many people there had taken spin and aerobatic training before, some with Greg. For those folks (me included) he adjusted the usual plan so we would each get as much out of each flight as we could. This was -very- generous, and you can't imagine how much I apprecaited it! So for me we did stalls, steep turns, accelerated stalls/spins under the bottom, accelerated stalls/spins over the top, many many rolls with him working on my technique, and many many loops doing the same. We even did a little inverted flight, with an inverted stall/spin. Wow. I ended up exhausted, sore, and with a cramp in my left thigh from all the left-rudder pushing I did. Good grief.

Oh .. and I ended up with a huge GRIN in my face, as well. It was fantastic! All in all I could not have asked for a better experience. My fellow trainees were enjoyable to spend a day with, and it seems a good time was had by all.

If you are at all interested in spin training, upset training, or going on to doing more aerobatics training, Greg is a joy to learn from. You can find out more about Greg and the training he has available by going to the Greg Koontz Airshows website.

And, no, I don't get kickbacks for this recommendation. I'm just one hell of a happy customer.

New Hangar - C1
It looks like I -finally- have a hangar for the RV. It is a bit early, but the airport management is going to work with me to help mitigate some of the expense of taking "possession" of a hangar before I really need it (i.e. they'll sub-let it to others on a month-to-month basis). A friend who is selling his plane, and vacating the hangar, was considerate enough to think of me and the airport manager agreed it was good fit. What nice guys! I'll be getting what is arguably one of the nicer hangars in one of the nicer locations on the field.

The logistics get a bit complex because I'm also getting the hangar right beside it for the Citabria. That way both of "my planes" will be in side-by-side hangars! Very cool, and that little bit of kind consideration is totally due to the airport manager out at TTA, Dan Swanson. I had to go out yesterday afternoon and thank him in person.

So .. long-term the RV-7 will be in hangar C-1, and the Citabria will be in hangar C-3. In the short run, since I'm not ready to take the RV to the airport, we'll stick the Citabria in C-1 (with all the "stuff", both mine and stuff inherited from Jack) and the month-to-month folks will go into C-3. Yes, it is a tad confusing, but even Dan suggested this would be a good arrangement ... and I could not agree more.

This takes another big worry off the table. Now ... I just gotta finish the darned thing. Progress continues!

SNJ/T-6 Ride!!
Based on a random e-mail which got sent to the right person at the right time, I lucked into an offer for myself and my daughter to each get a ride in an SNJ. Not being an idiot, I jumped on the offer.

The short version runs like this ... Kat flew for about .4, and I flew for .6 ... and I know it was .6 'cause I got it in my logbook. :) We burned 54 gallons, and (with Jim's discount at SOP!) it cost $308 ... with me picking up the fuel tab. Kat got her straight-and-level SNJ/T-6 flight, and I got me an almost non-stop acro SNJ/T-6 flight. Wow.

You can see more pictures at my Picassa SNJ web-album.

We did barrel rolls, aileron rolls, loops, clover-leafs, and a quick low pass down the runway in front of the Pik 'n Pig in Carthage. I got hands-on time, though no hands-on-acro. He coached me on the rudder needed when you have 600HP out front, and said I did a good job once I got in the groove. What a -cool- plane.

Jim and Kat got off the ground a little past 12:30, and they were back from Kat's ride promptly at 1:00. Since the winds were picking up and the clouds were building, we quickly changed passengers and were off again. It is NOT easy for an un-limber 50yo guy like me to scrabble his way into the back seat of a T-6, but I worked it out. Strapping into the 'chute and the seat was no big deal, and flying under that big greenhouse canopy was -very- cool. I spent about a quarter of the time looking at the world from some odd attitude through that canopy .. upside down, straight down, along the wing at the ground right underneath. He kept calling back after every half-dozen maneuvers "How are you doing?" .. and I kept saying "Great!" ... and meaning it.

He demoed a P-51 style landing approach, and did a pretty wheel landing (though he says he prefers to 3-point the T-6). This model was an SNJ-6, which equates to a T-6F.

After we finished playing in the SNJ we headed over to the Pik 'n Pig for lunch in Carthage. Good food, and nice people. We ate and talked and talked and ate .. and drank a LOT of iced tea. It was a hot day!

Jim talked about his J-3 Cub and his Luscombe, and I commented that the J-3 was another favorite plane of Kat's. After lunch we walked over, and he suggested we pull it out for her to have a flight! He was dead serious, so we did it. Way cool. :)

What a -fantastic- day! What a generous guy! And, to top it off, I now have .6 hours of SNJ time in my logbook. Again I say ... Wow.

Oshkosh 2008
I did a crazy thing ... I did a -road- -trip- to Oshkosh. I mean on the ground and driving. And I did it with three kids (17-20yo), over the span of about 10 days. AND WE SURVIVED!

In fact, we had a good time. We spent a few days in Chicago seeing the sights and letting my daughter check out a few colleges. Then on Tuesday we hit the road (miserable drive, with many slowdowns due to road construction and a Brewers game!) for Oshkosh. Weather was great .. if warm .. and we walked our feet off. I took a zillion pictures (yet to be uploaded) with my new Nikon D80 given to me as a slightly early 50th birthday present!

More later, as (if!) I have time. But all in all, it was a super trip.

New Puppy :)
Today we went and picked up our new puppy. "A new puppy?" I hear you yell! Yes, a new puppy. Yes, we are nuts. But after spending a year keeping the dog owned by my son's girlfriend we got reminded just how much we enjoy having an animal around. Once Paquita (the dog) went to live with my son and his girlfriend, we were left wanting a dog of our own. So ... we did it, and focused on finding one of the same breed (a toy rat terrier).

We picked her up today, and she is about as cute as they come. She has "blue" markings, and is only 7 weeks old (i.e. she is -tiny-). I'll put up some pictures when I get a chance.

And ... yes ... we -are- nuts. No doubt.

Hangar News
Tonight was the TTA christmas party, and I (along with about a million other people) was invited. I decided to go for the heck of it, and to check in with Dan Swanson on the hangar situation. Remember, we got a hangar in which we are housing the Citabria, but I need a second one (am I nuts, or what??) for the RV eventually.

Well, "eventually" is now. Without me even asking Dan said that if I want that second hangar, now is the time to get it. So .. well .. of course I said _YES_. He is going to work with the owner of the plane in the hanger beside the one we already have on a move (that plane, a pretty little Piper PA-22-150 TriPacer) of his plane/stuff to another hanger. In fact, he is going to just move down one space, and we'll end up with side-by-side hangars. Very cool. Dan knows the TriPacer owner won't care 'cause that plane has not flown now in .. Dan says .. years. Sad.

Within the next week or so we can start taking ownership of the new hangar if we wish. It needs a bit of cleaning and I'm thinking I may even move the RV on out to the airport as early as January, We'll see how things evolve with time.

I'm Back!
I've had a long break from solo flying (though I've worked in some dual with my instructor just to keep my hand in) due to having to wrangle a special issuance medical from the FAA. Nothing big .. just sleep apnea. But it really took me down for a long time.

Today, with a fantastic amount of help from my AME, Dr. Havner Parish, I got my medical in hand. I went and flew 2.2 hours in the Citabria and reminded myself that I really did know how to do this stuff. As the subject line says .... I'm back!

B-17 Visit
Blame my family. They made me spend money getting a B-17 ride this Sunday. Ok, so they didn't have to twist my arm _much_ (ok, ok, not any). It was an amazing experience. I got a ride in the Liberty Belle (see information on the plane at the Liberty Bell Foundation Website). The view from the bombadeer's position. It was wonderful to look out and see the countryside roll by.

Sun-N-Fun 2010
Sun-N-Fun 2010 was great. Weather was perfect (a few showers on two different days, with only one being a significant shower .. and even it lasted only 10 minutes). We got our favorite campsite. We did -everything- we really wanted to do (walking the flight line, looking at homebuilts, looking at vintage, warbirds, ultralights, LSAs, etc.). I talked to the vendors that I specifically wanted to talk to ... and one I hadn't expected to be able to talk to at SnF (SteinAir), but who had a representative at the TruTrak booth. We did the Splash-In, which was better than ever at the new venue. I spent a little money, but nowhere near as much as I had anticipated.

The reason for that is the Vertical Power folks aren't taking money for the new VP-X product, since it is only just now going into production. But I'm sold on it. See http://www.verticalpower.com/VPX.html for details. The other big discussion I had was with Paul Story from SteinAir, and I got done in 20 minutes of talking more than I would have with a dozen e-mails. It was fantastic to be able to chat face-to-face. We can now continue in e-mail with me knowing the right path to follow. I am quite pleased, and think I have a handle on how I want to orchestrate my wiring and panel effort.

The other cool thing I saw at the show were answers to the question of what do I do about backup instrumentation. A number of folks had good solutions, but TruTrak had the best. The thing I saw isn't even on their website yet, but it is a baby-EFIS that fits in a 3.5" instrument hole. Good grief. It is a horizon, airspeed, altimeter, and heading instrument all on a tiny color display. And ... all for $1200. Good grief. This is the one up-side of being a slow builder. :)

What else? I bought a set of "The Claw" tiedowns for going to Osh in the Citabria. I bought a new handheld com radio 'cause my old one (while still working fine, I must confess) is about 3x as heavy and bulky. I also had a long talk with Greg Koontz about aerobatics, hammerheads in particular. That was fun.

Now the down-side (which I'll go ahead and say has a good ending). On the drive back yesterday, just north of Daytona on I-95, the Rav/4 had a problem. All of a sudden dash lights came on, and it started to drive weird. I was RIGHT AT an exit, and the right-hand lane was clear, so I bolted off the highway. We cruised into a gas station immediately at the bottom of the ramp and had the car turned off within 30 seconds of the incident starting.

Fluids had dumped out the bottom of the engine, and I used the iPhone to find the local dealership. We called, and in a few minutes had the verdict that it needed to be towed. Within 20 minutes the towtruck was there and we were on our way to the dealership which was not 10 miles away. Within an hour we had the verdict ... the VTTi line ruptured (which I now know is a familiar problem with the Toyota V6 engine) dumping all the oil on I-95 in short order.

Once the VTTi line had been identified as the culprit the service manager we were working with had her guys do compression and other checks to see if the engine was damanged, and when two cylinders showed back compression she had them pour in oil, and start it. Within seconds it seized. She came back to us and said we were getting a new $9K engine for free from Toyota. Not only that, she gave us a loaner free of charge.

The engine died around 10am, and we were back on the road by 1pm. Wow. I know Toyota is getting a lot of bad press lately, but this was stellar support by the Toyota of Daytona folks. We will have to drive the loaner back down in a week to pick up the repaired Rav/4, but we'll drive away with a brand new under-warranty engine again. Go figure.

I want to in public acknowledge the fantastic support we got from the Daytona Toyota service folks. They were prompt, helpful, supportive, communicative about the issues, and made the best of what should have been a truly terrible experice. (As we go through the process of finishing this repair, I'll update this section to detail the experience ... and my most sincere hope is that I can continue to heap praises upon the Daytona Toyota folks).

Legend Cub Flight
I realized yesterday that I was closing in on the two-month mark for not having flown. The Citabria went in for an annual in April, and we came to the conclusion that the engine needed to be majored. It is close to done, but we likely have at least another two weeks before we get it back ... and it is killing me not flying.

I flew a few times with one of my Citabria-partners in a club Mooney as safety pilot ... but, if you aren't actually _flying_ it feels all too much like playing baggage/ballast. That does not scratch the itch. So I did something that I have intended to do for a while. I called Bob Parker (who instructs out of Johnston County, KJNX) to see if I could buy sometime in his Legend Cub. He was happy to fly with me, and I had a _blast_ flying the Cub-alike. What a delightful little plane, and a fun instructor. It was hot as all get-out today, but we sweated and flew and talked and flew and had a grand ole time.

We did a little lazy airwork, and without a ball on the panel, I had to use the built-in posterior-slip-skid-indicator ... my ass ... to know how I was doing. Bob said that I was coordinating fine, which was nice. Then we came back and did about six landings. Three 3points, and three wheelies. It took me a little time to get the sight picture down right and get the power settings figured out. The first landing was sloppy, and the next two were fine but long (due to not pulling off enough power and ending up high). Then as we started into wheelies the pitch/power came together .. my speed on final was stabalized like I like to see .. and I made three wheel landings, with the last two being pretty as a picture. What fun. :)

If I ever have to walk away from my medical ... one of the Cub-alikes will be high on my list of choices. If you are in the Raleigh/Smithfield NC are and need tailwheel training, Bob would be a fantastic choice. I have not asked his permission to put his contact info here, but if you want to get in touch ... just write me and I will be thrilled to point you in his direction.

Now if we can just get the Citabria back in time for me to fly it to Oshkosh, all will be right with the world. :)

Oshkosh 2010 (SloshKosh)
The Citabria did get finished in time to fly to Oshkosh, and I haven't quite gotten over the experience yet. This was a very very long flight for me, and having to do it all VFR meant really paying attention to the weather. This was the soggiest year in memory at Oshkosh, and many simply decided to not go, or launched later than planned and encountered trouble finding places to park later in the week. We really lucked out.

I went to some trouble to make sure I could run my APRS tracker for the trip. It worked _great_. Once I called home from a fuel stop and talked to Theresa ... I said that we were just south of Chicago and she said "I know, I've been watching your track!". I also had multiple friends contact me after I got home having watched us track into Sanford and landed. There are a few gaps, and a few recording hicups, but all in all this really does capture the route quite well.

Along with the thumbnail version of the track included with this entry I also have a full sized version of the track that allows you to see a lot more detail. You can also download it into Google Earth if you are really geeky.

Marilyn and I launched as planned Saturday morning, and our expectation (based on what we saw in the AM) was that we might make it no further than Ohio. We stopped in the KY mountains at Pike County Airport (KPBX) and then due to headwinds and fuel burn stopped early in Ohio at the Dayton Wright Brothers Airport (KMGY). A quick bite of lunch there (crew car provided cheerfully) we assessed the weather, and decided to continue on.

Out of Ohio into Indiana, we got reminded that Indiana is _flat_. Really flat. We were low due to the winds so saw every little baseball field, every little cemetery, and many little-town churches. We eventually landed at Porter County Airport (KVPZ) in Valparaiso, IN. The local EAA chapter had set up to sell drinks and hot dogs, and after a refuel and a look at the weather we realized that we could make it past Chicago.

We had intended to land at Waukegan for the night, but looking at the WX we realized we could make it all the way to the just-before-OSH stop we intended to hit the next day, Watertown, WI. This was not just further than we hoped to get the first day, but was further than we thought we could ever get the first day.

We launched, flew up the Chicago shoreline under the Class B space, and then turned left once we were clear. We finally hit a few sprinkles and somewhat low clouds, but nothing low enough to cause concern. The few sprinkles we got were not even enough to clean the windscreen.

Landing at Watertown (KRYV) saw us with 9.2 hours on the hobbs. Wow. It was a perfect stop as there was a Holiday Inn Express within _easy_ walking distance of the FBO, and numerous food options within walking distance of the hotel.

The next day we launched for OSH, only to realize they were not taking arrivals then. We detoured to Fond du Lac and (after some crazy stuff in the pattern) landed there and parked. We figured this would allow us to shuttle up to Oshkosh, get our car, check into our dorm room, and basically stay on schedule. We assumed we would make it into OSH the next day, but events conspired to keep us at KFLD for the duration of the show. This was the only disappointment of the whole trip, with everything else working out better than planned.

The show was great, and much was seen. I talked to all the vendors that I wanted/needed to talk with. I went by the Clarity Aloft booth to see if they could help me with a headset problem (I had injured it the week before Oshkosh, had it repaired by them, but it was still acting up a bit). After looking into the issues over night, they concluded the only right thing to do was to give me a spanking new headset. That was some amazing support from a company! I will be telling that story for a while to come.

The flight home started earlier than expected. About 3PM on Thursday we realized that the forecast had changed for the worse, and there might be rain as early as 7AM on Friday. We bugged out. We left the show about 2 hours earlier than planned, headed to Fond du Lac to pack, then back to Oshkosh to drop off the car, then got a ride back to Fond du Lac airport from the rental car folks. We topped off the fuel, and launched by about 6PM. We detoured around skydivers at East Troy, and then headed just south of Waukegan to the lake shoreline. Down the Chicago shore one more time and back into KVPZ. We landed there about 8PM and folks were still on duty. They brought a crew car to the plane to help us with our bags, then drove us to a nearby hotel. In the morning they picked us up again and we launched for home.

Another stop at KMGY (and another visit to the Steak-N-Shake) then on through Ohio. We were getting good tailwhinds and I was finally able to get high enough to lean fully, so our fuel burn was much better on the way home. (We have a newly overhauled engine so I am watching the CHTs like a hawk.) Therefore we passed Porter County this time, and landed at Mountain Empire (KMKJ). A nice stop in a pretty valley ... but it required we circle in the valley just a little bit to leap over the ridges to the east. Pretty terrain, but not to be trifled with in a loaded low-power little airplane. :)

From there it was straight to KTTA. Well, we actually detoured over Winston-Salem to avoid the KGSO space, only because I was tired and did not want to wrestle with our old and rather annoying radio.

This was an amazing trip for me. A real game-changer for me. I would highly recommend stops at KMKJ, KVPZ, and KRYV. All were great places to pause on the flight. Friendly people, with good service. Now, time to get back working on the RV. July was spent mostly on a combination of dealing with the Citabria annual/overhaul, and getting ready for OSH. Gotta now get back into building-mode and get this plane finished. I'm ready.

New Toy, and Gross Weight Reduction Program
Lets talk about the weight reduction program, first. Its not an aircraft weight reduction program, but it is a Dwight weight reduction program. None the less it will still allow me to take more fuel and/or baggage without exceeding the aircraft gross weight when I am done. :) I finally decided I _had_ to drop some weight, and went back to the place that helped me 20 years ago .. the Diet Center. I need someone external to the family to keep me accountable, and they do. But I also needed to start getting some regular exercise, and most of the options are .. to me .. boring. And if something is boring, I cease doing it pretty quickly. That is where the "toy" comes in.

I used to love riding bikes, but there are some serious discomfort downsides to your usual upright bike. For years I have been curious about recumbent bikes, and had been sorely tempted for a while. As I researched them I ran into another possibility ... recumbant trikes. Now there was something that was different and looked like real fun. Eventually, I gave in to the temptation and got one. As usual, I figure I would blog about it (nothing like being a bit public to make you put your money .. in this case, regular pedaling .. where your mouth is). For more information on that particular adventure take a look at my Trike blog. I have also put a picture of the trike in this entry for folks who just want a quick look at what the heck it is I am talking about.

Launch of STS-133 Shuttle!
All these years I've said, "Self, you need to go see the launch of a space shuttle", and I've always replied "Sure do, and I'll get around to it one day". Sadly, though, the shuttle program is coming to an end and "one day" became NOW (or never). So we went. Theresa and I flew down to Florida (dealing with iffy weather the whole trip) and saw the shuttle fly. It waw a fabulous experience!

We stayed up in Edgewater, and drove down to the launch early on the 24th. We got there around 9:00 (for a 4:50 launch) and discovered folks were already grabbing their bits of real-estate. So we decided to settle in for the siege. We had our chairs, our cooler, our books, and our sunscreen. We ended up about 4 rows back from the waterfront in Space View Park. This is a great viewing location (see pictures!) and I'd go there again in the blink of an eye.

Despite a last-minute glitch on the range safety system it launched, and we could not have had more perfect conditions. Visibility was great, and the launch was spectacular. We could, in fact, see the SRB separation with the naked eye! Wow.

The departure on Wednesday morning was uneventful, and the flight down was quite nice. We had tailwinds and smooth air to our first fuel stop at Lowcountry Airport (KRBW). They had self-service, and a nice place to have our quick picnic lunch. A recommended stop. Departing there we ran into some heavy smoke. It stayed VFR, but prompted me to start talking to Savanah earlier than I had planned ... as having extra eyes with the visibility restricted seemd a really good plan.

Halfway between Savanah and Fernandina Beach (KFHB, our next fuel stop) we saw an odd spot in the sky ahead of us. It looked like a round black dot. We were over broken clouds (with it very scattered just inland) and the black dot just got bigger and bigger. It looked like balloon, but it made no sense for a balloon to be out over the water like that. Then as it got closer it resolved into something longer than a balloon and that is when we realized it was a blimp! It was the DirectTV blimp, and it passed about a 1/4 mile east of us, and maybe about 500 feet below. We waggled our wings at them, but they really had nothing they could waggle back at us. A very cool encounter. :)

The flight down was nice until Fernandina Beach. There we came close to having to abort and head to another airport, but did squeak in. If I had not had good visibility and the aiport in sight with the clouds that low I'd have gotten out of there. As it was, visibility was great and the only worry was the winds which were 14k gusting 20k, but right down the runway. It was a fine landing. That started a trend of having to deal with nasty winds for the rest of the trip. Once down, we didn't want to go back up so just got a rental car from the very helpful folks at the FBO and drove the rest of the way.

Coming home we had to wait for WX to move past, and then headed up the coast. We were expecting better by the time we got into the St Simons Island area, and were disappointed. It was VFR, but not _good_ VFR, so we detoured to Brunswick and called it a day. Great service at KBQK with a free shuttle to a local hotel (new and nice), with a great overnight price, and a shuttle back in the morning.

By the time we were ready to leave some nasty overnight fog had vanished and it was beautiful flying. The trip was easy over Savanah and into our intended fuel stop at Santee Cooper Regional Airport (KMNI). The winds were _wicked_ going in there, but the landing was fine. That said, the place was deserted (on a pretty Saturday morning, even) and the self-serve fuel would NOT TAKE OUR CARD! What a pain in the ass! So we hopped over to Williamsburg Regional (KCKI) and they had self-serve set up for only local pilots based at the airport. No card reader. This place was deserted on a pretty Saturday too! GOOD GRIEF!

So we next headed to Lake City (51J). The deal there is that you go track down the guy who runs the helicopter training school and buy fuel from him. That worked out fine, and the field has a nice little restaurant on top of that. From there it was smooth sailing home. We had to get past some clouds at 2500, then climbed on up to enjoy some more really good tailwinds. Total trip time was 8.9 hours, and we only got back about a day later than we had hoped. Oh well. Time to spare, go by air, or so they say. :)

Sun-N-Fun 2011
Time for the yearly springtime pilgramage down to Lakeland, Florida and Sun-N-Fun. I'm trying a new experiment this year. I'm going to see if I can blog through the week. To that end I've set up a Wordpress blog and will see if _maybe_ I can enter things meaningful through the trip. For the terminally curious, the URL is :

http://www.openweave.org/sun-n-fun2011/

Update: I'm not convinced I'm cut out to be a blogger. I get busy just enjoying the show and don't do updates more than once a day. Oh well. I am inclined to leave it up anyway. All it costs is a few bits on a hard drive. :)

Benches for the Hangar
It won't be long until I need to move to the hangar, so I'm taking some time now to get things ready. First, I needed new benches. Today I built 2 of my favorite EAA Chapter 1000 Standardized Work Benches. Tomorrow I will build another pair (the wood call-out in the plans builds 2 benches, and that is about as much wood as I care to transport in the Rav/4).

Benches for the Hangar
Yesterday and today was also consumed by bench-building. Yesterday I built two more benches, and moved them into place. Today I added some lights to the two old benches that I moved to the other side of the hangar. Now I have light on both sides which is going to improve the usability of the hangar. It was a lot of work, in a lot of heat, but I'm well pleased with the results.

Oshkosh 2011
This entry can't say much about Osh'11 because we have not left yet, but mentally I'm already there. Yes, I need to work today (and am) but I'll confess to being distracted.

I'm going to try to do the "blog thing" again. We'll see how it goes. If you are curious click on the link and have a look. The URL is :

http://www.openweave.org/oshkosh2011/

Today is packing day, and tomorrow very early we hit the road.

Commercial Checkride
I finally did it. I went for, and passed, my commercial checkride. I'd love to say it was perfect, but I had a few spots that I could have done better (lazy-8s were only ok, and 8s-on-pylons I have done much better), but many things were quite good (the examiner complimented me on all my landings, steep turns, slow flight, and a number of other things). So while she had some feedback, she also had good things to say .. and most importantly, I got my commercial ticket. I am _so_ glad to have that done, now! Wow.

Avionics Alive!
I just got a cellphone picture e-mailed to me from SteinAir. The picture above is (most of) my avionics stack up and running on the bench! Not shown in the picture is the AFS autopilot control head or the TruTrak Gemini backup EFIS. Both of those will show up soon (before first flight, is the expectation).

Sun-N-Fun 2012
Theresa and I headed down to Florida to attend Sun-N-Fun 2012 this year, of course, and had a grand time. This might have been the best weather we have ever had at SnF, particularly in contrast with last year's tornado disaster. Onr our "free day", Monday, we went to Busch Gardens in Tampa and really enjoyed ourselves. We had never been before, so it was new and different.

This was a more forum-heavy SnF for us than usual. We attended a Mountain Flying forum, a forum on putting together an aerobatics instruction program (Greg Koontz), a forum on reasons to get your CFI ticket, and a forum on getting started in aerobatics (Patty Wagstaff). All of the forums were quite good and a few were downright superb.

We hit all the vendors, did lengthy walks down the flightline looking at planes, hung out in our campsite (which was at our usual location, a spot we love about mid-way along the back fence of the overflow/cow-pasture camping area), ate at Fred's for lunch every single day on the field, and simply enjoyed being back.

Yes, SnF is changing. Yes, attendance was down. Yes, there is new management. Yes, they had a jet car. But ya know what? I don't care about all that stuff. There were airplanes, and people who love airplanes, and honestly that is all I need. The rest of the stuff .... well, it just doesn't matter all that much to me. I'll be back again next year. Trust me.

Bill Finagin Spin Training
Spinning! Wow .. and what spinning it was, too. Wally and I had planned to fly down together, but I didn't like how the WX was panning out and decided to drive. Wally had some issues which kept him from driving down with me so ended up gambling on flying. Truthfully, I think we both won. I was able to be there on time without worrying, but had to drive the nigth before. Wally got down their fast in the Mooney, but had to sweat weather, delayed his departure until he thought he had a chance of getting in, and still had to shoot an approach to minimums to get in. That said, he only arrived about 30 minutes late which isn't terrible.

At the end of the day he had to leave early, though. He didn't miss a lot but even so just did squeak back in to TTA before the t'storms hit. His flight was only 40 minutes, whereas my drive home was 3.5 hours. BUT, I was not forced to leave early. So, as I say, I think we both won.

The spin training was awesome, too. Bill teaches a very complete and comprehensive course. He really disects spins and by the time you are done you have a good working understanding of the mechanics of spins. The flying in his Pitts S-2C is incredable as well. By the time it was all over I had done simple upright spins (about 13 turns in the first spin we did), accelerated spins, upright flat spins (and that was more turns than the first, because I sat there marveling at the flat spin for a few turns it was so novel looking), and multiple opportunities to exercise his emergency spin recovery technique.

For my flight, he eventually had me follow his directives and identify when we were "out of control". At that point I had to do the recovery. It went just fine, and we recovered without difficulty. To understand how fantastic that simple statement really is, you should know that he had me maneuver through various positive and negative G moves which culminated in an _inverted_ _flat_ spin to the right. It was absolutely fantastic!

As iceing on the cake, I came away with my CFI spin endorsement as well. Very cool. The only regret I have is that we ran out of time before I could get in a crossover spin. Dang. Maybe next time.

To The Airport!
Today was the day we had set to move the plane to the airport. Was there more I could have done at home? Sure. But I had to make a plan at some point and .. well .. today was the day. So we did it.

I had my auto mechanics (Hocutt's Automotive, near Garner) bring their flatbed roll-back towtruck to the house to transport the plane. The gear fit on with a foot or so spare on each side, with the spnner about a foot from the lightbar and the tailwheel about 2 inches from the back edge. That is to say, it fit about like the bed was made for transporting RVs.

We winched it up onto the bed, and then Mike and Kevin applied about a half-dozen straps to secure the fuselage to the bed. I have to say they did a superb job because other than the prop turning about a 1/4 turn 'til it hit a compression stroke .... nothing moved an inch.

Offloading at the hangar was, if anything, easier than loading at the house. We simply removed most of the straps (except the one on the winch) and then slowly rolled it off the flatbed. Piece of cake. (I can say that now that the exercise reached a successful conclusion!)

The garage looks ... weird. It is going to get worse as I transport tools and remaining airplane parts to the airport. But first, we had for Oshkosh in just a couple of days! a night.)

Oshkosh 2012
Theresa and I got back from Oshkosh yesterday, and spent the rest of the day recovering. Today I got back to the regular work grind again. Talk about a shock to the system. :)

Osh was, as usual, great. We had intended to fly the Citabria to the show but lousy/low weather made is make the judgment call early Saturday morning to do the trip on the ground. It was the right decision, as we kept seeing low clouds over the ridge-tops during our drive through West Virginia.

On Wednesday friends from the flying club flew into Fond du Lac, and we picked them up and ferried them to Marian University. This is the first time ever for them coming to Osh and NOT camping, and I think they enjoyed the change (I _know_ one member of that pair prefered having a bed, A/C, and a shower not shared with 200 of his best friends).

Now it is time to get the rest of the "stuff" moved from the garage to the airport, and to get back working on the RV. Ever onward, ever upward!

Sun-n-Fun 2013
Today we got back from another trip to Sun-n-Fun. We spent the Monday prior to the show at the Disney Animal Kingdom with our daughter, Kat. We had beautiful/perfect weather for being at AK, and for the week in general. We had one t'storm roll through Wednesday night, but the tents stayed nice and dry. One more -heavy- downpour hit while we were at lunch off-field one day, but by the time we were done and back on-field it was sunny again. So I can't gripe about the weather. :)

All in all, it was another good week in Lakeland. I believe attendance was a bit down, and some of my favorite vendors were missing. I start to think that SnF might be waning as an event. I'm not ready to throw in the towel yet, but we'll see what the next few years bring.

There were many noticable upgrades to the event. Paradise City was ultralight and LSA both, and there were new routes through both PC and the Vintage area. These new routes were VERY welcome as they made travel between some of the various display areas much easier. Food was the same awful food, with the fantastic exception of the salad bar at Fred's. That is always a lifesaver.

Acro Training with Koontz
Wally and I just got back from two days training with Greg Koontz. It was a fabulous experience. This was Greg's basic aerobatics course, which might seem a little odd because we've been doing basic aerobatics for a while. The point of this exercise was to get to doing the various maneuvers _RIGHT_, not just honking the plane through the sky. As it turned out, we really did have a lot to learn (no shock there, as I expected exactly that).

One of the big wins of this training, for me, was a much deeper understanding of the various forces operating on the plane, how they can screw up a given maneuver, and how you can leverage them to get the results you want. In the end it all made a lot of sense ... if you just think about the physics of what is happening. But if you have never thought it all the way through, with a good understanding of ALL the forces in play, it might not be particularly intuitive.

The flight down was a pretty straight-forward IFR flight. We did have to keep climbing if we wanted to stay out of the clag and turbulence. In the end we wound up at 10K. It was a pretty flight, with a very quick fuel stop at KGMU. The only negative is that while we stopped for fuel we noticed some urgen news reporting on the screen in the FBO. The bombing of the Boston Marathon had happened shortly before we landed, and the emergency was still in progress. It was startling to see, and a bit disquieting.

On the return trip (my flight) we had to do a LOT of detouring around WX (from KGAD, down to Talladega, southeast to the edge of KATLs airspace, north to Cob County, east to Gwinnett County, then a general turn toward Columbia, SC, eventually bending our way more northerly just east of KCLTs airspace then home). All that was using Wally's iPad/ADS-B setup so we could keep our eyes on the "big picture".

Here is a fairly good aproximation of the route we took home :

SkyVector

... and here is roughly the same thing in Google Maps :

Google Maps

Here, also, are a couple of snapshots of the WX that day :

WX Big Picture
WX KGAD Area Picture

It was also a real object lesson in how while ADS-B is great for strategic planning (and that is how we used it) it is less useful as a "tactical" tool. Essentially our strategy was to keep all the ugly stuff on our left, never fly through really dark spots, and always be able to turn right (south, or east, depending) away from the ugly stuff to find a safe harbor if we needed it.

That said, we did the return trip without ever getting a raindrop on the plane (surprising), non-stop, with well over an hours worth of fuel left when we landed. That said, when we got on the ground at KTTA I was exhausted!

Registration
It is a small milestone, but today my registration arrived. At this point the FAA thinks that N4932L is a real airplane. Not airworthy yet, but real none the less. Kinda cool. :)

Transition Training with Mike Seager
I just got back home from Portland and my transition training with Mike Seager. It was well worth the time/trouble to fly all the way from the east coast to the west to train with Mike. My flight out was screwy, since my originating flight got canceled, but Delta rebooked me on other flights and I was good to go. It did add one layover, and got me in a few hours later, but at least I made it into Portland on the day I intended to get there.

I had three days scheduled with Mike, with me flying at 10am and 3pm each day. Weather wasn't great, but was managable. I got to shoot a number of my landings in the rain, in a few cases in fairly hard rain. It was the Pacific Northwest, you know. :) The weather gradually improved over the span of the three days, and by the last flight it was downright pretty out.

The timing of this trip was handy for another reason. I've had a nagging but intermittent problem with my EFIS. The AHRS wouldn't reliably initialize. I thought that since I was going to Portland, and Advanced is down in Canby (very close), I'd just bring my EFIS along and get them to address the issue. Rob was completely game to have me do that, and on Tuesday morning I stopped in at the Advanced offices and met up with him.

He put it on the bench, confirmed that it probably had issues, and said he would resolve the problem. I left it with him and his guys worked it over and did some upgrades while I went flying with Mike. On Friday we used some of the morning flying session time to hop over to Aurora, do some landing practice there, then agreed to meet Rob at Dietz. We flew into Dietz, taxied over to Rob's house, and he hand-delivered the updated EFIS to me. It had a brand new AHRS (their new version), updates to the main board, and the latest software and maps loaded into the unit.

I wanted to take time here to talk about this ... because Rob should be applauded for his superb customer service. I've had this unit since 2011, though it has not been flying yet. For Advanced to service the box as if it were still under a formal warranty after all that time is great support for their customers. Thanks, Rob!

Back to the training ... working with Mike is great. He has a low key style, and does a fabulous job of transfering his knowledge. He even notices fine details such as how I was mis-positioning my feet on the rudder pedals. By the time we were done I had logged 8.2 hours (the insurance company only demanded one hour, so I think we have them satisfied). I did 54 landings, with seven of them being on grass, and with six of those being the whacky approaches one has to make into Vernonia. It was a great opportunity, and I now feel ready to tackle flying an RV solo.

Next, I have to just finish the darned thing. :)

Oshkosh 2013
This will eventually get filled in with details about the Osh 2013 trip. For now it is just a placholder. It will also serve as a means for putting my APRS tracker URL in a handy spot for folks who might want to watch our progress flying the Citabria to Osh.

Now ... since we are a few days off from departure, I'll say that flying is not assured yet. It will, of course, depend upon the weather. But if we do fly we'll be trying to run a tracker. The URL for tracking us is :

http://aprs.fi/#!call=a%2FKJ4ECK-1&timerange=3600&tail=3600

If you click on this NOW (i.e. before Saturday morning, early) you'll just see the last flight I took. It was with Theresa last Saturday. If we end up NOT flying, I'll update this to reflect the ground-bound state of affairs.

Last Flight as Co-Owner of 80G
We knew this day would come because it was planned for from the beginning, but never the less it is rather bitter-sweet. Since the RV is flying now it is time for me to leave the Citabria partnership. We set the date as being the end of October, but that date found me on a business trip in San Francisco. I unilaterally mandated that I not officially be out of the partnership until I had a chance to fly N2880G out of TTA one more time.

That time was today, and it was a lovely flight. I took off in the afternoon and went and did some acro. The last time I did acro it felt "rusty" because of the small amount of time I had put on 80G during the great TTA Runway Rebuilding Diaspora. I expected the same today, but instead I felt like I could do no wrong. To warm up I did my usual steep turns (60-ish degrees of steep) and for a change I did them ball centered with zero change in altitude. Then, warmed up, I launched into some acro.

My rolls exited on heading. My loops did as well. I did half-cubans back to back (but you could not call them cuban-8s only because there was some straight and level flight between them), and they came out pretty. I did back to back hammerheads, and they may have been my best ever. I did another hammerhead with a loop off the bottom after going level again. I did spins left, and spins right, allowing some to get fully developed (i.e. in this case 2 turns). I kept doing acro until I was sweating and breathing hard. On some of the maneuvers the Citabria did something she has done before, and that I find funny. If you catch things just right one of the little fresh air vents (the one on the left) will just pop open mid-maneuver. I had to reach down and close that vent at least three times today.

After the workout it was time for some quiet flying, so I headed toward Harnett County (HRJ) not originally planning to land. But I heard an old friend in the pattern, and he gave a call to me, so I landed. My landing at HRJ was a pretty wheel landing, butter-smooth, with a turnoff right in front of the FBO. Cecil and I chatted for a bit and then I took off again. Visibility was so good I could see downtown Raleigh from pattern altitude at HRJ. I flew down the river, then headed for TTA and watched the sun set. I kept doing landings at TTA because I just didn't want to stop ... but, eventually, it was time.

I pulled her into the hangar, and put her to bed. I put the work light in her cowl to dispell cold temps and the blanket on her cowl to keep the heat in. I noted my flight time .... 1.5 fabulous hours.

We bought her on May 18, 2007. I have been a co-owner of this fabulous little plane for 2,362 days, counting today. That is 6 years, 5 months, and 17 days. What a wonderful adventure, and superb partnership, this has been.

I know these machines are just things. I know they aren't alive. I know they can't feel, or know how we feel. But today I think this plane did know and gave me a picture perfect last flight as her owner. This plane has taught me so much, and now it is time for the RV and I to go learn lessons together too. One door closes, and another opens. And, really, this is as it should be.

Formally Exited 80G Partnership
We finally got all our ducks in a row, got everyone together in the same place at the same time, got all the paperwork in order, and -finally- the deal was done. I am now officially (rather than just emotionally) out of the Citabria partnership. Someone was found who wanted to join the partnership and so I simply sold my 1/4 share to him. He is a great guy, and will be a super partner for the rest of the guys.

The Citabria is still in the hangar next to the RV. I'm still on the insurance and they are happy for me to fly her from time to time. So it isn't a total break like I had when I sold our old Cherokee 180. But, I'm no longer an owner ... and that is bittersweet.

But you know what helps?? The fact that I am totally psyched about the RV and getting through my phase 1 time. It is such a fabulous plane that it does blunt the sadness of leaving the Citabria. :)

Carpet Arrived
After much delay (on my part) I finally received my carpet from Classic Aero. I am still keeping things simple in the interior and ordered only the front carpet and a baggage area carpet. They look -great-, and my hope is to install them tonight.

This is a practical change, you see, not a fancy-it-up sort of change. It will help reduce the noise in the cockpit. That is my story and I'm sticking to it. :)

Repairman's Certificate
I finally got around to applying for my repairman's certificate, and the day came to meet the gentleman from the FAA. Along the way he had suggested that we meet at my hangar instead of at the FSDO offices, and I (with some worry) agreed. The reason was that he is interested in building an RV and wanted to have a chance to look at mine a bit! The looking at the RV itself had little (nothing?) to do with the issuing of the repairman's certificate.

As it turned out it was a fabulous experience. The representative from the FAA (whose name I'll not use here because I didn't think to get permission to do so) was as enthusiastic and passionate about general aviation as anyone I have ever met. He brought a new member of the team along as well, and that guy was light-plane-positive as well. We had an absolutely grand time standing around talking, sharing stories, discussing building issues, and generally hangar flying. Who would have thought that not only would it be reasonable to _invite_ the FAA to your hangar, but that it would even be fun!

Eventually we even got around to doing the paperwork for my certificate. Along the way I got a lot of praise for my workmanship which was music to my ears (and this from an FAA representative who -does- experimental airworthiness inspections). I'm not sure how this could have gone any better.

It is great to know that there are folks at the local FSDO who are so passionate about light aviation, and so supportive of us folks building experimental aircraft. Wow.

Oshkosh 2014
This year we wanted to fly the RV to Oshkosh, and didn't -quite- get the plane (or myself) ready for IMC, so we did it VFR. It was a difficult year for getting to/from Osh VFR from NC though!

Theresa and I departed early on Saturday morning after waiting for some fog and low cloud to burn off. We climbed over a broken layer and were cruising nicely. We decided on a stop in KY for lunch (and fuel), and finally found Ashland Regional in the haze. A quick crew-car ride to a quick lunch and we were on our way.

As we slid south of Dayton the WX was getting worse, and we were painting a good bit of rain to the north on the tablet via ADSB (our new GDL-39 being our connection to the weather feed). Just southeast of Muncie I realized I had not turned off my phone because I got a chime and announcement via the bluetooth connected audio panel saying I had a text from George. It read :

Hope you are on the ground somewhere ... we are in muncie ... looking at weather.

We were -not- on the ground, and I was not happy with what we were seeing ahead. So we stopped in Muncie to confer with George. :) It was ugly enough that Theresa and I called it a day and tried to find a hotel room somewhere. There were NONE to be had in Muncie, at all. Eventually we did a quick hop over to Anderson, IN and got a hotel (and a hangar) there.

(more when I have time ... )

Painted!
I just picked up my RV from Boss Aircraft Refinishers (http://aircraftpainting.com) in Salisbury, NC. Theresa and I dropped it off on October 24, 2015 and picked it back up today. We disassembled everything the day we dropped it off, but it took two days to put it all back together again at the end.

We (the family and I) had a fanciful idea from very early on in our build, and while we knew it was maybe a tad over the top we couldn't get it out of our heads. To turn the rough idea into an actual design we worked with the Scheme Designers (and Kevin Burns, in particular) to iterate over possibilities until we got something we were truly happy with. Then we turned to Bill Lucey at Boss to take it from design to reality.

Bill and his crew could not have been easier to work with, any more detail oriented, or any more professional. Bill likes to have builders of experimental aircraft come in and do their own control surface removal and reinstallation on the theory that the builder's know the planes better than anyone, and that each plane can have unique aspects of the construction which need to be understood to safely do that work. The upside for me is that I got more of a "behind the scenes" look at the painting process ... and it was eye-opening. I know we pay a lot for these paint jobs but the amount of work entailed in doing it right is ... astounding.

I love all the little careful touches that Bill's crew applied. Any brightwork gets polished. The intake snout on the cowl had a rubberized material akin to what is applied to the intake of turbines applied to the rim of the intake giving it a really crisp look. This design was -hard- to lay out, and they took the extra time to get the curves looking, absolutely, perfect. I had an old friend of mine last night talk about how we say a paint job is a 50-foot job, or a 10-foot job, but he opined that this one looked good even when you got up close and started examining details. Bill's #1 paint guy, Mike, has been shooting planes for about 20 years and that experience really shows.

Finally, Bill's entire crew was just fantastic to work with. Every time I needed an extra hand, or needed to find a tool, they cheerfully jumped in to help. I could tell they were proud of doing the best job possible, and seemed particularly proud to have executed this foolishly-difficult scheme so well.

I'm sure not everyone will like this design. Some will think it too fanciful, or too busy, or too .. something. But I love it. For future reference the paint is PPG HDFX Solid and the paint codes for the colors are :

  • White – Husky White 944246
  • Belly/Leading Edge Blue - Piaggio Marina Blue – PIAP8/9
  • Red - Red Velvet - 912418
  • Orange - Omaha Orange - 912413
  • Yellow - Chrome Yellow - 912244
  • Green - PRC Green - 912428
  • Blue - PRC Horizon Blue - 912441
  • Indigo - Ameri Blue - 912432
  • Violet - FedEx Purple - 912221

The wingwalk material is a standard Randolph product, part number X-1567. While I have a _very_ _complete_ touch-up kit (the largest that Bill has ever had to put together) it never hurts to have all the exact codes documented. Done, and done.

 

 


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