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Topics - Bill James

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Hangar Flying / tachometer used with E MAG
« on: April 06, 2014, 02:52:15 PM »
What is a good electronic tach for use with an E MAG electronic ignition? I understand that you use the 6th pin for the tach connection.
Bill James

Hangar Flying / Logbook Entry:
« on: February 22, 2014, 10:10:28 PM »
Logbook Entry:
2/23/14 VariEze N95BJ  LCL  1 Landing.   SEL 1.2.   Cool 70 deg. Calm, mostly. Deep, wide Gold/Red/Turquoise sunset. The usual. Amazing...

Hangar Flying / Not This Time
« on: December 28, 2013, 11:33:14 PM »
Not This Time
The nose swings around to the South and I can see the nose tire swerve and straighten on the center stripe of Runway 17. Throttle up and the plane hunches up for the takeoff run. Off the brakes and a couple of jabs of left rudder keeps us on the center stripe. Nose tire comes off at sixty and the mains spin free an instant later.
No sedate 100 mph climb. Not this time. This time a gentle squeeze on the stick pushes the nose over and the airspeed needle cranks up for a fifty-foot full speed rush down the runway. Over the departure end a firm squeeze on the stick and we’re surging skyward big time with a quick snap to the left around crosswind and a quick snap right to wings-level and in a flash we’re on downwind at pattern altitude. A little nose over and she’s cookin’ downwind and back on the power and we’re swooping around left base to final. Wings level and we’re smooth sailing not a burble down the runway and in a blur we’re past the numbers and heading up again big time and calling outbound to the northeast. 
Over the next rise there is no time to wait for the friends to come out and wave. Not this time. This time it’s just a once over and a quick wing waggle and we’re movin on to greener pastures.
No gentle swoop over the lakeshore past the RC guys on their new mini-runway. Not this time. This time we hurry on and briskly jink and juke with the rudders loosely following the swerves of Bear Creek. We flash past the railroad tracks and fall off the edge of civilization into the open flat ranchlands.
No big wide circles contemplating the engine gauges. Not this time. This time there’s not much time so we go straight for the good stuff, wingovers, eyes outside with the occasional glance at the gauges and the steady exhaust tone thrumming all’s well.
This time on the third or forth pull up, for the first time in a long time I think about what I’m doing. I think about the steps of the wingover maneuver. For an instant I’m back in the orange and white exhaust-tinged T-28 with its 1425 hp and massive three-bladed prop tugging and twisting and torqueing the airplane in all the wrong directions. I remember struggling to counter each excursion with the taught control input and the awkward conclusions that resulted from raw memorization. I remembered how much rudder was needed at 220 kts and how much more was needed at 100 kts and how easy it was to come out the bottom of a loop 45 degrees off heading. And how all you can do is keep trying.
Floating across the top today I remember the day back then when it all came together, when just the right nudge of rudder at just the right time worked magic. When you’d done so many wingovers in the air and in your sleep that it was second nature. When you knew what the airplane was going to do before it did it. When you started intuitively putting in that nudge of rudder and that squeeze of the stick and the throttle just ahead of time - the right time, the day you learned to outsmart, or more specifically you learned to work with the molecules. The next couple of wingovers fade back and forth between the massive riveted canopy and the svelte clear canopy.
A check of the time has us banking hard for home, returning to normal and enjoying the simple, sleek nature of this airplane. The entry and pattern are smooth and delightful and we glide silently through base. Turning final I confidently confirm nose gear down for the third time. The tetrahedron is about twenty degrees to the left, the windsock is twitching a little, and the trees there can cause some burble. At fifty feet I start the gentle mixing of the stick as usual. A little mixing of the stick and a little throttle through ground effect always help for a gentle arrival. This time it’s just a tad too little throttle, and just a tad too late. We drop in from two feet.
I usually only log one landing per flight.
But not this time.   :)

Have a Great New Year!     

Hangar Flying / Yes, that was fun.
« on: November 23, 2013, 10:28:51 AM »
     A little left rudder and the nose swings around to the south. A little right rudder and I can see the nose wheel straighten and come to a stop on the center stripe of runway 17. All clear outside. The canopy comes closed and locked and checked. Brakes on, the power comes up and the rpm checks good. Again the plane indicates its eagerness to fly in the way it kinda hunches up for the takeoff run, backed up by the strong indications on the engine instruments. 
     Its seeming eagerness to get going is probably my imagination but that’s what it feels like to me and I like it. With the elevators an inch low the nose lifts on schedule and a squeeze on the stick holds the climb at 80 kts. A quick check outside and then inside again to keep an eye on the engine instruments. The oil pressure, rpm, CHTs are double-checked for a hint of anything different from the previous flights. The steep climb angle seems to put the panel right at eye level making it easy to scrutinize the instruments.  At pattern altitude a little rudder and a brisk turn puts us in the usual circle or two around the pattern giving the plane time over the runway to do anything funny early on. 
     On this takeoff the article comes to mind in AOPA magazine a while back where the author said that for an engine failure during early climb out, most pilots don’t have an appropriate awareness of how much nose-over it would take to get the nose low enough to get and hold the speed you need. Then I remember the EZ/F-16 driver that said that his flight tests showed that with an engine failure we canard drivers need to maintain at least 22 kts above our min speed for maneuvering and then for reduction of the rate of descent.
     It’s exciting to be in the air again. The freshly overhauled 0-290 has performed a couple of dozen flights by now. The takeoffs are consistent and strong but each flight is still flown pretty deliberately. The break-in period has gone well. On the first couple of flights I just flew big circles around the airport at high power. After flying the last few years more sedately mostly thinking along the lines of LOP it was exhilarating and a fun change to rip along at full speed for an hour. An hour can be a long time. It was kinda like back in the early days of the downdraft plenums running wide open over the ranchlands trying to overheat the engine and not being able to.
     But now we’re already climbing out west of Fort Worth. I say we, because my wife is along on this trip, her first ride since the engine rework. She is interested in seeing the lake area from the air again and I want to imprint another smooth enjoyable flight. Little did I have to do with it, it was a great smooth flight through the historic Texas hill country. Lake Palo Pinto is the lake we were interested in. It is pretty low on water and you can see the valley and the river the way it used to look years ago before the dam was put in. The Indians painted the tree trunks along the creek to mark their territory and welcome guests, thus the name referring to painted posts. It is really interesting to fly along the interstate and check out the scenery along our normal journey from the air, and then fly over into the ridge lines of the valley. The drive is usually just over an hour. Even with the power back we make it to the lake today in about fifteen minutes.
     We cruise around the lakeshore a couple of times at an appropriate level and wave at a few weekend neighbors. We talk about how fascinating it is to see how different things look from the air. I fly by the water tower on the ridge near our cabin. The water tower is an especially distinctive landmark because just beyond it there is a straight road between the ridge lines with no power lines or mail boxes; my perfect hill country reserve landing strip if’n I ever needed it. We turn east for the return trip and I add power to climb out. With the reserve landing strip fading away behind my interest turns to tracking the engine gauges. I breath in the feeling of the positive, powerful, sure response from the aircraft.
     In the moment I’m a little overwhelmed again at what this plane is, and has done, and has meant. Now days it takes a longer moment to sequence through the results of this Eze venture. I finger on the auto pilot and feel a twinge of luxury remembering the early days of flying the simpler aircraft back then, heading out all directions and drawing the far reaches of this land a little closer and a little friendlier. With the airport in sight I reach out for a last armful of the horizons and think of the dozen or so new friends that are now working their way toward building or rebuilding or finishing building a VariEze, and mentally wish them well. Like their efforts, the engine rebuild didn’t happen in the couple of weeks that I planned, but we got it done.
     Back home we make the requisite pass over the runway and circle to land. On downwind Claudene says “OK talk me through what you’re doing.” Wow, that’s a first. I tell her to follow me on the stick and she says “I am.” So I talk through lowering the nose gear and the trim change and the slowing airspeeds. Rolling final I mentally fuss at myself for a moment for not being as slow on final as I wanted, then re-remember that weight has consequences. On final I am mentioning how slightly mixing the stick makes it easier to hold the attitude and in the flare there is a little burble but the plane settles in gently, just like I knew what I was doing. The tires chirp. Mentally I can almost feel the wings longingly holding on to that last wisp of lift. Probably my imagination.
     Taxiing up to the hangar I can look back through the years and imagine my hangar mate Dave walking out to hold the nose and both of us grinning and how our shout of “Cheated Death Again” bounced off the hangar doors. Checking Claudene in the back seat, I decide to break with  that traditional shout this time. Just as I start to say something about what a great flight it was, and she says “Well, that was fun.”
Yes, that was fun.
Bill James

Hangar Flying / Rob Martinson
« on: March 27, 2013, 09:30:18 PM »
 As many of you have heard, we lost good friend Rob Martinson in a skiing accident in Vail.
Here's a link to the CA forum post:
 Rob was one of the first Eze Guys that I met.
     At Oshkosh ’92 I went up to this guy wearing a fishing cap and a R.A.C.E  polo shirt. I asked him where I could get a shirt like that, just as he was pulling one out of the box for me with a big grin. He asked if I was an Eze driver. I replied that I was the eighth owner of a pile of boxes of VariEze parts that I had just stacked up in my garage, and was trying to figure out what all that stuff was. He grabbed my hand and shook it and said “Welcome to the club, come with me, there’s a guy over here that you need to meet, listen to everything that he tells you,” and hustled me over to Charlie Airesman’s VariEze. And thus my Eze venture was off and running, to put it mildly. Although Rob didn’t suggest or mention his own value as a source of information and experience, he has been such through the years.
     The first thing I learned was not to do something stupid like chase Rob and Charlie from Denver to the Jackpot RACE. The word “chase” is very appropriate. It wasn’t a matter of being a mile or two behind them, it was a matter of how many states I was behind them.  They came back “a hundred rpm” so many times that finally Rob flew a big circle and called out to me saying, “Bill, where the heck are you?”  Not long after that we broke off on our own. I watched as he sped away like a streak and disappeared across the shores of the Great Salt Lake. He occasionally dropped down and circled something interesting a few times and then sped off again. I saw the reality of the Eze life in Rob, and realized the magnificent gift of freedom that was available in these stunning airplanes; of seeing things in ways that only a few fortunate others ever will.
     I saw Rob’s beautiful home and family. I saw his hanger walls literally wallpapered solid with plaques and awards that he had amassed over the years. I saw the talent and passion that he had for these airplanes, for art, and the passion he had for life. He didn’t tell me anything of his prowess in the races and cross country flying. I saw it. He didn’t tell me he was going to do this or that, or that he would be there for me as a friend, he just did it.
     At one point he spoke directly of his appreciation for things I had done. It said more to me about his steady ego than about anything I had done. He was direct and honest.
     There were many times where Rob could have mentioned this or that, something that he had done of significance. But he didn’t. I later found out about him on my own. I began to understand why some of you guys that have been living the Eze life for 35 years and more don’t try to explain it to us. It can’t be done. You can’t explain it.
    Rob’s friend Len said, “Rob and I skied frequently together and it sometimes felt like skiing was more like flying than flying was. That was the way Rob skied.”

     While I don’t ski if I can help it, I do see vividly Rob whisking briskly through the snow, stopping occasionally to circle something of interest, and then disappearing again off ahead.  I look forward to catching up with him again someday…
Our hearts and prayers are with you Pam.
Bill James
Fort Worth VariEze

Hangar Flying / How We Discovered Joe Person
« on: March 26, 2013, 08:12:50 PM »
If you saw a VariNice VariEze on the airplane edition of "How We Invented the World" on the Discovery Channel, you were watching our vari own Joe Person!
Atta boy Joe. Spectacular! 

Hangar Flying / Fuel flow indicator?
« on: December 09, 2012, 10:06:39 PM »
Who makes a good fuel flow indicator?
Bill James

Hangar Flying / EZ Thanksgiving To You 2012
« on: November 25, 2012, 12:32:51 PM »
EZ Thanksgiving To You 2012!
     Bug guts in November   :)
                   Photos - if you are logged in -

Hangar Flying / OSH 2012
« on: July 29, 2012, 03:43:53 PM »
Oshkosh 2012
Tenth time the VariEze has swept me in to Oshkosh.  First time to have a 20+ mph tailwind both ways  :)
Congrats to James and Sandy Redmon in RACE 13 for the Lindy award. Well earned and deserved. 

Over the years, on each flight lofting up through the beautiful green-patched heartland, I experience a renewed realization of the fantastic freedom and gift of flight; especially when cruising in a spectacular machine where contrary to the phrase of the week, “I did do it.”
That moment of euphoria is triggered by something as simple as looking out at the great expanse drifting steadily and quietly below, refocusing on the weave of the panel, the curve of the canard tip, a quick memory of stippling in a corner tape, never quite being able to take it all in. Especially how all these molecules in and around me and out there all hold together so well. 
Highlight of the trip would be the huge benefit that the autopilot affords. It is light, smart, and dependable.
As for specific items of interest at the show, we didn’t find the expected mass gathering of electric airplanes. We did see the 200 mph electric LongEZ on display, with an empty wt of 1062 lbs, noticing that the belt driven motor installation was pretty straight forward.
Good visits but not enough time with all the buddies. The trip mainly served as an incentive for getting ready for Rough River.
So the main wish-list gizmo that we checked out was the 6.3 lb Skytech LSA starter and talk of a very light battery. Now where can i find 6.3 lbs to shave off...

Hangar Flying / The Voyager Constant
« on: July 09, 2012, 06:48:32 PM »
When Dick and Jeana flew the Voyager around the world nonstop unrefuled, there was one constant. What was it?
...Mark Z, please wait as least 0.003 seconds before you nail it  :)
Or better, until there are a couple of good replies.
Bill James

Hangar Flying / TruTrac Pilots
« on: April 30, 2012, 11:35:11 PM »
You TruTrac Pilots out there-
For the roll and pitch servos, which of the three holes in the servo arm do you use? Many other questions but i will start with that.
Bill James

Hangar Flying / Ten Things I Like About SARL Racing
« on: November 19, 2011, 10:59:01 PM »
1. LongEZ Driver Dave Adams will personally spend half an hour keying the turn points into your GPS.
2. Legendary racing pilots will tell you their deepest racing insight. And some of the guy pilots too.
3. It’s kinda like when you go through an intense conceal and carry handgun class. You are in the arena in actual serious operation of your equipment, focused on observing safe practices, run by dedicated experienced pros.
4. Everybody gets a first place medal ribbon. Oh, I guess that was just today. Sorry.
5. When someone passes you, you get to see them find and make the next turn. Hopefully.
6. People outside their houses and workers in the fields standing there waving at you.
7. Should the need arise; the competitor breathing down your neck instantly becomes your wingman.
8. If you race you get a T shirt.
9. It doesn't really matter whose the fastest.    ...Right.
10.   … You get to FLY!

     The legendary pilot’s personal deepest racing advice?

                        Fly Safe and Have a Ball!

- One of my top experiences is now smokin' across central Texas, feeling the passion, feeling the need for speed, realizing what great machines these are that we fly, and what drivers of other types have to do to keep up or pass us. In the past i was fortunate to make Kanab and Jackpot a few times, basically on the other side of the world, but truly special and worth it. Today with a little push it took 38 minutes to get home. Next season there may be an event in your back yard.
The indicated speed was significantly higher today than at my first Jackpot RACE in 1997, but not what it can be with a little more tweaking. That's another thing i like about SARL, there's always next year   :)  
Bill James

Hangar Flying / Flying Simple
« on: November 02, 2011, 10:30:14 PM »
Could I have done everything I have done over the years with the VariEze… without an alternator?
     You can’t help but appreciate the talent, effort and accomplishments of those with the show quality complex planes, but I am not talking about that. I’m just looking at what I could have done to the VariEze versus what I have done.
     I’ve been flying the VariEze for about 15 years and a thousand hours and landings. Currently there is more than the normal amount of simple satisfaction (and often relief) flying an operationally simple airplane.
     It used to be even simpler than it is now. It flew four years without an alternator, just the two mags and a handheld radio and GPS, and a small battery for priming. During that simple era I went to the RACEs, flew non-stop 1400 miles to Reno, visited family in several states, essentially going everywhere I wanted to go.  Every time I pulled the plane out of the hangar it started and we went flying.
     My first RACE was Kanab, where I came in third… in a class of three. When I crossed the finish line the first and second place pilots - Klaus and Hertzler, had landed and were already sitting in lawn chairs drinking a soda.  If i had just had that alternator!!!     Not many people know this but one year I won my heat at Wendover, flying a perfect course and using perfect technique. Of course I was the only one running the course at Wendover that Friday, on my way to race at Jackpot the next day  :)  
     All with no electrical system.
     For a decade now the VariEze has had a small B&C alternator and panel mounted com and transponder. I added the alternator primarily for the extra pizzazz of electronic ignition, especially that ten percent increase in range. The transponder is a very practical addition, enabling cruise above 10K. There is a turn and bank indicator. Other than the alternator, most of the gizmo additions are excellent treasures from friends that decided to clear off their parts bench.
     Now I am looking at some simple autopilot capability. They say the alternator won’t even notice it   :)  Funny, while I am thrilled at the prospect of having some help with heading and maybe even the altitude at some point, most of the comments from friends and tech reps have to do with how much I am losing if I don’t add this or that other “little” gizmo. It’s great fun and I love the learning curve, and have even succumbed to the extravagance of a factory made bracket or two.  
     Back to the point, the plane flew great with no electrical. Looking back over the fifteen years, objectively, I think I could have probably done everything I have done with just the two mags   :)

For Sale/Wanted / Looking for TruTrak autopilot Servo
« on: November 01, 2011, 08:33:49 PM »
Please let me know if you have or know of a TruTrak servo just collecting dust on a shelf.
Bill James

This story may have been in the CSA newsletter. The way I remember it, a builder had just sawed the fuel cap holes in the top strake surface and was getting ready to vacuum out the debris that had fallen into the tank. However, when he turned on the vacuum and stuck it in the hole, he did not hear the expected rattle of debris being sucked into the hose. He looked into the tank and it was clean.
He was suspicious and went the extra Sherlock Holmes mile. To his surprise he discovered the debris had spread out around the corners of the tank. Again, the way I remember it, after experimenting a few times, he demonstrated that the problem was created by turning the vacuum on before it is inserted into the tank. As the hose is inserted into the hole and air is beginning to be sucked out, air must also be sucked in. The air being sucked in, in accordance with Murphy’s Law, will enter and flow so as to blow the pile of debris to the far corners of the interior perimeter.
I believe that the cure was to insert the hose and position it just over the pile of debris before turning on the vacuum. There may be other preventative processes. Thanks to the person that brought this up.

When I read or heard this story I remembered having heard several builders over the years say that they had been extremely meticulous when building but still ended up finding a slug of fiberglass particles in the carb filter screen. I believe some of these folks said they had found the debris in the carb filter during taxi tests when the engine was wasn’t running right.  I guess we can be meticulous about the way we are meticulous.
My son just told me that they do a happy halloween with their kids, rather than the scary stuff.  I do too. All it takes is looking at a couple of sites that say that chocolate is good for you   :)
Safe flying-

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