Author Topic: Yes, that was fun.  (Read 3746 times)

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Offline Bill James

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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
« Last Edit: November 23, 2013, 05:06:23 PM by Bill James »
Bill James, Fort Worth VariEze N95BJ
Downdraft Plenums, QuickCowls
There was supposed to be anhedral?
ATP, Society of Flight Test Engineers

Offline go ez

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Re: Yes, that was fun.
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2013, 12:22:22 PM »
We missed you Bill!

Offline Fred N.

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Re: Yes, that was fun.
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2013, 01:11:20 PM »
Ditto to Go EZ.  Bill you are such a good writer.  I forgot that Claudine was in the back seat.  I thought that's where I was.  It felt like I logged about :45 seeing the lake and hill country of Texas.

I've been missing flight in my LEZ for almost 20 years now.  My wife has claustrophobia and will never ride in it, however I've had several six-plus footers there, who happily folded themselves in.  Friends have asked me to put a date on the next flight and I usually say: "early next year".  I'm really hoping that will be true in 2014!  I've repaired the belly and wings from the hard-landing, also rebuilt all 3 gear and new carbon fiber cowlings.  I have a zero since major engine, installed  and have the first coat of primer on.  I have a suite of Dynon avionics in the panel, but not  fastened in or wired to the plane yet.  I'm moving the oil cooler to over my feet so I can fly more than an hour without them turning into blocks of ice.

Thanks for the years of inspiration and encouragement!

Offline EZRider

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Re: Yes, that was fun.
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2013, 02:50:33 PM »
Grounded waiting for my special issue medical.  Your flight description doesn't make the wait any easier :). Can't wait to get back in the air in the Longez.
WWW.Longez209.com