14th October 2012

More flight test notes

Posted in Flight Test

As I’ve tried to fill up all decent-weather daylight hours with flight testing, the days have continued to get shorter, and the other activities that go along with the arrival of fall have begun again, as well.  Which is a long way of saying, I’ve gotten rather lazy about posting my flight test notes after each flight.  So this entry covers the last 2 weeks worth.

Things are generally going well, and I’ve continued getting to know the plane, and become more and more comfortable with how she flies.  I’ve done a moderate amount of pattern work (though I could use more yet) at the various airports, and can consistently land in a reasonable distance.  I’ve done simulated engine-out drills over the airport (altitude loss was 6-800′ per 360° turn).  Steep turns, dutch rolls, more stalls in various configurations, and so on.

After previous adjustments to the heavy left wing, I’ve flown the last 3 flights with 120 lbs of ballast in the right seat, and I’m happy to report that in the current config, with the ballast, it flies pretty much hands-off straight with an equal fuel load.  So, with a passenger, it’s balanced.  I’ll install the roll trim linkage soon, and unload the ballast.

I’ve done climb rate testing, and though the data isn’t as precise as I would ideally like, I’ve called Vy (best rate) to be 85 KIAS, and Vx (best angle) to be 75 KIAS.  In reality, the pitch angle below 80 is so steep that I wouldn’t want to go there…it’s impossible to see over the nose.  I usually end up climbing out around 100 KIAS, keeping the nose just below the horizon for visibility.  (I expect the speeds to change when we get the prop re-done.)  ROC at ~3000′, Vy is around 1450 FPM.

Messing around with economy power has been fun, too; how much fuel does it take to go along at 90kt, for example.  The EFIS uses groundspeed to calculate fuel economy (mpg), so any head/tail wind is factored in; I had a 23kt tailwind today at one point, and was showing 48 statute mpg at 143kt GS (120 ktas, 3.5 gph)…

Coming back to the airport at twilight continues to be a highlight — watching the sunset, and the lights winking on in small towns and farms, the headlights of cars on the county roads below.  Then, coming back into the pattern and clicking the mic to bring up the lights, I’ll never get tired of that view.

The engine stumble has essentially cleared up with the lower OAT.  Now, I’m trying to raise the oil temps, as I’m getting only 160 or so degrees.  I taped off part of the oil cooler which helped (mid-140′s to 160), but I need to add another strip and see what happens…looking to get over 180.

The nose seal weep that disappeared after 5 hours has reappeared, and weeping slightly more than before.  Not a lot of oil by any means, and not noticeable at all on the dipstick, just enough to make a bit of a mess.  Plan is to do the seal when I pull the prop for repitching; I already bought a couple new seals, and have the adhesive.

For some reason I’ve put off doing the maintenance logbook entries as I go along; fear of doing them wrong, I guess.  I was going to do them all tonight, but forgot the logbooks at the hangar.  Instead, I typed ‘em up on the computer, so at least I have all the numbers and such when I go to write ‘em in.  Now at least I don’t need to worry about forgetting something.  I may keep the electronic log going in parallel, too, since it’ll be searchable and readable (let’s just say my handwriting leaves something to be desired)…

I’ve worked on assembling a list of items that I want to put together for an onboard tool/spare kit, to allow repairs to be made away from home on trips.  Now I just need to track down all the stuff for an affordable price.

Allison is on break this coming weekend, and wants to go for a ride; she’d like to do some hops around the state to see her various family and check out the plane’s comfort level (it’s an easy 1:15 plane ride to her parents, or ~4 hrs in traffic on I-94).  I have just a few hours left on Phase 1, so if the weather cooperates this week and weekend, and I can get the time to fly off the hours, it should be doable.  I’ll be due for an oil change, too…but that can at least be done in the hangar after dark, whereas the test flight hours need to happen before ~7pm these days…tricky, as it’s just over an hour’s drive from the office to the hangar.

(summary of hours flown since last entry; 7 flights, 15.4 hours)

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