Homebuilder's Workshop: The $100+ Hamburger

By Ed Wischmeyer

It turns out that in this electronic age, it’s really easy to do things differently from the old days of steam gauges. With the cost of avionics data updates these days, you can spend $100 for your hamburger without leaving the ground, and you can work on your plane for hours without any tools.

One project that I’ve been working on (a bunch) is getting the checklist for the RV-9A just as I’d like it. I’ve got buddies who also fly my RV-9A, and they were not satisfied with the “idiot-syncrasies” of my personal checklist. And that’s reasonable, as my checklist has memory crutches dating back 30 years to when I used to fly and instruct in planes that included three different kinds of turbochargers, all with different characteristics, some planes with retractable gear, some not. I needed memory crutches that would work with a wide variety of airplanes, and I still use them. Unencumbered with such history, they wanted an RV-9A checklist. Solution? Two checklists, one for me, one for them… Meets both needs.

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Homebuilder's Workshop: Fuel

By Ed Wischmeyer

I have very little going on in the homebuilder’s workshop, as I’m recovering (on schedule) from yet another spinal surgery, but my guys have been busy on the fuel system of the RV-9A. And I hope to restart flying within the next month, accompanied of course by a babysitter CFI on the first flight.

The most recent project was the fuel gauges, as the Garmin G3X glass cockpit lets you calibrate those puppies. Although calibration had been done when I bought the airplane, they didn’t seem to be reading right. And besides, I had removed the analog fuel gauges to make room for the second G3X touchscreen, possibly confusing the electrons. Anyway, the fuel gauges are now calibrated, as much as possible, that is.

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AirVenture Oshkosh, Part 2

By Ed Wischmeyer

In my experience, ailerons are the most significant factor in how much a pilot enjoys the aircraft handling qualities. The SeaRey amphibian has new Frise ailerons that are much lighter than the already sensuous ailerons of the LSX, and I’m looking forward to visiting the factory and trying them out. I do want to let the southeastern summer abate, so I can avoid the oppressive heat and humidity, though. The SeaRey discussion on the shores of Lake Winnebago with designer and old friend Kerry Richter was much more enjoyable because of the cooler Wisconsin summer.

Meanwhile, out in Arizona, my airport neighbor who built a full-scale replica Spitfire added servo tabs to his ailerons to reduce aileron forces. It was surprising to read that the original Spitfires had heavy ailerons and light elevators, the reverse of recommended practice, but pilots raved about the handling qualities of Spitfires. That seems to reinforce the observation that the great majority of pilots adapt to their airplane’s handling qualities instead of being objective about them. Pilots will often express many enjoyable qualities of their airplanes in ways that really describe their experiences with the aircraft rather than the aircraft itself. In any event, he won an award for his Spitfire, well deserved in my opinion.

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Oshkosh 2015

By Ed Wischmeyer

The enormous Airbus A350 between flying displays. (Ed Wischmeyer)This year, I drove from Georgia. I made eight stops in Atlanta, all on the freeway. I drove 13 hours and 550 miles the first day, 12 and 660 the next. Uff, da! But I’m here. I’ll go home a different route.

A few press releases came out on the way north. Garmin’s avionics now talks to ForeFlight, and Jeppesen Mobile Flight Deck, and that’s good news on several fronts. One is that ForeFlight is rather well done, an IMHO, and now Garmin avionics owners can get the best of both worlds. The other good news is that this is the first crack in Garmin’s closed system approach.

BeLite has a new ultralight, this one looking like a low wing version of their Cub series but with the fuselage chopped off at the base of the windshield and the top of the seat back. Electric power is planned.

On the way in Sunday morning, my first stop was to get press credentials. The obligatory magic trick is to show the good folks how to cut your IQ in half – and then you put the press pass around your neck.

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Homebuilder's Workshop: Learning the RV-9A

By Ed Wischmeyer

So with the RV-9A in hand, it was time to learn to fly her properly. I’d made a few landings with the previous owner, and knew that I could land her safely, but that’s not nearly the same as flying the plane well.

Some of the quirks had to do with keeping the cylinder head temperatures at an acceptable level on climbout. A friend and I pulled the top cowling and found air leaks, fixing the easy ones at the front of the cowl. The engine still runs warm on takeoff and climb, but at 110 knots or so, the CHTs stay below 400 (most of the time) and the rate of climb is good, even with a fixed pitch prop. Even with the air leaks fixed, the engine air inlets are sized for cruise, so the high temperatures in climb may just be a fact of life.

With that relatively high climb speed, the RV-9A would not be good for mixing it up with Cessna 152s and 172s in the pattern. You’d eat ‘em up in the climb part of the traffic pattern.

The level off technique is like in other airplanes, only more so. In my Cessna, I’d start easing the power off 100 feet below the desired altitude, with the climb speed being the same as the pattern speed, 90 MPH or 80 knots. In the RV-9A, pattern speed is 60 knots, way slow because the plane doesn’t go down and slow down very well. The technique is to pull the power back to 1,200 RPM, traffic pattern power setting, a full 300 feet below pattern altitude. This lets you coast up and slow down at the same time.

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