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Thursday
Jul162015

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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Friday
Feb132015

Homebuilders' Workshop: February 2015

People

By Ed Wischmeyer

EAA founder, Paul Poberezny, said that people come to EAA for the airplanes and stay for the people. For whatever reason, that seems an appropriate reminiscence on this clear, brisk Georgia winter afternoon.

The current issue of EAA Sport Aviation has a marvelous summary of the U.S. homebuilding movement, written by Richard VanGrunsven, the “RV” in the RV series of airplanes. In addition to being perhaps the preeminent homebuilt kit vendor, Van knew some of the very earliest homebuilders who coincidentally lived nearby in Oregon.

I first met Van at Oshkosh one year, about the time that the RV-4 came out. I had sent him three dollars or so for an information packet, and it came in the mail. Then I noticed an ad that said that the information packet was four dollars, but he had sent me the information packet anyway. At Oshkosh, I gave him the extra buck, and we had maybe a brief conversation.

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Friday
Jan092015

Homebuilders Workshop: January 2015

Hope for the eFIRC

By Ed Wischmeyer

By way of happy accident, I managed to establish correspondence with George Perry, Senior Vice President who has taken over leading the (AOPA) Air Safety Institute. One thing led to another, and I was talked into taking their eFIRC, electronic (online) Flight Instructor Refresher Clinic.

The bottom line? Good things are starting to happen at ASI. The eFIRC show’s balance, perspective, candor and even humor are so refreshing to see in an aviation course, or any other course, for that matter. Dogmatism is diminished. These are all harbingers of good things to come and a very welcome change from past offerings.

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Thursday
Dec112014

Homebuilders Workshop: December 2014

Well and Truly Grounded

By Ed Wischmeyer

There’s a trick to avoiding having the FAA ground you for medical reasons. Just like in telling a joke, the answer is “timing.”

In my latest case, the problem is scoliosis, meaning, that my spine is not straight, but rather looks like the ground track of a pilot landing with a tailwheel for the first time. That spinal curvature puts pressure on the nerves coming out of the spinal column (stenosis) and that causes pain and, I’m guessing, eventually, could cause lack of full functionality.

The king-kong fix for this is spinal fusion, meaning, the doctor opens his erector set catalog to “implants” and gets all the metal bits and pieces to hold the selected vertebra in place until they can grow together, i.e., fuse. The downside of this is that with those vertebra rigidly affixed, stresses accumulate at the end of the fused region. A real world example is that on many sailplanes with extra stiffening around the spoilers, eventually the paint cracks around the end of the spoilers, indicating the stress.

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Thursday
Nov142013

Homebuilder's Workshop - November 2013

Perspectives

By Ed Wischmeyer

So now that I’ve rejoined the ranks of “real” pilots with a homebuilt taildragger, namely an RV-8, here are my unimpeachable thoughts on life, the universe, and all that.

Tailwheel vs. Nosewheel

Actually, there are several kinds of tailwheel skills. There’s the faster landing tailwheel airplanes like the RV-8, and the slow landing kind like the AirCam I used to own. When I got the RV-8, it was a real surprise how much my skills had degraded. A tailwheel airplane will keep your skills at a level higher than required for a nosewheel airplane. But the flip side is that the nosewheel airplane is easier to land when you’re tired or in ugly wind conditions (safety), at night if you’re trying to make a wheel landing, and a nosewheel gives you over the nose visibility when taxiing (safety).  There are few circumstances that legitimately demand a tailwheel, so the nosewheel wins hands down. But I’m not in any hurry to sell my new RV-8.

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