Jul 31 2012

Oshkosh 2012

After leaving Detroit (with my new vacuum pump installed), I headed over to KOSH at 10,000 ft (1.5 hrs, 262 nm) for the show. It was busier than ever.


I was told the number of planes attending is up 35% over the highest on record for the event. One of the car parking lots was even converted to home built camping. Unfortunately, I think they were mostly all RV’s as there was a ton of them there. Over 7000 are now flying. Most of the Lindy Awards for kit planes went to the RV crowd. I guess its because most kits completed now are RVs. Quite a few plans built awards went to canards which is a testament to our craftsmanship, ingenuity, perseverance, creativity and attention to detail.

The highlight of the event was actually seeing the canard aircraft and the excitement of being present when the Lindy award winner were announced.

From OSH website:

“Named after aviation hero Charles Lindbergh, the award acknowledges the tireless effort necessary to create an aircraft that’s truly best of show. The Grand Champion in each category is presented the Golden Lindy, while the Reserve Grand Champion nets the Silver Lindy.”

The winners definitely deserve their awards for their efforts. The planes were truly impressive.


Tim Andres, James Redmon (and his better half), Dennis Butler and Don Burton

Here is James Redmon’s beautiful Berkut (Lindy Winner) my overall personal favorite for paint design/fit finish


Tim Andres’s cozy is my favorite for interior design (Lindy Winner)


Finally, Dennis Butler (Grand Champion). A remarkably beautiful Cozy 4.


Besides attending the awards ceremony, the meeting builders/flyers at the dinner socials such as the the Cozy Girls spagetti bash (be careful of the Sangria!!) were the most memorable.



The Cozy dinner


Lastly, Saturday’s night airshow and firework display was a first for me. It was terrific.


During the show on Thursday, we had a incredibly powerful rain storm during Marc Zeitlin’s first cozy intro talk. It rained so hard we could hardly see the building next door.


After it cleared up, it was a short walk back to the tent


to check for damage when I passed this beautiful Thunder Mustang


which was damaged by a byplane recreation which was tossed on top of the Mustang. The canopy was crushed along with other damage.


Interestingly, the Thunder Mustang had already been judged and won a Grand Champion award for a new judging category called Historic Plane Recreations.

After having a leisurely breakfast and preflight Sunday morning, it off to Greeley, CO.


Lee and I found it surprising easy to get out of OSH around 9 AM as a flight of two. I had fears of a mad dash to leave as most years I left on Friday or Saturday morning to avoid the crush of planes leaving. I thought Sunday would be super CRAZY busy. Heck it on took less than 10 min to get air born after start up. I might have to do it again.

The flight to Greeley CO, 8000 ft (5.1 hrs, 744 nm) was relaxed with a surprising 5 kt tail wind. Lee and I flew together for the first leg (VFR) so I could guide him through a significant area of heavy weather in Iowa with the XM weather displayed on my 496. A large area of solid red and yellow cells with a small generally open E/W slot though the center. We only had a light dusting of rain. If you look closely, you can see Lee’s plane in the center of the picture. If you travel a lot XM is essential for your bird.


I was surprised by the total desolation and isolation of Nebraska. It was incredible! Miles and miles of… well…. miles and miles. Nothing.


It surprised me how freaken hot and powerful the sun is here in the West. Even at 8.5 k ft, the sun was blistering and the OAT was 80f. Lots of water and some sort of shade in the plane is essential.

Greeley is on the eastern side of the Rocky’s and tomorrow Lee and I are going on a photo trip to Rocky Mountain National park.

On Wednesday, it is fast 2.5 hr to Ogden UT to visit Mike Irwin. Last year I flew N123LE in IFR conditions on the same route (Greeley to SLC) in early October and came very, very close to buying the farm due to unexpected extreme icing on the bird at 15,000 ft. Luckily, I just barely made it over the mountains into the SLC basin. As I descended into warmer air, sheets of ice from the canard flew into the prop as was landing. What a scary experience.

It will be interesting to see the terrain I flew over in VFR conditions. Cant wait!

Jul 22 2012

Vac Pump Replaced

The day started off with a quick trip to the airport.  It only took an hour or so to changed the pump out, but the job took much longer with people stopping by to chat about the bird.  Even after all these years, these plane still are a curiosity for many pilots and non-flyers alike.

You can see on the right the drive spool has sheared.   That usually happens through old age of the spool or a failure of the pump.  I seem to recall the spool shearing a few years back.  If I had a replacement spool, I think it would have been safe to just replace it and go.  The internals of the pump look to be in really good shape.  I’ll still send it off to be overhauled, but I ordered an extra spool which will go in my travel box for the next time this happens.

When Paulette picked me up at Gross Isle, airport, she suggested a river tour.   Heck why not.

The boats are not as big as Charleston, but still the same idea….

Lots of interesting houses like this one built from the front of a steam ship,

abandoned steel factories

What surprised me about this tour is how industrial it was.  Factories, docks, fuel terminals, etc.   In Charleston, it is naturally much more based on historical events wish is much less visible but somehow more interesting too me.

The bridge to Canada.

Tomorrow, it is off to the next stop… the Oshkosh airshow.

Jul 20 2012

Detroit sight seeing

Today was spent sightseeing.  The first stop was Elizabeth Park with my sister.  It is located on the Detroit River close to where my plane is parked.  There are some beautiful arched concrete bridges in need of repair.   Beautiful

The park is also hosting tunnel boat races this weekend. “Roar on the River” it is called.   The boats are powered by standard (unmodified) outboard motors with a number of classes.  When I talked to an owner, he said the race boats are all mostly the same and it really comes down to the drivers.  At the end of the race the boat is weighted and you are disqualified if your boat weighs under 700 lbs.  So it takes careful fuel planing to ensure you are not disqualified after winning a race.    It will be fun to see them in the water tomorrow….

Very cool looking and inexpensive too.

While driving around with my nephew today, it was crazy to see beautifully restored homes right next to

homes that need to be “upgraded” just a little bit.  There is a LOT of blight in this city.

While walking around my sister’s condo complex I saw these need yard sculptures made out of bowling balls, golf balls, golf clubs and bowling pins.  Dont you just have to have one in your yard?

Dinner at home with family… nice

Jul 19 2012

Drag Reductions

Some questions were asked about how I increased my speed due to drag reduction.  Actually there were 4 thing which I did to improve my speed on this trip.

Here is what I did.

1.  Taped EVERYTHING to reduce drag.  A few years ago at OSH I attended a bunch of forums on drag reduction (Klaus included) and all said gap taping was extremely beneficial.  Before I left for SC, I taped the doors shut, engine cowls, screws which protruded, rudder/wing gaps, door lock, everything with some old electrical tape I had on hand.  On the way back at 15000 ft I remembering picking up about 4 or 5 kts. It made a significant difference.   Klaus uses a very thin mylar tape (about .003″) to tape everything.  I use white sail plane tape (.006″) wish is meant to be left on with minimal tape residue when removed.  Nice stuff.

Here is an air vent I taped over.

2.  The angle of the rudder arm (external cable type) was changed to the correct angle.  It was installed level when the plane nose was on the ground causing a significant positive angle of attack when the plane was +2 deg up in flight.  It is now level in flight.

This was an easy fix after all (I had avoided it due to making new parts, rebuilding the cable, etc).  I just found the correct angle and riveted a new base plate on set to the right angle.  It took about an hour or less.

Here you can see the change in angle.  The arm is now pointed down when parked (instead of being level).  It now should have zero drag in flight.


3.  Fared the blisters.  I have external fuel blisters (per plan) and then bump outs for the pipes on the cowl.  This ‘out-in-out’ of the airflow cause drag aft of the blisters.  The fairing went from the fuel blister to the cowl bumps to reduce separation.   I used some 1/4″ foam, heated it with a heat gun to curve it, one layer of glass and metal tape to hold it on.  It only took a few hours to form and glass.



4.  Winglet root fairings.  Historically, I knew they are good for a few knots and it was really much quicker than I thought to build them.  I have done the traditional one (glass, pour foam, glass, finish, paint) and wanted to try a quicker solution.

A pleasing shape was cut for the wing trailing edge with 1/4″ foam, 1/4″ was used for the vertical next to the rudder.  The angle was set such as the horizontal trailing edge addition was level when the plane had +2 deg nose up.  1/8″ foam was heated and formed around a 1 1/2″ pvc tube for the aft portion radius.  When satisfied, the foam was heated again and  fitted to the winglet in the forward portion.  5 min glued held everything together.  Then all was taped to the wing.



Overall all the changes took me about 6 hrs.  I can not tell what made a significant difference in speed since I also re calibrated my ASI at the same time, but each little changes adds up.

This is NOT how I would normally have wanted to present the speed changes to my plane as the data is more subjective than substative.  I like to test, measure and analyse the results first prior to presentation, but I just happened to have an unplanned free day before I left, and thought why not see what happens.

I dont really know the specific speed increase, but I do know that after flying this bird for 2500 hrs there is perceptible improvement.  When I get home I’ll start removing them and note differences in speed.  Then I’ll definitely make the fairings permanent.

Jul 18 2012

Western Trip 1

I had quite a few recommendations for places to visit, so It looks like I’ll be spending a bit of time in ID, WA and OR.  After checking out taxes it looks like WA has the edge as it has no income taxes.  OR  has no sales tax, so living on the border seems like a good idea. After spending a bit of time in the northwest, I plan to head south (along CA or UT, NV to visit AZ, NM then travel across the southern states back to SC.

My first leg from Charleston SC to Detroit MI was fairly uneventful, except for some REALLY hot weather on the ground.  Cruising at 10,000 ft was absolutely delightful with a OAT of 62f and it makes me look forward to the fall.

The only issue I had was the failure of the vac pump.  It has already been in service way longer than normal at about well over 1000 hrs.  normally, they last for 4-500 hrs.  The trick here is to disassemble them every 3-400 hrs and clean the internals with mineral spirits.  I am having my spare shipped out and it will be in the plane before I leave Detroit.  There was some weather coming into the Detroit area just before I arrived, but the loss of the vacuum system wasnt an issue as I have a backup electric gyro in the plane.

I did some simple mods to the plane (winglet root fairing) and fuel blister to cowl faring.  They were made in 4 hrs or so out of some 1/4″ and 1/8″ foam sheets with 5 min epoxy and attached with metal foil tape and am amazed at the speed I picked up.  The winglet airflow is now straight as an arrow.



After calibrating my air speed indicator yesterday (its now within 3 kts at 150 TAS) I find I am now cruising at 164 k, TAS at 6.8 gph at 2400 rpm (normally it was about 155 kts)  I just hope they stay attached through the western trip so I can cover them with glass and change them into something more permanent than an experiment.

Right now I cant tell the absolute speed increase since I did the ASI calibration and fairings at the same time but I know with certainty, I am going quite a bit faster.  As soon as they fly off, get eaten by the prop, or I return home, they’ll be taken off to get the real good data points for comparison.

Jul 04 2012

Happy 4th

Today is the 4th of July. I celebrated by quitting work a bit early after completing the purlins. I am still pushing myself to get the roof up before we have a major rain event. We have a 60% chance of rain on saturday. I hope to have the plastic roofing up Friday afternoon which will cover most of the structure. I still have to frame in the end which is a lot more complex. I”ll get the major area done first then worry about it later.

Tomorrow I am flying down to KCOI (Merritt Island, FL) with Alex to inspect a plane he might build. When I get back on Friday, I’ll get some more wood and then I’ll be able to start roofing! Cant wait.


Jul 03 2012

Purlins are almost done

The installation of the purlins is taking much longer than I had hoped… I thought I would get a good picture of me before the day started. I will be drenched from the heat in a few hours.


I managed to get 4 rows done before the day was out.


Jul 02 2012

The walls are going up!

I decided to direct all my time to getting a roof over the work area for a couple of reasons. One is for shade, but the most important reason is to protect the job site from rain. I am worried if we have a significant rain, the water from the roof will cave in the side of the pool since the pool is drained. Once the worksite is covered, then I’ll concentrate on the pool area and decking.

Over the weekend I painted all the roof rafters and left areas so the perlings could be glued/screwed in place


This is the header beam for the roof

It is starting to look like a structure now.