Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Prayers for Rick Gray

Rick Gray, one of the premier RV pilots and builders in the country, is in the hospital in fair condition, following the crash of an RV-10 he was test piloting last night.

According to the Marietta Times:
The plane caught fire during the crash and both men received serious burns. They were transported to Marietta Memorial Hospital and later flown by Life Flight to the Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus.

A spokesperson at The Ohio State University Hospital in Columbus said Wednesday afternoon that Austin was listed in fair condition. Information about Gray was unavailable.

Back in 2009, I did an interview with Rick for an issue of the RV Builder's Hotline. You can find it here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


You never really know for sure when you're tackling the process of installing the engine whether you're doing it right or whether it's going to work until you try to start it.

The engine is the only part of the RV-7A project that I couldn't pay for as I went along, so the idea of maybe ruining it while starting it for the first time is always in the back of your mind -- in my case -- for the three years I've been working on it.

The closer I've gotten to the first flight of N614EF, the slower I've gone. The big noisy thing in the front simply isn't the area I want to zip along on.

Today, however, was the day to see whether I knew what I was doing. It turns out, I did, I just didn't know it.

Famed RV builder and pilot Pete Howell was kind enough to drive over from the other side of the cities (the ceiling was too low for him to fly over) to handle the photography duties.

It took awhile to get the oil pressure up. I cranked it for a good long time while keeping an eye on the Grand Rapids Technologies EIS 4000 engine monitor. The spark plugs, of course, were not installed for this process. I never did get a reading, so I took the oil line off where it attaches to the manifold transducer for the oil pressure sensor, cranked the prop a few times until it burped oil and reattached.

Once the engine was eventually started, the oil pressure indication on the engine monitor came up just fine.

There were no leaks -- RV pal Brad Benson was in charge of finding them. My son Patrick did the video work (there are two cameras above) and stood by for any injuries (he's a paramedic). Adam, whose last name I've never learned but who stops by every weekend to help, provided critical guidance on getting the electronic ignition squared away, Vince Bastiani was on the radio with me as I barked readings, Pete took the pictures, and Ami the hangarlord was Ami.

I didn't run it past 1200 RPM and I didn't remember to check to be sure that BOTH the electronic ignition AND the the mag RPM readings were similar; there'll be time to do that before first flight. And my attempt to videotape from the inside of the cabin didn't work out because I forgot to put the start button. I prefer to think my focus was on "flying the airplane."

The next steps are finishing the firewall (I'm adding a GPS antenna platform under the cowl, finishing the cowling (sanding and then priming), adding a little more baffling and sealing the baffling with RTV, gear leg fairings, intersection fairing, empennage fairing (mostly done), and adding the interior. I have a new wet compass to install in the panel, I want to add a power adapter and a traffic monitoring system and that should be all I need.

I've planned all of the winter for this work and maybe sometime in the spring, we'll take N614EF for a ride.

Find Pete Howell's album of his fine photographs of the event here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Flying tight patterns

I guess this video has been out for awhile, but it's the first time I've seen it. It's fabulous!

I usually observe the 45 degree entry to the base leg, but it feels to me as if I'm often still dragging the Warrior II in (is there any other way to fly the Warrior?).

Then I watch pilots at the airshows and notice they seem to make their base turn just a few feet from the end of the runway and seem to just pivot the plane around a point at somehow lose a lot of altitude in a hurry.

The key, I guess, is to be able to do that and still provide a stabilized approach that gives an average pilot the opportunity to evaluate the approach and the coming (hopefully) landing.

Jason Schappert, who does a nice job providing weekly flying tips via video, this week has a great video on the power-off 180 and how to practice it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

I'm standing between you and the terrorists

You knew, didn't you, that the Department of Homeland Security's breathless warning of small planes and terrorism would spawn at least one local TV story about the evils that lurk behind a fixed-pitchprop.

I got in this one.