Friday, July 6, 2012

Good planes makes better pilots

I'm almost halfway through the flight testing of N614EF and I still haven't been able to do speed runs to establish Vx and Vy yet. It's too hot and it would be too hard on the engine.

But that doesn't mean the plane isn't proving its worth to me. Yesterday, for example, I filled the tanks full and took off with a density altitude of about 3400 fit, into the filth of the air mass that's been over Minneapolis-St. Paul for the last week.

I didn't pay a lot of attention to the length of the takeoff roll and neither did the plane; it took off, I'd guess, before the first turnoff on the runway and easily climbed at 100 knots, developing just under 2400 RPM on the climb.

This plane doesn't care; it doesn't care about crosswinds, it's doesn't care about density altitude. It just cares about flying, as if it's been waiting for 11 years -- patiently -- to do so.

I flew down to the practice area, over to Faribault, down to Owatonna and back -- about an hour's worth. Mindful of cylinder head temperatures, I was able to lean out to less than 8 gallons per hour, the new Zaon keeping me well informed of traffic (at least the traffic with transponders, I saw a glider the other day it didn't see). At 3,000 feet (2,000 AGL), I might as well have been in the clouds it was so hazy.

So now the question: Am I as good a pilot as my performance (especially landings) has suggested? Or is the RV just making me seem like a better pilot than I really am?

I was thinking about this today while watching this neat new video from AOPA, which looks at the reality of flying around World War I. Those planes didn't make the pilots better pilots (Scroll to about 18:37 to skip all the garbage with AOPA and its political buddies).


  1. Stop this wild talk of how well the airplane flies!

    Letting the secret out is just going to make the sky dark(er) with RVs.

    You think it's good now? Start thinking about a trip to FIT - about 950 NM just under 6 hours with one fuel stop.


  2. Funny you should mention that. This week I started sketching out a trip to Cleveland and another to Fitchburg.

    Six hours? You think? Does that include crossing straight over Lake Michigan or going down around Chicago?

  3. I lied, slightly. The route I would take is ISQ PLN BAX YXU BUF ALB - a little overwater, but not too much.

    Fly over Canada (don't stop) VFR and there are no fees. Customs not required. (VFR flight plan required.)

    Flight totals:
    fuel: 63 gallons,
    time: 6:16,
    distance 1000.9 nm.
    Great circle distance is 930.3 nm -- this route is 8% longer.


  4. I'm going to need to read up on how to fly through Canada because that route is shorter than going down around Chicago. Where'd you stop for fuel?