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).