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The Boo

Phase 1

8/13/05 At approximately high noon PST time, "Cessna" 447RV got some needed air under it's wings.  I'll get back to the "Cessna" thing in a bit, but first let me thank all the folks at Chino for making this one of the most memorable events in my life.  The Chino Squadron are some of the finest folks you will ever meet.  If you *ever* get the opportunity to come this way, make darn sure you stop by and visit.  Thank you so much to all of you that helped me get through the first flight safely.  And another thank you to all my fine friends who sent me emails and called me afterwards, I really appreciate the congrats.  You are next!  And thanks Dad for being here,  I couldn't have built it without you.

On to the story of first flight.  And sorry for posting this a day late, I've been busy as you will soon read.  Weeks prior to the event I spoke with Dan and Dave about flying with me on the first flight, and both were eager to help, which is a very comforting thing.  First flight can scare the pants off of you, and I probably had the same feelings as anybody else who has done this, nervous but anxious to do it.  I felt that having a chase plane was good preventive medicine.  Dan flew close chase and Dave flew as camera ship.  My dad flew with Dan and David flew with Dave. 

Saturday morning of 8/13/05 broke like most days lately at CNO, overcast with a marine layer at 1400 feet.  A bit low since I planned on orbiting the field at between 2000 and 2500 feet.  We arrived at 7:00 AM.  We waited and waited.  More and more people showed up at the hanger.  About 11:30 AM the skies were blue; time to go.  Said my farewells and hopped into the plane.   Dan and Dave were right behind me on the taxi to 26L.  Did a quick run-up and mag check and took the active, so far so good.  The plan was to get airborne and go to channel 3 after getting to altitude.  David had all channels wired for sound and the cameras were running, and there were a *lot* of cameras.  It was a bit intimidating.  I pushed the throttle in and in short time we were airborne.  The plane did nothing strange.  It flew perfectly.  No heavy wing.  This was also the first time I flew an EFIS panel.  It took all of about 1 second to look and detect airspeed, altitude and oil pressure.  Flying behind a glass panel is incredible.   I'm very happy I made that decision.

At about 400 feet, focused on the essential flight parameters, I began to notice that the plane was a little anemic.  It flew great but I just wasn't feeling and seeing the proper power output.  At that time I started to notice a considerable shake coming from either the prop or engine.  I kept flying the plane and tried to sort out what was happening.  My plan on this flight was to not touch the mixture or prop except to bring the rpm's from 2700 to 2600.  But I wasn't even seeing 2600.  In fact, I don't even remember what I saw as far as rpm.  I think that happens to a lot of people on their first flight.  You concentrate on several important numbers and sort of glaze over the rest.  Hey, I'm no test pilot :) 

Got to 2000 feet and airspeed maxed out at 121 kts, not good, and the shake/shimmy was still there.  By the time I got to the runway threshold on downwind I made a decision to put her back down.  I never left the tower frequency and did not hear what Dan was saying about the condition of the airplane.  So I requested an extended downwind, base and final.  I couldn't hear the tower either.  Something happened with my old headset, the mic stuck perhaps.  I had bigger fish to fry.  I started to reduce power and the engine started to backfire something fierce.  Not an occasional backfire but a continuous stream of backfires.  And you notice it right away with the exhausts directly under you butt.  I was high but managed to get her back onto the runway with what looks like a greaser on film.  In fact, it was a greaser :)

So that's over and I'm taxing back and there's a whole lot of people standing there doing the wave thing and a bunch of thumbs up and hell, I had the biggest smile on my face.  I was happy the plane flew perfectly, but a bit concerned about the engine.  Overall, it was a wonderful experience, albeit very short.  Thanks for the wave guys, it looked very very nice from my vantage point.  When everyone got back to the hanger Dave ceremoniously brought out the bottle of Bubbly which totally made my day.

Early that morning we all had breakfast at Flo's.  During breakfast the subject of call-signs came up.  Dave mentioned that many people get theirs from the experience of first flight.  Well I wasn't going to make fool of myself on first flight, or so I thought.  After the first flight we all broke for lunch at Flo's.  It was there that I started to think about the first flight in detail.  I asked Dan how many times I accidentally told tower that "Cessna 447RV was blah blah".  He said at least 2-3 times.   So now you know.  It's pretty fitting.  Sometimes your mind just sticks to old habits.  I deserve it.

If you are looking for the video, it will be here in a few days.  It's going to take some time to condense it to a manageable form.

:)  <- RV grin, no pictures were taken of me post flight with a smile a mile wide.  But it's still there, and it's NOT going away.

Keep pounding those rivets!


8/14/05 Today, we went to the airport to determine what was causing the engine roughness and lack of power.  As usual, the Chino folks starting showing up wanting to help solve the problem.  I am simply amazed at the folks there.  It's really something that you never see anymore.  People giving up their time to help another pilot.  I really can't say "Thank You" enough.  

After spending a considerable amount of time dissecting the problem it boiled down to the fuel injectors.  We pulled the #4 injector but it was clean.  I couldn't remember if the #4 or #1 was first on my EFIS, which was showing an abnormally high EGT with power applied.  Later I pulled the #1 injector.  As I pulled it out I said "There better be something in this damn thing".  And there it was, a black plastic bugger completely clogging the injector.  Cleaned it out and did a full static power run-up.  What an incredible difference!  It ran perfectly.  I can't wait for flight #2!

Phew, I'm still pumped.  Second flight probably won't be until next weekend.  I had a little chaffing between the cowl and the custom filtered air box I built.  I cut that portion out and laid some more BID on it.  I didn't want to ingest any fiberglass and couldn't fly with it out of course.  I may sneak out during the week too.  I'm really anxious to get back into the air.  Now that I know that the airframe is solid and the motor runs very well, it should be a fantastic second flight.

And of course, Keep pounding those rivets.

8/17/05 One day after my 42nd birthday, I get the pleasure of letting you have a birds-eye view of my first flight.  You'll notice several things, one, the motor sounds sick, that's because one of my fuel injectors was clogged, #4 cyl.  Second thing you notice is that there are two magnificent pilots flying chase, Dan Checkoway and Dave Klages.  What you may not notice is that my dad is flying right seat in Dan's airplane and David Richardson is flying in tandem with Dave.  Dave is videotaping and my dad is basically saying "I hope this goes well".  When I pass the grandstand you can hear the sickly sound of only three cylinders firing.  Hence only once around the pattern.  But, it was first flight and it is something I will never forget.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I have building for two years and getting to fly my own airplane, built with my own two hands, and flying it for first flight.  This is an experience that you will enjoy the rest of your life.  Keep on pounding those rivets.

First Flight Video


8/21/05 Second flight.  Today, I was nervous about the flight, much more so that the first flight.  I was concerned that there may be more gunk in the fuel lines.  That's all I need on the second flight 2 or 3 plugged fuel injectors to bring me down.  In fact I was so nervous that before strapping on the plane I asked everyone in my hanger to leave.  I needed some peace and quiet.  I needed time to get my poop together.

So I did a thorough checkout and walk around, pulled the plane out into the heat of the burning sun, strapped myself in and began to sweat.  Dave was waiting for me in his 8 at the end of my hanger row.  Dave was kind to fly chase again.  This time, I was a bit more focused.  I had fixed all the little issues which had cropped up on the first flight; clogged #1 fuel injector, safety wired the oil filler extension (which I had stupidly removed after first flight), re-worked FAB, found the erroneous MP reading issue (it was an EFIS setting) and drained all the oil and refilled the sump per the ECI recommended procedure to get the dipstick markings.  Like a complete moron, I had filled the sump the first time and had not made any markings on the dipstick.  Now tell me, how in the hell was I supposed to find out how much oil I was burning without any markings?  Thanks Dan for "enlightening" me.  Keep on doing that.  Next time I do something stupid just slap me upside the head and bitch away.  You can't take flying for granted during Phase 1.  Anything can happen.

Anyway, we taxied out, got into position on 26L and I started easing the throttle in.  Oh yeah, what a huge difference.  I got full RPM and she was screaming down the runway.  This was such a noticeable difference that I got to 2000' in very short order, circling the field.  On about the third circuit I noticed that oil temps were climbing and had hit 230.  I decided that instead of pushing it I would circle to land.  It's not uncommon for a new engine to develop high oil temps, but I didn't want to stretch it.  My plan is to replace Van's oil cooler with the Stewart Warner model 8406R.  Dan has a great write up about this replacement oil cooler here.  Do yourself a favor, if you plan to fly in hot conditions, get one and leave Vans oil cooler out of your firewall forward kit.

Another greaser landing and I'm spent.  We got back to the hanger and now it was time for the Bubbly to be opened.  I'll call this the first successful flight.  No issues except the oil temp.  David flew chase with Dave and got some great air-to-air shots.

And finally, the Vans smile!

8/27/05 Yesterday I went to Pacific Oil Cooler and purchased a Steward Warner 8406R oil cooler.  This is supposed to be more efficient than the standard Niagra oil coolers Vans provides.  We'll see.  Price without turning in my old core was a tad over $400.  A bit pricey but hey, if it works, that's what you gotta pay to play.  I had all the great intentions of getting up way early and being at the airport by 6:00AM.  NOT.  Woke up at 1:00AM and couldn't get back to sleep until 5:00AM.  The day was partially shot.  Well partially as far as flying goes.  If there's one thing I'm really not too hot about it's gotta be sitting in the cockpit when the temperature is over 100, which it is today at CNO.  It's miserable.  Got to the airport about 9:00 AM and began to swap out the oil coolers.  I could have flown at 9:00 AM but I'm sure I would have run into the same situation as the last flight, oil to hot to continue the flight.  Might as well get the dirty work out of the way.

The way the current oil cooler is:

The SW is a beefly little mother with what appears to be more than twice the number of little aluminum slots in it.

Pulled the old cooler and removed the AN fittings being careful not to slop oil all over my nice clean installation.  One little trick to keeping the oil from running out of the hoses is to cut two fingers off of a rubber glove and slip it over the end.  He's a shot of what I mean, only the fingerettes are over the AN fittings so nothing gets inside.

Old cooler, notice that the "fins" extend outward.  These slide into the backing plate on the baffling.  On the new cooler it's not like that.  It turns out that it fits just fine like that.

The holes pretty much lined up but I had to do a little filing on the inside of the openings for the bolts on the cooler.  I just used a little round file.

One thing I did notice was that the braided oil line was chafing a bit on the oil vent tube.  Solved that by moving the tube a bit and re-clamping.  Just to make sure I placed a strip of silicone baffling material on the tube.

After this I met up with Dan over at his hanger.  Paul and Victoria Rosales and Mike James and his son flew in and we all went over to Flo's for lunch.  Thanks for lunch Paul!

After lunch, I could have flown, but "trust me" it was hotter than hell.  Why punish yourself.  I'm not trying to rush the 40 hours.  I would rather be meticulous and perform my flight test cards on my schedule.  As it is I still don't feel like I should be leaving the pattern until I have absolutely every issue worked out.  Tomorrow, I'll get up early and fly when it's something less than "hot as hell".

8/28/05 Got to the airport around 7:00AM.  It was nice and cool but already the sun was starting to bake.  Got the cowl on, did a preflight, hopped in the blasted off.  Everything was going fine on take off, but once in the air the LASAR light went off again.  I've been speaking with Steve at Unison about this and so far we haven't got a clue.  The plane ran fine.  Oil temps finally came up to a maximum of 220 and stabilized.  So apparently the new oil cooler is good for 10 degrees so far.  I can live with that for now.  But the CHT's now were starting to bug me; 387, 410, 434 and 420 for 1-4.  After about 30 minutes of flying at WOT I decided to put her back down and see what I can do about the high CHT on #3 and #4.  I can bring up the #1 temp with a small air dam but I don't want to turn and burn full throttle until I fix these two issues and I'm still in a holding pattern about the airport for now.  Next weekend is a three day weekend and hopefully the wx will cooperate.  Needless to say I'm a bit frustrated.  But on the other hand, the plane flies hands off.  It's truly magnificent.

Total flight time: 2.1 hrs.

8/30/05 I've found more information regarding the LASAR light coming on in flight.  As it turns out, there are two different versions of the LASAR controller box.  One that requires a EGT sensor be installed on the hottest cylinder and one that doesn't require it.  When I purchased my engine I received an EGT sensor with the kit.  Not wanting to install it (for reasons of my own) I just didn't put it on the engine.  In speaking with Steve (very knowledgeable) from Unison he determined that the controller I have requires the EGT sensor.  Bummer.  We are trying to find a way for me to swap my controller box with one that doesn't require the EGT sensor.  This will solve the problem of the light coming on in flight and running on mags only.  Hopefully, this will also alleviate the hard starting too.

Today I also received my sniffle valve, or rather part # 75444 from Sacramento Sky Ranch.  I'll install it this weekend before flying.

9/7/05 Well Steve from Unison indicated that it would not be prudent to fly with the LASAR controller in backup mode and I agree.  Last thing I want to do is bore holes in the sky at WOT with a system not operating the way it should.  Isn't safety paramount here?  You bet.  Turns out the controller will get here on the 12th according to FedEx.  Bummer.  Also got an email from Trutrak that I can now send my head unit and pitch servo to them for the upgrade that I paid for over a year ago.  So, I'm down for two weeks.  Crap, two years of building, two hours total time, and I'm stuck without wings.  My luck is running out.

Well, trying to make good use of the downtime, I decided to head for Cabo for some much needed R&R and Fishing.  Here's some shots.  Flying isn't everything, especially when you *Cannot* fly.

Here's the place where we usually stay, Las Olas condos in San Jose Del Cabo.  Yep, that's the ocean right out front, just behind the pool and Jacuzzi.  Too bad the place was overrun with surfers.  They don't fish, well maybe that's good for us.

First day of fishing was very good.  Biggest YFT was about 65#, not bad.  The other guy is my boss Clay, he's the Sr. VP of IT.  Hope he doesn't read this :)  I will say that I was sore as hell the next day, big time.  We decided not to bring our "big guns" down there since the latest fishing report was pretty bleak.  But here's a tip for those of you going to Cabo to go fishing; "you never know".  Keep that in mind.  First day of fishing was excellent, second day (being so sore) I was happy that it was a down day.  Third and forth days were spent in the cool comfort of the condo, sucking down maggies and watching the horrible news from LA.  What a terrible tragedy.

UPDATE ! UPDATE ! UPDATE !  Clay did indeed read this page.  His last statement to me was "I may be older than you, but at least I still have a job!".  I hereby take back any amusing (to me) adjectives I used to describe him.  Clay, can I have my job back?

Tuna, vacuum packed and getting cold, about 70# of flesh.  We vacuum pack it ourselves.  We only kept a few of the tuna, the choices ones, and give the rest to the skipper.

Eating and drinking when not fishing.  The only thing this place needs is a maid.  See if you can count the number of liquor bottles.  If you guess right, you get to come along on the next trip.  Better start stocking up now.

What your boss does when you fart.  Hey, you combine a certain abundance of booze and really good chow, farts you get.  He claims his don't stink.  Yeah, right.

If you want to see the video of the big fish (65#) being brought in by Clay and myself here's the link.  But I must warn you, if you don't like to see fish getting caught, or gophers getting shot, or if you are a hairy legged tree-hugger, don't even bother.  This video is for people who enjoy being on the top of the food-chain; who eat what they kill and nothing more.  It's called sport fishing for a reason.  Check it out.

9/10/05 Removed the LASAR controller from the firewall.  While I was at it I installed nut plates to fasten it to the firewall, which I hadn't done previously.  Do yourself a HUGE favor.  MOUNT EVERYTHING ON THE FIREWALL WITH NUT PLATES or you WILL need two people for some jobs.
9/12/05 LASAR controller was SUPPOSED to arrive today.  Emphasis on the sarcasm.
9/18/05 Mounted the new controller today.

Flew around to confirm that it's all working perfectly. Yep.  Flew for 1.5 hours today.  All the numbers are looking very good so far.  Have a total of 4.1 hours on the plane.

Got my bottle of Weed today.  YUUMMMMMYYYYY.  Bought two, just in case of emergency.  You know; "In case of emergency, break glass".

9/22/05 Got my new camera today.  The Canon G1 that I've been using to document my build has taken over 6000 photos of the process.  It was getting tired so I'm going to retire it.  The new camera is the 8 Mega pixel Canon EOS rebel XT.  It's beautiful and takes some awesome pictures.  Got it and the 17-55 zoom lens for $900 with overnight shipping. 

Starting to get a nasty cold.

9/24/05 Yep, got a bad cold.  I can feel it moving into my lungs.  No flying.
10/1/05 Still sick as a dog, no flying.  Everything is conspiring to keep me from flying.

Got a hanger at Torrance today.  Boy am I excited.  When the Phase 1 hours are flown off the plane will be literally minutes away from the house and work.  WoooHoooo!

10/8/05 FINALLY!  I'm healthy enough to fly.  For the first time I left the vicinity of CNO.  Flew on down to French Valley then back for an hours worth of flying.  Oil temp never exceeded mid 190's which is excellent.  I placed a small air damn on the #1 cylinder earlier so I was wondering what that would do.  Turns out it's probably just a tad bit too high and the #2 cylinder need a small one added.  That should bring the CHT's all together.  But, the CHT's are all too high.  They were all running in the 400 to 440 range.

After landing I decided to fill the gap on the front baffle.  I hadn't done this because I had been told it wasn't necessary.  But I can stick my fingers in that gap.  It must be the cause of the high cht's.  My baffles are rubbing perfectly around the top so I know that's fine.

So I got my trusty tube of high temp RTV and went to town.  I can actually say that there are NO leaks at this point.  I shut the lights off in the hanger and with a flashlight tried to detect any areas where light is leaking and now there are none.  It may look like crap, but it's gonna work!

One thing I wish I would have done on the first flight and every other flight after that was to record the flight.  This is perhaps one of the greatest features of the GRT EFIS; plug in your USB stick and record the entire flight. 

I finally did that on this flight.  I created a page on this site where I'll deposit my flights so you can plug it into your GRT EFIS and fly with me virtually.  If you are still building and have the units on your bench this is very handy to see just how the unit performs.  One thing you'll notice about this flight is the magnetometer is not yet calibrated and is about 15 degrees off.  I'll fix that before the next flight.  Download the Flight here.

Pulled the cowl off after the flight and checked everything.  Everything looks perfect, not a drop of oil anywhere either.  I'll start to pull it off every two hours now.  Can't wait to fly tomorrow.

10/9/05 Flew again this morning but the flight wasn't as long as I would have liked.  The "fix" for the baffles didn't do a damn thing for the high CHT temps.  In a 500'/min climb I'm seeing temps that range all the way up to 430 and in a 1000 fpm climb I can get the temps to 450.  I spoke with PennYan Aero and there are several contributing factors.  LASAR, cerminil cylinders, break in period, aggressive leaning.  Cerminil cylinders take longer to break in than steel cylinders and the break in period may not be over until 30 to 50 hours so there's not much I can do about this.  I am told to expect sometimes up to 20 degrees hotter CHT's on cerminil cylinders compared to steel.  LASAR - nothing I can do about this except swap it out for p-mags but then I loose the efficiency as p-mags don't have the aggressive timing advance that LASAR does.  Leaning - I will run the engine on the rich side of EGT peak for a while.  From what I've learned, and that's not too much, I really won't be be worried about the high CHT's until the get into the 440+.  I can modify my flying to keep it under that.  If the temps don't decrease as break in is finished, I may have to swap out the LASAR.

Did the first stall today.  No wing drop.  Easy as pie.  Forgot to turn on the Record button on the EFIS, sorry.

10/11/05 Ordered a pair of P-mags.  I figure that I can get some of the money back for the LASAR and it should help to defray the costs of the p-mags.  Reason:  CHT's are just to bloody high.  They may decrease a bit after 50 hours.  They may decrease after changing the oil viscosity too.  They may decrease if I run ROP all the time too.  But they definitely will decrease with a less aggressive variable timing.  The p-mags have a customer selectable timing curve so you can go aggressive or not so much or 25 TDC like a mag.  Plus, no more mags.  Should be here by end of December.  I should have most if not all of my hours flown off by then, but this flying only on the weekends crap is killing me, especially when I have to baby the engine.  How am I going to get a good break in if I can only run 23 squared? 
10/15/05 No flying today, had to work.  I'll tell ya, everything is conspiring against me from getting the 40 hrs flown off.
10/16/05 Wouldn't you know it, get to the airport only for it to start raining.  Here's some shots of the weather front approaching.

Ok, take it in stride.  Got saddled up and decided at least to get some gas.  During my preflight (controls tests) I noticed that the stick had a significant amount of resistance in aileron control.  Since I have to remove the AP and pitch servo and send them in for an upgrade, I'll remove the aileron servo and see what's up with it.  As soon as I removed the cover plate I could smell burnt electronics.  I'll send it back with the rest tomorrow, overnight shipping.  I really need to get this stuff back by Friday so I can fly this weekend, but I'm sure something will come up keeping me from flying, why break the status quo?

10/22/05 Received the AP back from TruTrak yesterday.  They replaced the roll servo saying that the IC board was fried.  They don't think it was caused by bad or improper wiring.  The folks at TT are awesome.  Excellent customer service! 

One thing I did notice is that the pitch servo looks like the motor is shock mounted on rubber feet internal to the box.  The motor is able to move about in it's mounting box.  I'll have to check with them on Monday to make sure this is the way it's supposed to be.  I put both servos back into their places and remounted the head unit and re-installed the baggage bulkheads.

The wx was not up to my test flight minimums to fly today with fog and extreme haze, bummer.

12/3/05 Awesome, awesome, awesome.  That's how I describe how 447ND fly's.   The oil temps now stay right at 185 and don't go past 195 in climb config.  The CHT are between 405 and 425 during climb now.  They have come down dramatically, plus, the OAT is quite a bit less.  I'm still going with the P-mags though.  They should be here after Christmas.

Flew for an additional 2.5 hrs today and now the hobs meter is almost at the halfway mark.  I'm finally building quite a bit of confidence as well.  Today's tests included engaging the AP at various bank and pitch attitudes.  I wanted to know if I can safely engage the AP in an unusual attitude and see what it does.  It's pretty smooth and levels both the wings and nose and continues on the current heading or the GPSS heading depending upon what's selected.

Got up to 10K today and just enjoyed the view.  Mike Holland met up with me and we did a quick speed run.  His RV-9 is pretty damn quick!  Course I don't have any wheel pants either.  I'm not going to put the fairings and wheel pants on until I get her back to TOA.  It's just too far to work and be productive.  That also means that I will have to do my performance tests later. 

I continue to be amazed by the EFIS.  Why anybody would want a six pack is beyond me. 

Everything is working well, no complaints.  Sorry for the lack of updates here.  I had to have a life for a couple of months after two years of building.  I'll try to continue the regular updates from this point forward.



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Last updated: 07/06/05.