Monday, January 28, 2013

Final Steps

As most of you are no doubt aware, N284DG has been deemed to be a viable flying machine in the eyes of the law. That said, the fellows coming to inspect it wanted to see some of the moving parts normally hidden away by various panels and covers. Those all had to be replaced, so four or five hours working out in the cold environs of the hangar were required. Even then it still wasn't completely put back together, but it was far enough along to take some pictures of it in the most complete state it has been in for months.

So, you're probably wondering, what's left to do? Well, I'm glad you asked.  First of all, the fuel tank level needs to be calibrated. I had to remove the tank to replace the back bulkhead, which means that I had to drain out the two plus gallons of gas in it. The tank is now back in place, but it's empty. That's good, because the way the tank is calibrated with the Dynon is to put in two gallons at a time, pressing a button on the Dynon between each filling. It will take, therefore, ten repetitions of filling a little two gallon jug and carefully pouring it into the tank. If that doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun, it's because it isn't.

Then the cowls have to go back on, which is again no one's idea of a good time. In addition to which it will require some assistance - I'll need to schedule a session with Pete. On the plus side, it's supposed to get unseasonably warm again later this week.

Once it's all re-assembled, I'm going to fast taxi it down the runway a few times. That will double as my brake glazing operation. The primary function of it, though, is to make sure the wheels all roll nicely. Oh, and that none of them part ways with the rest of the airplane. That's important too.

After that it will be ready to fly, even if I am not. I've been thinking about the first flight quite a bit. Van's would have me get started on the flight test cards (which are intended to be used to gather information about the performance of the plane) on the first flight, but I'm thinking I won't. Van's tends to group-think quite a bit, and they are a group that seem to see nothing particularly special or difficult about a first flight. I think I will probably be a little too wrapped up in the intense experience of the even to be wanted to concern myself with measurements and writing stuff down.  

Their attitude is understandable, of course, since they live and breathe this stuff five days a week.  They're kind of like that with challenges to the build process too. They seem to forget that we aren't all working in large, temperature-controlled, well-lit facilities with every necessary tool right there for the asking, nor are we just a few steps away from the guy that can provide clarification for an ambiguously worded step in the plans. This manifest itself at times in the way they (well, some of them anyway) respond to questions and complaints.

Anyway, I see the first flight as an opportunity to get a feel for the plane and get used to the idea that it will actually fly. I'm planning on asking the tower to let me stay in the traffic pattern to the west of the airport (that's where all of the open fields are) as I climb to 3,000' or so. Once there, I'll fly a few orbits around the pattern before descending back down for my first landing. Then it's back to the hangar to open it all up again and make sure nothing worked its way loose.  I think I'll also drain out the full-synthetic oil that's in it now and replace it with semi-synthetic Aeroshell. That will allow me to burn avgas which, while more expensive, is better suited to my current need. That need being, as it turns out, a way to get gas into the plane without having to carry it home from the gas station and fill the tank by hand.

My flying area for the first five hours is limited to a radius of fifty miles around my home airport. That will be plenty. I probably won't get through the test cards in four and a half hours, though. There's quite a bit of data to be gathered.  We'll talk about that later, though.

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