Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Finally building some hours

Finishing an airplane in the dead of winter is an excellent example of really poor planning. There you are sitting at home as the cold winds blow ice pellets and other unsavory forms of seasonal precipitation around while what is likely to be the only brand new airplane you will ever own sits shivering in its lonely hangar. Mind you, "sitting at home" is merely an expression - various and sundry household tasks will inevitably fill the hours. Keeping in mind that in this case the airplane in question is very light and quite unfamiliar to the owner, it only takes moderately strong winds to preclude flight. Ten knots is the current limit as defined by your relatively weather-shy author, although that limit will surely rise as experience with the behavioral aspects of the airplane in question is gained.  Still, it's surprising just how many days in February boast winds of 10 gusting something.

Not having an airplane to devote the lion's share of weekend mornings to has freed up some time for other pursuits, of course. I actually dusted off the shotgun and paid 25% more for shells than was the tithe last year in order to go out and tromp through the woods shooting at (and mostly missing) bright orange clay targets. A round of sporting clays is ten stations, for a total of fifty shots. I was sitting pretty with eleven hits after only three stations, but only managed an additional five throughout the rest of the course. Ah well, going a year without practicing will do that. And yes, there is some willful amnesia going on here - I think a score of sixteen is pretty much my average no matter how often I shoot. Fact of the matter is this: sporting clays is hard.

All of that having been said, I was fairly twitching to get out of the office yesterday. The curse of a window office is that every now and then you can't help but wish you were on the other side of it, albeit at ground level. Light-ish winds, only a light haze, and plenty of blue sky beckoned as I slogged through some distinctly uninteresting work. I dived out (well, no, not literally) right on the stroke of 3:00 and headed for home to grab a hat and my flying glasses, then off to the airport.

The temps were in the mid 40s, so the oil warming process only took five to ten minutes. The winds were out of the east which meant a lengthy taxi to the far end of the mile long runway, so I released brakes at about 90 degrees, figuring the hike out to the runway would be long enough for the oil to reach 122 degrees. I timed it nearly perfectly, stopping at the end of the runway at 120.  I waited for the final two degrees before doing the engine run-up, and then it was off into the not-very-wild blue yonder.  I'm still finding that I don't need much more than two-thirds throttle to get the bird into the air, but once free of the concrete I push the rest of the power in to expedite the climb to a safer altitude. The ambient pressure was 30.08" and the combination of the thick air, cool temps, and light airplane coalesced into an amazing 1,500 foot-per-minute climb.

Have you ever seen a U2 take off? Yeah, it was pretty much like that! I totally loved watching those guys climb out back when I was working on SR-71s at Beale Air Force Base. The SR-71 takeoff is a visceral cacophony of deep, thundering noise trailed by long, blue afterburner flames which is impressive in it's own right, but the amazing leap and steep climb of the U-2 is like watching a world-class ballerina leap her way through Swan Lake.

I made a turn out towards the west and kicked on the autopilot, eager to see how well it behaved in the calmer air. I had changed the default climb rate from 400 fpm to 500 and that seemed to work much better. The RV-12 has climb capability in excess, at least when light, so there is no reason to hold the rate down. I also had MadCo plugged into the GPS as a direct-to, so I triggered on the Nav hold too.Everything was working fine, so I left the machine to its devices and concentrated on other things like checking all of the various engine parameters. The right side CHT (which has been somewhat flaky) was nicely settled down, although I think I did catch one untoward spike out of the corner of my eye. It will bear watching for awhile.

Before getting to MadCo, I did a little more practicing with the GPS nav and autopilot by changing the direct-to to an airport up north. For a few minutes I thought that it had over-corrected too far to the east, but soon realized that it had correctly and accurately arrived at a 20 - 30 degree crosswind correction. The winds at altitude, as it turns out, were far stronger than those on the ground.

Knowing that I'd have to do it sooner or later, I kicked off the autopilot and took control for myself. I turned away from the sun so as to have decent visibility and slowed down to try my first stalls. As I slowed through 50 knots, the stall warning started blaring through my headsets, so that's working as expected. At somewhere below 45 knots, the wing finally gave up with a little shudder and the nose dropped into the stall. As did the right wing, with an interesting sense of alacrity. Wondering if maybe I had been carrying a little too much right rudder, I tried it again.  Same result - an abrupt drop of the right wing. Hmmm, not very friendly behavior, that, but certainly not a problem if the pilot is aware of this tendency. Which he is, now.

Heading back to MadCo, I got lowed down and slowed down for landing. Both of these seem to take a little longer to do than in the RV-6, but if I'm honest I'd have to say that I have flown the six so little over the last year that I'm not sure my memory is accurate to wager on.  I made a full stop on the first landing and taxied back to takeoff again, mostly because I still didn't have a good enough feel for high speed taxiing to be confident in the success of a tough & go. The next three landings were made as touch & goes, however, so the confidence built quickly.

After four landings, I headed back north again to fly around a little bit before heading back to MadCo for a few more landings. While touch & goes are good practice for the actual landing, it is also important to practice arrivals into the pattern. Timing the descent and the speed reductions properly in a new plane takes some getting used to. The third landing was a full stop to buy gas. This was my first time filling the tank by myself and I can't say that I like it. The fuel neck is higher up than a wing tank would be and holding the pump handle is awkward, and it is hard to tell when the neck is filling. It's not hard to tell when it is filled, though. The splash of gas in your face is a fairly strident notice.

Even with full tanks (habit that needs to be broken - the correct expression is "full tank"), partial throttle was plenty for takeoff. I made one more touch & go to see if I could feel the extra weight of the fuel, but I couldn't. It was getting late so I headed back to Bolton. I was not alone. There were four other planes inbound and things were getting hectic. Used to be that I could just push the throttle forward and get to the airport before the rest of them, but those days are gone. I just have to blend in with the proles now.

Coming in from the west reporting point when landing on runway 4, the standard request from the tower is to report a two mile left base. This is in recognition that you're already south of the airport and won't need a downwind leg. Instead, I got "report midfield left downwind for runway four."

My radio skills having atrophied pretty much as my shooting skills had, this caused me a moment of confusion. The only time I have ever heard that request was when the controller got confused about his directions and thought I was on the other side of the airport port or he was accidentally positioning me for runway 22. After thinking about it, I decided to ask for a confirmation. That didn't sit well.


Chagrin, shame, and a dose of "Dude, lighten up!" flashed through my mind. Then, timidly:

"two eighty-four delta golf, yeah, I get it. report midfield left downwind runway four."

So what he wanted, it seems, was for me to fly a few miles to the north and then come back down to the south. As I was entering the downwind, I saw why: he had been creating spacing for a Cessna flying a straight-in to the runway.

I made amends, though. With two more planes behind me wanting to land, I made and early turn to base and landing a few thousand feet down the runway, timing it perfectly for making a turn off of the runway just as I got the plane slowed down. That got me quickly out of the way for the other traffic. Doubt if the tower guy even noticed, and he sure made no comment on it, but at least I was able to regain some level of self-confidence.

All told I put almost two hours on the plane.  It's flying very well and I'm starting to get comfortable in it.  The only maintenance problem that has arisen was somewhat expected - the paint that I sprayed on the roll bar is starting to flake off. I think this is mostly due to not adequately prepping the surface before painting. It won't be pleasant to fix, but it's not something I need to do right away.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Dangers of Words

It's here again: one of the most dangerous weeks of the year. What's so dangerous? Well, this is Valentine's Day week. There are a few things more dangerous to a marriage than Valentine's Day, but they are so patently obvious that they are easily avoided. But Valentine's Day/ Fraught with peril for the naive or careless.  Consider: your typical married male thinks Valentine's Day is a "Hallmark Holiday," and besides which, if you have a marriage anniversary every year, who needs another candy/flowers event?? Answer: women. Women need all of the candy/flowers annual events that time and budget will allow, although I have met a few that share the male disdain for the travesty known as "Sweetest Day."  Those few are what men refer to as "keepers."

Now, I have a keeper, but when it comes to Valentine's Day she's very traditional. There came a year not too very long ago when all was not well with my professional life and I was spending a lot of time on the airplane. Busy as a one-armed chainsaw juggler, I was. Somehow I figured it wasn't all that important and failed to recognize the importance of the event.

Yeah, I was somewhat naive (read: stupid) back then.

It took nearly a week of the cold shoulder treatment for me to realize that something was wrong.

Very wrong. I swore to never, EVER let that happen again.

Having learned my lesson, I have gone to pains to make sure The Day lives up to her desires and expectations. I did pretty good last year - she told me that I had really hit one out of the park with my Valentine's Day gift(s). Unfortunately for me, I have no recollection of what exactly it is that I did. Floundering again this year, drat it!

Until.... salvation!  Taking pity on me, this year the CFO came right out and told me what she wanted: a heart-shaped box of chocolates. And they didn't even have to be the expensive Anthony-Thomas brand; anything from the grocery store would do. Hey! Even I can do that!!

So there we were, on our Sunday morning trip to Walmart for a week's worth of food. Having planned ahead, I figured I could get a few minutes of unchaperoned Walmart shopping time by telling her I needed to go to office supplies and pick up some laminating sheets to be used in the creation of a small checklist for the plane. This even had the benefit of being true!  I know her route, so I figured when she headed left to pharmacy and toiletries, I'd head straight down the middle aisle. That happens to be the shortest path to office supplies, but it also goes right past seasonal cards and gifts. And sure enough, right on one of the end caps was a big heart-shaped box of chocolates. But, it was some brand I had never heard of, proudly proclaiming a legacy of "Since 2011" or some-such. Right around the corner, however, was pay dirt. Heart shaped boxes of Lindt Chocolate Truffles, and another fancy brand that I had heard of but have trouble spelling.  Giardelhi maybe?  Ghirardelli?  Doesn't matter. The dilemma was which one to get? Time being of the essence (right after pharma and toiletries, she comes to cards) and me being paralyzed with indecision, I quickly grabbed one of each.  Can't have too much chocolate, right?

Being right there in the card aisle, I figured I could also get cards. I always get two: one funny, one sappy. Afraid of getting caught in the act, I had to limit myself to one, and I chose sappy. Funny is much harder to choose because many of them are just completely stupid. When I look for sappy, I try to shoot more towards the way I really feel than the clingy, creepy treacle the professional card authors like to crank out. I like something that tells her that I value her as a friend and life partner in addition to as a wife. And lo and behold, there was one that fit that message perfectly. I grabbed it and headed to the checkout, taking the long away around through Boys Clothes lest she catch me on her way over from the other side.

As I was standing there at the checkout buying two separate boxes of candy, I thought the young female cashier was looking at me somewhat askance. At the time I chalked it up to the fact that I was wearing a wedding ring but buying two gifts. It wasn't until I was out in the parking lot hiding the bag of stuff that I noticed that I had the card positioned such that it blared "For My Partner."

Oh. Now I know what she was thinking! One box for the wife, one for the boyfriend.

Damn words. They don't always mean precisely what they used to mean.

And I now find myself struggling with a new set of words. I've been reading the Operating Limitations that the FAA provided as part of the airworthiness inspection. It's a three page document full of "thou may" and "thou shall not" things. The very first section has to do with the phase 1 testing. This is the time period (five hours, in my case, but they can and typically are much longer) when I am required to fly alone, stay within a certain radius of the airport, and perform certain tests. At the end of the testing, I have to certify in writing that I have satisfactorily done so. The requirements for the testing are spelled out in FAR 14 CFR 91.319(b).

In a later section, the document provides the text that I am to use for my certification:

I certify that the prescribed flight test hours have been completed and the aircraft is controllable throughout its normal range of speeds and throughout all maneuvers to be executed, has no hazardous operating characteristics or design features, and is safe for operation.  The flight test was completed under the following conditions: maximum operating weight, style/set of wing or sail, maximum demonstrated airspeed, and minimum demonstrated stall speed.”  All major changes or modifications will be listed in the aircraft records and the compliance statement will be restated with the changes listed.  The aircraft may not be operated in excess of the weights and speeds demonstrated.

The part in bold is actually bolded in the document. They must really, really mean it! And that's the problem. More precisely, the problem is the part that says "maximum operating weight."

By law and by design of the RV-12, the maximum operating weight is 1,320 pounds. The airplane weighs 722 pounds empty. Full fuel weighs 120 pounds. After a big lunch and soaking wet, I weigh 165 pounds. So, in order to achieve a weight of 1,320 pounds, I would need 313 pounds of ballast! There is NO WAY in the world I can put 313 pounds of ballast in that tiny little airplane!

I asked the FAA guy about it, and what I could do. He suggested I talk to Van's. Van's isn't the one that wrote that requirement, though. They have us do their required testing at a more realistic 1,050 pounds.

Curious, I looked up the testing requirements stipulated in FAR 14 CFR 91.319(b) to see if it would help. At first, I thought it did.

FAR 91.319 - Aircraft Having Experimental Certificates: Operating Limitations

(a) No person may operate an aircraft that has an experimental certificate—
   (1) For other than the purpose for which the certificate was issued; or
   (2) Carrying persons or property for compensation or hire.

(b) No person may operate an aircraft that has an experimental certificate outside of an area assigned by the Administrator until it is shown that—
   (1) The aircraft is controllable throughout its normal range of speeds and throughout all the maneuvers to be executed; and
   (2) The aircraft has no hazardous operating characteristics or design features.

Well, there ya go!  It makes no mention of "maximum operating weight!" Problem solved!

Not so fast. Reading further down:

(i) The Administrator may prescribe additional limitations that the Administrator considers necessary, including limitations on the persons that may be carried in the aircraft.

I think the Administrator (or one of his agents) did prescribe additional limitations with the "maximum weight" requirement.

So, am I stuck?  I think not. As I read the last part of the directions in my operating limitations, I see this:

 "The aircraft may not be operated in excess of the weights and speeds demonstrated."

I think this means that I can define my own maximum operating weight as that weight which I have tested to. Since I don't believe the airplane is physically large enough to ever carry a 313 pound passenger, I need only test to the weight that I think I can actually carry. I'll still need ballast to do so, of course, but I should be able to find a way to do it. Fifty pounds can ride in the back, and I can probably find enough ballast for the rest.

That might work. Or it might not.

Damn words. Sometimes no one really knows what they mean.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Building Trust

If the goal of a first date is to just get through it without saying or doing something so catastrophically stupid that any chance of a second date is out of the question, then I would consider the first outing with 284DG to have been a success.  To really start to get to know someone, though, you need the second date. The second date has the benefit of the nervous tension of the first date being somewhat lessened - hopefully having had time to reflect back on the hectic and stressful first attempt and think through all that happened will have had the effect of making the second try both more comfortable and more relaxed, allowing for the opportunity to get to know each other at a deeper level. This isn't to say that you have to, or even could,  learn everything all at once; there will still be a wariness, a caution, a reluctance to tell too much.  But the process of learning will have truly begun.

Trust will come later.

Which is all a long-winded way of saying that I'm shirking. I should be getting busy with the flight testing required by the FAA, and it wouldn't hurt to start considering working on the test cards that have to be returned to Van's, either.

I'm not.

First of all, I think a more sedate pace is called for. The FAA figures it will take me around five hours to do their required tests, and that could still turn out to be realistic. They aren't asking for nearly as much as Van's, but they are asking for stalls. Stalls aren't a big deal, really, but I think you should be a little more comfortable with the basic, routine realms of flight before advancing to what metaphorically might be considered second base. The first flight presented no opportunity to start learning the complexities of the avionics and the handling of the airplane in routine flight operations. I decided I'd do some of that before getting down to the more interesting stuff.

Secondly, I made a couple of changes to the airplane that needed to be tested. I adjusted the takeoff trim indication, and I added a little pitch to the prop to make sure the engine would stay under the 5,500 RPM red line. As it turns out, both changes were successful, although I will probably have to adjust the prop again - I could only get 5,280 RPM. The amount of adjustment to achieve a 600 RPM shift was nearly microscopic.  I'll probably be chasing this for awhile.

The weather was quite nice in that it was sunny and there was very little wind, but it was a little chillier than one might wish. At 26F, I thought it was going to take a long time for the oil to reach the required 120F before takeoff.

And it did.

After about ten minutes, it got up to nearly 100. Given that I had a mile long taxi out to runway 4 in front of me, that was enough to at least get started. I called the tower and requested taxi clearance.

The only other plane flying took off just in front of me, so with no one waiting behind me I was able to do another extended engine run-up.  Yes, still working on the trust thing.

I decided not to be quite as assertive with lifting the nose wheel on this takeoff and that worked out well. The truth is, this thing is off the runway so quickly that it doesn't seem to matter much. Again it seemed like we were climbing out at far too steep an angle, but when I saw that I had 80 knots on the speedo I realized that this is pretty much normal. I could have stayed at 80 knots and let it climb, but I felt the need to have a lot of air under me in case the engine quit suddenly. I pulled the nose up and climbed at 65 knots which resulted in a climb rate of  (get this!!!) 1,700 feet per minute!

I had plotted a 'Direct-to' waypoint into the GPS to lead me over to MadCo while I was waiting for the oil to heat up, so I turned us more or less on course once we were 1,000 over the ground.  I was again impressed with how light and well-balanced the controls are, and the visibility is simply spectacular. That didn't stop me from flying into a little wafer of a cloud, though, as I was looking down at the Skyview.

There's a whole lot going on with the Skyview at any given moment.  There's just tons of data rendered on the 10" screen and it takes awhile to get used to parsing out just what you want at the time.  Take a look at the screen below for an example:

Here's a list of some of what's going on in that screen:
  • We're doing 118 knots through the air.
  • We're heading two degrees north of west.
  • We're doing 124 knots across the ground.
  • We have a right quartering tailwind giving us an effective 5 knot boost.
  • We're at 3,750 feet above sea level, but I had targeted 3,500.
  • We're still climbing at 100 feet per minute.
  • We're three minutes away from MadCo, we're left of the course that the GPS had plotted, and that is not going to get any better because we're also heading further left of the desired course.
  • Another airplane just took off from MadCo. He is below us and to our front-right, 500 feet below us, and heading northeast. He's climbing. He will be abeam our right wing in one minute-ish, if all remains constant.
In the next picture taken a minute or so later, you can see that the first airplane we saw is now at the same altitude as us and heading away. The open diamond marker indicates that the Skyview thinks we couldn't run into him even if we were trying to.

Another plane seems to be on a left downwind to land at MadCo. He's currently 1,500 feet below us and descending.  The black diamond means that Skyview felt that this one was barely even worth mentioning.

I also fiddled around with the autopilot for a little while. I set Bolton as a Direct-to, set my desired altitude at 3,500'-ish, and let it fly. You can see the result in this video:

Not shown in the video is that I also let the autopilot do our descent from 3,500' down to 2,500 on our approach back into Bolton. You can bet I was keeping a keen eye on it to make sure it leveled us off at 2,500!

The approach and landing went fine, but for the second time in two tries the nosewheel has slapped down on the runway once the mains touch. I think I'm doing something wrong, but I'm not sure what. I'll go out and do some touch and go's next time I fly it.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


It has been more than a week since the FAA deemed N284DG as "pretty likely to be capable of flight," yet it hasn't happened yet. What's up with that?? Well, mostly it has been weather related. We got some snow - not enough to really matter, but the low scuddy clouds and high winds that ushered it in have steadfastly refused to move on.

Until yesterday. The weather was perfect!  But I hadn't yet filled the gas tank and performed the Dynon fuel tank calibration. I thought I'd go ahead and get that done. I had hoped to enlist the aid of my co-builder, but he was unfortunately detained by what be calls "chauffeur duty." I gamely pressed on, enlisting instead the guy that drives the fuel truck at Bolton. Assuming he was willing and able to stop the pump every two gallons while I pressed a button on the Dynon, his assistance would be all that was required.

Except for one thing: we got done while there was still good weather and available light.

Should I.....

I thought about it for a good long while and finally decided that it may be awhile before conducive weather  conditions rolled through our way again. I ought to fly it!! I texted the CFO to let her know I was strongly considering it.

She asked if Pete was there with me.


"Someone has to be there," was her reply.

My first thought was "Why?" but I quickly realized that it didn't matter. I had to acquiesce on this one - she's already dealing with a very understandable case of nerves over this whole thing. It wasn't much to ask, even if it did mean another delay.

Today dawned clear again. Light winds. Pete is available.

This might be it!

That, as you might expect, has really made me pretty useless at work today. I'm a bundle of nerves. Sure, at an intellectual level I can tell myself things like "more than 200 RV-12s are flying perfectly safely" and "there really isn't all that much of a catastrophic nature that can go wrong and I'm going to stay right over the mile-long runway in case the engine quits," but that kind of self-counselling only goes so far. At an emotional level, I know full well that this will be one of the riskiest things that I have ever done on purpose and without the influence of alcohol.

This is serious, serious business.

I have had ample time to reflect back on the last three years, wondering what little mistake I may have made that will come back to bite me. Are there any loose fuel lines? Are all of the screws and nuts and bolts and rivets and who knows what else firmly attached? Will the engine keep running? Are my piloting skills up to the task of a dead stick landing in an airplane I've never flown?? Should I go around the office and spend a few minutes with my close friends, just in case?

I can only imagine how combat pilots and crews feel before a mission. It must be this times a thousand. And they do/did it over and over and over.


I made a mistake, it seems, in my planning: I gave myself too much time to think about it.

I'm setting this aside now. The next words you see will be after the first flight.

[life-altering events ensue]

So, I'm back. The plane flew great, but the flight was not without some moments of interest.

I'm getting better at the choke-to-throttle transition while starting - I only lost it once and had to restart. The outside temp was somewhere near the low 60's, so the wait for the oil to warm-up to 122F went quickly enough.

I actually wasn't super nervous, as it turns out. That's not surprising - I go through something similar when I haven't flown the RV-6 for awhile. I'm a little tense until I get in the plane, then the tension just melts away and I go fly the plane.

Winds were light at about 6 knots, so the taxi down to the runway was easier than the ride I had when I did the brake conditioning/taxi test.

When I got to the end of the runway, there was a Cessna coming in on a four mile final. I decided to wait until he had landed before calling the tower for takeoff clearance. I figured I could use the time to run the engine enough to convince myself that it intended to stay with me throughout the entire event. Cleared for takeoff, I taxied out onto the numbers. I started to feed the power in slowly, trying to get a feel for the steering authority as the rudder became effective and as I felt out the influence of the 90 degree crosswind from the right.

The way you take off in a 12 is you hold the stick back early in the takeoff roll to get the nose wheel off of the ground. Right around 30 knots (that's a guess - I wasn't really spending a lot of time staring at the airspeed this early in the takeoff roll) the nose came up just like it was supposed to.

And it kept going up.

And it went up some more!

Then we were flying, but at what seemed to be way too low an airspeed. The stall warning was even chirping for a second or two. Clearly I had missed the mark when setting the takeoff trim position on the Dynon. I pushed the nose back down and let the speed build it (it took very little time) to a more proper 60 knots. As we climbed away from the runway, I fed in down trim until the pressure came off of the stick. It felt like it took ten minutes for it to get all of the pressure off, but it was probably only three or four seconds.  The plane was climbing well and required no roll correction at all.

In a word, it was great!

I had told the tower that I wanted to stay in the pattern at 2,000', so I climbed on up there. Well, that's a lie of omission: I actually wasn't paying close attention and ended up at 2,600'.  As I finished my turn to the left and headed downwind, I'm sure I saw 117 knots on the airspeed reading at one point but it really isn't something I was paying a lot of attention to. There were a couple of other planes in the vicinity and one of them was heading in for landing, so I was watching for them on the Dynon display. They showed up right where I expected them to be. How cool is that?? When I learned that I was getting a Skyview, I had no idea that it came with TCAS.

I told the tower that I would just orbit in the pattern until the arrival and a departure were gone. He was fine with that, although he complained that he was having trouble seeing me when directly overhead. Once those other planes were taken care of, I told him I was ready to land.  The three landings that I had made previously in a different RV-12 (that story is here) had prepared me for the differences between this smaller, lighter plane with a big wing and the heavy, stubby-winged RV-6.  A full mile of runway helped, too. I made a greaser of a landing, thereby boosting my record to 4 out of 4 good landings, with three out of four not requiring a go-around after failing to get the airplane low and slow enough to land.

I taxied back in and shut down the engine in front of the hangar. Oddly enough, I didn't feel my usual urge to just sit in the cockpit for a few minutes savoring the experience. I hopped out and waited for Pete to get back from his vantage point down by the runway, where unbeknownst to me he had been sending status reports back home to the nerve-wracked CFO.  I had already texted her to let her know that I had returned safe, sound, and in possession of a damn nice airplane, to which she had replied along the lines of "Thank God that's over!"

I heartily agreed.

I then pushed the plane back into the hangar, grabbed my log book, and headed over to JP's BBQ to knock back a couple of celebratory beers with the guy that was instrumental in helping me accomplish something very, very few people ever do:

I have built and flown my own airplane!