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.

1 comment:

Hugo said...

Dave, in the video I noticed that the fuel pressure alert keeps flashing. Is that normal, or is it just that the parameters still need to be set?

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