It seemed to take forever to accumulate the 25 hours of air time stuck in the 25 mile radius of Stettler (as dictated by my flight restrictions). Right around the first week of July, I satisfied these requirements and submitted my paperwork to Transport Canada. It took two weeks for the Edmonton office of Transport Canada to process the paperwork and now I can legally carry a passenger and travel just about anywhere I choose.
My first passenger was my wife Judy, who has been a great supporter of the project since we first drove down to Oregon to pick up the wing and tail section kits eight years ago. Judy helped buck all the tough rivets on the wings and fuselage. She was always willing to crawl into the tail section of the RV to hold the bucking bar and get her teeth rattled by my rivet gun!
Judy’s first flight in the RV9A
We left Stettler on Sunday morning and did a nice wide circle tour of the area. The air was more or less stable and we had a great flight. The workload around the ranch is easing a little as we get caught up and now we can start making day trips to visit friends in other parts of the province.
Its been a long while since updating the flying blog. Winter got in the way of flying, although I did manage to get a flight logged every winter month. Greenhouse season puts a damper on flying in the spring but late May and early June had me flying one to two times per week. I have reached 20 hours of actual air time and about 28 hours on the engine hobbs. I completed the mandatory climb test last fall at gross weight when Rick was still with me last fall. I hope to pass the 25 hour air time milestone in early July and then get my permanent certificate of airworthness. Once I have that in hand, I can get into travel mode and start hitting distant airports and making miles.
Summer and fall will be fun this year as I leave building mode and get into flying mode for a change.
This is the first time I have left the North American continent in my life. I travelled to the UK this week on a work assignment, investigating a vendor and their product for a client of mine. The work part was very interesting but I’ll leave that story for another time. I landed in Heathrow after a 9 hour flight across the Atlantic. Trans-Atlantic travel sure isn’t what it used to be. I had my own private travel pod in biz class with a touch screen computer and fully reclining seat with a massaging feature. I was dined and wined and then fell asleep for 4 or so hours. Heathrow was amazing quiet ( I have heard it can be a zoo) and I got to my rental car place in quick time. I got into the Toyota SUV with everything on the wrong side (yes I opened the passenger door first and realized error numero uno). The first hour of driving on the motorways was pretty tense but after driving for 3 days now, I am getting into the groove. Those darn round abouts have a way of getting you confused though, wrong direction and wrong side and shifter not where instinct tells you it should be.
I am hanging out in a famous British seaside town called Brighton till the end of the week. Today I walked for about 8 hours taking in the sights of this popular London seaside escape. Its a very Euro place with people speaking many different languages. Everyone is pretty much in vacation mode and laid back. Drivers are the most courteous you will ever find. I guess that’s a survival skill when driving on such small roads and in such congestion.
Here’s a picture of yours truly at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. This is an incredible building that was started in 1815 by King George IV as a summer get away palace for the royal family. It features a traditional Indian palace exterior and a very exotic Chinese interior. I toured the palace in a couple of hours but unfortunately photographs are prohibited on the inside. The pavilion had its usual history of ups and downs and near distruction after the royal family abandoned it but now it has been adopted by a royal society and restored to its glory. Well worth the time and money spent touring it and the surrounding grounds.
Day 5 was castle day. The Arundel Castle is a pretty easy drive from the seaside town of Brighton, maybe 40 minutes in a steady flow of traffic. The castle was originally built in 1067 and over the years has had numerous additions and renovations to suit the ruling nobility of the time. It was a very interesting walk about and took the better part of 3 hours to work my way thru all the towers, grand halls, bedrooms and churches. As in the case of the Royal Pavillion, pictures were not allowed on the inside of the castle. They watch you very carefully to ensure you comply with the rules. I have many more pictures but the upload speed and reliability from the hotel room is not that great. I’ll wait till I get back to Canada and add more interesting pictures.
Day 6, I needed a break from the noise and people today so headed over to the country side of East Sussex. The GPS did a great job of delivering me to the bright white cliffs of the Seven Sisters on the English Channel. These cliffs are like the famous Dover cliffs except these ones are actually white as mother nature continues to erode them away and expose fresh chalk. For a long while I was the only one enjoying the peace and quiet of the surrounding, then slowly the hords of school children could be heard working their way towards me. Their clamour could be heard for a few miles. Feeling recharged, I returned to Brighton for the last afternoon before heading home. Its a nice place to visit, friendly people, courteous drivers (only yelled at once) and fresh sea air. Update, I returned home safely on the 27th of June. From the time I left Brighton in the morning until I arrived home, 22 hours had elapsed. That was a long day, pretty easy but long.
This was another milestone in the life of the project. On November the 5th we passed the 5 hour mark with the qualified pilot (greater than 100 hours flight time in type) and I could now legally fly the RV9A by myself. It was almost like my first solo flight 20 years ago when my first instructor jumped out after a couple of circuits and turned me loose in the flight school’s C172 except this time I was totally prepared and relaxed. The RV9A with 180 hp up front is a little calmer than my 701 is with 120 hp on the take off roll.
I ran thru my take-off check list and then pushed the throttle in and pulled the stick fully aft while keeping her going straight down the runway with little jabs of rudder. Once I felt the nose wheel lift off I eased off on the stick and held the slight nose up attitude until the main wheels lifted off the runway. About then the difference between the 701 and the RV9A became very obvious as speed picked up to 110 mph and a climb rate close to 2000 feet per minute. I had to reduce the power quickly to avoid picking up too much speed as I came up to downwind circuit altitude and leveled off. The downwind leg went pretty quick and I had to work at getting the airspeed below 100 so I could drop the first 20 degrees of flap at the turn to base leg. Once flaps are in the speed falls off nicely and I held 80 mph for the turn to final. Rick introduced me to the habit of dropping flaps while turning base and final. It really makes a smooth turn and flap transition. No nose pitching and easy on the passengers.
Final is set up 75 mph and then 70 to 65 once the runway is made. Power to idle and then level off the aircraft a foot off the runway and keep her going straight while slowly pulling aft on the stick maintaining the flare attitude. Its a hard thing to describe, its a picture of how the end of the runway should look as you look along the side of the cowling. Once you have the image and the feel for what the aircraft is doing the landings are real sweet, almost hard to tell when the wheels touch (most of the time).
The most important part happens now, don’t relax and think the landing is done. You have to keep flying and pulling the stick back until the elevator runs out of power and the nose wheel touches down. Keep the weight off the nose wheel as much as possible and it will last years. Land on the nose wheel and be prepared for a world of hurt, never loose that thought. That’s from the Mike Seager transition training earlier this summer.
I did a few more circuits and then called it a “great day”. Finally flew Tango Lima Lima myself.
Thanks again to my transition trainer, Rick Appleton. He is a great instructor and a real good person to fly with.
It finally came together, all the elements that are required for a successful first flight. My test pilot’s work schedule, the weather and the aircraft’s essential paperwork. We did 1.2 hrs at 75% power stuck in the big racetrack around the home field. There were a few snags to attend to when we returned to the hanger. Second flight was about 1.9 hours in a 10 mile racetrack square (sort of square). The aircraft flew great. Rick pronounced it as a perfect flier. He has about 15000 hours at the controls so I consider this to be a complement to an excellent kit and the time and care put into the project. We had a lot of competition for airspace that day as the geese are migrating right now and formation flights were everywhere. Flew beside a flock of snow geese at 5000 feet asl for a moment or two. I have had the 10 hour transition training session with Mike Seager in July which prepared me for the flight. I have been flying a CH701 STOL for the last 14 years. That is probably the worst plane to transition to a RV9A from, IMO.
A ton of thanks to my wife, Judy who has supported this project 100% of the way. Judy was my bucking partner for all the tough parts and quality control. She also paid all the bills so there is no secret as to how much this one cost.
Also thanks to Doug Reeves for hosting the Vans Airforce. I found the answer to many a question that came up over the course of the project.
Yes it took eight years to complete but its been a great experience and learning for me. I’d do it again, but first we must fly!