Yesterday, 313TD got some air under the tires. Weather was perfect: Wind 260 at 4, clear sky, visibility unlimited. This was actually a couple of firsts for me. It was my first taildragger solo, my first flight in my airplane, and my airplane’s first flight, period.
Shelley, Dave and I arrived at the airport at about 9:45AM, and we spent a bit of time waiting for the wind to flip over from 090 to 260, the direction of the runway I’m authorized to use in Phase 1. We busied ourselves prepping the airplane. We cleaned off the plexiglass, removed the stray items from the cockpit, and generally got things ready to go. Ron was there briefly to go up to the Chicken Strip with Owen for lunch, and he loaned me his handheld radio, which Dave and Shelley used to monitor the tower.
I went through my engine start checklist, but somehow missed turning off the 430W prior to start, which was bad, because the power drain forced it to go offline, and when it came back up, it had to verify its database. That takes a while, and I was freaking out a little bit, thinking I’d just burned my radio and would have to abort the flight.
Eventually, it did come up and I was ready to go. I did a radio check with ground control, then taxied out to the runup area at runway 25. I did my runup checks, then called the tower. “Experimental 313TD at RWY 25, first flight in phase one testing, intend to turn right, then climb to 4000′ and remain above the airport.”
They cleared me for takeoff right behind Owen’s Bearhawk, which was kind of cool. I couldn’t really tell if I had a heavy wing or not. I didn’t have to fight it to keep it wings level on takeoff, if that means anything. The rolling around you see in the video is me not holding the stick all that steady. I couldn’t tell you what my angle of climb was, but lowered the nose a bit to see if I could get my CHT’s down a bit.
By the way, without a couple hundred pounds of flight instructor in the right seat and only half fuel, this thing jumps into the air like it was beamed up from the Enterprise!
On climbout, #2 and #4 hit the caution mark at 400, but the nose-down brought them back into line. I climbed to 4000′ doing slow circles upward. Once I had 1500′ made, I pulled the throttle back to 2500rpm and MAP to 25. I fumbled it a little bit, but I still don’t know the controls that well. I also fumbled setting my transponder to altitude. Never mind that there’s a giant button on it to engage altitude reporting. OXR didn’t see it, and Pt. Mugu approach didn’t see it, but I eventually figured out I needed to push the damn button marked “ALT” instead of “ON.” But hey, the transponder works, so that’s nice.
Once I was at 4000′ and my instrument shenanigans were done, I could concentrate on feeling out the airplane. Among the first things I discovered was that my airspeed tape was inoperative. I guess of all the things that could be inoperative up there, that’s the easiest one to deal with. I blipped the trim control a little bit and that seemed to level out the wings, but since I have no trim position indicators, I’m not sure it was ever centered to begin with. Like I said, I didn’t feel like I had a heavy wing, and it didn’t take much trim to correct it out. Once I stabilized, I trimmed up altitude and it flew hands off, which was awesome. I guess I built a more or less straight airplane. More accurately, the Filipino factory workers who did the QB kit built a more or less straight airplane, but I think my sweep/twist/incidence measurements and final drilling were pretty much on.
Without airspeed, I really had no idea when I could deploy flaps, so I did my best guess at slowing down to Vfe for slow flight. I remembered the sounds (engine, wind) from training with Mike Seager, so I figured if I matched that, I’d be OK. I got to slow flight with flaps extended and felt it out a little bit with shallow turns. I wasn’t ready to stall it just yet, but I figured out about where it will stall. It also feels different from Mike’s plane in that it’s a bit draggier with the gear fairings off. I did this for a bit, making turns, going back up to cruise, all the while making sure I didn’t fly over populated areas per my op lims.
Naturally, I forgot to set a flight timer, but after the slow flight practice I decided to come home. I called Mugu, who had been providing me with flight following (nice of them) and told them I was heading for OXR airspace. Frequency change approved, I got OXR ATIS ,then called the tower. Once again, I said hey, phase one first flight here. They cleared me to land before I even entered the pattern proper. I got slow enough to be able to think (probably 110mph or so), and got my downwind checks done. I followed the sequence and checklists perfectly. Abeam the instrument landing marks, slow down to 80 (ish) and drop half flaps. Boost on, prop high, mix rich. On base, drop the rest of the flaps and get the approach dialed in. I came in a little fast, probably, and I definitely held on to power a little longer than I should have, but I made a good, straight, soft landing. I ate up 2000′ of runway, but that’s my prerogative. Then I taxied back, and we decowled and inspected.
Some oil seeping from the right mag gasket.
The airspeed we were able to fix easily: the AOA and pitot lines were reversed, which is why I got an intermittent airspeed reading which coincided with my taxi speed. The oil, we wiped off and decided to see if it was indeed leaking from the mag gasket or somewhere else. The amount was negligible.
I was going to go for a second flight, but during runup, the right mag was inop. Boo. Abort. That’s what I fix today. Here’s the video