Matt Throckmorton's ("DocThrock") Team Rocket F1 EVO Kit Plane Construction Pages
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 Flight Log Page      
.3  F1 Rocket Hours TT
 104.9  AT-6D Texan Hours

10.8  Multi Engine Hours

  (1.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Formation with Jeff Wellum to MTO then formation leading JP back to HUF.

  (2.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Flew to CAF to bring Jordan Brown home after the ISU open house.

  (3.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
3 local formation sorties. 2 each 2 ships as lead with 5+ pitch outs, rejoins, cross unders with N66TY. Then finally a 3 ship as lead with POs and RJs, element take off and OH breaks to landings with JP and Elliot in a Mustang II.

4/18/15  (2.0 SNJ5 N??????)   
Flew John Fester for his first flight in his SNJ. 5 landings, 4 of those landings at Vichy.

4/18/15   (3.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Xcountry to KUXB to fly with John Fester, then KVYS for Brad Deckert's birthday party and then home. Night formation with Jordans Brows's C45.

  (3.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Xcountry to 5I0 (Kentland for some $4.08 gas and a bunch of formation training with N66TYalong the way. Regrettably an ignition issue caused me to bail on a flight to KEYE and Ricks for dinner. Still, a beautiful Spring day!

  (2.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Xcountry to KSET and backfor CAF meeting and transport IA and maintenance pilot Jorfan Brown. 4 landings.

4/4/15   (1.0 hrs, 95-A55  N1019D))
Xcountry to KSET with Jordan Brown. Non pic time, but left seat. 1 landing.

4/4/15   (1.0hrs,  Aeronca L3-E N33681)
 L3E currency and familiarization flight. Local at KSET. 3 landings.

  (2.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Xcountry to I69 and back, Clermont County. Home to Sporty's and Tri State Warbirds.  

3/22/15   (2.0 hrs, 95-A55  N1019D))

Local. Multi engine training with JP Mellor.

3/21/15  (0.5 C45H N213DE)   
Flew The Brown's C45 for about half an hour with Jordan. No landings. In formation with JP Mellor's T6.

3/20/15  (1.1 AT-6G N66TY)   
Back seat time in JP Mellors T6G. Take off and Landing.

  (2.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Flew to KSET for L3 training, then to KLBV to pick up Nicholas Brown, and then home.

3/14/15   (1.5hrs,  Aeronca L3-E N33681)
Check out training with Craig O'Mara in the CAF Mo Wing's L3E.

1/?/2015      (1.6 S35 Bonanza N654AJ)
Flew The Brown's Bonanza up to KJVL to pick up Jordan  after leaving the C45 for annual.

11/10/14   (2.2 hrs,  C172 N170SP)
Flew Jeff and Kathy Swet's beautiful 172 to Muncie Aviation and back. Elliot Abel and JP Mellor dropped of the Hoosier Aviation Baron for avionics upgrade, and I played hooky from work to bring them home. 

11/8/14   (1.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Flew to KDNV to pick up Elliot Abel after he delivered the TBM 850 to his boss. Then lunch at the new Rolllies.  Then more fun flying with Elliot.  

11/2/14   (1.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Met Lisa and Bob Brickly over at KEYE after doing a couple coupled approaches and procedures. New upgraded C servo with force mutliplier is buttery smooth. But still no autopilot on the VS portion of the flight. Very frustrating.

10/26/14   (0.5 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Took Elliot Abel and Jeff Swet for Rocket rides before landing and watching the ISS fly overhead.

10/17/14   (1.0 hrs, 95-A55  N1019D))

KSET to KHUF. Night Xcountry. First flight in Baron. E. Able MEI instructing

10/17/14   (1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Autopilot roll servo failed again.

10/11/14   (2.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Kset for meeting.

10/5/14   (1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
I80 Noblesville for BBQ.

9/?/14   (1.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)

9/?/14   (1.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)

9/13/14   (1.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)

3X LPV 36 approaches to 4I7 and a return LPV to runway 32.

9/7/14   (3.6 hrs, PA24-260 N73T)
Sikeston for throwed rolls in the Warrior.

9/5/14   (1.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
LPV 36 approach with PT to 4I7, then landed at KEYE for lunch at Ricks, LPV 36 again at 4I7, LPV 32 at KHUF.

8/31/14   (1.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
LPV 36 with PT @ 36 followed by a misses approach, hold and LPV 18 @ 4I7 to an LPV 32 with PT at KHUF.

8/13/14   (0.5 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)

3 landings and a short local flight. 

7/17/14   (2.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Round trip to KSET for more Warbird fun at the CAF. 

7/5/14   (2.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)

Slow flight (powered back) to Shumway Innernational for pancakes, then followed Jordan Brown to MidAmerica to pick up a family friend. Then on to KSET to watch the B25 and TBM fly. Then a nice autopilot trip home at 137 knots indicated burning 10.5 gallons per hour. More time to get home, but saved about 3 gallons of gas.

7/4/14   (1.0 hrs,  PA24-260 N73T)

Actually got to fly and land the Mellor's Comache 260 back from Bulter County Ohio. Went to Jungle Jim's grocery shopping.

7/3/14   (2.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
HUF KSET to HUF again. Another near perfect July day!

7/2/14   (2.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Beautiful flight from HUF to KSET and Back. Yes, delivering Jordan to fly the Mo Wing TBM Avenger.

6/15/14   (3.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)

Beautiful flight out of the SFRA via the JASEN gate, departing runway 30. Mass departure from Udvar-Hazy after the Become A Pilot Day event. Flew to Parkersburg, then back to Hulman after the event. It's awesome being in Washington DC all day, then leaving about dinner time and getting home before dark.

6/15/14   (.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)

Taxi from Signature to the Udvar-Hazy Smithsonian Air and Space Museum ramp to put the Rocket on display for the day.

6/13/14   (3.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)

Scud run from Terre Haute to Parkersburg WV to Orange County (KOMH), and on into the SFRA landing on 19L at Dulles (KIAD). Signature Flight Support was great.

5/31/2014  (0.5 C45H N213DE)    (0.5 S35 Bonanza N654AJ)
Flew The Brown's C45 for about 1/2 hour after attending the AOPA fly in at KMQJ. That was after we got back from St. Louis where Jordan flew the B25 for a ride, then repositioned the TBM to Downtown.  I also repositioned Jordan's Bonanza from KSET to  KCPS.

5/22-24/14   (2.4 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Xcountry to KCOU to deliver Jordan Brown to fly the TBM Avenger for the MO Wing. Flew back to KSET after the show to pick up Jordan and take him home. Great weekend honoring Veterans. 

5/16/14   (0.6 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Morning test flight before departing for the Mo Wing to ride the TBM Avenger to Cape Girardeau.


Removed air/oil separator and replaced with 2 feet of 3/4 ID heater hose and routed it out the aft end of the engine cowl. Cleaned the engine and cowls, trying to find and remedy sources of oil weeps.

5/10/14   (0.5 hrs,  Aeronca L-3S N36681  )

Passed my Mo Wing FEB to sponsor and fly the L3. Orientation flight with Bob Cushman.  No take offs or landings allowed until I get with the official Wing check pilot.

5/10/14   (2.4 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)

Delivered Niki Brown to and from KSET for the MO Wing monthly meeting. Jordan flew Harold Plunkett (aka Grandpa) and Jordan Ray in the TBM. A fun gorgeous warm day.

5/9/14   (1.7 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)

Delivered Jordan Brown to KMIE to pick up the TBM Avenger after radio work at Muncie Aviation. Heavy winds, low ceilings, rain. Nice flights, though!

5/2/14   (2.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)

Delivered Jordan Brown to KSET to fly the TBM Avenger to KSUS for their airshow. Flew to KSUS and stayed for the practice show and help the MO Wing of the CAF set up for the show. Then had a nice flight around the St. Louis Bravo and back home. 

4/26/14   (1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Slow flight over to KMTO, dead battery, hauled ass back home. Retired an Odyssey PC680 dated 2007.

4/16/14   (1.4 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)

Played Hookey and took the afternoon to go to KSET and watch them fly the B-25. Also replaced my tailwheel with a new wheel assembly with one very heavy duty sealed bearing.

4/5/14   (2.1 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)

Cross Country to Lambert's again for Throwed Rolls. Night flight for 1.1 on the return

4/5/14   (0.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
2R2 for fuel.

4/1/14   (1.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Cross Country to KRZL to drop Wellum's Tiger for avionics upgrade.  

3/29/14   (0.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Fun little flight to 2R2 and back.

3/29/14   (1.0 hrs,  7ECA N8724V)
Dropped 5 parachutes at 3FK for repacking and recertification.

3/15/14   (?.? hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
???   dont remember, but I flew somewhere...  

3/15/14   (2.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Cross Country to Sikeston, MO for Lamberts Throwed Rolls. 3 Landings. 184 knots TAS on 11 gph.

3/9/14   (0.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)

2/6/14   (1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Autopilot test, landing light test, night/currency. 7 landings, 2 separate flights. 10 degrees F over snow covered Central Indiana.

1/25/14   ( F1-EVO N540MT)
Cut a roughly 1 3/8 x 3 inch opening in my engine cowl in front of the SII light. Used waste canopy plexi to cut a clear lens and fitted it in the cowl opening. Hot glued the clear lens to place until such time as I can flight test the aiming and amount of landing light. Added a Battery Tender pigtail with 7.5 amp fuse to my seconday/starting battery. Repaired the defective LED Ignition Failure Warning LEDs in the instrument panel. A good days work. Now if Mother Nature would just offere some kinder and gentler weather.

Plegiglass lens opening for LED Landing Light

1/24/14   ( F1-EVO N540MT)
What a lousy month for flying. Some of the nastiest, blustery, snowy, frigid weather I can EVER remember in Indiana. Today it was about 12 F and my "salimander" ran continuosly in my hangar, as the very high winds sucked out the heat. I mounted a Baja Design SII LED "Combo" light under my left inlet baffle to serve as a landing light. Ran 20 gauge wire to a 5 amp rocker/breaker.  Test illuminted the 2160 lumen, 5000K light. Only draws 1.75 amps (21 watts). Very impressive for a 2x3 inch pair of LED lights.  Now to cut the cowl and install some clear plexi in the nose of the engine cowl to let the light out. Brrrrrr.... it was COLD today!

Baja Designs SII  4160 Lumen LED light

1/3/14   (2.0 hrs, PA-28-151  N8492F)
Warrior checkout with JP Mellor on the way to Anderson Indiana to pick up his Comanche 260 from the upholstry shop. Solo home. Beautiful snow covered evening flight.

12/31/13   ( F1-EVO N540MT)
ELT test using panel mounted remote. Activating ON worked fine, RESET, not so much. Called ATC and advised them (they didn't even register the signal from inside my hangar), then got to work. Modified my hat rack cover to allow access to the ELT. Next step, diagnose the faulty remote switch.

12/28/13   (2.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Autopilot test and familiarization flight to KSET. Checked out the status of the Mo Wing Warbirds. Flew back to MTO for lunch with Jordan B and Matt Klaus and families. Then a short formation with the C-45 and a high speed run back to the barn. 5500, TAS199 knots, 24 squared, 18 gph. Not bad. Great day to fly!

12/27/13   (1.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
RNAV32 @ 4I7 to 2R2 for gas, RNAV 18 @ 4I7, missed, hold, procedure turn, then RNAV 32 @ HUF.

12/21/13   (  @269.4 hrs TTE&A F1-EVO N540MT) 
Replaced drippy Curtiss quick oil drain with new Saf-Air P5000 ouil quick drain. What a mess.

12/24/13   (.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Three landings with this short post C I flight.

12/21/13   (  @269.1 hrs TTE&A F1-EVO N540MT) Annual Condition Inspection
Finished my annual on this rainy winter day. Compressions good, changed oil and filter. Cut open filter, no appreciable metal. Upgraded dual battery system and replaced the Blue Sea 7600 with a newer version automatic charging relay model 7610. Added 80 amp ANL fuses between batteries and 7610 ACR. Separated charging cuircuit from bus circuits. Replaced defective REL-1 with the REL-2 so now my elevator trim works properly. Replaced defective OAT-2 with a new OAT-3. Replaced all NGK BR8ES and gapped to .032. Inspected, tightened and cleaned engine compartment, in wings and back in tail. Biggest item is an upgrade of my TruTrak DII VSGV with the new Vizion 385, which is a plug and play replacement (uses my original AP head). Now I have altutide select and preselect, as well as an emergency straight and level flight feature. Anxious now for the weather to break and do some flying!

11/23/13   (1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
MTO for lunch.

11/16/13   (1.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
MTO for lunch. Autopilot testing. Practice ILS to 29.

11/10/13   (1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Rnav to 29 at MTO and 4 tngs at HUF. Reglassed the top engine cowl to eliminate the hinge pin slot. New wheel pants are awesome!

11/03/13   (1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
KEYE to Ricks for lunch with 7other airplanes!  Also, RNAV to 36 and RNAV to 18 at 4I7.

10/26/13   (0.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
ILS 29 KMTO, RNAV 09 KPRG. Beautiful clear Fall day, over 50 miles visibility and almost no wind. Sunny and 58 degrees. Nice.

10/26/13   (2.1 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Nice flight to KSET for the MO Wing's annual pumpkin drop. 30 knot headwind over, 50 knot tailwind coming home!

10/19/13   (0.5 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Missing Man formation flight over Paris, IL to honor Rusty Bogue. Great flight with Aaron in an RV6A, Melanie Able in a 172 and Elliot Able in a SportCruiser.
Tested taxied and flew new Sam James wheel pants.

10/18/13   (0.8 hrs, TBM 850  N221MA)
Orientation flight with CFI and chief pilot Elliot Able. Pattern work and dinner at Ricks Boatyard at EYE. WOW!

10/10 -14/13   (2.2 hrs,  S35 N654AJ,  TBM3E  )
CAF Airsho in Midland Texas. Bonanza time back and forth to St. Charles and back seat time for about 9 hours in the TBM Avenger!

10/6/13   (1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Local flight.

10/4/13   (1.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Followed JP Mellor to KBAK to drop his Comanche off to get WAAS upgrade and  install a new Aspen unit.

9/28/13   (2.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Over and back to St. Charles to the MO Wing.

9/22/2013  (1.0) C45H N213DE
After a terrific weeking crewing the CAF MO WING's TBM with Jordan Brown in Camdenton Missouri, Jordan let me fly his Twin Beech back from Smartt Field in St. Charles. What a beautiful flying bird on a spectacular clear day.

9/2/13   (0.4 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Local flight.

8/24/13   (2.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
KHUF - KMTO - KHF - KMTO - KSET - KHUF.  Nice day as a hack, running to get Jordan Brown and fly him around to shuffle planes for the MTO show and the MO Wing of the CAF.

8/23/13   ( 0.8 hrs,  PA-30-200 N130MM)
The darndest luck today. That silly airplane had a left engine failure no less than four times. Wow, is my right leg sore. Wow, what fun simulating engine failures.

8/22/13   ( 0.4 hrs,  PA-30-200 N130MM)
Steep turns and a precautionary landing due to a cigarette socket malfunction. I made a really nice approach and landing.

8/17/13   (2.7 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Flight to KUVV to meet up and watch the Mo Wing's Warbirds at the Sullivan County (Mo) fly in.

8/17/13   ( 1.0 hrs,  PA-30-200 N130MM)
3 touch and goes after doing the manuevers.

8/16/13   (3.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Beautiful afternoon flight to KPTK to look at a Baron, then back.

8/10/13   ( 1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
EAA meeting at 1H8. From Casey we flew to MTO for lunch then back to HUF. 

8/9/13   ( 0.7 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Quick trip to 2R2.

7/13/13   ( 1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Quick trip to KSET to pick up Jordan's iPad

7/4/13   ( 2.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
HUF to KSER to HUF. 11 planes. EAA Chapter 83 meeting at the museum at Freeman Field. Nice morning flight.

7/4/13   ( 1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
 BFR with J.P. Mellor in my Rocket. Fun stuff. Finished Basic Wings phase. Nice!  Also rode in 4AJ with Jordan Brown to KSET to watch him fly Show Me. Great way to start Indenpendence Day!!

7/03/13   ( 0.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Three takes offs and landings. Well, 5 passes total. 13 minutes. Rocket Is Fun!

6/29/13   ( 1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Not a cloud in the sky this AM turned into green yellow and red everywhere on the radar this afternoon. Good news is that Jim Winings fixed (we think) my tailwheel unlocking issue. Of course we talked 10 times as much as we worked on the plane. And that was after we visited with some fellow pilots and FSDO friends over at 4I7 (breafast). Eventually it became VFR all 64 miles or so from 2R2 to KHUF and I made it home in mostly sunny but very interesting rainy foggy cloudy weather. Wow, what a weird but very interesting and productive day!

6/23/13   ( 0.7 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Nice quick trip to Hendricks county and back. Deja Vu. And a little extra.

6/22/2013  (1. hrs, C-172 N9538H)
Had another nice flight with John Watler in the company 172. He did a nice overhead approach to a landing at Brazil after a short visit to 2R2 for their open house.

6/21/13   ( 0.6 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Nice quick trip to Hendricks county and back. Didn't realize how long it had been since I had flown the Rocket, and how nice it is to fly!

( 7.2 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
Front seat with Jordan Brown in back from HUF to Downtown at Springfield, Missouri, then Frederick, Oklahoma and on down to Midland Texas. Started at noon, got there around 7:30 PM local. Only burned 230 gallons to get there. 

3/30/13   ( 0.7 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
John Watler flew the Rocket with me over to Coles County for a quick breakfast. A beautirful Spring morning to be in the air.

 (1.8 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
Trained with Ethan Malavolti to BMG for lunch, then 3FK to pick up parachutes, then back to HUF for a 1 wheel landing. Beautiful clear day.

3/15/13   ( 1.0 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
Training with JP Mellor. Getting him (and myself) refamiliarized with the T6. Would have flown more, but the left brake decided to go flat. 2 stop and goes, 1 go around.

2/24/13   ( 1.0 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
Nice flight around the area, introducing Ethan Malavolti to the T6. Roller landing, too. Not bad after nearly 3 months not flying the T6 (because it's been too darn cold!).

2/10/13  ( 1.9 hrs  AA-5B  N28214)
Rode with Jeff Wellum up to Grissom ARB to check out World Heritage Aviation Museum's 1958 deHavilland Vampire. Very cool!

2/9/13   ( 1.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
The snow melted, the clouds parted and the sun warmed the area to a balmy 44 degrees F. I took the oportunity to introduce Ethan Malavolti to the world of F1 Rockets. We cranked and banked, did some TNGs. I bounced the last 3 pointer to a really long floater. It was good to be back in the air after such a long break.

1/06/13   ( 1.5 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Flew to KOWB for lunch at Moonlite BBQ Inn, and then a side trip to a huge gun shop. 4 planes, 9 guys. Lots of fun.

12/28/12   (F1-EVO N540MT) Annual Condition Inspection
Oil and filter change. Compressions are great. Inpected engine and airframe with minor issues repaired. Cleaned and gapped spark plugs.

12/22/12   ( 1.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Nice snow covered flight to KLOU for a busted formation clinic. Nice flight back through KBMG, then home. First flight with ForeFlight on my mini.

12/16/12   ( 0.9 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
MTO for bfast with the Browns and Alex from Janesville. Formation practice with overhead break on return.

12/1/12   ( 0.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
RNAV 18 4I7, map to a hold, then vectors to the BC 23 @ KHUF.  FUN STUFF!!!!

11/30/12   ( 1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
IFR practice approaches. Finally repaired my wiring to my autopilot (finally figured out it was a broken wire, not a configuration or operational error). "George" took me through vectors to an ILS and all the way down the glideslope. Then did an RNAV to 36 at Putnam County and a quick run to 2R2. On the way back home, I did a back course to 23. Now we're getting somewhere!

11/26/12   ( 1.1 hrs,  PA-30 N130MM)
Maneuvers (a little better). 2 approaches (on one engine), the ILS 5 and backcourse 23 again. BC needs a lot of work. One landing, two go arounds.

11/18/12   ( 0.7 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
IFR practice approaches. 2 ILS 5, 1 backcourse 23. Beautiful warmish sunny Fall day. Nice!

11/17/12   ( 1.0 hrs,  PA-30 N130MM)
2 touch and goes after doing the manuevers. 2 approaches, the ILS 5 and backcourse 23.

11/17/12   ( 1.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
IFR practice approaches. 2 GPS approaches, the GPS to 36 at 4I7 (for breaksfast) and the GPS 23 back to HUF. Then three maintenance flights after adjusting the TE f the rudder to try at get the ball centered.

11/16/12   ( 1.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
IFR practice approaches. 2 GPS approaches to 417, a GPS to 23 and KHUF and a side trip to 2R2, and some play time.

11/5/12   ( 1.1 hrs,  PA-30 N130MM)
Slow Flight, Steep turns, Dirty Stall, VMC demos, ILS 5, Backcourse 23, 1 (lousy) landing.

11/4/12   ( 1.0 hrs,  PA-30 N130MM)
5 touch and goes after doing the manuevers.

( 0.4 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
5 stop and goes. Nice landings, lousy pattern work... again.

( 1.3 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
John Watler and I aborted a flight to Monroe, NC this AM and decided just to do a short flight locally. We inspected Edgar County's newly opened 18/36, and then did a few passes over at Bussarts. Was happy to see Don's grandson out on the mower keeping the strip in great shape. After that, I went back and did some solo pattern work. during my last circuit, Billy Werth showed up on my right wing and followed me around, peeled off into the overhead and landed behind me. Always cool to look out and see Billy planted (or not) off my wing. My landings were very nice, but my overall performance was lacking.  Need to get back out there and practice in the Texan a lot more.

10/27/12   ( 1.1 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
IFR practice approaches. 3 GPS approaches and 1 hold. 2 approaches were coupled to my GNS480, and my TruTrak autopilot would have taken me all the way down to the touch down point. Sweet! Trying to do some serious IFR brush up getting ready for a Multi Engine/Instrument ride some time in the not too distant future.

( 1.4 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
After contending with a dead battery, it was off to chase down Jordan and Niki in the C-45 and Greg Moorehead in the back of Walt Gdowski's T6 being flown by Trey Carol. Greg was doing a photo shoot for an artical on J & N's Twin Beech.  As a bonus, they shot me in our T6 as well. Very fun doing oddball positions in formation to get good shots over Lake Monroe and the Hoosier National Forest near Brown County State Park near Bloomington, Indiana. Loads of fun... except for the bit of electrical trouble the T6 gave us.

( 1.1 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
Took a local flight with a student pilot raffel ticket winner from the NIFA regional event held at KHUF. Howard flew the plane for a good 20 mintes. Did pitch out and rejoin and formation with Comanche Bill. Overhead break to a nice single small bounce wheel landing. Great to be back in the Texan.

10/15/12   ( 1.2 hrs,  PA-30 N130MM)
Elliot Abel took me up and gave me an introductory lesson in a Twin Comanche. This thing is a Miller conversion with twin IO-360s!  It has some get up and go. And I was amazed at how docile it is when it starts to depart normal flight.  Man are the elevators heavy. Which way do I turn that crank? My thighs are sore. 3 landings... every one a keeper. One was even on just one engine... sorta. We did slow flight, power off stalls, and Vmc demos with each engine dead 

10/13/12   ( 0.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
 Today after 3 turns around the patch. I had to repair the left gear leg fairing after it "unzipped" on a 221 knot run in.  Put 2 layers of BID tap and epoxied the hinge before riveting. Also safety wired in 1/8 inch nylon tubing to the TE of the wood damper to see if I could remove some of the skid pushing the ball out to the right. It helped some.  Too bumpy and very low ceiling today, so unable to test the fairing at speed. It should be fine.

10/7/12   ( 1.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Followed the Red Tail Mustang up to Lafayette, then practiced some formation flying with Comanche Bill on the way back.

( 0.3 hrs,  P-51C   NX61429  "Tuskegee Airmen" also called "By Request")
Bill Shepard was kind enough to let me fly the Red Tail Mustang for a bit. Some steep turns and lolly gagging up over Clinton for a bit. Regrettably no landings...  :-)  Wow, what a terrific experience.

10/6/12   ( 1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Brought the Rocket back from Louisville (with a new show quality interior) and put it on display at the Hoosier Aviation open house.

 (2.5 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
Borrowed Jordan's Citabria to go down to KLOU and check out the progress on my Rocket interior. Beatiful day to fly. J.P. Mellor and I had a nice time in the air and hanging with the guys based in the old Cardinal Wings hangar.

9/16/12   ( 1.8 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
Aborted a trip to Scott Air Force base to put our Texan on static display during their air show. Unforecast low IFR conditions blocked our path 40 miles from landing. John Watler and I decided to go to MTO for breakfast instead. It was a really nice flight until we got to the wall of weather. 2 nice wheel landings. Ran the left tank dry jest before left base back home. Tank held 49.3 gallons when we topped it (out of 55 gallons total capacity). Restart was not instantaneous, but it was fairly quick. Made for an exciting few seconds!

9/8/12   ( 1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Took the Rocket to Bowman Field in Louisville. John Casper and his partners were gracious enough to let me leave the plane in their hangar while Larry Bell fits me up with a custom interior. Had a great flight back with John Watler in the company 172.  Blue skies and puffy clouds and a tail wind going down, which dissipated for the trip back. Nice!

9/3/12   ( 1.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Test flights to check gear leg fairing alignment and then just playing in the local area.

( 1.3 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
A little trip to the Coles County Air Show. Hot and windy. Nice day though, and a little bit of flying... regrettably not in the show.

8/1812   ( 2.6 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Flew to 2R2 for lunch after a few touch and goes. Then back to HUF for a short break. After that, flew to KJVY to meet Larry Bell and see about finally getting an interior made up for the Rocket. Met with Greg Gruninger and Brad Hood and checked out the most excellent RVs flyning and under construction at Clark Regional. They do some very cool stuff down there!

( 1.3 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
Cross country to KOVO for North Vernon Airport Appreciation Day. Great turn out. Nice little 8+ knot direct cross wind with gusts. Then over to KBMG to Cook Aviation. Borrowed one of their Cadillac crew cars and went to Trojan Horse for a gyro. 6 gusting 19 when we landed, but fortunately it was right down the pike.

8/1012   ( 1.9 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Slow flight, stalls, steep turns. Cross wind landings on one wheel. MORE Fun!

7/1412   ( 0.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
8 touch and goes. Cross winds. Fun!

7/11/12   ( 0.05 hrs,  DC3 
NC17334  )
Yes, I actually flew a 1937 DC3, the FLAGSHIP DETROIT for around 7 minutes. With a CFI in the left seat. It was fun. Turn East, Turn South, turn back to the approach course, get out of the seat...   :-)  What a cool airplane and a great group of guys!
Flagship Detroit is the oldest DC3 still flying!

7/8/12   ( 1.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
HUF - 2R2 - GHY for fuel (lousy pump nozzle) to GEZ in order to find Weelen Field.  I did two passes over the field and opted not to land. Easy enough to get in there, just trees, hi wires, antennas and more wires in the area. And a huge tree row directly off the north end.  Not a good place to go low or have a mechanical issue. Straight shot home. Rocket was running great.

7/7/12   ( 0.9 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Station keeping practice with Comanche Bill on the way for pancakes at Shumway Innernational, a grass strip near Effingham. About 20 planes showed for an EAA YE benefit. Pretty good turn out considering the 107 degree forecast. A nice "cool" 79 degrees at 5.5 on the flight home.

46 minute Youtube video of formation flight to Shumway Fly In

7/5/12   ( 0.9 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Mad dash over to 2R2. Landed. It was 102 on the ground. Climbed to 4.5 on the way back to KHUF were it was a cool 83 degrees OAT. Record heat and drought.

( 0.7 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
Pattern work again.  Still too darn hot to go anywhere.

( 0.7 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
Pattern work.  Too darn hot to go anywhere.

 (0.2 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
Just two turns around the patch in Jordan and Niki's Citabria. I changed the gasket on the side window to eliminate the whistle from the wind. Mission successful. Now the flight students can open the window. Considering it's around 100 every day this season, having good ventilation is a must. In fact, I'd probably take the door off.

6/30/12   ( 1.6 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Flew in formation with Comanche Bill over to KSET to watch Jordan B fly the TBM Avenger for the first time. Station keeping, In Trail, Route, left and right.

6/29/12   ( 0.4 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Maintenance flight to check out the replacement Plasma III ignition controller. So far, so good. Fortunately for me, by the time I did the flight test, the OAT had moderated to 96.   Record heat yesterday, maybe today, too... 105.

( 1.2 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
Intro to T6 aerobatics. Approach stalls, accelerated stalls, aileron rolls, loops. I need a LOT of practice. Back to basics....

6/22 - 6/24/12  
( 2.1 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
The Indianapolis Air Show was a lot of fun.  I got to fly 2.1 hours and Jordan flew about 2.3 doing his CAF fighter check rides with Doug Rosendaal and John Lomar.  The show flying was only about 30 minutes on each Sat and Sun, but it was a lot of fun. Wow, there were something like 42 warbirds IN the show! Doug was of course flying the Red Tail, and John Lomar was flying a Skyraider. 2 landings in front of the show crowd and two landings at home Perfect summer weather and lots of old and new riends Hard to beat!

6/15 - 6/17/12  
( 4.4 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
The fly in at Grand Haven Michigan was a blast. The folks up there in the EAA chapter and the G H Pilots Association put on a great Y E event and pancake breafast fly in. In connection with the event, the Red Tail P-51 Mustang and 'Rise Above" Imax experience honoring the Tuskegee Airmen was in attendance. The turn out was really great, although the Father's Day weekend and heavy rain Sunday AM put a bit of a dampter on the event. Bill Shepard was there doing his type rating in the Red Tail and  we were the only other Warbird that showed. Thanks to Warren and Marvona for getting us hooked up to fly up and demo our Advanced WWII Trainer to the folks there learning about the Tuskegees.

Photo Pass at Kokomo 2012

Waving to the crowd @ kokomo 2012

( 2.1 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
The Kokomo Air Show was a blast. At least 5 passes around the circuit during the Warbird part of the show.  A beautiful day for a cross country and a great day on the ramp with lots of air show friends. They do it right up there in Kokomo!

1942 AT-6D at Kokomo 2012

( 1.9 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
I went cross country to Kokomo to check out the pre-airshow digs. Man, I had a great dinner, then hung out with lots of great folks. Watched some practice for the air show. Then, getting close to sunset, I headed for the hills. Did one pass, then headed for home. The overhead break to a landing after sunset was fun at KHUF. What a sweet day in the air!

( 0.7 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
A nice evening for turns around the patch. 7 stop and goes.. solo, 1 low pass. Practiced fast taxiing with the tail up a couple times. Every landing was a keeper.

( 1.3 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
A nice little cross country to KMTO for lunch with JP Mellor. We did a couple passes at Don Bussarts, but no one was there. Nice overhead break to a landing at KMTO, could have kept it a little tighter in. Talk about a drag queen, I was turning in at 120 and thought I'd have a problem getting slowed. Full flaps and all of a sudden I'm having trouble maintaining 90 over the fence. The Texan sure is a "Pilot Maker". Like Greg V sez, it's all about drag management.

Reinstalled the parking brake on the Rocket. Took all damn day.

The Plasma III evidently had issues with failing due to overheating. I'm wondering if that isn't the case. Since repairing the plane, there was no cool air to the avionics area and the firewall was not insulated from engine compartment heat. Today I remedied both issues. I installed foam backed, self adhesive, metalized insulation on the cabin side of the firewall. Then I put a section of blast tube from vans in the right air vent. That corrugated "conduit" tube will always have fresh air to the back of the avionics near the top. In the winter, I may need to block it. Hopefully this latest upgrade will help insure less chance for future failures.

The Rocket had an ignition failure on Saturday. I ended up flying back to KHUF very high on just one set of plugs. It was a very long 27 minutes. Turns out the issue was the ignition control unit (brain box), so I removed it and sent it off to Klaus at Light Speed Engineering in California. So the Rocket is down for at least two weeks.

5/26/12   ( 2.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
This flight consisted of a cross country to Monticello, Indiana's White County Airport for an open house. The flight began with two ship formation training with Bill Foraker in his Comanche. Then we air joined with Glen Foy in his Yak 52-TW for more formal FAST training. And finally we air joined with two more ships for a total of 5 planes and did some FAST formation work and some formation fly byes at White County Airport.

5/25/12   ( 0.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Three short flights to test my Contour Roam camera, which is now mounted in the top cap of my vertical stabilizer. The audio is horrible on this camera because the body of the camera picks up wind noise.

5/23/12   ( 1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Some cross wind touch and goes, a flight over the Brown Estate, then some formation practice with the Comanche. Lead changes, Route, Rejoin, Pitchouts, In Trail, Turns and side changes. Good stuff, started with a nice formation take off.

5/20/12   ( 1.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
After the "Vern Flight", Bill Foraker couldn't get enough and we did some two ship, him in the Comanche and me in the Rocket. We did pitch outs and rejoins, lead changes, in trail, switches, routes and returns. It was fun and a learning experience.

5/20/12   ( 1.2 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
An 8 ship formation flight to 4I7 commemorating Vern Bothwell's 90th Birthday. Vern is our EAA buddy, a WWII 40 mission B26 Maurader pilot. The formation consisted of 4 Yak types (CJ, 2xTW, 52) 2 T6s (me and Laura Stants) a Twin Beech leading the flight and a Grumman Cougar leading the T6 element. It was fun, and I think it looked pretty cool.  Vern sure seemed to like it! I know I did, even though my skills are weak at best.

5/19/12   ( 1.9 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Intro to formation. Trial by fire. First time, #2, 5 and 6 ship. WOW!  Station keeping, Echelon,  Fingertip. Got a bit of heat stroke and stood down. Road with Glen Foy in his TW Yak for the last sortie. Watched lead changes and element joins. Cool!

( 1.2 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
A nice formation flight leading the C45 to KEYE for dinner at Ricks with Pirolli in the back.  Then, on the trip back, our new Executive Director of KHUF, Bill McKown was the GIB, did some S turns and took me to the downwind after I flew #2 in formation. I showed Bill a beautiful wheel landing, then let him taxi around the ramp. Always a hoot when someone first tries to unlock the tailwheel and spin the plane around. Great job guys!

( 1.2 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
Billy Werth was doing a smoke system check on his new Eagle. 3 with the Texan, his Pitts (flown by Andy) and the new Christen Eagle. Smoke was awesome. I did a few passed and some crosswind landings. A great evening flying solo.

( 0.8 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
A quick solo trip to 4I7 Putnam County for no dinner. Got there just after 8. They close the restaurant at 8!? That's usually an early sign of business death. Anyway, Jordan flew formation with me in the C45 all the way over and back. Overhead break from formation on 23 to a full stop. First time I did it from 500 over pattern altitude and I got too far out on the turn back in. I need more practice. Landings were terrific.

( 1.0 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
A quick trip to KSIV for a landing and a few "show passes", then back to HUF for an overhead break to a stop and go, then three more landings. One was really interesting, a 3 point stall from about 10 inches above the ground. It was immediate, abrupt and... nice!  The plane dropped straight down and everything contacted at the same time. Don't want to do THAT every day, but it was a non event. And boy, could I sure have stopped VERY short.

5/13/12   ( 1.7 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
  ( 1.3 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX )
In the AM I flew the Rocket cross country to KSET and watched some B25 and TBM action at the MO Wing of the CAF. Flew loose formation home with our T6, Jordan at the helm. Afterwards I loaded up Tim Piroli in the T6 and we flew to KMTO for some dinner and they were closed for Mothers Day. So a couple passes at Bussarts and a few stop and goes back at Hulman. My three point wasn't too bad, but I thumped every one of the wheel landings.

5/12/12   ( 1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Several passes before, during and after the Boy Scouts merit badge event at KHUF. Then Flew with Jeff Wellum (Foraker in tow) to Greencastle for lunch. After that, a short ho to 2R2 to see Billy Werth's new Cristen Eagle. Did one turn around the patch in formation with Billy (he did all the work). To end the day, I caught up with Wellum on the flight home, blew past him at over 50 knots closure. What a terrific day!

5/11/12   ( 1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Flew over to Indy Regional (Mount Comfort) to see if Billy Werth's new Christen Eagle was around. Nope.

5/7/12   Class II Medical Exam
Drove all the way to Effingham, IL to get my FAA medical with Dr. John Gapsis. I met John several times at KMTO, where he used to fly his Vtail Bonanza. Hadn't seen him for several years. His office did a great job with my medical. No nonsense, and even took me early.  Nice!  Good for another year (or two!).

5/6/12   ( 1.9 hrs, M252  N252ME)
Rode with Jerry Badger in his tricked out Mooney 252 to KBAK for lunch and then we did a series of approaches back to HUF.  A nice day learning Jerry's systems. And his Mooney is a sweet riding go places machine.

5/5/12   ( 1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
( 1.2 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX )
John Watler and I flew the T6 over to KEYE and had lunch with Bill, Nick and Jeff. The ceiling finally got up to VFR at Grissom, but when we departed EagleCreek to go up there, the weather in between was just terrible, with lowering ceilings and lousy visibility. So we just went home. Still a beautiful day otherwise in the T6 with a couple of very soft and gentle landings. Then for dinner, Jeff Wellum flew Lead and I formed up in the Rocket for a flight to KMTO and some Walleye. What a gorgeous evening to fly, nearly full moon, with the moon as close to the earth as it ever gets, not a cloud in the sky. Beautiful.

4/29/12   ( 1.1 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Milestone today. Passed 200 TTAE on my Rocket. Let the autopilot do a lot of the driving. A few landings at 2R2 and a few back at Hulman. Stopped and talked with Jim Winings after watching him do some evening aerobatics in his Rocket. A very nice evening. Saw 207 knots down the runway and a steady 30.0 MAP.

4/27/12   ( 0.6 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Aborted an attempt to Rocket up to Kokomo. My sinuses post major head cold just weren't up to it.

Some nice pictures from our trip to Grimes Field for the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Reunion and Gathering of B25s (thanks To Steve See for the pictures!):

It rained a lot over the arrival weekend. Not enough to wash the bird shit off my poncho, though.

Matt In Poncho outside the Champaign Aviation Museum after the rains stopped

I got to ride in the back of Devil Dog with my buddy Mark Frederick of Team Rocket fame in the right seat. It was cool to ride back there on the short hop and land at the museums strip at Wright Field, on the grounds of the National Museum of the United Stated Air Force, on Wright Patterson Air Base. This picture was taken just after sun up, prior to engine start. We were number 20 out of 20 B25 Mitchells that flew to the Museum for the 70th Doolittle Raiders Reunion.

Me in front of Devil Dog prior to engine start and departure as Doolittle #20 to Wright Field at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Bill and I flew back on Thursday in our T6 ... just for fun. It was a nice afternoon for a flight.

Matt And Bill in Texas Twister outside the Champaign Aviation Museum, Grimes Field, Urbana Ohio

4/22/12   ( 0.7 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Jeff Wellum and I flew to 4I7 for Sunday brunch. While Jeff flew his Tiger direct, I did a coupled approach RNAV 36. After breakfast, a short hop to 2R2, not a THING going on  over there. So I formed up on Jeff's left and we did very bumpy formation work back toward Terre Haute.   After about 15 minutes, Jeff gave me the high sign, so I pulled out the stops (shoved the money handle forward) and raced back to KHUF. Turning final I was doing about 190 knots. On the "option" to 32 I indicated 213 going downhill (airspeed), pulled up and coasted to a full stop on runway 5. A good way to spend a Sunday morning.

( 3.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
A very bumpy day in the air. KHUF to KCFJ to KOKK to KCFJ to KHUF to KOKK to KCFJ to 2R2 to KHUF.  RNAV 4, RNAV 5, RNAV 22 to ILS5 to ILS 5... then RNAV 5 to runway 36, to the full  RNAV 32 back home.  The last approach was FINALLY FULLY COUPLED and was flown to the ground by my autopilot. I think I just about have it figured out.  It was cool watching the autopilot do holds.. and a teardrop to the IP on the final approach. VERY COOL!

I also did a nice pass over Ropkeys!

(3.4 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX )
Flew to Grimes Field, I74, over by Dayton. Nice cross country, easy flight. Only some 88 gallons of gas. Over 10 of the B-25s were still there following some of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders events. Botched an approach to landing behind SHOW ME, and had to do a go around. I think most non pilots thought it was part of the show.

( 2.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
I'm missing and hour of flight time in there somewhere, so I chucked it on todays flight.  I put in my freshly overhauled TruTrak Digiflight II VSGV autopilot and ran over to 2R2 to see if Billy Werth was there putting the Patriot Eagle back together. Evidently they have it somewhere else. But the autopilot worked FLAWLESSLY, better than ever!  WOOHOO!   Pretty cool to dial in 1000 fpm at low power and the plane just goes UP!!!!  COOL!

4/17/2012  (0.0 hours, DEVIL DOG B-25)
Today I was a crew member in Devil Dog, a B25 Mitchell (PBJ), and we flew from Urbana to Wright Field at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. It was a short, but beautiful flight.  The B25 were commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Doolittle Tokyo Raid. Many thanks to Beth and Mark Frederick for allowing me to ride along in the back. It was extremely cool!!!

(0.9 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX )
Beautiful brisk evening for a little cross country to 2R2 and a quick chat with Billy Werth of Grayout Aerosports.  A nice ride back home and a pitiful excuse for an overhead break. I'll definitely start working on that MUCH more.

( 0.9 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Easter Sunday and quiet but very sunny skies.  Blustery and about 69 degrees this afternoon. Finally figured out what the latest issue is with the Rocket. This time it had little or nothing to do with the fuel system. Turned out to be a BNC adapter at the end of the coax between the coils and the controller.  I've had that happen before, but it was a LONG time ago.  Intermittent connection at a 90 degree adapter. Only found it jiggling the center conductor with the multi meter probe jammed in there.  Ah, but the engine runs even smoother than before. NOW it feels like the Rocket Of Old!!!  It must have been beginning to fail at the same time I had the fuel line leak just a couple hours ago.
Today I flew over to 2R2... nothing was happening, which is understandable given the holiday and the blustery wind. Back at home the winds were gusting up to 17 from about all directions. Turned out to be a non event, but I did float a little, then stall to a 3 point. FUN!

( 1.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Watler and I flew up to 4IN4, Wilson Field, and did a couple passes during their EAA/Young Eagles meeting. From there over to KMTO for a nice lunch, then on back to Hulman field for me. A nice pre-Easter flight on a beautiful sunny Spring day. I noticed two of my EGTS were registering about 100 degrees higher than the other 4, so it's back to diagnosing. Going to re-clean those injectors and look for induction leaks again. Otherwise the plane ran and flew beautifully.  Registered 205 on a downhill highspeed pass.

(0.8 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX )
86 degrees in early April. Heard on the news today that nearby Champaign, IL clocked 13+ degrees warmer than average for the entire month of March. And April looks to be just as warm.  7 landings SOLO in the T6 this evening.  Felt great!  One practice abort. Gear down, flaps down full power. Teased the flaps up incrementally. Probably should have brought up the gear first, but I did the flaps first and then the gear. I think either way would be fine. I'll try it with the gear up first next time. Just don't want to accelerate too fast, or nose over, either. 

( 0.5 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Try as I might, I could only get 198 knots out of the Rocket today. Down the runway, flat out, 2650 RPM.  About 64 degrees out. Nice day. Very fast, just over the  runway.  Twice.  And I did 4 landings as well.  Man, you can get around the pattern pretty good in a Rocket!

( 0.9 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Pitot Static/Transponder certification at Lafayette Avionics (airframe time 190.7 hours) Josh is awesom, and corrected some leaks in my system. Man, that KLAF airport is BUSY with Purdue flying students. 7 or 8 students in the pattern when I arrived and when I departed!

( 1.6 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Aborted a mission to go to KDET today for a formation ground school. Finally the weather improved enough by mid afternoon to do some flying. I opted to fly 7 abbreviated practice GPS and ILS approaches, mostly handled by my autopilot. Bummed that I couldn't get up to the Tuskegee Airmen National Museum benefit ground school, but at least I got to fly some.

( 0.9 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
I can't believe March is this nice.  Two flights today, one cut short by low IFR conditions en route, the other a beautiful flight over to 2R2. I had a nice long talk with Billy Werth about his new Christen Eagle. Also talked Rocket talk with Jim Winings.  An awesome flight, sitting back and letting George fly the leg back, through the edge of a rain shower. 3 TOs, 3 Landings. FUN!!!

( 0.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Yet another glorious March day. An unheard of 82 degrees.  Breezy.  Repositioned the left wheel pant and went for a quick check. Three landings, two of which were gusting 20 knots almost directly from the side. No problemo!  The ball still wants to go out the right side of the box, but it's better.

( 0.9 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Another glorious March day. An unheard of 83 degrees and sunny.  A bit windy, but what the heck. The Rocket doesn't care. After a test flight with repositioned wheel pants, I went to the FBO and chatted up a couple CFIs while their students were out flying. Then I saw this big noisy silver bird taxi out, so I hopped in the Rocket and followed the Twin Beech very closely over to MTO for lunch. Then I had a passenger in back for the trip home. That Jordan Ray Brown sure can ask a lot of good questions!

( 0.5 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Fun around the patch.

( 1.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
8 landings and a short cross country to 2R2 today. First flight was a test flight after I remade a fuel line (filter to firewall) and installed a new mechanical fuel pump. Engine ran beautifully. So I did a few passes then headed east to Hendricks County. Landed and got fuel. Then I ripped on back to KHUF and did some more turns around the patch. Ahhhh, I have that old Rocket feeling back again!!!

(0.7 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX )
76 degrees in mid March!  And NO wind.  A quick trip down to SIV for a landing, then back home for 3 more. SOLO.

( 0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
I removed the mechanical fuel pump from my Rocket this evening. Ordered a new one from Air Suppliers . The fuel pump as it comes has to be modified like I did the original pump. Regrettably, there are no self service parts or kits to rebuild the inside of these pumps. Waiting for parts to come from Texas.

(0.5 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX )
Has it really been two months since I flew the T6?  YES, it's been too cold or too windy!  Today it was 10g15 just about right down the runway. The plan was to get in some crosswinds. I texted JP Mellor to see if he wanted to tag along, and he showed up minutes later. We got in, buckled up, primed, CLEAR!  Click.  Dammit.  JP called the FBO for a jump. About 20 minutes later they show up. By this time, we're back out of the plane. We hook up and get it started. Man, did that prop swing when power by 24 volts out of a Lectro tug!  Engine backfires (all that extra prime from the first time around?). Once it get's going though, the ol' T6 sounds great. Start to put my headset on, and one of the earplugs had fallen off. Sheesh. 15 minutes later, airplane still running, I GUESS at where it fell on the floor and probe around with the "bilg picker". Sure enough, there it is, pops out from the hidey hole under the framework just behind my seat.
After we flew around, and I got re-familiarized with how the plane feels, I did one landing and called it quits. By this time, JP needed to get back home.  Ah well, it was a nice half hour in the Texan, anyway.
Unfortunately the Rocket is giving me fits. It's acting like it has a really bad induction leak, it runs VERY rough. As far as I can tell, ignition OK, injectors, OK, intake tubes and boots all tight, all fuel lines tight.  Boost pump seems to smooth the roughness out, which is noticeable well above idle. So I think it's the mechanical fuel pump that's acting up. I'm asking the Pros on this one.  I hope I can get it fixed quickly, I need to see Josh at Lafayette Avionics in two weeks for a pitot/static/transponder check.

( 0.6 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
I like the stick location and have more confidence about the pull (and push) on the elevators.  Now I have to figure out what's wrong with the low power stumble. Even had the engine die a couple times at low power settings. Thinking injectors or fuel pump... or maybe just too rich a mixture setting???  Flew to SIV and let the GPSS/Autopilot capture the ILS on the way back. FUN!

( 0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Adjusted the small diameter steel push tube from the back of the control column to the elevator bell crank. I was able to run about 5+ threads in at each rod end. This brought the stick back forward toward the instrument panel. I'm going to test fly it, when Mother Nature and work permits, then re-adjust as necessary. I think I'll have more confidence in the grip of the rod ends on the push tube threads. I probably had plenty of meat on those rods ends, but now I can pull hard and not worry about the threads pulling out of the rod ends.

( 0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Adjusted the large diameter push tube in the empennage that drives the elevator. By doing so, the elevator travel remains the same, but the stick grip came back toward me at least a couple inches. I don't think I need it back that far, so next time I work on the plane, I'll put a couple more threads in the rods ends of the thinner forward elevator control rods. It just keeps getting better!

( 0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Installed a new PC680 primary battery (left side) and removed cleaned, re-gapped (.039), anti-seized, and installed (15 ft lbs) the spark plugs, tightened the throttle body parts and the oil sump, also check the fuel line nuts in the cabin for tightness. A quick run up showed easy cranking, quick starting and MUCH smoother running. There still was some hesitation, the engine isn't as buttery smooth as it was for the first 140 hours. But I let it sit and idle at 560 PRM and it ran like a clock. Soon as the winds get down to a more reasonable level (getting tired of them gusting way over 20 knots, sometimes over 30 knots), I'll get out and run the piss out of it.

(0.9 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
A nice flight with a total of 6 aircraft over to KEYE. Rick's Boatyard across the street always has good food and a nice atmosphere. 40ish degrees, light clouds and moderate winds.

(0.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Today, the fricking Terri Jantze single arm steering lever that drives my tailwheel steering went TU.  I'm now on my fourth, if not my 5th, arm in 183 hours. That just sucks. The last two were heat treated to harden them, but they still fail and I lose rudder pedal steering on the ground. It's a sick feeling to count on it, then feel the tw just freewheel. Fortunately, I can still differential brake steer.

The good news today is that I was up to 208 knots on a high pass over the runway. The bad news is that the ball is more than half out the box at that point. Plane feels straight as an arrow, though, at full speed. Might have been able to eek another knot or two out of it, but it was getting close to sunset, because I had to abort the first flight and then replace the tw steering arm.  Oh well, at least I got to go around the patch 4 times.

2/18/12   (0.5 hrs,  C340  N25EB)
Had a good time flying Nick Mahurin's beautiful twin Cessna 340 today (right seat of course). We flew down to BMG, borrowed a Caddy crew car and went to Trojan Horse for Gyros. Nice day to fly, good company and great gyros!.

(1.1 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
The Rocket is starting to feel like the old girl I had pre-forced landing.  I still don't like the new stick position and I may do something about that this weekend.  But I did a couple dead stick landings  and got out and went up to 200 knots with an inch or two to spare. I still need to tweak the GLFs. It was great to get back in the air mid February. Barely a cloud in the sky and the temp got up to 51 F.  Felt almost like shirt sleeve weather.!  NICE!

(0.9 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Maintenance flight post condition inspection. Didn't quite boil out the water again, didn't go over 200 knots either. Not crazy about the new stick position. Battery #1 is toast. Battery #2 seems great, Hot starts are still a problem. Sure was fun to get out and go around the patch.

1/22/2012    (1.3 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
More turns around the patch. Was fun to land on one wheel, then lift and land on the other wheel. Sure was a nice late afternoon to do some light cross winds and just have a little fun.

1/15/2012   (1.1 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX )
John Watler and I went for a ride this AM. Man was is ccccccold. 13F when I left the house. About 20 by the time we got in the air. But what a beautiful morning. The clouds went away and the sun came out. We flew to MTO for breakfast, but their main runway was snow covered, so we aborted and just flew back home. I made the SWEETEST 3 point landing I ever made (those are relatively easy, though). The camera was running behind my head. I'll edit down the hour plus flight and see if there's anything worth showing and post it here (and on YouTube).

(1.8 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX )
A harrowing day flying from the back seat of the T6. I didn't attempt to land from back there, I left that up to Bill. Unfortunately one of those landings resulted in a ground loop at KBAK. No damage was done, and it was actually a good learning experience for him. But it nearly cost us a wing tip and some runway lights. Oh well, now we have a  story to tell. All in all it was a pretty nice day to fly. I like flying from the back. One of these days I'd like to learn to land from the back seat. I fly the Citabria from the back quite a lot, but you're not nearly as blind from the back in there. I'll wait for Jordan or Greg Vallero before I attempt any back seat landings in the Texan.

(1.3 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX )
Finally a nice break in the weather. A sweet run to MTO in formation with the Jordan and Niki in the C45.  The ramp was full of about 15+ airplanes. 2 landings, nothing exciting... which is a good thing. Beautiful day, more than 50 miles visibility. We don't get that very often in Indiana in the Winter.


What a lousy end to 2011 and worse beginning of 2012 (weather-wise). This AM the ceiling is OK, but it's already 23 gusting 34... on it's way up to over 40 by this afternoon. Good day to stay on the ground
     The weather finally broke at 5 PM yesterday and I got the Rocket started to go for a final 2011 flight. But one of the batteries somehow discharged to below 5 volts and therefore only 1 ignition was working (and showing 12.7 volts on battery #2). That's a no go. So I put the #1 battery on "desulfate" mode on the charger. It was supposed to be a camera test and it ended up being a bust. The volume on the camera was set too low, so you couldn't even really hear that awesome Rocket IO-540 sound. And the camera DOES make the propeller look all distorted.
    I bought a Contour Roam for myself for Christmas. I did some tests in the T6. The initial mounting location is behind my head using an Adel cushion clamp and a screw mount. The camera is capable of 1080P, but the viewing angle is substantially reduced from 170 degrees to 125 degrees at the maximum image size setting. I'll test both settings in flight once the weather improves, but for now, I'm inclined to set the camera back to 720P to get the wider angle view from inside the canopy.

720P/170 degrees on top, 1080P/125 degrees on bottom.

12/28/2011   (1.2 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX )
Flying solo in a T6 just doesn't make a lot of sense. Not that it has to. But today, I flew all by my lonesome to MTO for lunch. John and Johnny Watler flew the family 172 as well. They tried to take pictures of me, but didn't have a lot of luck. Oh well, I had fun just the same. A beautiful Winter day, somewhat sunny, but never got over 40 degrees. Felt pretty good out there, though.  A couple passes at Don Bussart's field again, no onlookers this time, except a guy in a truck at the side of the road watching.  Started mounting a camera on the rollover structure. Hopefully tomorrow I can record some T6 flying.

12/26/2011  (1. hrs, C-172 N9538H)

Had another nice flight with John Watler. We flew up to KDNV to look around, then back to Paris and then over the late Don Bussart''s grass strip. Then back to Brazil and into the barn. We were going to jump in the T6 for a while, but ran out of time. Rain or snow tomorrow, so hopefully we'll spend more vacation time in the air on Weds or Thurs. Anticipation is keeping me waiting.

(1.6 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX )
The good news is that the EGTs on the T6 appeared to read normal the entire flight. Also, the plane started right up after preheating with a kerosene heater for a while (oil was still very cold). I used NINE primes just like the book says.  This time I did not touch the throttle from the scavenge position the flight before, and left it there to warm up. That put the engine at about 1100 RPMs, also just like the book says.
    After engine warm up, I flew the T6 solo to KBAK in Columbus, Indiana. They have a nice restaurant on the controlled field. I met up with Jeff Wellum and his Tiger, and Jim and Jerry in their Mooneys. Near the end of breakfast, Eric and Cindy Hettlinger showed up in their Tiger, too. It was a beautiful Christmast eve day, about 40 degrees and clear skies, although it was low IFR just south of our route. After breakfast, Jeff's BIL Scott rode back to Hulman Field with me. Regrettably while I was donning my parachute I popped off a foam plug from my Clarity Aloft headset. I didn't notice it was missing until after I was harnessed and the engine running. So I flew back to TH with one plug in. I had my left index finger over my ear as much as I could. Man, it get's noisy in there!!!. The foam plug was laying at Scott's feet and recovered at the end of the trip. All in all a fun day of flying.

(1.2 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX )
Started a trip to KEYE and after getting most of the way there, turned back to KHUF. Several little issues with the plane made me uncomfortable, so better safe than sorry. Or get stuck away from home. Everything was fine, erroneous indication due to a faulty proble, low battery charge, hard starting and fouled plugs with bad mag check. It all cleared up, although we need a new JPI probe eventually. Took the opportunity to change the oil and filter. Took an oil sample and sent it off to Blackstone labs.

(0.8 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX )
 Showed J.P. Mellor what the T6 was all about. Flew to SIV for a 2 point landing and then back to HUF for a 3 point landing. After a month lay off, I was sure rusty. Touch downs were great, but rudder control was bombastic.

12/11/2011  ( C-45H N213DE )
Flew with Jordan Brown and Alex Smith (from Janesville, WS) in the C-45H. The Missouri Wing of the CAF had  a couple meetings which we sat in on. Learned a lot about the CAF. Probably going to join and try to participate with their Warbirds in the not too distant future.

12/10/2011  ( 1.1 hrs AA5B N28214 )
Flew around in Jeff Wellum's Tiger. PRG to Clinton to Clay County to Pam's Place (in poor condition) and back to HUF. It was fun being at the controls of a Tiger again!

12/10/2011  ( 0.3 hrs F1-EVO N540MT )
Four times around the patch in .3 hours. Could have done more, except for the idiot instructors and their students doing 2 mile patterns. Trim switch is still intermittant in the up position. Otherwise everything worked very nicely.

12/9/2011  ( PA24-260 N73T )
Four times around the patch with J.P. Mellor in his beautiful Comache 260. Very nice!

12/4/2011  (F1-EVO N540MT )
Condition Inspection: 181 hours TTA&E. Finished the job today with a run up, finalized by oil and filter change, then compression checks and spark plug gaps. Plugs looked great. Compressions were 79,78,76,78,76 and 79 out of 80. Oil used was 6 quarts of Aeroshell 15W50 and 3 quarts of Phiilips XC 20W50. I cut open the filter and found virtually nothing. Took an oil sample, sending it off to Blackstone.  Part of the inspection included re-rigging all of the elevator push tubes to even out and use maximum thread count on the rod ends. There really wasn't much else to crow about, which is a good thing. I still need to tweak the landing gear fairings, but that may wait until spring. Now it's just a matter of getting some good weather.  We haven't had as much luck in that category. It could end up like last Winter when many weeks went by without being able to fly (day VFR).

12/3/2011   (0.8 hrs,  C-172 N6081R)
I don't have a lot of C-172 time, so it was fun flying John Watler's plane with him over to KBAK for breakfast. Then there was a new resident at KHUF when we returned, a 1941 C-47, the oldest WWII veteran still flying. After  checking out the airplane, I rode with Jordan Brown in the C-45 to take the C-47 pilots back to Smart field, KSET. It was a really great day, much of it spent just enjoying riding in airplanes.

C47 arrive at KHUF for Winter storage.

(0.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
A quick trip with 4 other planes over to MTO for food. Consistently good food and service, it's a shame our home field has never been able to make their restaurant work.

Lynn Van Etten and Matt coming back from French Lick Springs Resort.

(1.6 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
                  (1.1 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
Nice morning to fly to French Lick. Boy the service getting back and forth to the F L Springs Resort was easy and great.... but the hotel restaurant is all screwed up. Their brunch now ends at 11 AM, and only the bar is open for lunch. The food wasn't bad, but cost twice as much as you'd spend anywhere else. I gave Lynn Van Etten a ride back from F L in the Texan, but her headset was malfunctioning, so it wasn't much good for her. I'll have to get her up another time.  After we returned, John Watler and I went for some crosswind play in the Citabria again. All these hours on the Citabria (I'm not the only one who's been flying it), and we finally put in a quart of oil. Not bad!

(0.7hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
Try as we might, Bill and I couldn't get to Charlotte for the Warriors and Warbirds show. The rain and mountain obscuration were just too much. So we stayed home. I took John Van Etten, AKA Nail 32 (FAC in Viet Nam's famed Bat 21 rescue), for his first T6 ride. A local flight, we went to Paris, IL to see how their runway construction was progressing, then a couple passes over the late Don Bussart's air field. A nice afternoon doing some easy flying and sight seeing.

(0.6 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
                   (0.5 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
Before the winds got up this AM, John Watler and I pulled the Citabria out of the way and I did 6 stop and goes in the T6. It was a brisk 31°F out there, and I'm sure it was pretty cool (literally and figuratively) in the back seat. I felt like I really had to remember how to land the T6, but it came back pretty quickly. Above the ree line, we were crabbing between 30 and 40 degrees in the pattern. Worse when we abandoned the T6 for the Citabria and some crosswind work.  Jordan Brown jumped in our T6 and was heading out to fly using his new ANR helmet. We watched from the ground, but Jordan only did a few turns around. He said the in-the-ear part of his helmet was gouging his ears. We went to his Vintage Wings hangar and he cut down the foamy parts. I think he's good to go, now. Nice AM at the airport.

Alan Harder's FlutterBug getting pushed out of the corn stubble after a perfect precatuionary landing.

10/28/2011    (1.6 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
More turns around the patch. Then at the end of the flight, John Watler and I heard Alan Harder call the tower from his FlutterBug that he was having engine problems and  was going to make a precautionary landing "near the omni". The controller didn't seem to know what that meant, so John and I called the tower and departed the pattern to assist. Alan had made a beautiful landing in a freshly combined corn field, and the plane came to rest about 200 feet or so from the VOR station TTH. Alan called that he was down and OK, and we could see him and a passer by already at the plane in his truck. We landed the Citabria back at Hulman Field and drove quickly to assist. Three deputy sherrifs and one Indiana State Trooper arrived to assist. Everyone was happy that Alan was just disappointed and the plane was not injured in the least. After much deliberation, the police insisted we trailer the plane back to the airport, which was certainly the right idea. A quick call to Eric "Stuka" Hetlinger got him out of the kitchen at Rollies Pizza, and he was at the airplane with a 24 foot tip trailer in about 25 minutes. We loaded up the trailer and the cops made a phalanx for us down the road, and we were back at Alan's hangar in a matter of about 3 hours total time.  Now Alan gets the dubious task of figuring out what went wrong with his fuel system.

FlutterBug on Hetlinger's trailer going back to HUF

 (3.9 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
Going to French Lick for brunch was a wash out, but this afternoon I made up for it. Many thanks again to Jordan and Niki Brown, new owners of  Hoosier Aviation. The Brown's are not only now going to run our FBO at KHUF, but they also share their hangar and their airplanes with us. They are also partners in the T6 with Bill and I. After the sun came out this afternoon, I spent a lot of time sharing rides with fellow pilots in 8724V, the Citabria that used to belong to Bruce Dallman. It's a blast to fly, and still in very good original condition. Nice day for easy 9 knot cross winds.

 (2.0 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
Fall mornings don't get any prettier. First real frost and fog in the deep hollows. Low wind that developed into light blusters, just enough to make pattern work interesting. What a pretty morning and afternoon to fly!

 (1.3 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
A cooler but lovely afternoon. Lots of sun and lightly gusting winds called for some Citabria fun and a flight around Covered Bridge country. Interestingly, I saw 4 covered bridges in a very small area that I had not known about before. Bridgeton and Mansfield were packed. And on the last of 4 landings, we put down behind a Blackhawk helicopter that was doing pattern work at HUF. Interesting afternoon!

(0.5 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Some stop and goes in the Rocket just to boil the water out of the engine. 4 landings. 5 times around the patch. Plane started right up, elevator trim worked just fine. After flying the T6 so much, it was hard to get used to being so close to the ground on the runway!

 (1.0 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
Rumor has it that we were the only aircraft using our airport since the FBO shift change. Playing in the pattern was fun. Finally some slight cross wind to make it a modest challenge to land the Citabria. Thus ends one of the most spectacular and splendid "Indian Summers" I have known. Tomorrow the rain comes and the temps begin to fall back. The leaves are coming down in droves. But what a beautiful sight, and unbelievable flying in October!

(2.0 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
The morning brief was for a fly out to 40C. Watervliet ("water ve leet"), Michigan, about 31 nautical from Elkhart has a BEAUTIFUL grass airport. Two extremely wide runways, the longest being 2600 feet located in an area of nothing but trees. My first time taking the T6 on grass and my shortest runway to date. There were 10 or so T6s and 5 Stearmans for this event. I was extremely nervous about going in there, but "the pros" didn't even give it a second thought. In fact, they came in formation and even landed a little long.  I bounced twice before settling down and used about 2000 feet of the runway, which is a joke. I've stopped in 1500 feet before, so my anxiety got the best of me. Watervliet is a pilot's dream, with very smooth and manicured grass, old hangars and lots of planes. The locals came out in droves.  I was the first T6 to arrive (3 times according to Scott Duck!),  and then the Corsair came in right behind me. Then 5 T6s, the Stearmans and then the rest of the T6s. And lots of spam cans were there too. The leaves were turning, the temp was about 80 and hardly a cloud in the sky. And lunch was a steak fiest! What a way to cap off a spectacular weekend.

More T6s at Watervliet, 2011.

Late in the afternoon, it was time to head for the barn. I was the last T6 to depart. I watched most of the T6s break ground and have no problem getting out. Those were single occupant ships. The 2 up ships used most of the runway. One of the 2 person ships popped up out of ground effect and began to settle back to earth. YIKES!  So the departure was as nerve wracking as the arrival. I told Bill to close the windows and I took a running start and all 36 inches of manifold to get going. I folded the gear mid field and had no problem clearing the massive trees at the south end of the field. COOL!  We decided to head toward the lake and go south past the east side of South Bend. We could see Lake Michigan easily, but the shore was curving to the west, so we stayed the course direct home. Talked to Grissom Approach through the MOA and enjoyed the ride. Wow, what a fabulous weekend!

Texas Twister, Bill on the wing, Watervliet 2011

(0.4 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
We went for a short flight in the AM around Elkhart, which I flew. Then upon returning to base, we attended the brief for the formation contest, and for the message drop contest. We watched the FAST card qualified participants fly formations under the waivered airspace and then broke for lunch. After lunch in the hangar, there was a T6 aerobatic demo by Vlado Lenoch, a Wildcat demo, a Corsair demo and then the Red Stars did a formation presentation. After that, we broke for the bombing runs. Us "straglers" (two non-FAST qualified single ships) were allowed to make FOUR passes and make drops on the target. We didn't even come close. Bill and I briefed a plan and it totally went out the window as soon as we got airborne. Literally, it went out the window. But it was a LOT of fun. Bill was PIC for that flight and did a terriffic job bringing us around. Then he made a nice crosswind landing in front of the crowds. Oh, and that morning, the GOODYEAR BLIMP made a high speed pass in front of the crowds as it departed the field for the Notre Dame football game. That night there was a banquet at the Elks Country Club. The food was great and it was a bunch of fun.

I rode in tight formation in the white SNJ2 and the yellow T6G.

(1.1 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
Another gorgeous day for a cross country to Elkhart Municipal for the Elkhart Warbird Weekend organized by Chuck Marshall.  In addition to the beautiful flight up, I rode in the back seat of Chuck's T6G and Todd's SNJ2 (T6 Lead at Oshkosh) for some VERY tight formation flights. I'm talking VERY tight. The first formation was a four ship. Regrettably the sortie was cut short by one of the plane's venting fuel. The last flight of the evening was a 6 ship formation over local Edwardsburg High School's homecoming. The formation was a thing to behold and the coordination with the national anthem was reported to be perfect. An extremely COOL and AWESOME experience. Met a great bunch of guys, and we're just getting started! Oh, and in the mean time, Bill flew me over to Lake Michigan, then up to check out Watervliet, MI, then RTB. There was a little dead time between formation sorties, so we decided to enjoy the weather and take a nice late afternoon flight. Just fun!

Part of the T6s attending Elkhart Warbird Weekend 2011. Texas Twister is on the far end.

(0.5 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
(1.1 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
The weather is still holding. What the heck. Let's fly two airplanes today. Sheesh, I wish I had more time, I'd have gotten the Rocket out, too! About 15 landings total!

(0.9 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
Another nice evening, this time in the T6. An incredible stretch of near perfect weather, so I'm capitalizing on it. Pattern work, which is the difficult part of flying a Texan.

 (1.1 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
A beautiful evening under a cloudless half moon. No wind, no students and the guy in the tower almost knew what he was doing. 24V may not have a very big engine, but it is sure a lot of fun to throw around. On about 5 gallons an hour.

 (0.9 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
More stop and goes in the Citabria to a full stop. 8 this time. Night Current again. Nice of the winds to die off completely in the cloudless Indiana evening.

The Entire Sullivan County Airshow 2011

(1.9 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
Wow, what a terrific day!  Took off to Putnam County for brunch in formation with Niki and Jordan's C45. There, we hooked up with Billy Werth of GrayOut Aerosports. Then the three of us flew formation to KSIV for their airport appreciation days. Today, I got to solo in the T6 during the show. Granted, it was just 5 passes around the pattern, but it was still a ton of fun. The sky was blue, the wind was blustery, the visibility was awesome. On the trip back to KHUF from Sullivan County, Tim Pirolli got .4 of back seat time. Back at Hulman Field, I did my first T6 landing on 36 and my first landing on 36 in about 6 months. The wind was so stiff, I did a wheel landng and nearly made the turn off and taxiway Charlie. A short 180 and I was off the runway and back to the barn. Every landing today took full rudder authority and a lot of patience with the elevator. After my "performance", I had to literally force the tail down because there was so much wind, the plane wanted to keep flying. Big thanks to our good friend Billy Werth for hooking us up to show off our planes and do some passes at Sullivan! FUN FUN FUN!

 (1.1 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
More time in 24V. Night current AGAIN!  Did a couple really fun short approaches to touch and go.  One time just spun one tire and went around. I love doing that!

 (1.0 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
Another hour in the Citabria AND night current as well. Sure looked like rain, but it was dead calm and no one else at the airport. Very nice.

(1.1 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
(0.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
(1.0 hrs  7ECA Citabria N8724V)
Ah, decadence in the United States of America!!  Today I flew three different airplanes. It was a beautiful fall day with light winds and sunny cool skies. 4 different airports, two different meals and a lot of good aviation camaradarie. It just doesn't get much better!

(1.6 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
A lovely flight back at 5.5K feet under broken clouds. The folks at Janesville, Wisconsin sure put on a great show. Super friendly people and a great atmosphere, and a near perfect weather weekend for an airshow. We had a nice time chatting with Susan Dacey, Gene Soucey and country singing star Aaron Tippin. Yep, lots of plane nuts gather in Janesville. Hope we get to go back!

(2.0 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
A challenging flight up to the Southwest Regional Air Fest in Janeville, Wisconsin. After a rather wet flight,  we broke out at the Wisconsin boarder, just in time to hold outside the TFR while some folks fit us in during Friday afternoon air show practice. John Watler and I got do to some lazy circles over Beloit, then land and park for the show.

(2.9 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
A little cross country in the Rocket today. Over to Smartt Field, KSET, to watch Jordan and Greg work on his T6. After that, it was off to KGBG. About 1/2 way up, I got tired of fighting my plane. My elevator trim had crapped out, and I was having the hold the stick with two hands to maintain steady altitude. The elevator trim stopped working in a nose up attitude. Not that I couldn't fly it with one hand, just that it was tiring. Anyway, I decided not to try to do repairs at Galesburg, and headed back to the barn. So I missed the National Stearman Fly In. But alas, I was going to have to leave in a couple hours anyway.

So I'm fighting the Rocket all the way home, the winds at home are 16 gusting to 24 at 360 on the ground. Too bad the airport administration has decided to let construction equipment be stored along the runway of choice, the runway best aligned with the wind was needlessly still closed. None of the equipment along the side of the runway had been used in a couple weeks.  I got to unnecessarily fight a cross wind on runway 5 in a plane that was already hard to handle that particular day. Through skill, determination and good fortune, I landed without incident. It's a shame that the current airport director sees the airport as a construction project and closes runways as often as possible for as long as possible. I always thought airports were to land airplanes and that runways should ALL be maintained in good condition and open as much as possible. That's what happens when a small minded beaurocrat, who is NOT a pilot, is allowed to run an airport.

(1.1 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
Off to MTO for some breakfast. A three ship sortie, including the C45 and a Comanche 260. Just a formation over and back to eat.

(0.4 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
5 turns around the patch. One go around due to an idiot in a van cleared onto the runway to check the ILS. Granted, he was over a mile away, but when you see a vehicle turning out from a taxiway when you're getting ready to flare, it's not good. And the airport is worried about cojoined approach end runways...

(0.6 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
One of the nicest evenings I can remember. Just perfect weather. 7 times around the patch, not only landing practice, but testing the T6 with 75 pounds of oil containers in the baggage compartment.  I like it!

(0.8 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
Kind of a hot, blustery, bumpy day in the T6. Always fun though!

8/28/2011   (0.5 hrs) 7ECA Citabria N8724V 
Nice to get up and do a little Citabria flying. Just as sweet as ever!

(1.5 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
To MTO and back, static display at the MTO 2011 airshow. FUN!  I'm flying the AT-6D and you are seeing it from Jordan and Niki's C45H.

8/26/2011   (1.0 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
To MTO and back. A little pre airshow look see and some catfish! 2 to's, 2 landings.

8/26/2011   (0.6 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
More Pattern work. Pretty afternoon. Not a cloud in the sky. 8 stop and goes.

(0.7 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
Pattern work. Pretty evening. Not a cloud in the sky.  7 stop and goes.

(0.8 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
Did a little informal formation with Jordan in the C-45H today. Departed as a flight of two, then Jordan formed on my 4. We did a pass at Brazil's airport, then some solo passes, then formed up again for an overhead break to landing as a flight. Fun!

(1.1 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
2R2 had their aviation appreciation day today. The original plan was to fly to Alma, Michigan and hang with some Warbirds, but Mother Nature had other ideas. So we stayed relatively local.  The ramp and parking lot at Hendricks County Gordan Graham Field was full. A nice day and a couple of nice landings. Below is a video of the back of my head  during the departure pass at 2R2.
(0.4 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
2nd solo!  Wow, without the 50 some pounds of lead back in the tail, the plane sure lands funky.  I think we need to put some weight back in there. I would have stayed out in the pattern, but some primary clod was doing bomber patterns.  Costs a lot of money and wastes a lot of fuel and time when students fly O'Hare sized patterns. 5 landings, all 2 point. I got stopped and could have turned off on Charlie taxiway every time.  That's under 2000 feet. 3 point makes it a lot shorter.

(0.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Removed the gear leg fairings and went for a couple turns around the patch at speed. The skid indicated by the ball was all but gone.  I think I'll reposition the left wheel pant slightly and go up again to see if I can get the ball to stay centered. If that is successful, then I'll start reworking the position of the GLFs.

(0.4 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
I dropped out of the SARL race due to some minor airframe issues. But I did fly to Clinton, Indiana where my dental office is located. Clinton's airport was turn 4 of the race. We sat in the shade and watched 20 race planes turn the corner.  Saw Tom Martin and Wayne Hadath fly over head in their "worlds fastest Rockets". Before the event started, I did a fly by while waiting for Wellum to get his Tiger off the runway. Watler was playing with his new high def camera and caught my "go around" on video.  
(0.8 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
Oshkosh is over and it's back to the real world. After some back seat time yesterday, this evening I went for some pattern work and a short jaunt over chez Brown. Procedures aren't second nature yet, but much better. Landings were very good, and relatively short. Wheel landings at about 2000 feet total and I did a 3 point that got stopped in about 1500 feet. I can do better, but I'm pretty psyched. 6 landings, all good.

Matt and Bill volunteering on Warbird Alley Airventure 2011

(1.8 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
KTAZ has very nice Sunday breakfasts at their local EAA hangar. A steamy, foggy morning. Cross country time in the Twister. 2 nice landings. Leaned the engine back a little and the flight only cost me 50.8 gallons. 

(0.7 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
2R2 for their little gathering.  HOT.

(1.1 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)  
MTO was packed for lunch. Man, I bounced it twice to a low tail 2 point there. Then back at HUF, a soft bounce again and I powered up for a wheel landing recovery. Both landings didn't suck, and were good learning experiences, but they were far from pretty. It's amazing how much a stabilized approach with the right settings and speeds makes for good landings. The 90+ degree heat and hot gusts didn't help any. All in all a fun afternoon, but not proud of how I performed.

Bill Foraker in our T6 at Putnam County. Note Nascar Driver Tony Stewart's jet in the background.

(0.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)   (1.3 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX) 
A nice dual EAA chapter meeting up at Wilson Field. Some nice Rocket passes and a really sweet grass strip. Good visit with the nice folks up at Dave Wilson's place. Then it was back to TH to get the T6. Lunch at Greencastle (4I7) and then back to Wilsons for a couple passes and a tour around a local watering hole.  All in all a good hot day with light winds and little buffeting.

(0.5 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Hot laps in the pattern. Still only 208 knots. Still seems to be in a skid.  Time to take the wheel pants off and check the "bare" airframe.  Need more short field practice... wasn't able to get stopped in much less than 1000 feet. Bah.

(1.6 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
PANCAKES! But at MTO this time. Then a cross country to find Coal City. Back at Hulman Field a nice 3 point landing, a roller.

(2.2 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
Flew bright and early to Kokomo for their Independance Day festivities. Played in the pattern with a gaggle of Warbirds. An L-29, a couple NORDOs and various and sundry spam cans. And that was just the arrival. Had to go through an overhead twice just to get a decent gap to land in. Then static display until the after the show ended. We were asked to fly in an aerial parade over the downtown Kokomo parade. From there, it was a nice coolish ride home to KHUF at 2000 feet. A bit of a city ride, then a nice landing on runway 23, which was open for the long weekend. Maybe more tomorrow if the weather holds out. The view most of the way home from KOKK:

Jordan and Nikki Brown's C-45H from our T6 

(0.6 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
6 stops and goes. Botched a boucer twice to a nice 3 point recovery. Still not much of a cross wind. Nice to be able to keep the canopy open.

(0.6 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
5 stop and Goes with Greg Vallero in the back. Felt much better about operating the systems.  Still not much wind to play with, so no chance to practice "steering toward the ditch".

(1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
PANCAKES!  KPRG had their annual pancake breakfast. Well attended by the public, low ceilings kept most of the planes away. A few passes in and out, a run to Don Bussart's, then back for a few turns at Hulman. Not a bad day all in all.

(0.7 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
5 Touch and Goes, some nice turns, etc....  Fun!

(1.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
ILS2 9, RNAV 9, RNAV 5.  After filling unused holes in the wing root fairings, I went for a test flight. I set the autopilot to head to MTO at 170 knots and squeezed the right rudder to bring the ball to the center. The plane did not speed up. I did this a few times and it seemed the plane actually slowed.  More testing is in order. Only got 29.7 inches and 198 knots this evening for some reason. Not pleased at that.

(1.4 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Local test flight after repositioning the left wheel pant and shiming the lower engine Lord mounts with one washer to align the spinner and engine cowl. The plane was slower. Manifold pressure maxed at 29.9 inches. The autopilot appears to be working normally and the airspeed indicator appears to be dead nuts on.  6 passes, but only three landings. only 212 knots indicated airspeed, and only 208 knots ground speed. The ball is still sliding outside the box to the right, but the plane flies straight. I was floating around the pattern at 80 with no control or buffet issues, ruddering around for a bouncy 3 point full flap, full stall landing somewhere down in the mid 60s. The plane tracks straight at the tires don't appear to be wearing terribly off center.  I think I'm in pretty good shape, but the supposed slip and lower speed concern me. I think I'm going to put the wheel pant back where it was and try again, it didn't seem to help.

(1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
5I4 at Sheridan Indiana had a nice fly in/drive in with a small air show today. Lousy viz and HOT. But the Rocket didn't seem to mind. Temps all looked good. Fuel pressure fluctuated on the left tank.  I think I'd better pull the wing root filter and see if there's any crud. Also I think I need to remove the wheel pants and gear leg fairings to see how straight the plane flies with the modified engine cowl. With a little luck, hopefully the problem is just the left wheel pant.

5/31/2011   (1.0 hrs) 7ECA Citabria N8724V 
Too bad the Terre Haute Air Center puts the only dope finished fabric covered air plane in the WORST location in Hangar 2. The plane has bird shit all over it all the time. Idiots. Anyway, 1 landing but a lot of fun flying. The winds were gusting over 24 but died to near nothing close to sunset for a change.  

5/29/2011   (0.4 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Early this AM I ran down to KSIV for self serve fuel. Nearly $1.00 cheaper than at my home base. Paid for the trip down and back, anyway. Sullivan's tanks are running low, so the next 100LL load will put the price about the same as Hulman Field. So say good by to bargain local fuel prices. 2 takes offs and landings.


No flying today. Was hoping to take the T6 up today since it finally got back from annual. It was just too blustery. 12 gusting 24 is just no fun.  So I started working on the Rocket. I had an idea why my #6 cylinder was registering about 25 - 50 degrees hotter than the others. It had something to do with being parked out on the ramp for three days at Mount Comfort.... without cowl plugs.  It only took me about 2 hours to clean out the mess.

Bird nesting around #6.

As a side to taking the engine cowls off to clean out the nesting and thoroughly check the entire engine compartment, Jeff Wellum and I were discussing my manifold pressure. I had concluded that the lack of increase in MP was likely due to how loose the 3" scat tube fits around the taper of the fiberglass airbox outlet. Jeff suggested also that the length of the taper, being so long, was also restrictive.  So I used my dremel and a cut off wheel to cut the taper on the air box back to about 1 inch. I also used a new piece of 3 inch scat that was longer than the first. The hope is that the longer piece will "accordian" more tightly when the airbox is put into place, even without clamping the scat tube onto the airbox outlet.  I hope to see my manifold pressure slightly higher on the next flight.

(1.1 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Early this AM I made 3 turns around the patch, then parked the Rocket on the east ramp at KHUF for the airport open house. They were giving bomb drop flights for $20 donation to a leukemia foundation, and Jordan Brown (with Matt Conrad of the MO CAF Wing) brought the B-25 Show Me! to sell rides. I was instrumental in providing ballast for two flights, one of which I served as bombardier for a flour bomb carpet bomb run. My accuracy was pretty bad., only one of 16 bags of flour even got close to the target. A lot of fun.  Most of the Rocket time was running Jordan over to Indy Regional (aka Mount Comfort KMQJ) to retrieve his V tail Bonanza, which we had used to ferry the crew to pick up the B-25. 3 flights today in the Rocket, 3 very nice landings, one of which was at night. As a side note, Jordan concured that my ball/slip indicator needed adjustment because the plane was NOT sliding/yawing at speed.  So now I get to tweak either the GRT AHRS or the magnetometer.

(0.5 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Sunday at the Indy Air Show was a complete wash out. It was IFR all day. I chose to let the Rocket sit and rode home in the C-45. The next day, Jerry Badger was kind enough to run me back over to pick up my bird poop covered plane. We did a couple practice approaches in Jerry's Mooney 252 along the way. Nice evening for a flight!

(0.9 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
I missed my flight to the Indy Air Show because of work. Instead of arriving in luxury at the air show, I flew my own plane. It was fun arriving during the waiver after the field was closed. Unfortunately, I arrived in the area just as the F-16 Viper Demo launched, so the airspace was shut off completely. So I did lazy circles in the air over the Verizon Center about 9 miles to the north of the field. As soon as the Viper/P51 Legacy Flight landed, I called for clearance to land. I explained to the Air Boss that I was C-45 crew, not a transient or spectator. The next thing I heard was "Rocket One, report the field, report 3 mile final runway 16, you are cleared to land." I taxied in front of the practice show crowd and parked at the west end of the Warbird ramp and tied down the plane for the weekend.

(0.4 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
I re-installed the Vans "pop rivet" static system today. I moved new ports back to the skin near the bulkhead at the hat rack/upper baggage compartment. I sealed all the tubing joints with clear RTV after I ran a new poly tubing line under the floor all the way from back to front. This time around all the joints are at either ends of the lines, and much easier to get to in case of leaks. A short local test flight showed that the indicated airspeed appears to be accurate, as checked against the GPS. 

(0.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
4I7 was a short rainy flight fro KHUF. High clouds with light, intermittant rain were easy to negotiate. After a quick buffet breakfast, Wellum and I flew our planes up to Wilson Field, north of Rockville, Indiana, and made a couple passes. Then it was back to HUF for a nice 60 degree crosswind landing with winds @ 15 gusting 22.  Piece of cake. EAA Chapter 83 had our first meeting of the year at Vintage Wings hangar. Had a nice time to catch up and plan the rest of the year. After the meeting, it was back to the hangar and more work on my 1942 Clark Trucktractor. We played with the choke, timing and valves (well, mostly Wellum did the work), and the tug is like a new machine. It's still marking it's territory a little bit, but the oil smoke and valve noise are all but gone.  A very nice day all in all.  

(1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Another small window between the torrential rains. I did a speed run at full throttle and indicated 218 knots. Regrettably, since I have made some modifications to the engine cowl, my Rocket indicates the ball to the right. The faster I go, the farther out the ball goes. The ball ends up a full ball right of the "box". Funny, but the plane doesn't feel like it's yawing, skidding or turning. Lunch at MTO was good and VERY crowded. Had to wait in line. The plane was hard to hot start, but after about 50 blades it started up. Boy, there sure is a lot of water on the ground.

The T6 is still stuck in annual up in Janesville, Wisconsin. They keep finding problems so it's going to be an extra salty first annual.

(0.5 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
The rain stopped for a while and the cloud bases rose to about 2300 feet. Time to test the revised air scoop and get some better base numbers on the intake manifold pressure and speed.  This flight, full throttle after a round or two in the patch warming up the engine. 3rd pass at 700 feet msl, full throttle, 29.8 inches of manifold pressure and 214 knots indicated airspeed at 2700 RPM, no leaning. Not too bad.

Air Scoop Re-glassed and trimmed to clear the prop blades.


While the rain came down and Jeff Wellum was honing the tug cylinders, I worked on re-glassing the air scoop intake. After the micro hardened (and we cleaned the gasket off the tug's oil pan and a couple other chores), I trimmed the scoop to fit the prop. Originally, I was going to leave the scoop within 1/8 inch of the blades. Jeff and I talked about it, then Jeff found in Part 23 that it's recommended to not have anything closer than 1/2 inch of the blades, so I went with that. I ended up cutting off nearly all the micro I epoxied on, but left just enough to create a small lip. Still a ton of finish work to do on the scoop, but it's close enough for a test fit. If the rains hold off long enough in the AM, I'm going for a quick Easter AM test flight.

Adding about 1.25 inches to the lower lip of the air intake inlet.


No flying this rainy Good Friday, but I was in the hangar working. I sanded and primed the lower gear leg fairings ("spats") and countersunk the screw holes. I also repositioned the windshield fairing to take some slop out on the right side. That thing looked a little wonky with the lower edge bowed away from the plexi. Not now!  And the big job was to try to get the air scoop inlet closer to the prop. I am trying to see if bringing the mouth of the inlet closer to the blades will give me any increase in volume and perhaps more manifold pressure. I used some 2 inch and 3 inch bid tape as well as flox filler to bring the lower lip of the mouth forward about 1.25 inches. The original Rocket air intake inlet tapers and I think the air is spilling past the opening. I hope the changes I'm making will capture the lost air. We'll see. More glassing to do tomorrow, I'm sure.

(0.7 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
The forecasters missed it again, so I went for another run just before dark. A quick run over to MTO using the autopilot. Followed the published ILS 29, then back home. Everything seems to be in good order and again the plane feels like it's flying very straight.

(0.7 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Today I found the courage to go full throttle at high RPM and see what I could get out of my Rocket. 209 knots and 28.9 inches of manifold pressure at 1500 feet msl. The gear leg fairings are all in place and the plane flew straight as a string.  I feel like I'm back where I was before my accident, and maybe even a little farther. Some aspects of the plane are not quite as good as the first time around, but many are better. All in all, I'm very pleased with the result.  Now let the tweaking begin!  Maybe I can shave some drag and get more air into the intake. We'll see. But this plane is READY TO ROCK!   WOOHOO!!!

Right Gear Fairings ready to fly.

(0.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Test flying my gear leg fairings seemed successful today, but it was so bumpy, I'm not sure if the plane still flies straight. And of course the bad weather is rolling in for the next couple days, so I won't probably get another chance to fly the gear leg fairings for a while. This time around, instead of just glassing the gear leg fairings closed over the legs and dampers, I used -3 piano hinge. It was actually faster and easier to use the hinge. I expoxied and riveted the hinge inside the trailing edge of the leg fairing, and installed the hinge pin full length from the bottom up. After that, I positioned and drilled the "spats" to the wheel pants. The right spat was easy, the left spat was quite warped and did not go on well. Both spats need some more work.  Maybe I'll do some epoxy work over the next couple blustery days. ITMT, during my short test flight I did 3 take off and landings, two of which were 70 degree cross winds at 11+ knots. The Rocket handled it easily.

Gear Leg Fairings with hinge pinned, riveted and expoxied to place, ready to install

Gear Leg Fairings with -3 hinge clecoed

Comant 105 blade transponder antenna replaces the stick and ball TED antenna, which broke off very easily.

(1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Two flights in the Rocket today. First to test fly the wheel pants and go get lunch. Both missions were a complete success. Second was to test the new Comant 105 blade antenna I installed to replace my broken TED stick and ball transponder antenna. Also a complete success. I made beautiful 3 point landings with John Van Etten in the back on the lunch flight, and one of my best ever wheel landings after the transponder test. Only hitch today was hot starting at MTO. I killed the battery again. Going to have to look into why the plane is so darn hard to hot start this time around. I haven't figured out a consistent, reliable hot start technique.


Nut plates are installed in the wheel pant halves and the pants are screwed to postion on the airframe. I ran out of time to test fly the plane. Hopefully I can get in the air tomorrow.  Man, the plane looks SO much better with wheel pants installed.

Gear Leg Fairings roughed in after positioning wheel pants.

Wellum and I  worked on finalizing the wheel pant positions. Near as we could make it without 3D lasers and knowing that the fairings are all hand laid up, I think that we have the wheel pants aligned within 1/32 of an inch. Not that THAT makes any difference.  But the wheel pants are now screwed to their respective brackets in their (hopefully) final position.  I also started working on the gear leg fairings. I split the "spats" so they would go over the legs, and I cut at least 5 inches off of the widest end of the gear leg fairings. Those glf's are WAY too long. I'm using the original upper gear leg intersection fairings, and there really isn't any need to ajust those. I screwed them in, and will use those fairings to start alignment of the other two fairings down the food chain. But first, I need to test fly the plane after installing some nut plates in the rear wheel pants to hold the halves together. Maybe tomorrow evening.

(0.7 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
I tried to find Moonshine, Illinois from the air but couldn't. Had a nice late lunch at MTO. Rocket flew straight and level, no hitches. Winds were warm and smooth for once. The oil temps got up to 230 when I was doing some turns over Casey looking for motorcycles. Then I killed the main battery trying to hot start and the secondary battery was not charged up for some reason. After a charger jump, I went back home from MTO with rich mixutue and low mp settings to keep everything cool. Once back at the barn, I opened the cowl and opened the oil cooler restrictor and disconnected the cabin heat duct. A little early in the season to remove the cabin heat, but  I still have seat heat if it gets chilly.

While waiting for the weather to improve early in the AM (heavy rain and Tstorms), Jeff Wellum and I worked on my wheelpants for several hours. The pants had to be trimmed more around the tires. Since the plane is flying level and straight, I can now go ahead and install the wheel pants in their final position. Fingers crossed.


Installing the fresh battery in the GNS480 was a snap, but it didn't get rid of the "Low Battery Warning" message.  The old battery only had about .6 volts remaining, so it was pretty dead. Online rumors about the 480 suggest that there is either a software issue or some other wierdness going on with the change to a new compact flash card. Going to swap cards back to the original and see if the warning goes away. Contrary to rumor, the 480 found satellites and was ready to rock in less than 5 minutes from cold boot.


My Garmin GNS480 was giving me a warning that the internal battery was about to poop out. I started looking into what it would take to change it out. It's just a battery for cripes sake. Garmin, however, won't sell anything directly to end users. Next step, crack open the case (out of warranty anyway, heck they don't even make the things any more) and find the battery. Under the larger half of the case, the 3.6 volt SAFT LST17330-ST (tabs) sits on a pastic plate, velcroed in a compartment and stabilized with a strp of foam rubber. My particular box has a 4 pin pin plug with ground and power, just two wires. No problem. Got on the web, found the exact battery, bought it for $14 including shipping. The battery came USPS in two days from Utah! Next step is to unsolder the wires from the tabs pumped up my FJR1300, resolder the wires on the new battery, and put everything back together. Should take about 20 minutes if the soldering iron heats up fast enough.

4/3/2011  Continued
This afternoon I pumped up my FJR1300 tires and rode back out to my hangar. The long way. Once there, I decided to get out of the wind for a while and work on the wheel pants some more. More jig sawing, then clecoing the halves together and marking the centerline. I put some pink foam board strips over the rubber for spacing and put the pants back over the tires. I was going to level the ship, but decided to just use a digital level for now. The ship sits at a 10.5°, so that's the number I used for the level line down the middle of the pant. That puts the tail of the pant (the left pant, anyway) at 1.5 inches above the ground. So far, this has nothing to do with alignment with the center of the ship, just level with the waterline. I'll still have to line up the longitudinal axis with the ship centerline. But this should be very close.

Rought Cut fitment of left wheel pant around gear leg


I grabbed my jig saw and a box of blades and went to the hangar to work for a while. Since I'm pretty happy with the wheel alignment and the plane seems neutral in flight, I decided to start fitting up the wheel pants. I rough cut them in, as well as bent the crap out of the wheel pant brackets to make everything sit better. I think the brackets need more bending and the pants more cutting, but it's a start. I'll need to make more tire clearance and raise the pants about 1/2 inch over the tire. As it sits, the pants are fairly close to their final resting position. I'm going to fly a while longer without them, just to be sure. Then I'll start cutting and positioning them more seriously. Too windy today to fly. 17 Gusting 40 is a bit much for having fun. At least it's warm and sunny. Pretty nice if you can get out of the wind.

Rough Cut fitment of right wheel pant

(0.6 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
The call came in for breakfast in Greencastle at Putnam County Airport, 4I7. The place was packed, only a few planes though. The Rocket flew fast and low, nary a hickup, all systems nominal. A short hop over and back before the winds got to howling. Seems like March, it's blowing so much. So far, the wear pattern on the new rubber looks "square". Time will tell.


The changes I made to the aileron rod ends seemed to help the left wing drop with full/equal fuel. I decided it was time to get fresh tires on the wheels and get ready to install the wheel pants and gear leg fairings. So today, I removed the wheels, cleaned everything and greased the bearings. Then I used the old tubes (GASP!) which are air stop or stop leak VERY heavy tubes with new Desser MONSTER retread 5x5x6 ply tires ( on Condor cores).  It was a messy two hours or so of work, but the old (original) tires had no tread left, thanks to lots of off camber tire scrubbing.  Gonna fly something tomorrow if it's not as blustery as forecast. Thank goodness I didn't go to Sun And Fun this year, that place was hammered by tornados yesterday and more than 40 aircraft were substantially damaged. And that ain't no April Fool's joke.

3/21/2011  (0.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT, 
0.8 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX )  
Today was a blustery dash over to KEYE and Rick's Boatyard for lunch accompanied by the Wellum Bros. in their Tiger. I let George do the work. The autopilot worked great. The radios worked great, and the transponder was received by ATC over 30 miles out. The left wing didn't drop like a stone with full balanced fuel.  KEYE is 52 miles from KHUF, so it counts as a cross country. A good short day in the Rocket. At the end of the day, Jordan Brown and I pulled out the T6 and went out to play. I did three nice landings and road along as Jordan did a couple rolls from the back seat. The most eventful thing was the bellowing of white smoke and the massive amount of oil that ended up on the freshly cleaned right side of the ship. Guess we let it sit too long. Or maybe they didn't scavenge enough the last time it was flown. It was a non event in any account, just made a mess which was easy to clean up. The next T6 flight should be a trip to KJNV for annual at Blackhawk Aviation.

3/21/2011  (0.4 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)  

Another solo maintenance flight to check the antenna coax swap which proved positive. The change in the ailerons didn't help the heavy left wing. Upon landing, I checked the cable to the right antenna and it was defective, so I cut the ends off and remade the cable. Problem solved. The wing drop is going to require some more head scratching. After returning the ailerons back to "neutral", I'm going to drop the left flap a couple turns and see if that doesn't fix the wing balance problem. I hope I can tweak it this simple way, I don't want to have to redrill the wing attach brackets to change the wing incidence.


I moved the transponder antenna back to the rear stick bay and fabricated a new RG-400 coax for the install. I tested the coax for the #2 antenna and everything looks good there. I swapped the antenna coax cables between the SL-30 and the GNS-480 radios to see if the problem is an antenna issue or something in the radio. I adjusted the rear stick control column hangar to reduce some of the stick force "aileron drag" and also turned the right aileron push tube rod end out 1.5 turns to see if I could get the wings to fly a bit more level with full fuel. I buttoned everything back up and ran out of daylight for a maintenance flight. Maybe tomorrow...

3/19/2011  (0.7 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)  

I made a solo maintenance flight over to MTO (for lunch). Ran the prop and engine at 25.5/2550. The plane was thirsty, but I liked running around at 195 knots indicated airspeed. My transponder antenna needs relocated away from inbetween the exaust tail pipes, and something is wrong with the #2 radio (SL-30) only sending and receiving at about 10 miles. But the plane ran strong and smooth. The left wing is still heavy, something needs tweaked more there.

3/11/2011  (2.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)  
Jordan needed to take the Twin Beech up to Janesville Wisconsin for annual today. I was fortunate enough to take a little time off work and run up to bring him home in the Rocket. Today was not only my first time away from the airport, but it was also a 2.8 hour cross country. The Rocket ran beautifully, the oil temps finally got up over 180, but never higher than 206F. Very nice indeed. It was a beautiful day to fly, dispite 30 knot headwinds most of the way up (and only about 12 knot tail winds part of the way home). I"m VERY pleased with the Rocket's performance. I think I need to loosen up the ailerons a bit more, and the left wing is a scosh heavy. Other than that, it's time to change the tires and start putting on wheel pants and gear leg fairings. After flying today, I realize why I built this plane..... twice!

3/7/2011  (.1 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)  

A small weather break today so I ran out to take a maintenance flight and check the propeller governor. I'm pleased to report that the prop easily went to full RPM and was as smooth as glass in transition. Changing RPMs was a ton smoother than it ever was before. Now I realize that the governor was never right from day one. Oh it worked OK, but nothing like it is now. I can now tell that it was not only surging at very high RPM, but it was surging a little every time I made an RPM change. But now it's good to go. And man the engine sounds smooooooth!   After 1 turn around the patch, I gassed up and put the plane to bed. I'm ready to venture away from the airport for more testing.  When I fueled the plane, the tank levels weren't reading quite right, but the fuel totallizer is dead nuts on. I didn't get a chance to check the oil cooler airflow restrictor. I'll do that on the next flight.

2/25/2011   (1.8 hrs) 7ECA Citabria N8724V 
Nothing like jumping in a Citabria and flying from the back seat.  Fun!   With Bill Foraker up front, time for some pattern work. Sheesh, the way I flew the thing you'd think I never flew one. I had to remember that the wheels are closer to me than in the T6! Yep, flared about 6 feet too soon and stalled. We didn't bounce TOO hard.

Slam Dunk Wheel Landing KPRG 02/19/2011

(1.5 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX, 11 landings, SOLO T6! )
Greg Vallero and his son Brian came over to do some more T6 training with Jordan Brown and me. Jordan did some rear seat work with Greg up front. Greg then did about 1 hour with me doing landings, including a couple sweet 3 points. The Texan is a hoot to fly. I'm really enjoying it. And Greg is an excellent instructor, each turn around the patch it seems I would pick up something, or learn/comprehend a nuance that had previously eluded me. Very good training indeed!  And then Greg went up with Jordan Ray, who insisted on a ride with the rear canopy completely open. Not bad on a 52 degree day. At 9, he's a better man that me! After all that, we went over to Paris, Illinois. 5 planes went. All to take advantage of the low prices on 100LL. We saved $.90 a gallon by flying 15 or so minutes. If nothing else, the flight back and forth becomes "free". Too bad our home base thinks the only way to resolve their budget deficit is to keep the fuel prices the highest in a 50 mile radius. KHUF lost about 200 gallons of revenue.  Might not be much fuel compared to a biz jet, but those high prices are no way to attract  GA business. Anyway, it was a great day of flying which ended with me SOLOING THE T6 back to KHUF to end the day. SWEET!  Regretably, I ran out of time to fly the Rocket. Minor bummer. Maybe tomorrow.

My MT prop governor came back yesterday. UPS also brought the fittings from Airwolf to install the new spin on filter in the T6.  Jordan and I went to the big hangar at Hulman Field where the T6 is stored and installed the Airwolf filter system, complete with a Fram HP6A filter with an AC-700 label on it just to comply with the STC. Thankfully, I ordered 6 feet of mil6000D hose from Aircraft Spruce.  We used 5.5 feet of it, splicing in new lines to the filter between the engine and oil cooler. Kind of a fun little project. A run up and leak check, everything is AOK. Then off to my hangar to reinstall my overhauled governor on my F1 Rocket. The MT governor now sports a revised serial number, complete with an "F" suffix to show that it was "upgraded" with the latest parts and settings. On a test run, I couldn not believe the performance during the "prop check". Can't wait to test fly the plane with the fresh upgraded governor!  After sticking the governor on the Rocket, the winds died down, so we went back over and test flew the T6 for two turns around the patch. Then we pulled an engine side panel and checked again for leaks. Wow, the oil temps went down 20 degrees during flight, and NO LEAKS!


I went to my T hangar with Belle and we worked on installing a restrictor plate on the aft side of my oil cooler on the F1 Rocket. We'll see how these arctic temps cool the oil with only 1 inch of the cooler exposed. I gotta get those temps up over 180 to boil out that water! I was going to start on the wheel pants but ran out of gas. This cold or flu I have suck. Got Conjunctivitis with it this time in BOTH eyes. That's a first. Man, I must have been "Typhoid Mary". Bet all my buds get sick from me....  Anyway, feeling a little better, so I formed up a couple straps and a cover plate out of .025 and screwed them to the back of the oil cooler. I should be able to have either 1 inch exposed or about 4 - 5 inches exposed. More than likely, I can leave the restrictor in there year around in the "open" mode.  We'll see. Waiting on the prop governor so I can re-install that and get full RPMs out of the plane. Just in time for nicer weather.... maybe.

(0 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX,  0 hrs C340 N??EB)
Road in the back seat of theT6 with Jordan to KSIV for their breakfast. I didn't feel like doing any aerobatics, so I let John Watler take my place on the ride back. Instead, I rode back to HUF in a beautiful Cessna 340. Wow, what a way to travel!  It was a really nice morning to fly.  Looks like Winter may be taking a break for a week or more.

(2.8 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX,  8 stop and goes)
Finally had the chance to fly in the T6 with fantastic T6 instructor Greg Vallero today.  Thank goodness he was there to catch that first landing!!! WHOA! I had a blast and learned a lot. Did many stall and slow flight exercises and of course lots of landings. I have a lot to learn. The tail wheel part isn't so bad (if you can reach full travel on the stick and pedals), but having a retract is new to me.  There's a lot going on trying to find where all the gauges are and operate an engine that has different settings than the Lycosaurus  to which I am accustomed. But it was a blast. The plane is VERY fun to fly. Even fun to land... once you start to figure it out. I WANT MORE!!!!  :-)

I'd fly the Rocket tomorrow, but the prop governor still resides in sunny Florida at MT getting overhauled and "upgraded". Hopefully when I get it back, not only will I be $550 lighter, but the prop should produce the entire 2700 RPMs that it should without the horrible surge it had before. Maybe next week.

1/16/2011  (.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)  (.4 hours 7ECA N8724V)  (AA5B N288214)
After flying the Citabria from the back a few laps around, I ran the Rocket around the patch for all of 4 revolutions. The training aircraft got in the way at my airport because of training air traffic controllers who can't juggle multiple aircraft speeds or multiple runways. So I gave up and parked the plane. Then I pulled off the MT governor to send it to MTUSA for an "upgrade". Seems MT found out a while back that their early model governors surge at high RPMs. I found out a couple years after the fact that there was a DEFECT on the governor.  I decided to return my unit which has 150 hours in service over the 3 years that I've been flying. But since the unit is actually 6 years old, MT will not work on the unit unless I pay them $550 for an OVERHAUL. Perhaps I didn't make the best choice in buying and recommending their products. After the minor chore of removing the unit to ship it to Florida, I went for a ride with Jeff Wellum in his very nice Grumman Tiger. I feel quite at home in that model since I have 1000 hours in them. Even feels good from the right seat! Not a bad day.... although the flights were all short, we were lucky to find any sun at all. Now we batton down the hatches for an impending storm. That will give us a chance to work on our AT-6D, which seems to have need for a brake master cylinder overhaul. Hope the ice storm doesn't keep me from getting to the hangar.


I lost an old friend and companion tonight. My Shar-Pei Indy passed away today. She was a great pal. Extremely bright, and full of personality. Spry and exuberant, she always greeted me at the door with her tail wagging and happy,  smiling eyes. Indy leaves a broad gap in our lives, Belle and I will miss her terribly.

My best pal Indy.


1/16/2011  (1.0 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT) 

The Rocket ran beautifully today at 25 squared. EGTs and CHTs remailed very close. Seems like the engine of old! Flew straight at high speed, landed and rolled out nicely. There are still some bugs to work out, but none to stop me from flying away from the airport... day, VFR.


Jordan Brown, Bill Foraker and I formed BFT Warbirds LLC to operate Texas Twister. Our 1942 AT-6D is construction number 88-18022, which would correspond to military serial number 42-86241.We're waiting to get some documentation on the history of the aircraft based on the military serial number. We should know more in a couple weeks.

(0 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
Jordan Brown, Bill Foraker and I decided to form an LLC and buy Texas Twister. Jordan and Greg Vallero flew the plane home from L.A., California. Jordan's first solo landing in the plane was at 2 AM this morning after dropping Greg off at Creve Couer in St. Louis. Man, his landing was a beauty. I think he flew about 12+ hours yesterday and in the wee hours this AM. Later in the afternoon, we stuck it in a heated hangar and installed a heat system in the plane. Afterwards, I started and taxied the airplane with guidance from Jordan. It's a really nice plane. Big and heavy. But responsive. It'll take a while to get to know the systems, which are simple but very foreign, and the nuances of the way to operate this relic of WWII history. I have a healthy respect for "The Pilot Maker", and I'm extremely excited and happy about our venture. Let the training begin!

Texas Twister pulled out at new home in Indiana 1/9/2011

(.3 hrs,  AT-6D N817TX)
So we ran out to LA on a commercial flight to check out a couple T6 Texans to buy  in a small group co-ownership. Texas Twister was one of them. I went on a little test/demo flight with Stu McAffee out of Whiteman Field, CA. Wow, a nice sunset cruise in the LA basin at sunset. T6s are just very cool. And N817TX is no exception. Well mannered and powerful. I love it!

(1.2 hrs,  C-45 213DE)
Got a last minute call at work on Monday. "You busy?" Not really, why? "How soon can you be at the airport?"  35 minutes, why? "We're going to St. Louis to pick up Greg and Brian, look at a T6 there at Creve Coer, then head up to Courtey to see Mark Clark's inventory." So at 12:30 I departed my office and went to the Vintage Wings hangar. Jordan was just pulling the props through. SHOTGUN. I flew the left seat to 1H0. The rest of the night, I was a happy passenger. Man, it was cold in Rockford. Mark was courteous and showed us a few nice birds, and a couple "working girls" for sale that probably weren't worth the collective parts. Anyway, we saw the SNJ6 that sold before we had a chance to make a deal, it was quite nice. Too bad.  The search for a Texan continues. What a beautiful afternoon and night to fly!

1/2/2011  (0.4 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
(0.6 hrs,  C-45 213DE)
3 take offs and landings today. Rocket needed tweaking. Finally, just at sunset, I did several high passes around the airport. Felt like the Rocket of old. Very fast and nice and tight. In between the very short morning test flight and the afternoon circuits, I was invited to go to Rick's Boatyard across the street from Eagle Creek (KEYE) in the C45 with the Browns. I flew right seat on the way over. What a comfortable, sweat flying bird. Good manners, responsive for a big cabin class ship. Gotta love it.

But the best news is that the Rocket is about up to snuff, and it won't be long (I hope) before I start departing the airport area and begin flying the Rocket like it was meant to. Sweet!


The final maintenance on my Rocket for 2010 bookended a "pilot lunch" with a great bunch of aviation friends. A local tradition, we gathered and swapped lies about flying, past, present and future. Always a good time!  The Rocket wouldn't tell me when the ignitions were dead, I.E. the LEDs that signify a dead ignition would not illuminate. I thought I had wired them incorrectly. Turns out the solder joint on the 25 pin plug that powers or grounds the left light was broken. A quick re-solder and plane is off and running, I hope. At least I'll have some warning if one of the ignitions shits the bed. And the "mag drop" with one versus two ignitions is so minimal, in flight it would be nearly impossible to tell if one side shuts down. Now I have (again) my big read warning lights to let me know one half of my ignition has gone down.

Happy New Year!


J&N Metals was kind enough to mill me some 2, 3 and 4 degree axle shims to use on my origninal landing gear. It took about 4 degrees of camber and 3 degrees of toe in to get the tires squared up. Thanks to Jordan and Niki Brown for brainstorming solutions and following through to help out a fellow aviator!  You won't find better folks.

12/27/2010  (.2 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)

A very short test flight. Confirmed full RPM on the prop controll. Started to lean back when beyond 26 squared to save some fuel, bring the temps up. The plane started to buzz and stumble. Mixture back in, nothing changed. So I landed. Of course everything ran, looked and felt fine back in the pattern and on the ground.


Some post Xmas maintenance resolved a few glitches. The battery combiner LED now lights when charging is combined. Unfortunately I still can't get the manual combiner switch to work. The prop was maxing at 2580 RPMs, so I repositioned the foward prop cable mount and adjusted the rod end to ensure full travel of the prop governor arm. Cylinder #1 still has blue goo on the intake tube. The return line nut appeared to not be threaded all the way on, but it was tight as it could be. I removed it, cleaned both sets of threads and put it back on. About 3/4 the way up, there was a bit of a bur, and with some light force I got beyond that point and fully tighted the nut. Looks normal now. Hopefully that solved the blue leak on #1. Everything else visible in the engine compartment appeared satisfactory, so I buttoned the cowl back up. Then I added another quart of mineral oil. I would have flown following this bit of maintenance, but the airport saw in its heart to plow everywhere on the airport property except the T hangars. Idiots. I put both batteries on chargers and called it a day.

12/23/2010  (1.7 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
Another good day above KHUF, burning 200+ mph circles in the sky. The ailerons are TREMENDOUSLY improved. The plane seems to fly straight, but the LEFT wing seems a bit heavy. The autopilot won't stay on, and the pitot static system still has big issues. But the plane ran beautifully. I never did get to full throttle, I was running around 26 squared most of the time, leaned slightly.  I was trying to keep the CHTs arounnd 400 and the EGTs were either side of 1400.  The fuel totalizer appears to be very close to accurate, but the fuel gauges need recalibrated. Again. I think the best news is that my Rocket was indicating 29 inches of manifold pressure. I don't know how accurate that is, but at least I have confidence that the air intake scoop is going to work. The worst news is that my gear legs are bent more than I think I can shim to correct. They are toed out, particularly the right wheel, and have negative camber. And of course as you taxi they tend to drive themselves farther apart, bringing the nose down and the prop closer to the ground.  So I'm going to need to straighten the axle pads or replace the gear legs.

12/18/2010  (0.8 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)
(0.4 hrs,  C-45 213DE)
After test flying the Rocket for under an hour, we rode in the C-45 to Greencastle for a very good lunch. I got some right seat time on the way back. Test flying was relatively uneventful. The pitot/static system still has issues, and the elevator trim decided to stop working. On the ground, the elevator trim started working again. Jeff Wellum and I pulled the engine cowl and went around checking and tightening again. Another slight intake leak noted on #2 this time, tightened all the intake and exhaust studs. Tightened a couple of case bolts again back around the accessory case.We also worked a couple hours trying to reduce the drag on the ailerons, which felt very stiff on the stick at speed especially. Turned out that most of the problem was in the hangar rod ends supporting the control column inside the cabin. We removed the washers from around the rod ends and very carefully re-tightened the rod ends. The stick forces on the ailerons are greatly reduced, back to about where they were the first time around. Those hangar rod ends seem to be a lot more particular about being perfectly vertical and aligned with the gusseted attach points on the control column. Seems that as the rod end hangars are tightened on their hangar brackets, they prove not to be perfectly drilled or positioned and bind against each other at either end of the steel column. We considered redrilling the rear hangar bracket hole, perhaps slotting it and then using fender washers top and bottom. But I concluded that the risk outweighed the benefit and we decided to leave well enough alone. At least until after I fly it again with the improvements we made.


Post condition inspection "maintenance flight" condition inspection (and squawk fix session). I put a new fuse in for my transponder and it worked just fine. I ran the secondary EFIS power line and piggy backed it to the transponder and both worked just fine. I expected my static ports to give me some static, so I modded them to try and reduce the airflow over the ports. I used some contact cement and stuck a thick 1/2 washer around each pop rivet head port. Need to test fly again to see if it yeilds any positive results. One CGT was reading erroneously. Removed the engine cowls and found the leads reversed. Problem solved. Checked for leaks and problems FWF and tightened a few screws and bolts. Removed the boot cowls and looked for problems, particularly fuel line and brake line leaks. None noted. Jordan Brown assisted me in re-re-re-re-bleeding the brakes. A fresh bottle of sythetic ATF-4 topped off the reservoir and both brakes are solid. I'm interested to see if either side gets soft again. Perhaps there's a leak in the system letting air in. But I think it's just residual trapped air causing the problems.  Re-assembled the engine and boot cowls and 540MT is ready again for further self imposed (unofficially) flight testing and engine break in. Now it's up to Mother Nature and my work schedule.

F1 Rocket after rolling up following first flight Mark II.

12/10/2010  (0.3 hrs,  F1-EVO N540MT)  
First Flight, Mark II
Finished the "extensive condition inspection" today with the re-bleeding of the left brake and safety wiring of the parking brake valve lever. Rolled the plane outside to the 40 degree balmy sunshine and climbed in. With Foraker standing by, I cranked the engine over. The plane started easily and smoothly. I moved to dry pavement and Bill chocked the airplane. I did a run up. All systems nominal. I called ground on the Garmin 480 and did two fast taxis. The plane felt a little squirrelly, but it was probably more me than anything. Out to the hold short line on the big runway and I called for take off. After being cleared, I eased in the throttle and ran the tail up, playing with the elevator trim as I went. I took off with about half power. Once off the ground, I eased in the throttle and was running about 25 squared on the climb to pattern altitude and turned to crosswind before getting to the end (9K+ feet long). I did three large patterns around runway 23, then changed to the more wind favorable 18. After two large circuits there, I  called for an option and set the plane down.  With about a 6 knot headwind, I was checking my gps speed on final and reading 61 on the decent with partial flaps. Touch down to a wheel landing was sweet. Not my best, but it was a very good landing and an easy roll out, unlike the last one I did in my Rocket 1.5 years ago in Mr. Isom's field.

"Almost As Good As The First Time!!!!!"


Disassembled the left caliper and cleaned it. Seems to function fine without changing any O rings. Now I just need to find an assistant or two to re-bleed the brake and I'll be off and running.


SUCCESS!!!  ENGINE START!  I ducked out of my office today a little early and went to the hangar. The ramp in front of my hangar was actually dry in large portions. Bill Foraker chocked my Rocket and stood by with a CO2 extinguisher on loan from American Gas. We didn't need them (yet). I turned the starter key with the ignition off to make sure it would turn. Also wanted to start building some oil pressure. Gas was off. Several blades went around on battery number 2, which seemed quite weak. Well, it was 16 outside and the plane was probably only warmed to about 50. Cracked the throttle and turned the ignition on. Engine caught and ran on the third blade. And that was without using the boost pump!  We called it good, it was sunset with what looked like more snow on the horizon. The plane didn't want to go back in the hangar. It decided to lock the left brake. Dangit. Had to disconnect the pad bolts to free it up for the push back (across patchy ice.... uphill of course). Well, it's a little thing.  

Taxi test and flight won't be far off.

And the turbocharger on my Subaru Outback is toast. So I'm stuck driving my smart in 5 inches of ice and snow. Usually I wouldn't even blink at this weather, but without the XT, it sucks.  Not only that, but the leaks are fixed in the fuel system, everything is ready for engine start. I even hooked up the seat heater in the plane, ready for the cold! The idiots at KHUF rushed to plow ONE of the three runways and the main ramp, and I believe two taxiways. Then left. Hardly anything done back in the T hangars, certainly nothing in front of my hangar. Finally, Foraker  complained on our behalf and they sent two very nice lineboys in plow trucks to clear out between the hangars. Then of course NOTHING was done after that. It has been snowing lightly off and on for over 24 hours. I swear, those people running that airport have no idea how to serve the public.

Anyway, the ramp in front of my hangar is drifted and snow/ice covered. No chance to chock the wheels and stop the plane from moving on the ice, so engine start is delayed until the ramp is clear. That could be MARCH.

The left canopy latch needed to be drilled and he handdle attached. Done. More zip tieing of loose wires (never done). Re-installed my WAAS Garmin antenna and the newly updated database.  We rolled the plane out onto the ramp when the fuel truck arrived. Loaded in about 52.6 gallons of 100LL. repositioned the plane for engine start, then found a couple gas leaks. Back into the nice warm hangar to double check fittings and leak test the fuel system. The electric pump put the pressure up to a max of 53 pounds and finally no leaks. But alas it was dark, cold and snow was on the horizon. So engine start will be delayed a short bit. That's OK, I still have a few things I can work on.

This time around I had a set of N numbers made up by a local sign shop. $20. I don't like how the M turned out, but these are only temporary. Took about 5 minutes to stick them on. I also installed both sets of lower wing root fairings One of the fiberglass fairings needs some more glassing,. The metal wing root fairings were screwed down inboard and outboard the first time around. This time, I may let the outboard side float on the wing, since the wing flexes quite a lot. The original fairings did not look torn, but there was some deformation. So I may take a shrinker/stretcher and shape the metal to just hug the wing, then put some UHMW tape on the edges.

Vinyl N Numbers

I emailed Angie Harris at Canon Ins in AZ to re-instate my insurance coverage. I also finally got around to ordering a new FAA/PMA compact flash card with more memory for my GNS 480. It comes blank for $65. OUCH.  So I started an account finally with Jeppesen and ordered a one time update for the navigation database to the tune of $155. Now I should be ready to get into the air. One thing I did yesterday was update the navigation database in the Grand Rapids EFIS. Nice that GRT gives you navigation database downloads for free, where Garmin uses proprietary Jeppesen data. Standing by for an insurance quote from Canon. That's going to be salty. But I can tell you that with over 100K loss in the accident, I was DAMN glad I had full coverage.

Seems like I didn't get anything done today. I rode around in the C-45 for a couple hours, which was way more fun than working on the Rocket. Lunch at KMTO was pretty good, too! I did several small projects on the Rocket. I probably would have gassed it up today had I not gone flying. Hope to finish buttoning things back up, then maybe gas it and start it this upcoming weekend. IF I don't have any hickups or glitches. At least the brakes are bled and solid, and I can latch the canopy closed. Still many wires to tie back and panels to install inside the cabin.

After starting my kerosene heater (it was 21 f outside), I glassed one layer of cloth onto the air filter box and brought it back to more or less stock. After that, I pulled off the alternator bracket from the engine and hand drilled one new mounting hole on the bracket. I reversed the bracket, put in two washers on each side of the bracket and rehung the alternator. This did indeed put the alternator farther outboard and up a little, more than enough to clear the stock air box even after years of engine sag. Also, less chance of the alternator catching the box on fire or burning up. The V belt looked wrong, so I went back and put three 3/8 washers on each alternator hangar bolts and I think that's as close to lined up as the pully will get to the starter ring gear. After that, I checked the bottom wing root fairings. The fiberglass parts will fit right up, but I have to recut both of the aluminum pieces I made the first time around. Fortunately, I have a good template. I also played with the windshield fairing and screwed it to it's final position. Then I started working on adjusting the canopy latches. Just like the first time around, the left latch was way too loose, and the right latch was too tight. I ground out the right latch until it would lock over center easily. On the left side, I used self adhesive metal tape layers until I got what I wanted. I think I'll just add some JB Weld there, then re-trim it. Hope that will hold up. First time around, I put a step bend in the latch arm, effectively shortening it. But I didn't like how it looked. So I'll just use some filler on the hook of the latch and see how it holds up. By the afternoon, it was in the low 30s outside, but the sun was shining on the hangar door. Amazing how much sunlight warms the inside of my hangar, even when it's that cold outside.

A nice long day in the hangar. Put all the parts in, lifted the plane up, and weighed it on a set of race car scales. Jeff Wellum was kind enough to lend me his scales to use. Sweet. Plane weighed in at 1319. The rigth wing weighed out considerably more than the left, but several factors lead me to believe it won't be critical in the air, perhaps more on the ground. But I'm expecting some right wing heavy when I get back in the air. I installed my seat belts, the seat back brace and set the stick and fuel filter bay parts into place. Also, we worked on the air box a little more. Damn, as much as I cut it down, it still hits the alternator. So I decided to move the alternator and put the filter box back to stock. It turns out that I can reverse the alternator mounting bracket, drill one new hole in it, shim with 3 washers per bolt (3/8x1 7/8) and I have all the clearance I could ever need. Nice. Getting the alternator bracket drilled may slow things down a bit, but I'm making progress. Oh, and John Van Etten installed my prop spinner for me today. It has WHITE primer. Looks kinda gay. Oh well, I'll just play P-40 and move on. Maybe I'll try to drill that bracket myself tomorrow. That won't be easy.

Not much progress today. Drilled and screwed the "A frame" side covers inside the cabin, then begain to install my seat back brace. I drilled the brace to position as far forward and low as it would go. Drilled for AN3 bolts, which were adequate during my accident. The brace had about 3/8+ inch gap to the canopy rail attach plates, so I fabbed up a set of four aluminum spacers to take up most of the gap. Then drilled in some lightening holes. Man, that took a BUNCH of time. About a 10 dremel disk job. Wish I had a band saw, would have cut about 1 hour out of the working time. Once I got all the parts test fit, it was quitting time... for turkey! Maybe things will go faster tomorrow....

The baggage compartment went in without too much trouble, so I went ahead and put the rear seat back in, pinned in with piano hinge. Then I drilled and screwed down the rear arm rest side covers. I started to put other interior panels in, but decided the olive drab primer just didn't fit any more. So I shot them with Rustoleum. Now they look like shit, but at least they are gray. The new flap push rods that Walter had milled and tapped by Smoker worked beautifully. The way my ship is set up, there was only 3 or 4 threads holding the originals in place... on each end!  So I cut some rod to new length, about 7/8 longer, and voila, I have about 3/4+ of the rod end threads captured in the flap push rods. I went ahead and installed the K&N filter in my air box, and screwed my modified air scoop in position. It needs a lot more work, but I gotta test fly it before I bother with it any more. It may suck. Or not suck. Air. If I don't get adequate manifold pressure, or the engine runs poorly for lack of smooth/enough air, I may have to scrap the scoop and try something else. I was going to put the lower wing root fairings in place, but ran out of kerosene. Since it was in the mid thirties, pouring rain, and windy, I decided to call it a day and head for home. Hopefully tomorrow, I'll install the painted pieces and most of the remaining interior parts. Just about ready to re-weigh the air frame!

The ELT remote takes a "28L" Duracell litium ion 6 volt battery. I installed a new one today, with a "freshness date" good until March 2018. I had to turn my coupler for the "phone wire" that I used for the ELT into a "reverser".  I opened the coupler and reversed the order of the 6 pins. Subsequently, I tested the remote for the ELT and called it good. Did some sanding on the air scoop, and shot a quicky coat of primer on it The scoop is roughed in, but ready for test service. Put the baggage lower floor and the hat rack in place. Closed the left fresh air with a new piece of scat.  Started tieing back the wires in the boot cowl area, getting ready to close the compartment up.

The new ACK E-01 ELT now has fresh D cell batteries, the required Duracell MN 1300 type, and they should be good (unless I USE the ELT again) until March, 2017. I tested the unit just after the hour and it works great. I tied back and bundled wires under the floor and installed the main cabin flooring. I repositioned and modified some things, including mounting my own rear rudder pedals. I fired up the electrical system for the ELT test and also went ahead and tweaked the EFIS AHRS mounting platform to level out the artificial horizon. I installed an eyeball vent on the right wing root fresh air hose. John Watler brought me some freshly milled and tapped rods for my flaps. I shot them with Rustoleum flat black, and I'll install them tomorrow. I put one more layer of glass on the air filter box, and mixed the excess epoxy with some glass beads and filled in some of the depression just inside the air scoop. I also cut down the thickness of the air scoop at the prop spinner to give more clearance.  I match drilled and installed hinge for the front seat back, which is now ready to pin into position. I zip tied back some wires in the stick bay and battery area. I added an Adel cushion clamp to hold the wires away from the aileron push tubes. I also used a piece of reinforced baffle material under the wire bundle going through the spar pass through. The baffle material is easier to work with than conduit, and should be more than adequate for the job. I also took a nap. All this, and I didn't start until about 11 AM!

The ELT now has an antenna, just need batteries and a coupler for the phone line to the annunciator. The rear baggage deck is screwed down. Jeff Wellum went through all the control surfaces to ensure they were properly fastened. Then we spent several hours lining up the aileron push rods and push tubes, maximizing their travel and balancing their "throw". I zip tied a lot of loose wires in the back of the cabin. The pitch servo is connected and the mechanicals checked. The roll servo is connected and the mechanicals checked. I trimmed the floor bulkheads so the elevator push rod would not have interference at full travel. I also trimmed the air scoop at the spinner as well as glassed in the modifications to the air box so it would clear the alernator.  Wow, it was a long day, but a whole lot was accomplished!

Repositioned air/oil separator, applied heatshield due to proximity to #6 exhaust. Installed duct and large eyeball from heat/fresh air box. Attached all aileron push tubes and push rods. Installed wing root fairings after gray priming left wing root (to cover green primer).

Rudder stops installed. Fireshields finished up. Zip tied a lot back in the accessory case area. Torqued up the wing spar carry through attach bolts. Crimped and hooked up the right fuel sensor wire.  

Lots of little chores today FWF. Safetied the prop, tightened Adel clamps, installed cabin heat ducts, stainless firewall shields, zip tied plug wires and cables, Got the quick drain in the oil separator and clamped it as low as possible on the engine mount. Located the right wing fuel level sensor wire and ran it into the ship to hook up to Aux 5. Just a couple more wires to finish in the boot cowl and then it's back into the cabin and rearward.

Installing C-lok fasteners in the boot cowl flange took all day. It was mildly frustrating, but successful. The upper and lower cowl fit up nicely. Some trimming is going to be necessary on the top cowl at the spinner, but the cowl is good to go. Time to take off the cowl and finish several small details firewall forward. Also, I used a 3/4" crow's foot wrench to torque up the prop bolts. I used 69 foot pounds as my torque setting. Now to safety wire them and get the spinner in place! I cut the crankcase vent tube and attached it to my new air/oil separator. The separator comes with a huge adel clamp to hold it in place. Also, a quick drain fitting, which I have yet to install. Details, details....

The wing root fairings are going to get by with roughly half the fasteners I used before. This time, I used #8 rivnuts instead of screws and stop nuts. The rivnuts us a 1/4 inch bit and with Alan Harder's rivnut tool, the job was easy. The plane looks SOOooo much better with the root fairings in place. Also, last night and a little today, I "massaged" the stock air box more to work with my modified scoop. The K&N filter fits in fine, and isn't in interference. Now all I have to worry about is air mass and turbulence. After all, it IS experimental. This mod is more cosmetic than functional. I seriously doubt it will be as beneficial ( to manifold pressure) as Jim Wining's round "lo presti" style intake scoop. But it WILL be .... different. 

Installed the replacement right LED NAV/Strobe. Hooked up the strobe wires, fired up all the lights. Nice to see everything working. Only have to decide how I'm going to re-install landing lights this time around. Hoping to use LEDs and put them in the cowl. Speaking of cowl, I tweaked the aft end of the cowl a little along the boot cowl/firewall edge to make it sit better, and fit the spinner back plate better. It's very close. I think it'll be ready to cleko in place, then re-install the C-lok fasteners. Also, I cut the stock air box for my modified air scoop. The change in the air scoop put the air box/filter assy into interferance with the alternator. So I cut a rather large notch out of the box lid and I'll re-glass it closed with about 1/4 inch clearance around the alternator. Then I'll use the stock filter if at all possible, until I run the plane and figure out if the change in the scoop is going to work.

Testing the Plasma III ignition (and my key switch) was fun, easy and successful. Master on, key to both, 5 amp breakers closed, pass a magnet over the crank sensors, ZAP!!!  Pretty cool to see that big arc between the coil terminals. After testing the Plasma sensor board, Jeff Wellum and I hung my new MT propeller. I didn't have a 3/4 crow foot to torque the prop bolts, so they're just good-n-tite for now. We also set my original engine cowl back to position and it looks damn near perfect to the prop spinner back plate. SWEEET!

The prop did not get hung, it was just too windy today to want to open the hangar door. I did get the pitot line installed and the pitot heat hooked up. Also, I put 8 quarts of Phillips 20W50 non ashless dispersant "break in" oil. Also installed and safetied a new oil filter.  I did many other small chores as they became apparent. There are still too many jobs to be done to start a list. One fun thing I did was set my original engine cowl on top of the engine/baffles. So far, it looks like it should fit fairly well, with only minor modification. I think I'll pin the bottom cowl to the upper and put the whole enchilada in place and see how it sits. THEN I'll uncrate my new MT and hang it on there.

I got an email from someone representing GS-Air... finally.  They are sending me a replacement LED nav/strobe unit to replace the defective green unit I have. Jeff Tucker examined mine and concluded that the issue with my original unit was not a damaged board or broken solders, but actually dead LEDs. He said that the LEDs could be replaced easily enough... just have to find a source for the proper color and viewing angle of LED and solder them in place. Dunno if I wanna go to that much trouble.

Original top cowl laying over engine & baffles for comparison of postioning.

Finally got the Ailerons where I wanted them. Also installed the engine baffles. Ready to hang the prop tomorrow. Also ready to finalize the control system.

Wings and Engine ready, willing and able!

Here's some of my pilot buddy's who stopped in a couple days ago to "help". Look like gubment workers to me.....

Jerry, Kelvin and John contemplating my Rocket...

My TMX IO-540 is ready to go. Baffles went on pretty quickly. It all seems so much easier the second time around. But I have so much yet to install....  That #1 rocker cover wasn't damaged in the accident. I had to bash it with a ballpeen to keep it from rubbing a hole in the cowl...

Mattituck TMX 540 ready to go.

The Plasma III ignition is reinstalled. The rear baffles are in place with the FWF parts through them. The flaps are installed with UHDM tape on the "new" wing. That 3M crap that was on the right wing control surfaces has to go. Looks like shit with nearly no time in the sun. Anyway, the ignition harness has been reinstalled with the key switch reconfigured. I may have to re-re-configure the key switch because the way I have it now, the master has to be turned on to engergize the key. I think I'll take the positive line direct to the battery. I started to install the ailerons, but I had a hard time shimming the bolts. So I estimated 4 washers on one side of the bolt, and RTVd stacks of washers to use in the aileron assembly.  I set the starter ring gear to position with the alternator v-belt in place. Soon as it warms up enough to open the hangar door, I'll be hanging my new MT propeller.

I borrowed some Pliobond #20 from Williams Aviation at KHUF and glued in the crankshaft seal in my IO-540. That evening, I re-installed the control board that mounts behind the ring gear for my Plasma III electronic ignition. I drilled the firewall for the cables and D-sub connectors and ran the wires into the boot cowl. I noticed some issues with the cables and had to re-solder a couple grounds that were about to break.  I used two stainless firewall cover plates over the top of one another to cover the rubber grommet around the ignition cables. I cut slots in the covers and rotated them 180 degrees apart. That way the cables could go through the slots, then rotate one cover to close the slot. When I'm ready to close FWF before flight, I'll go back and fire proof the covers and wire penetrations.

10/31/2010  (0.7) 172 N9538H

Had a nice flight with John Watler and Jerry Badger over to MTO for dinner. Regrettably when we got there, the power went out in the kitchen, so they were essentially closed. Back in TH, we ended up going to Twiggy's. But it was a beautiful evening for a flight.
9538H at dusk

Picture taken by Jeff Tucker at dusk from the right seat of 5287P, a 1958 Comanche 250.  I now have accumulated some FIVE hours or so in a skyhawk. Kind of unheard of in the piloting world. But my initial training was in a Piper Tomahawk, then I bought a Grumman Tiger to finish my private. Up until I started flying with John in his Skyhawks, I had all of 1 hour in 172s. And that was just to use an ADF for my instrument rating.

Earlier that day I worked on some wiring and found one of my LED Navigation lights was partially out. Also, with a little help from John and Jerry, I began to hang the wing control surfaces. The flap mechanism was reinstalled, and the right flap.

Re-hanging IO-540 with F1 Rocket at the edge of my hangar floor.

Lord mounts are installed. Starter, alternator, exhaust, EGT, CHTs, coils and ignintion wires, engine hoses all good to go. Stretched a crank seak over the prop flange with help from Chad Williams' tool, borrowed from Williams Aviation. Unfortunately I have the wrong Pliobond, so I can't pop the crank seal in, or install the LightSpeed Ignition circuit board at the front on the engine. Other minor chores were accomplished on the airframe. Still a ton of stuff to bolt on and finalize. Still a long way to go.

Whelen Microburst 1 available at Aircraft Spruce.10/25/2010  
I rewired back to the rudder including drilling larger holes for snap bushings in the empennage aft bulkheads. I used a 4 wire shielded cable and installed my Whelen Microburst I LED tail light and strobe. Pretty nice for $200. Can't even look directly at the Nav light, let alone the LED strobe. Pretty slick!  And averages about .5 amps to run both the Nav and the strobe.

The engine is hung, but I think the lower Barry engine isolators are past their prime. So a new set of Lord mounts, J-9613-12, are on order. Also, the wings are inserted, the spar carry through and wing spars have been reamed, and the bolts are inserted. We didn't like the hardware combination on the aft spar attach plates, so additional AN5 hardware is on order from Spruce with the mounts.

Later this week, I hope to finalize the engine mounts and the wing's hardware. After that, it will be mostly firewall forward and finalizing the control system. Seems close to be ready for flight, but then I remember the DOZENS of little chores yet to do. 90% finished, 50% to go....

John Watler and I  confirmed the dry tappet clearance to be between .028 and .080 (all uniformly close to .075). We installed the intercylinder baffles and reinstalled the cylinder oil return lines and the intake tubes. Then we locked the push tube lock down tab, confirmed the rocker arm caps were in place and reinstalled the rocker covers. Now it REALLY looks like an engine!

Jeff Wellum and I checked the end gaps on the oil regulator rings and had to adjust every one of them. After feeling confident that they were opened up enough not too much to cram into each other, we started getting the rings on the pistons. Contrary to the way Lycoming recommends, we put the pistons and new rings in the cylinders, then attached them to the rods with the pin and caps. Sunday AM while everyone was flying to Columbus, Indiana for breakfast, I stayed at the hangar and started putting the lifters, push rods, tubes, rockers and arms, hold downs,etc., back on the cylinders. When Jeff W. returned from flying, we went around the engine per the Lycoming service manual and torqued the case halves and cylinders. Now the engine really DOES look like an engine!  And it still turns easily standing on it's nose on my home made engine stand.  Still lots of little engine chores to do before swinging the engine onto it's mount, including dry tappet clearance check and installing inter-cylinder baffles.

John Watler and I pulled out my new Superior piston compression rings and checked them in the honed cylinders. The end gaps in the rings had to be adjusted on #3 ever so slightly to  accommodate the .0075 and .045 minimum opening at the top of the cylinder and 4 inches from the base, respectively. The number 6 cylinder was honed a little extra and I checked the rings at the 4 inch mark to make sure they were not beyond the .067 service limit. The gap was actually not passed the .055 manufacturers limit. The pistons and cylinders are ready for re-installation. I hope to accomplish major engine reassembly this weekend.

A little research showed that the Denso plugs cost about $9 each. Many RVers have switched to NGK BR8ES plugs, which are up to about $2.50 each (I remember when they were $0.59). If the service life of both of these plugs is similar, why spend the extra money. Also, the NGK plugs are available everywhere locally, but this particular Denso plug has to be ordered. Perhaps there is a quality difference, but if the plugs are only going to get a couple hundred hours use anyway, why go to extra trouble and spend considerably more money?  I ordered 20 plugs on eBay for $47 shipped. I'll be 4 plugs short for a second full set of 12, but I'll cross that bridge in a couple years when I come to it.

Think I'll buy a new set of spark plugs. My cylinders and the Lightspeed Plasma III ignition are set up for "automotive" style deep reach plugs.  The engine came with Denso W24EMR-C spark plugs. They still look great after 150 hours, with minimal electrode wear. Rumor has it that spark plug gap is critical with the Plasma III ignition coils. So it may be critical to regap these automotive plugs at the annual condition inspection. I think they'll get tossed after no more than 200 hours.

Jeff Wellum and I used a 180 grit Flex-Hone and de-glazed my cylinders in preparation for re-installation. The jugs and pistons are cleaned, honed and ready for new rings. Maybe I'll get that engine hung sometime soon!  Another crappy phone pic...  

10/9/2010  (1.0) 7ECA N8724V  2 TO, 2 L
I made 2 short hops in Jordan and Niki's Citabria. On the first trip, Jordan joined up near us in the Twin Beech.

C45H from window of N8724V

I haven't forgotten about my Rocket. I'm working on finalizing the wing root fuel lines and push tubes, then I intend to final install the wings. At the same time, my TMX-IO-540 is going back together slowly. Below is a lousy phone pic of my engine on my home made stand. I'll be flex honing the cylinders and re-ringing the pistons before putting the jugs back on. At least the engine is starting to look like an engine again.

TMX-IO-540 on stand during re-assembly

9/29/2010  (.7) C45H N213DE
We took the C-45H to Greencastle for a maintenance flight and to get some long owed gas. I flew the plane home from the right seat after dark. Fun!  Man, that instrument panel (mostly the Garmin 430) is VERY bright!

9/25/2010  (2.7) S35 Bonanza N654AJ 
                 (5.4) 7ECA Citabria 8724V 
Jordan Brown bought Bruce Dallman's VERY clean 1975 Citbria, so I flew him down to Pittsburg Kansas in Jordan's Bonanza to pick up the plane and fly it back. The Bonanza is sweet to fly, with awewome avionics and top notch autopilot. I flared too early again instead of letting the plane fly to the ground with a very small flare like your supposed to. That was a little embarrasing. The cockpit and controls are foreign and a bit complicated to locate. It would take me a short while to get used to getting it down and feeling comfortable, but the plane flies like all the rest. Weird flying a nose steering gear after amost all my flying has been done with free casters and differential braking.

Jordan and I flew the Citabria back. It was slow going. Jordy (Jordan's father)  flew their Bonanza back home. He left 30 mintes after us and got back to Brazil, IN about the same time Jordan and I landed at St. Charles County near St. Louis. Huge difference in ground speed. We were only doing about 85 knots most of the time. When we got back home, I went back out flying the Citabria again. Took me about 4 landings to really get the feel back. Not bad after several years away from one. Felt very familiar after a short time. Thanks again to Jordan and Jordy for letting me fly their Bonanza and Citabria, and for letting me participate in their plane purchase expedition.

9/17/2010  (0.9) C172  
John Watler and I flew up to Ropkey Armour Museum to see how the regional military vehicle event was shaping up. We did a couple passes then came back and I landed at Brazil, IN.  The next day, we went by 1970 MUTT to the event and checked out some very nicely restored vehicles and went through the armour museum again. It was a very nice day, but the event was quite small and there were no exhibitions with equipment operating. I.E., no trucks or other vehicles running around, let alone tanks.

9/10/2010  (1.2) C45H N213DE
I flew right seat on a nice IFR flight to Scott Air Force base with Niki and Jordan Brown. It was a really nice show, but the patrons were not respectful of the aircraft. I think you get more of that when participating at a free show. The air base was beautiful and all the Air Force personell were exceptionally courteous and helpful. It was an exceptionally well run show. We were a bit disappointed in the after show activities, there was very little participation from any of the demos, teams or performers. But perhaps they had PR or military activities to attend. The Blue Angels put on a fantastic show. It was also very cool touring the C5A and the C17, which we toured with Major Matt Clausen. Matt and his family are based at Scott, and he is a combat decorated C17 pilot.

8/6 - 8/8/2010:  Thunder Over Michigan
I flew as a passenger to the TOM show in Ypsilanti at Willow Run in Jordan and Niki Brown's C45H. It was great watching the 8 B17s and the B24 "Witchcraft". Also in attendance was an F100 Super Sabre and several P-51 Mustangs. The Horsemen performed their aerobatic Mustang routine, on Saturday they had to borrow Vlado Lenoch's Moonbeam McSwine. On Sunday, Jordan, his two sons and I flew on the only passenger DC7B still flying.

Jordan and I in the DC7B window.

7/23 - 8/1/2010:  Oshkosh Airventure

'51 Willys and '42 Mill-44 behind the '94 Sea Breeze

Bill Foraker and I drove my 1994 Sea Breeze motor coach with 10000 pounds of trailer, tug and 1951 Willys CJ3A in tow. We worked like dogs right from the start. The show was a Charley Fox from the start due to the 9 inches of rain that fell in the area the week before. We had to shuffle lots of airplanes due to the lack of space on the hard surfaces. But it was rewarding and there were some beautiful aircraft and lots of great folks in attendance. My 42 Clark tug did well, but required some emergency repairs along the way. Finally, the right rear axle and hub let loose and that was the end of the towing for the last two days.

Me on my tug shoving an A4 back to park on plywood

7/3/2010:   (0.3) C172 
                  (0.7) C45 N213DE 
I rode along with John Watler on a maintenance flight in his "company" 172. I got to steer to Greencastle.

A big surprise was on Sunday afternoon. I went to Jordan's hangar while he was doing some work on the Twin Beech. After he lubed the tailwheel slide tubes, he wanted to go on a maintenance flight. I ended up doing all the "work". I taxied out to the runway, did the take off, came around, did a landing, another take off and then another landing. All unassisted. Thank goodness for a massive runway and a very light load in the plane. After that, we flew southwest and Jordan practiced an engine out on the right engine. It was pretty much a non event. Takes a lot of leg to hold the plane straight... I ended up using both feet on the left pedal. Then I just trimmed the rudder until I could put my feet on the floor again. Pretty wierd seeing that blade just sitting out there doing nothing. The whole flight was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had.

213DE sporting new graphics

7/3/2010:   Kokomo
                  (1.0) C172 N6081R  BFR
                  (0.7) C45 N213DE 
Saturday AM I flew John and Glen Watler's C172 and did my BFR with Jay Hooper. Did a good portion of the trip under foggles, some stalls and slow flight, emergency procedures and of course the cross country navigation stuff. Once we arrived at Kokomo, I hopped out and spent the rest of the day with the Browns and their C45 which flew in the Warbird portion of the show. Then I flew the plane back to Terre Haute. Another rare perfectly sunny day with friends and lots of airplanes.

7/2/2010:   Kalamazoo Air Zoo
                  (2.3) Comanche 250 1 landing
                  (0.4) T6 Texan 
John Watler suggested we make a day trip up to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. Neither of us had been since the new building was built. It was a very nice trip and the new museum is beautiful. Fortunately we talked SOB into going, so the ride was a bit shorter in the Comanche than in John's  Skyhawk. It was also nice that I got to fly. Even landed once.  And 100LL was only $3.79 up there!

It turns out that a couple local guys sell warbird rides at the museum. I've been wanting to get in a T6 for some time, and it turns out we were able to buy 30 minute rides. It was a PERFECT day, blue skies, no wind, and a BIG Radial engine to fly behind... with the canopy opened. It doesn't get much better than that.

Taxiing out in the T6 with Fred at the Air Zoo.

6/19/2010: (2.3) Bonanza S35 N654AJ  4 landings
                 (.5) Skyhawk  172G N6081R     

Did a little bit of flying today. Jordan Brown let me fly and land his 1964 V tail Bonanza as PIC. Really pretty bold to put me in the left seat with a throw over yoke and no brakes on the right!  Not that it was a big deal. The controls felt heavy, but the plane was smooth as silk and easy to fly. Really weird flying a plane with nose wheel steering, which I have really never done. Although John Watler's 1965 Skyhawk, which I have flown (and landed) also has a steerable nose wheel, it just strange to fly these type of  nose gear planes after having nothing but castering wheels, nose and tail, for the better part of 15 years.

It was fun flying a Bonanza for the first time. I grew up flying IN a Bonanza with my father, but most of the time I was in the baggage compartment on a jump seat. I don't ever remember being up front (in the 1960's), and certainly NEVER in the left seat.

I also got to ride to Casey Ill from KHUF with Jeff Wellum in his Tiger. That brought up fond memories. And it was nice to open the canopy in flight.

6/11 - 13/2010: Indy Air Show  

What to do on a Saturday when the whole show gets cancelled?  Just have a seat in a comfortable chair and wait!

Horseman P51 "February" @ MQJ 2010 Indy Air Show

We did get to fly a little bit. Matt Younkin asked Jordan and Niki to fly "chase" on a maintenance flight. Of course after everything checked out OK on Matt's repairs, a little formation flight was in order....

Indy Air Show during Saturday Cancellation with Matt Younkin

4/14-18/2010:   Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Reunion, 68th.  

Foraker and I were fortunate enough to work the Doolittle B25 event at Grimes Field in Urbana, Ohio. It was the maiden voyage for my 1994 National RV motorhome, which we used to drag my 1942 Clarktor 6 Mill-44 aircraft tug. We put the tug to use quite a bit on Thursday and Friday, the tug moved at least half of the 17 B25s that were able to make it to the show.  Also, the crew of Take Off Time were gracious enough to add us to the crew for one mission on Friday afternoon. What a tremendous experience!

Here's what lead to the YouTube vids embedded below:

3/27/2010:   Rocketus Interuptus:   C45-H

Rocket, tug and motorhome projects have taken a back seat.  And I have taken a back seat, and then the right seat. Twice!  I now have about 1 hour of steering time in Jordan and Niki Brown's 1942 C45-H. Jordan just acquired the airplane and has been fully checked out by Alex from Blackhawk Aviation in Jaynesville, WS  and Matt Younkin of Beech 18 air show fame!

on the ground at Putnam County in Indiana

Jordan's C45 is a polished beauty. Never a cargo plane, the executive interior is very nicely done with four passenger seats. The airframe is in wonderful condition and Jordan flies it like he's owned it forever.

Can you see me riding shotgun?

In flight picture taken from Watler's 172.

3/12/2010:   Right Wing Leading Edge and Wing Tip Rpeairs Finished

The second time I made a new leading edge and finished a new wing tip, it went twice as fast and was twice as fun as the first time. Included but not shown is the metal aileron tip that I used to match the new metal wing tip. Now for some primer and repainiting (sooner or later).


3/5/2010:   Right Wing Leading Edge and Wing Tip in progress:

After the left wing was all but done, we started working on the wrecked right wing that I bought from a fellow Rocket owner in Canada, who bought a wrecked airframe from a guy in Florida. I picked up the wing in Texas, and it now resides in Indiana. The outboard leading edge section and the wing tip needed replaced. Actually the wing came with a fiberglass tip in pretty good shape. I just didn't like it as much as the formed aluminum tip.

3/1/2010:   Left Wing Leading Edge and Wing Tip replaced

The left wing leading edge outboard section is complete. The wing tip cap is ready to be put in service as well. There are a few rivets on the bottom outboard skin that need to be bucked,  and some filler needs to be used to clean up the dings a bit and the wing tip machine holes need closed. Otherwise, the left wing is all but (re-)finished.

1/31/2010:   HS "Service Bulletin" 

First you make up some .040 stiffeners to fit between the stabilizer spars. Flute them to conform to the HS curvature (mostly toward the leading edge). Next time I do this, I would NOT pre-drill ALL the holes, just the center hole to locate the stiffeners, then drill the rest in place.

Then you  drill out the aft spar from the HS to get access to the top and bottom skin. Much easier than drilling off the entire bottom skin. Here's my HS spar sitting on top of the HS, which is just sitting on top of the empennage deck.

I used GOOP adhesive (sticks like mad to aluminum) and bucked in NAS rivets 1 inch apart. In the picture, the spar is just resting between the skins. I wanted to make sure that I didn't have interference with the stiffeners being too long. Fits like a glove!

1/24/2010:   Parts from HPA put to good use:

Left Leading Edge Section Clecoed to place.

Left Leading Edge section fitted, not quite finished but screwed down.

1/16/2010:   Some pics of my progress.....

Canopy Track Fairing

Check out the smooth transition of the canopy contour!

Canopy to Windshield Gap

 Reconstruction Update:     
The Rocket restoration is coming along nicely. The tail is in completely re-aligned, "squared up", and in it's final position. I was able to play with the rod ends on the rudder and bring it in tighter, as well as clean up the rough cut edges. It looks VERY nice now. I just got fresh epoxy to finish the top caps and intersection fairing, so I may get those glassed over the weekend. I cut down and repositioned the VS and rudder caps, and they look much better. We changed the way all the fiberglass parts attach, and they will come off with #4 screws. The final effect of the cap contours is beautiful, much better than my first time around. Also, on the elevators, I removed Monty's caps and weights and put mine in. They look a ton better and will require very little finish work.
I've been working a lot on the canopy... a LOT!  I repositioned the track on the turtledeck, and it now screws down with nutplates. That thing was about 1/2 inch off at the aft end, and now it's lined up with the centerline and longitudinal axis. Also did a lot of trimming on the plexi and the aft skirts to get it to close nicely. Against some better judgement, I also took a torch to the windshield bow and bent it to a much better shape. Now the canopy closes with almost no gap and maybe only 1/16 difference in the level of the windshield and the bubble. It looks good enough that I could finish it without a fairing! Monty did a great job guessing the contours of the glass. The SSW is longer than my original, and the overall effect is gorgeous. The canopy lines from the SSW, across the bubble and back across the skirts to the turtledeck is SWEET. Much better than the first time around.
I completely remade the boot cowl. It now has a couple extra screw holes in it, and it is wider to fit against my old engine cowl better. The boot cowl is now split in two and looks very clean and flat. In between patients today, I ground out the cracks from the wreck in my engine lower cowling. I mixed up some West System epoxy resin and cut at least two layers of BID cloth per side.  I'll have to completely remake the engine air intake and air filter box, but that will come later. At least the two halves of the engine cowl are ready to re-install as soon as the engine and prop are re-installed.

We re-installed the wisker NAV antenna farther back under the empennage. I made a fairing/doubler/stone guard for it out of .032. I finally used that shrinker I bought 5 years ago. It looks pretty cool. We're going to try to split the two nav radios each to their own antenna. Jeff Tucker is going to experiment with making a 3/4 wave gamma matched antenna. Once again, we are going to try to use the gear legs for supporting, if not actually becoming, an antenna. Also, this time around, I relocated the two comm, the transponder and the marker beacon antennas forward of the wing spar. The comms may have some interferance, but the coax runs are going to be much shorter and easier. You will almost not see the antennas on the plane when looking at it on the ground.
The elevator push tubes are in, and I like the settings. They'll probably come out, and the tail will probably come off again more than once, but it's all about where it needs to be. My rudder cables and my rear seat rudder pedals are installed. I relocated the front cables through the bulkheads. I added some nylon tubing inside the poly tubing where the rudder cables exit the skin back at the tail.
We closed in the straight wing flap drive arm holes Monty cut in the ship . Jeff Wellum did a great job riveting those close outs in place. The EVO flap tube and drive system are re-installed, the flap mechanism is essentially finished.
The doublers for the EVO wing attach angles and the hole close outs are ready to install. I have to get the wings in before I can finalize the EVO wing attach bracket doublers.
John Watler made a stainless heat box cover plate and John Van Etten installed the heat box on the firewall. JVE also located the push pull cable and it's ready to be drilled though the instrument panel bulkhead. Like almost everything else, it's going right back where it was.
My wing parts from HPA outside Prague will be enroute next week and should arrive in Indianapolis on January 20th. My new MT propeller, the exact model I had the first time around, is actually in the air right now and should be in Indy today!  I hope to pick up both shipments at the end of next week, certainly before the end of the month.

I still have a long way to go, but it's coming together nicely.

12/2009:  We gutted all the "good stuff out of my wrecked EVO fueselage and stood it in the corner. It stands up on the engine mount quite nicely.... even with the engine offset, which might be about 5°.

From OSH 2009:

Jet Ramp Crew in front of A4 summer 2009

November 2009:         HERE WE GO AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Replacement Rocket Kit parts next to wreckage.

I drove to Taylor Texas to attend the F1 Rocket gathering and pick up a replacement right wing.

N540MT totalled in a forced landing 6/12/09

06//12/2009  ( approx.149.5):  Regrettably, my Rocket had an oil line failure that resulted in total loss of engine power. I made a forced landing in a tall grass field near Mitchell, Indiana. On the roll out after touch down, the mains dug into very wet clay and my Rocket tipped up on it's nose, skidding nose down and then flipping over on it's back to rather violent stop. Both my passenger and I were treated and released from hospital with relatvely minor injuries.  540MT sustained substantial damage and undoubtedly will be totaled.


You can see where I crawled out from under. The plane was actually sinking as I was laying with my body still strapped in, and my head out the  side of the plane, more or less resting on the ground. This pic is 24 hours laster and you can see the plane has sunk another inch or so. Sheesh it's seriously swampy there.


On Sunday after the accident, I got a call from the FAA telling me that my ELT was still going off. I had been called at the University of Louisville Trauma Center twice, before I had even been treated for my injuries. I told them how to get to the ELT, but they couldn't get access... and you can see why in the picture above. The ELT is behind the passeger seat, under the hat rack panel. And the remove switch up front on the panel would not shut it off. So they finally were able to find the antenna BNC behind the seat back and disconnect that. The signal was attenuated, but evidently still being picked up and reported by several parties.

I was told that it was my responsibility to shut off the ELT and asked if I had done that when I went back to the ship the next day. Of course I had not. Well, I HAD to shut it off. So in a frantic fray my restful, peaceful Sunday afternoon turned into a mad dash to figure out how to get to the ELT and shut it off. The only choice I had was to go down there and with a borrowed cordless drill and cordless sawsall, cut a hole in the side and reach in and shut it off. Fortunately my friend Jeff Tucker not only had access to the sawsall, but kindly drove me all the way down and back and assisted with the cutting and extrication. Sure enough, when we were near the plane (within about100 yards), you could barely hear the signal.  I decided to not only shut off the  ELT, I just removed it.

ELT Mission

06//07/2009 (148.7):   SOB and I flew to MQJ for the last day of the Indy show. This time, it was up over IND and direct into the downwind for a pass and landing on 25. SWEET!

Crappy phone pics:



SOB in front of Corsair

06/06/2009 (147.7):  
 SOB and I flew to MQJ for the big Saturday version of the Indy Air Show.

06/05/2009 (146.7):  
 Flew to LAF for a static/transponder check. Josh was great to work with. After the avionics exercise was over, I flew down to MQJ to start working as a Ramp Rat for the Indy Air Show. The show has started and the airspace was closed by the time I got there. However, after loitering about 30 minutes, I finally caught a break and called the Air Boss. Ralph Royce was kind enough to clear me in for a landing, just before the A-10 demo made his run in. Sweet!  I got to see some of the show from the air, about 10 miles out, then inbound. Lot of extra gas burning, but I had fun.

05/31/2009 (145.1):  
 Don't remember where I flew this day. I think I was out somewhere testing my ignition. I think I finally nailed the problem down to a right angle BNC connector between the controller and the left B coil. The Radio Shack replacement I put in lasted  about 1.5 hours. I need to order milspec or commercial grade BNC connectors. Maybe I can find them on the website.

05/24/2009 (144.5):    Jerry Badger showed up Sunday AM just as I was putting the Rocket back together again. He was going to Rough River. He graciously waited for me to finish buttoning up and we flew all the way down to 2I3 at 7500 feet without a hitch. Had a nice 40 knot push. Bad part was that we missed breakfast and they were close in between breakfast and lunch for 1.5 hours. Duh.  The other bad part was some completely inconsiderate dumbass departed opposite direction as we were turning base to land. Completely ignored our calls. Even made the Mooney that arrived ahead of us go into the grass so he could back taxi to take off. Some people just should NOT be allowed to fly. It seems every time I go to RR, there's one or two idiots making it unpleasant if not dangerous to go there.

So we departed back toward Indiana. We decided to go to 4I7 for lunch.  Expecting heavy headwinds, we decided to return at 4.5K . Turned out to be quite comfortable (although a little bumpy) and only 6 knot headwinds.  Lunch was fine, and Jerry and I parted ways.

While I was taxiing in, my phone rang. I answered while still on the runway (no traffic in or outbound of course). Bill Werth was flying over at 2R2. I decided to go over and get some gas. I ended up flying a little formation with him and his passenger Ben, another Chitaqua pilot. After that, I gassed up again and headed for home.

When I got home, I pulled out the bondo and my dremel and started working on fiberglass. I decided my windshield fairing was too wide (obstructed my view), so I cut 5/8 inch off of it at the trailing edge. I filled a few imperfections and let it sit. I'll go back and work on it some more this week.

05/30/2009 (142.1):  John Watler and I departed toward Cleveland to see the USS COD. Got as far as the TTH VOR and aborted. Checked the ignition, found a loose BNC connector. Buttoned up, mag check OK, departed for KBKL, got to about Brazil, aborted again. Got on the ground. Igntion check, found one of the quick connects with the spade inserted between the plastic cover and the female terminal. Ooops. Changed the oil with 8 quarts of Phillips XC 20W50 (140.5) . Mag check OK. Departed for MTO for breakfast. No problems. Mag check on the ground at MTO, crap.  RTB. Opened up, no problems. Closed up, mag check OK, departed back to MTO for lunch (with Mike King and Chat Chatergy in tow ala Cherokee 6). Mag check at MTO OK.  Did a pass at Bussart's. Don waved heartily. RTB, checked the left ignition. CRAP.  Ok, John and I got out the OHM meter again and went to town. I was suspicious about the right angle BNC connectors. Sure enough, wiggling the 90 degree BNC that was on the top B contoller lead showed an internittant open. A quick trip to Radio Shack to get a replacement (and an spare) hopefully resolved the issue. Hopefully....

05/29/2009 (140.3):  Test flew the plane after checking the ignition again. "Mag Checks" OK. Got in the air, started running rough (just a weee bit). RTB. Checked again. Nothing.

05/26/2009 (....):  
I didn't fly, but worked on the plane this evening instead. Today, I installed two red LED lights to warn me should one side of the ignition fail. I ran 22 guage wires from pin 14 on each ignition controller to behind and above the backs of the top EFIS screen. I drilled two holes on either side of my N number and callsign placard. I put one of the LED lights in each .250 and then crimped the opposite polarity wires together. The lights will work oppositely... if one ignition controller fails, theoretically it goes to ground. That completes the circuit (+5 volts from the good controller to the LED) and the LED lights up. Simple and ingenious. With the two LEDs directly in my line of site, just above the top EFIS screen, I should have ample warning if half of my ignition goes south.

05/24/2009 (139.7):  I flew to MTO for the ILS 29 again to confirm my autopilot and EFIS problems. Also wanted breakfast. The ramp and parking lot were packed with Corvette enthusiasts, so I didn't stop in. I confirmed that my EFIS would capture the ILS, but the AP is still flagged and will not follow down the glideslope. Also, without GPSS, the AP in heading mode blows through headings by over 10 degrees, then wants to S turn badly back on course. GPSS is dead nuts on laterally, but nothing else seems to be working properly. The AP is still letting the plane dive at 1000FPM in turns, even with the suggested static lag set at 2.

Later that afternoon, I metal prepped the fuselage and alodined the skin. Man, the plane was homely before, now it's down right ugly. But all that surface chaulking should be slowed to a crawl.  Time to get serious about paint. Well, get serious about primer, anyway.

05/23/2009 (138.9):  
I met with Jim Winings and Paul Siegel this AM at Putnam County. Originally I was going to follow Comanche Bill up to Poplar Grove to get the layout of their airshow, which overlaps the Indy show. As I was cleaning my windscreen, Jim called and said he was meeting Paul at 4I7, so I headed toward 2R2. Jim and Paul discussed a new round inlet for the Rocket, and Paul was interested in all the extra speed and manifold pressure he could get. It was a nice Rocket discussion and information sharing session. Paul had a nice new Garmin 696 in his gorgeour EVO. Most impressive.

05/18/2009 (137.9):  
I got off work and bolted to the airport. Went through the entire troubleshooting flowchart from LSE's website.  Nothing. What the heck. Buttoned it back up, rolled out and started up. Nothing. As in nothing WRONG.  So I either have and intermittent problem, or the plugs were just fouled. Personally, I think I may have an intermittent problem. So, after doing a little reasearch, I found others with similar (but not exactly the same) issues. And as of this past February, LSE has put up a new dual electronic ignition FAILURE WARNING LIGHT diagram. So I'm going to wire in two superbrite LEDs that will illuminate when one of the ignition computer controllers failes. If my engine goes all wonky... or even if it doesn't, and one of the ignitions has failed, I'll get a visual warning. Which I plan to put at the top of the instrument panel, smack dab in the middle.  If one side of the electronic ignition shuts down, it's VERY possible that in cruise it could be a barely perceptible change in the engine. The ignitions just run that good. I ordered two LED lights per the installation manual and waiting for Mauser to get them to me.

The flight was nice, but unproductive. The autopilot still failed to follow down the glideslope. Also, it was somewhat blustery, and the AP was pitching up a lot, and still falling down on turns. TruTrak emailed me back promptly and told me to set the static lag at 2. They had no idea what was wrong with the vertical steering... operator error or EFIS issue...

05/17/2009 (137.0) (.5 Comanche 250):  
Today I made a trip to MTO to test my refined autopilot/EFIS/480 combination. Everything works beautifully, except still haven't figured out how to get the system to drive the plane down a glideslope or step down on a GPS approach.  I think the problem now is my learning curve. Not having used the IFR end of the GRT EFIS system, I'm not sure how those guys think. Seems that how the system operates is a little clunky.  The big thing is that there is an "auto" soft key that really isn't automatic at all. Anyway, I finally figured out what I THINK I'm setting up wrong...

And the plane broke....

I didn't do a "mag check" at MTO when I departed. But Sunday evening when I was getting ready to go out and do another ILS test, I did do a " mag check" (I actually don't have mags, I have dual ignition... it's just easier to say mag check) and the engine felt like it was coming unhinged.  Abort. The engine runs fine on one igntion, but the other sounds like it's only running on 4 (or 5) cylinders. Consensus is that I probably have an electronic ignition coil that has gone Tango Uniform. So we started doing diagnostics after I went flying with Comanche Bill.  I got to crank and bank in the Comanche, that was a blast. She's a sweet ride!

I ordered a couple spare coils from LightSpeed just in case, and now I have to do more diagnostics.

05/15/2009 (136.0):  
A quicky flight that didn't amount to much.  A low pass at PRG, Heavy cross winds and gusting badly. yuck.

05/14/2009 (135.6):  
  After re-checking/re-vamping the autopilot to EIS to GNS480 wiring, and repairing one bad connection, John Watler and I did a nice run to test the autopilot and EFIS features.  Wow, what a difference!  The EFIS can now control the AP using data from the 480 to do vertical guidance. I don't know how to fully use the "Flight Director", but I'm quite impressed with the increase in capabilities.  Two GPS approach passes at KPRG using the autopilot. The ground track and altitude hold were perfect. The EFIS didn't tell the AP how to step down, though, which was a setup problem on my part. I need to formulate a check list.

John flew two passes at Bussart's (from the back of course), and then flew back to base all the way to the numbers. I was a gloriously calm night, and I should have just let him land it from back there. It was dusk and smooth as glass. The view to the west from Paris airport was memorable. With over 10 inches of rain in the last couple weeks, there was standing water that looked like lakes or ponds in EVERY farm field as far as you could see. It's going to be a lousy season for farmers. Here it is mid May and the ground is so soaked, no crops are getting planted. Those already planted are probably lost. Not a good season for landing on grass stips so far, either.

05/11/2009 (134.6):  
Another quick run to Paris and three passes at Don Bussart's to test the autopilot. It's not working properly, but it is better than before. The updates of the EFIS software have helped, now it's time to tear into the wiring and reconfigure and add wires to increase the AP/EFIS/480 communication up to it's full and proper capabilities.

05/10/2009 (134.1):  
When I got back to Brazil, I had a message from Chat that Pat Adams needed a ride back from Boonville, IN. He was returning a beautiful Pacer to it's owner after annual. So I followed him down in the Rocket and rode him back. ITMT, it was a good opportunity for me to check out my autopilot. Friday I had been on the phone with GRT about reconfiguring my EFIS to get the 480/EFIS/VSGV combo working together. I had it all screwed up. And there have been software changes, as well as wiring changes  (which will be the next project). I toggled my AP switch from 480 to EFIS and let the AP fly a flight plan and an approach after dropping Pat back at Clay County. The AP did everything it was supposed to EXCEPT follow DOWN the glidepath. I may not have pressed the right button.

Pat didn't get any stick time. Neither of us had a headset for him for the trip back, and I didn't want to have to turn around and yell any. I offered to get back together with him and get him some Rocket time.  He was impressed enough to stand by the runway at Brazil and take a YouTube video of my take off.

05/10/2009 (....)(2.0 Cessna 172):    
Finally got to ride some more. John Watler took me along on a trip to pick up BIlly Werth and take him down to North Vernon to get the Pitts back. John was itching to fly, so I let him take Billy instead of a Rocket trip. It was nice to sit back and watch him operate the 530 and 430 connected to the STEC autopilot. It was a nice morning to fly, and a very comfortable trip. We did a pass at BMG to see if there were any hangar doors open down there, but since it was Mother's Day, it was a bit quiet most places.

05/04/2009 (132.2):   Today I was on a mission to get Billy Werth back from North Vernon to have some cosmetic work done on his Pitts. Always fun to fly with Billy in formation.  He frequently "checks the inverted oil system". His motto... "I'd rather be flying upside down" is VERY true. Check out Billy's air show schedule at GRAYOUT.COM !

05/03/2009 (....)(1.0 in Mooney 252):   Had fun riding along with Jerry Badger in his twin turbo Mooney. He did three practice approaches and a hold with me as safety pilot. It turned out to be another gorgeous day, much to the chagrin of the forecasters.  The Mooney is a nice ride and Jerry is most proficient at managing his systems. I hope to some day get my skills up to that level.... once I get the autopilot and EFIS bugs worked out. Those bugs seem to be multiplying....

05/02/2009 (130.1):   John Watler and I flew the Rocket to KDEC for lunch. Good food and easy controllers. Can't beat it.  Lots of standing water in the fields of Illinois due to the massive rains we've had for about a week. Gonna be muddy for a long while.

04/26/2009 (....)(1.1 in a PA24-250):    Rode with Comanche Bill over to KMQJ for a Ramp Rats meeting. Boy, that Comanche 250 sure is a sweet bird!

04/26/2009 (127.8):   Lynn Van Etten was my passenger on this very gusty April day. Her husband rode with SOB, and we all flew to French Lick for brunch and a quick peek at the casino. Despite the forecasts, it was very smooth above 3000 ft through into the afternoon. However down low caused me to execute, albeit successfully, the worst landing EVER in my Rocket. The tail "fell out" three times in the flair due to the winds on the bluff and over the trees. Wicked!

04/25/2009 (125.2):   Puttered around flying to Greencastle for brunch and here and there. EFIS/AP/480 still don't like each other.

04/18/2009 (123.2):   More senseless flying. Attempted to get the AP to fly some approaches. It doesn't work consistantly. I think I have major configuration problems in the EFIS setup.  Looks like there might be some wiring changes on new installation manuals available at GRT. Gotta pull the boot cowl panels soon and trace some wires.

03/20/2009 (121.2):   This has very little to do with my flying.  Stand by.....

Drove up to Crawfordsville Municipal Airport at the request of Billy Werth. Why?

Jet Powered School Bus

Huh?  What's so great about a school bus?

Under the Jet Bus Hood

Hey, there's no engine under that hood. Don't ask ME to push!

Oh look, Skip Stewart is here with Promethius. Wow, he sure is an amazing stunt pilot.

Skip Stewart's "Promethius"

Wait, they've hooked the bus up to a tow strap and are taking it away.....   What the......

Oh I see, this is not your ordinary school bus...

Uh, OK, looking at the back of the bus, I see that it has an ingenious propulsion system. Looks pretty.... HOT!!!!!


Paul Stender of Brownsburg, IN has a lot of experience in the jet vehicle genre. The SCHOOL TIME bus is the latest projet. Powered by a 42000 horsepower F4 Phantom J-79 engine, Paul's bus may be the largest jet powered vehicle in the world.   It sure was a blast watching him blow Skip Stewart's doors going down the runway!

Here's a phone pic of Promethius, Wayne the CFJ airport manager, Skip Stewart in his flying suit, Billy Werth not in his flying suit, and fellow Rocket builder and IA Monty. These phone pics (LG Chocolate 3) don't look too bad until you resize them....
Wayne, Skip Stewart, Billy Werth and Monty up at KCFJ

Thanks to John Watler for his movie file, which I uploaded to YouTube and the jpegs from our outing to Crawfordsville, IN..

Stay tuned, you can see the whole thing in HD on the Discovery Channel, fall 2009.

03/15/2009 (121.2):  
A nice March day to sweep out the hangar. Got rid of some stanchions we made for Victory Days, swept the floor, dumped trash. You know, Spring Cleaning kinda stuff.

At the end of the afternoon, SOB called and wanted to go fly. Then EVERYONE showed up out at the T hangars. Three of us, Rocket, Comanche Bill and Nail32 in his Comanche flew west into Illinois. Don Bussart was expecting us! Don's strip, in Dudley ILL, was soft. I thought my tailwheel was trenching down the runway!  But it was fine. No problem slowing, that's for sure. And departure was fine. Glad I have excess power!

Sorry about the lousy phone pic...
Nail32's Twin Comanche at Don Bussart's

Don was in great spirit, and Kako was friendly as ever. Bill, John and I had a nice chat with the Bussarts over a cup of tea. Nail32 (John Van Etten) swapped stories with Don. They had been close to the same areas in SE Asia, but during different wars. Van Etten was a FAQ in the early 1970s and later an F100 pilot in the ANG, and Don of course flew C47s for about 13000 hours during WWII. Of course that's just a small part of Don's logged 36000 hours of flight time. I swear, Don has more stories than any room full of pilots you can gather. Well, OK, maybe there's some others of Don's vintage that can rival him, but in his nearly 90 years, probably 75 of those flying, he sure has some dillys!  One quick fact was that Don received the DFC for action in 1944, 1945. And even though he was never in the Air Force, he has an Air Force Honorable Discharge and all the benefits to go along with it. All well deserved.

Don mentioned that he once owned an AT-6.  According to him, it wasn't JUST and AT-6 but it was THE AT-6. Not a prototype, but one of the first and original AT-6s available after the war.  Here's the story as I remember it:  Don said he bought a new plane (he still has 11) and a new car (he said he had 24 or more) after the war. He went to a broker/dealer somewhere out west. He bought a P-47 that was nearly new for $1300 (surplus). The story goes that he flew it around the airport  and then landed.  His buddy (forgot his name) was with him and bought THE AT-6. His buddy decided he didn't want the T-6 and traded it back even for a BT-13, which he thought would be a better instrument trainer for his school. However, Don's buddy asked Don what in the world he would do with a Thunderbolt?  After much discussion, the fellow talked Don into trading his new Thunderbolt back in for the Texan. Which actually cost $400 more. The broker insisted that Don pay him an additional $300 and buy 2 parachutes ($50 for both to make up the difference in cost. )So Don owned a Thunderbolt for 20 minutes, then paid more for a Texan.

That Texan was hangared over by St. Louis and was paying some $65 a month to hangar it (and another $35 for his Stearman... another story altogether!) and was back living/working in SE Asia much of the time.  Whenever he came back home to Illinois, he flew his planes down St. Louis way. He credited his friend and said the guy sure was right about the AT-6 being a real jewel. He said it would do 210,  and it was just one of those planes that came off the line better than most if not all the others. Don credited his buddy for knowing his Texans, and well that guy should. The guy had spent over 4000 hours instructing in T-6s during the war, and had been in dozens of different Texans.

On one trip back from the Orient, Don met up with some of his flying buddies. Who were also his poker buddies. As luck would have it,  Don had a bad day of cards and after all was said and done, turned out he was down $1700. Don started writing a check for the loses, and his buddy said NO, I don't want your money, I  want your T-6!  Don told the guy NO WAY. He had become partial to that AT-6 ( he never did call it a T-6 or a Texan, btw) and refused to sell it. His good friend kept telling him how little time he spent in the states (I think he was living in Tokyo at the time) and how much "storage" he was wasting on the plane. Don said NO. The guy kept after him, even saying that Don could buy it back from the guy (at some unset future date). NO.  After some considerable jibbing (and probably some more Scotch) Don's buddy said," You're a gambling man, how about DOUBLE OR NOTHING?" Don finally acquiesced. On the cut, Bussart pulled a jack! His buddy groaned. Then he cut a king! I'm sure Don groaned and that point, and there went his wonderful AT-6.

The story doesn't end there. Some time after that, rumor has it Don won a Mosquito in another poker game. And then he raced "Wooden Wonder" in the 1949 Bendix race. He finished back in the pack on one engine. Later on, while he was back working in Asia, his wife (shortly after that EX wife) sold the Mosquito out from under him for $1000.  He still laments losing those planes.

03/14/2009 (120.6):    A nice morning flight to 4I7 for breakfast. Then a pass at Bussarts, but no one home. I had a passenger, Mike King, newly minted part owner of the Cherokee 6 hangared at HUF. 5 more hours and he can solo his bird!

03/04/2009 (119):     Missing Man Tribute for our pilot friend and fellow EAA member Ernie Winters.

03/02/2009 (117.4):     Logistics and practice flight for missing man flight later this week.

03/01/2009 (117.4):     Finallized the condition inspection which began back in December. Very minor squawks, excellent compression. It will be good to start flying again after not being able to fly mostly due to foul weather since the end of November.



11/29/2008:   Just a quick run by a few of us over to MTO for late lunch. It was another decent day to fly, so why not. Happy to report that my heating system with the large AIRKITSLLC eyeball hooked onto it worked beautifully. In fact I had to turn it away from blasting directly on me to keep from burning. The picture above was snapped by a friend's daughter in the back seat of a 172.  I'm surprised the picture isn't blurry. They said they felt like the plane was going backwards when I went by. Heck I wasn't going THAT fast!  

Oh yeah, in the pic you can tell I moved my Position Light/Strobes to the middle of the wingtip and closed the holes. When I saw Mark's EVO in Taylor, he had them centered and it did look a lot better than at the leading edge. Forward visibility of the lights may be compromised a bit, but they are still within spec.  Plane's not any faster, though.

Had a nice flight up to Grissom AFB in Peru IN. The nice FBO line guy gave 4 of us (two planes of course) a ride to the museum. There was more to see in the museum than static hulks in the yard. Inside the museum there are many artifacts, models and activities. One interesting part is the F4 cockpit which is open for a pilot and rear seater to sit in. Really gives you an appreciation for the term "man on a missle". Two missles in this case.

Rocket Fly In, Taylor Texas.  I had a nice long cross country down and back to Taylor, home of Team Rocket and Cheryl and Mark Fredericks. The flight down took about 4+ hours with two stops to buy "cheap" 100LL.  Kennett MO (KTKX) had gas for $2.99. Then on to Wood County in Texas, where 100LL was $3.29. In my 15 years of GA flying, I don't remember 100LL being that low. Of course the world economy has gone to the dogs and auto gas is lower than it has been in a few years as well. Anyway, I flew the Rocket at 6500 feet in sunny skies with a slight push all the way down.

When I arrived at T74, Wayne Hadduth and his friend Ed had already arrived from Canada. Wayne turned out to be the only Rocket in the race and won his class at over 240 mph for the 120 mile loop. There were some 20 planes that showed up to race in the event on Saturday.

Regrettably, only 4 Rockets showed up. Mark had some 20 guys say they were going to be there, but certainly not enough planes. About 6 or 8 builders showed, and it was a pleasure meeting them and sharing notes. But it would have been great to see some more planes there for what was supposed to be a "Rocket" event as well as a racing event.

Cheryl and Mark were gracious and fun hosts. We not only got fed in a semi heated hangar (it was only 50 and blowing) but also got to visit Macho Grande. Cheryl's green Rocket (#158) with EVO wings and a Continental motor is going to be awesome. The fit and finish is superb and that huge stack coming out the side of that 330 hp Continental is very cool. Bet is sounds as good as it looks!  Too bad my camera battery died, otherwise I'd have some pics.

Saturday after the race, nearly everyone bugged out. Weather was coming in and not many folks wanted to take a chance. I already paid for my room because I thought Saturday night was the big deal, not Friday. Well perhaps if weather wasn't looming more folks would have converged on Macho Grande.

Sunday AM I awoke to overcast skies and light rain. A check of the weather showed marginal conditions through Arkansas. I hopped in the Rocket and eased my way up to the NE corner of Texas at 2500 to 3500 feet. It was a pleasant trip, letting the autopilot do the work. I stopped at Wood County again for gas and was off again,  That was the last I saw of the ground until I got to Missouri.

I thought I could make it over the "mountains" of Arkansas between layers, sort of VFR. I had an alternate plan to bug north into the flatter lands of OK, but headed into central Arkansas, cutting a swath from the SW corner to the NE corner. Man, it was ugly. It was getting hard to tell the horizon. Again, the autopilot was doing a fair job of keeping me straight, level and on course. But the layers started closing in. I was either going to have to turn north, 180 or climb. I saw a big hole and blue sky so I decided to climb.  I knew it was clear on the other side of Arkansas, so I went on top.

At 9500 feet, I levelled out. I also turned on the oxygen. I was a bit anxious because I hadn't flown like this for about 5 or 6 years.  Always nice to have blue sky over head, but not seeing the ground, is a bit disconcerting.  Especially where there's no airports under you anyway for around 75 miles. It's interesting how sparse the airports are in west central Arkansas.

No sooner did I level out that I  had to climb again. The cloud deck climbed to meet me, so I eased up to 11500. Then again, in about another 15 minutes, I had to climb to 13500. I've never flown my own aircraft that high. It's a bit ominous knowing you are that high. But with the oxygen blaring, some frequent sips of water and radios to play with, it was fine. The Rocket sure didn't care. I wasn't even at full throttle, and still climbing at 500 fpm. In cruise I was indicating 154 knots, but my ground speed was 200 knots. I was unfortunately burning 12 or so gph. I evidently have some induction and speed issues, so my plane needs tweeked to get the fuel flow to lean better, and perhaps straighten/smooth out some airframe issues. But I was pleased with the 200 knots across the ground and had plenty of gas to get all the way home if necessary.

Slowly the cloud deck underneath descended. I decided to stay at 13.5K. As I got within 50 miles of my destination, I could see that perhaps the clouds began to part at the horizon. At about 30 miles out I could see breaks in the clouds and some terra firma was apparent. I began to descend. When I noticed my airspeed was over 220 knots over the ground, I decided to throttle back. Good thing I did, because when I finally got to the gap in the clouds, I was still over 4000 feet AGL and Kennett airport was directly below me!  No problem. Nice wing over and a couple turns down for a landing on 20.  Ah, it was great to be on the ground.  And buy some cheap gas.

I could have gone direct and finished the last leg of the flight with more than 45 minutes of fuel to spare. But I was stressed and nature was calling.  I was happy that on both legs I took on less gas than my fuel flow indicated. Not enough to warrant re-calibration. Some guys want it exact. I'll live with the psychological advantage of knowing there's slightly more gas than the meter shows.

30 miles out of Kennett, the clouds completely disappeared. I had about a 10 - 15 knot push the rest of the way home. I played with the mixture soon as I got passed Sikeston MO, home of the "throwed rolls". I diverted a bit to see if Jim Winings and Wayne Haduth might still be there. But they were gone, so I soldiered on to KHUF.  On that leg, for a while I was able to get the plane running smoothly at 50 degrees lean of peak with no stumbling. I know you really aren't supposed to do that down low, but I was testing the engine out a bit. I was below 10 gph at about 170 knots. I still think my EVO should be faster on less fuel, but I also need to figure out why I have a stumble when way rich of peak. That's probably my next project. Besides fixing my dead lower EFIS screen and my looming first condition inspection.


11/1/08:   How many November 1s in Indiana can you remember when the temps were over 70, the sky was blue, and the winds were light and variable? Wow, this day was special before even flying! If this is what Global Warming is all about, I'll take it!

First, 6 local EAA Chapter 83 planes flew from KHUF to Decatur IL for breakfast.  Upon arrival there, Doug Claybrook said he saw a bunch of T6s over at Danville. So after breakfast, two of us went back to Danville to see what was up. There's quite a lot of warbird activity over there, with several "big birds" hidden in the hangars. Who knows what you might get to see if you get a chance to peak around. Well, there wasn't anything going on there by the time we arrived.


So what the heck.... As per usual when we're over that way, we buzzed over Don Bussart's strip near Paris, IL. WHOA! Looked like some activity there!  So we stopped in. On the ground there ended up being like 18 planes, including ELEVEN TEXANS!  


Turned out that half the T6 pilots were performers and pilots that came to Victory Days Terre Haute! Evidently they were out doing FAST training. What a treat! Of course it's always great to see Don and Kahko.

I was a little thrilled that many of the pilots wanted to check out my Rocket. Vlado Lenoch (of P-51 Moonbeam McSwine fame), who was there with his son in their T6, was particularly interested. They both tried it on for size.  Regrettably it didn't fit Vlado very well due to my Rocket's "short guy configuration", but it seemed to fit his son pretty well. Vlado said it fit him about like his Pitts from long ago.


When I got back home, I took a little break, and later went back out for another hour. I let my autopilot TRY to do some IFR approaches. Definitely need to tweak those autopilot settings a bunch. Stopped in at 2R2 and said hi to Jim Winings, who was just rolling in aboard his friend's RV7A. I followed Jim back to Norm Patrums, then headed back to the barn just after sunset.

Ahhh... what a great day!!!

"The Century Mark"   Today I broke 100 hours on the Rocket.  A quick jaunt to 4I7 for breakfast, another quick jaunt to KSIV for our EAA Chapter 83 meeting, then a nice run down to KMVN for their "Little Egypt" veterans salute and fly in/air show. There were a few display civilian aircraft and a few warbirds. Greg Valero was there with his T6 and his son Brian. The "Israeli C47" flew a couple nice passes as did the other Petie 2nd, an L39, an L29 and a couple other aircraft. We got there just in time to see the planes fly. Evidently there wasn't much of a brief and the flying looked a little hap hazard. No planes got bent. Man, they must have flown a thousand Young Eagles down there that day, too. On the flight back, I was accompanied by Jeff Wellum, who flew from the back most of the way to SIV. He did a nice job, and took us all the way to final.

My tailwheel steering "broke" for the 5th time. That thing is a POS. I'm about to just put the factory steering springs/chains on and say the hell with it. That single  arm on the Jantzi keeps bending. I'm on the second arm, and it seems that after just a few landings, I have to remove the thing and file the slot. I can;t figure out what's wrong with it, so I may just give up. I have another steering arm as a third spare. I may re-re-re-grind the pin and see if reshaping it won't resolve the issue. Sucks. Anyway, also wondering if I won't just have the same problem with ANY steering arm, single sided or dual.

The next day, I went out to update the software on my GRT EFIS. I worked on the steering arm and pin again. This time, I also re-contoured the socket. The floor of the slot on my socket has a big nick in it and I'm wondering if the pin isn't folding up and retracting because of that, getting out of sorts and bending the steering arm. Haven't had time for a test flight, but will get up perhaps this evening after work. Very frustrating. Good thing I'm well practiced at brake steering.

Curt DeBaun Jr.'s funeral was today. 5 pilots were honored to give Curt a send off he would appreciate. Wayne Sanders flew Curt and his wife Betty's 172 in a solo flight over the service. Four other private civilian aircraft did a missing man flight, and I was privileged to do the pull up and gone west in my rocket. Mother Nature was kind to Curt and provided me with a 3K foot broken layer to pierce as I climbed at max power up and away. Curt would have loved it.

I learned today that Curt DeBaun passed away on Sunday. Curt was a great guy. He's the pilot who took me for my first Champ ride, and broke me into the world of tail wheel aircraft.  That was a fun first ride. Nice warm sunny summer day with the door off the Champ.  I asked Curt how he landed the tw airplane. He said he pulled the power when over the numbers, closed his eyes (only had one good one anyway), pulled back on the stick, and counted to 5. If the plane hadn't landed yet, he went around and tried again! Curt had bunches of stories and was always fun to be around. We'll all miss him and his hangar flying. Blue Skies, Curt!

Last night SOB and I did a practice flight to form a missing man flight for Curt's services on Thursday. We made three practice passes to get our bearings, then departed to Brazil for some gas. I made a landing back at Hulman in some serious dark and low viz. It was fun. And now that HUF has 100LL about $2 more than anyone else in the area, I especially won't be buying gas at home.

I flew a little on Saturday past. I went to Ernie Winters, following Comanche Bill. Ernie and Linda wanted some aerial footage of Ernie flying his very nice Cessna 170.  I rode copilot with Bill, as he flew formation and Tucker did some video shooting from the back seat.

I've made a bunch of little flights that didn't amount to much. Local stuff. Mostly, for that three week period coming up to the first weekend in October, I was getting ready for Victory Days at KHUF. The event was a success, if you don't count the lack of attendance. The Warbird participation was spectacular for a first event. The WWII reenactors were very cool as well. A platoon of MPs in period dress (guns and billy clubs too) helped us marshal the ramp. It was a stressful weekend for me as Ramp Boss for this first show. The event came off quite nicely, even though it was dismally disorganized and poorly marketed. But the planes and flying were great. And I hope we get to go it again.

The plane is flying quite nicely. I still have a bunch to finish. Now that winter is on it's way, I'll have some time to finish up some interior items, and perhaps make arrangements to get the airframe painted. That will probably be sometime this winter, and after my first condition inspection, coming up in December.

I did get Jim Winings on my policy so that he could take my plane out for a shake down. Jim's also going to go out with me and check me out doing some aerobatics. That should be fun. I'm pretty rusty, and all I do is a roll and a loop. KISS. Keep it simple and safe.

Hopefully more fun flying news to come as I reach the century mark!

10/3,4,5/08: Victory Days.  I was Ramp Boss at the interactive WWII "living museum" held at Hulman Field in Terre Haute. The ramp and the flying (on Saturday) was awesome. I had a great crew, with a "Can Do" attitude.


One thing that's imperative after working a hard day on the ramp is drinking a nice cold BEER!  We had this idea about getting some Warbird Mustang Gold Ale to share amongst ourselves and our new found flying buddies at Victory Days. Well, turned out that Warbird Gold Ale ("Mustang Ale") is kinda pricey around these parts. So SOB contacted Warbird beer directly (he's so shy....). Well, the owner finally got back to us and since he's "all about warbirds" he told us he'd make us a good deal.  Not only that, he'd deliver it to us.  Not only that, it'd come in a TBM AVENGER!  All we had to do was unload it from the bomb bay, just like they did back in the day.  So we all waited for Ida Red to arrive with a few scrumptious cases of Mustang Ale on board.  SWEET!




Nothin' like some Warbird being delivered by... WARBIRD!!!   WOOHOOO!!!   Cheers!  And thanks to Dave, owner of the Warbird Brewery, and restoration crew member of Ida Red.  Small world, eh?

Flew a bit yesterday. Went to KSIV for their "Airport Days". Decided not to hang around. You know, when low time pilots are giving rides to kid, and they don't shut down the engines to change passengers, it makes me very nervous and I don't want to be around.

Friggen tailwheel steering arm went to shit again. All of two hours on it. Took it apart Sunday, cleaned it.. no soap.  Took it apart again and found that it had folded over on one corner just like the first one did. Took a file to it, reshaped it, and it works. For now. Probably need to get a new pin for it. Sumpin ain't right.

Sunday AM flew to KMQJ for the Indianapolis Air Show. Paid my $20 to get in and spent the day there. Watched them marshal a few warbirds, watched Billy Werth fly his Pitts in the show, ate a Dove Bar, drank about 5 bottles of water (none of which I paid $3 for!). The usual. Spent a couple hours with Paul King, meeting various and sundry pilots and ex pilots, plane owners and warbird afficianados. Met Paul's son Jake over at the Indy Aero Club Museum, which is in a very nice hangar toward the back (north west) of the rows of buildings. All in all, it was a good day. I didn't learn much but I did see that the ramp rats over there do an excellent job, and I hope our crew fairs as well at Victory Days.

Got Night Current last night. I wouldn't call it "currency", but I did a bunch of stop and goes after sunset, before the full moon came up. I haven't flown at night for a couple years, and it was a little freaky. But most successful, and a very good experience. Yes, my Rocket actually can fly at night!

Also changed the oil for the second time. Yep, going 50 hours between changes now. Consumption is very low. Still have a slight leak up front. Think I need to take off the prop and change the front crank seal? Contacting Mattituck about it. Also figured out that my landing lights suck. Well, not completely. The landing light is straight ahead, but the taxi light needs to be out and forward a bit. One of these days, I'll remove the 70+ screws from the leading edge and adjust the lights. Need to replace the lens, too.

Tom Martin graciously pointed out at OSH that my exhaust hangars were causing my pipes to bang into the engine mount. Oops. I adjusted the hangars all the way to max length. Maybe that'll put a little less soot and oil on the belly, but I'm not holding my breath. Tom also told me a couple nylock nuts weren't showing one thread on my flap drive arms. I'm going to change those to smaller width all metal stop nuts next time I'm under the wing. Nice to have friends that take the time and trouble to look out for your bacon.

7/2808:  OSHKOSH!  
After riding my FJR1300 1023 miles from Golden, Colorado the day before, I departed for OSH. Bright and early Monday AM, I headed for the airport, finished loading the Rocket and headed north. Low scud and thin areas of undercast were present until getting north of Chicago. Then it was nice and clear. The airwaves were relatively quiet, and I was expecting OSH to be empty (economy). I was wrong. I started the approach at Ripon doing 90 knots.... because I can! I caught up with the only other plane I saw on the way in, a Cessna SLOWhawk doing about 80 knots. Controllers warn not to S turn, and if you can't slow enough, break out and start over. Well, it was good practice for me to do some slow flight. Fortunately at Fiske, they peeled me off to 36L, so I nudged in the throttle. A nice descending left turn to final, a nice long float down the runway, planted the tailwheel and rolled off on a taxiway. I'M HERE!


Once on the ground, the ground controllers ushered me up the pike. At the main turn off north of show center, I asked a controller over to my cockpit. I told him I wasn't sure where the best place for me to park would be. I said I'm a warbird volunteer and camping there. He nodded, and told a scooter where to take me. Front row behind the forums. Row 319 is next to the main road through the whole event, and right next to warbird camping. Sweet! (got a little dirty, though).

It took me two hours to get away from my Rocket. People kept coming up and wanting to check it out and ask questions. I felt like a superstar. Anyway, one Rocketeer from the PNW reminded me of a Rocket Safety seminar under the trees just over in the forums. It was a nice little session, and I met several other owners and builders. Also, it was good to put faces with names I'd heard for years.


The rest of the afternoon, I tried to check in as a warbird volunteer. What a cluster fuck that was. I had to literally chase the volunteer director around the whole warbird area, and I never did catch him. I decided to wait until morning and pin him down first thing.

Vince Frazier had a little get together that evening. Once Jim Winings and I found the place, I sat down with a couple beers and listened to Lee Logan and Wolfgang Meyn have an "argument". It was a very pleasant discussion. I can listen to those jet jocks go all night. Alas, the mosquitoes were the worse I've ever seen anywhere, so I decided to bug out. I walked the two miles back to my tent with thunderstorms looming to the west. It started spitting rain just as I got back to my tent, but never did pour like I thought it would. In fact, that was the only rain we got the whole time I was there.

The next morning I caught up with Tom Wise, he OK'd me and sent me to John Gates. John insisted that Tom already told him NO MORE VOLUNTEERS. Here we go again.  So I started chasing Tom down again. A little tough since he's all over the airport in a brown jeep and I'm on foot. I finally caught him, told him the dilemma, and he said he'd fix it. I started my way back to the volunteer trailer (Tom's) and told John again that I was already approved to volunteer two months ago. He asked me if I was sure and asked if I wasn't lying. I wanted to punch the guy, but I didn't even roll my eyes. I just said ABSOLUTELY NOT. Just then, Tom rolled up, said I was OK (John was already checking me in), and scurried off. That guy was never in the same place for 30 seconds.


Since Dave Thomas was kind enough to recommend SOB and me for the ramp, they stuck us in his group. Dave has been tugging JETS at OSH for about 20 years. Even though our emails to OSH told them we wanted big radial experience for Victory Days, everyone there was stuck on Dave's name and JETS. So I got put on the "point" with the jet crew. They were a bit incredulous because jets usually take the most seasoned of volunteers, most of whom had more than 10 years experience. Yikes!  When I told them I had NO jet experience, no FBO experience and never used a tug, I was practically shunned.  Oh well, I was there to learn and help, and I did.

Ryan and Ben Anderson were the youngest guys on the crew. They had both been at the show since BIRTH. Ben tugged his first 104 Starfighter at a rumored 14 years of age. Both of these guys were very nice and quite helpful in training me about tow bars and some movement protocol. Scott Baier is the jet LEAD and he coached me in safety and signals. He then promptly made sure I was the hell out of the way most of the rest of the time (during movements). I was a little disappointed not to get to marshal the smaller jets, but they were pretty self sufficient anyway.

What I really enjoyed was working with Dean Stanley. He bought Dave Thomas's 1940 tug and had it painted up in OD WWII livery. Dean is a volunteer sheet metal worker on Desert Rat, a B17 basket case being restored near Schaumburg. Dean is a super nice guy, and since he had the bigger tug, he was asked to move a LOT of planes. In fact, the jet tugs were asked to move just about everything that wasn't at show center. And even so, they took some of the planes back and forth to show center. So I got to help tug P38s, P51s, Yaks, and a Spitfire. And on the jet ramp, we had many L39s, a couple l29s, three T33s, a Hawker Hunter, a T2 Buckeye, and the only flying FJ-4B Fury ( Navy F-86 Sabre, more or less). It was ALL VERY cool.  And I was able to help with the tow bars and chocks a lots.

During the show, the Warbirds fly first. So we start first. And we end first, if we don't get recruited to shuffle prop planes around afterwards. When there isn't an NDA established, the jet crew tugs the jets across the field on the far side of 27 for start. Watching the show from there is a blast, you're right under the end of 18, directly under the planes landing and passing. SWEET. Once the Raptors and Ospreys showed up, though, that area of the far ramp was closed to all civilians. The Raptors were even roped off over there and armed guards posted 24/7.

Wednesday is a Warbird day off. So the work was really thin. I had multiple blisters on my feet, so I wasn't in to walking a lot. I hung around and someone found tugging jobs to do here and there. It was nice to have an easy day. Thursday, things picked up again, and Friday was the big show. Saturday, things wound down and lot and the jets and lots of other warbirds start to go home.



Foraker finally showed up Thursday AM. I worked early in the AM. Then I hooked up with Bruce Dallman en route to meet Bill. Bruce came up from Kansas with a friend of his in a 182. That was the only time I saw Bruce, but Bill and I camped next to each other and worked the crew together. I took Bill to see John Gates to sign him up. John again said (and more emphatically) that he was told by TOM not to take any more volunteers. I'm thinking "Here we go again". I said Bill was also already on the list from two months ago and Tom had already approved him. John insisted that unless Tom brought a volunteer by the arm to sign up with permission, he was NOT going to take any more volunteers. Ugh. So SOB and I went to get a snack, then out to the ramp. Fortunately for Bill, he had an orange vest on hand, and put it on. Jet Lead asked who the heck he was, and we told Scott the story. He reluctantly nodded and went about his business. Later that afternoon, Bill pinned Tom down at his trailer and put his registration in motion. Sheeesh, it was more work trying to work than actually working!


Friday night, Dean and his wife and Dave and his wife hosted a steak cook out. We chipped in, and Stacy went and picked up a bunch of beer, fixens and some Brontosaurus steaks. Man, they were HUGE. And DEEElicious. The Leinenkugel 
was pretty tasty too. Just as we were finishing up, Jerry O'Neil called SOB. Jerry and his wife Ginny were working for the DAV. The DAV was sponsoring Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band. Jerry insisted we come to the show and he'd put us up front. So off we went. We got there for the final set, right up against the stage. And I'm here to tell you that they were ROCKIN'!  Ben was with us, and he knew one of the singers. Man, she was good. AND HOT. After the encore, we went out back hoping to meet Gary Sinise. Well, that didn't happen, but Ben talked to Julie and got a great big hug. Lucky dog. Man, what a great day!



Bill decided he was leaving Saturday after the show instead of Sunday AM like I had planned. I was kinda tired of camping myself, so I started buttoning up Saturday AM and loading the plane for departure after the show. The jets were light and leaving, so after the Warbirds were over and the show started, Bill and I got an FAA briefing and headed opposite directions for our planes (Bill's Comanche was in row 88, in Contemporary Classics). Again, I was swamped by onlookers and questions. Then the jet crew rolled up in a van. I almost didn't recognize anyone without hats and orange flight line gear on. We again said goodbyes, and they were off to the warbird banquet.

Once I heard a plane start behind me, I excused myself from conversation and got in for start up. Soon as I did, an escort pulled up. I cranked up and slowly taxied off the grass to the main warbird taxiway. It wasn't 5 minutes and I was holding on runway 18R for departure. The controller exclaimed he was ground holding me for slower traffic ahead of me.  I gave him a thumbs up and a great big head nod. And I was grinning from ear to ear. He was holding me up behind a twin and a V tail Bonanza.  BIG GRIN!!!!   "Rocket, cleared for take off. Be aware of slower traffic in front". Bigger Grin.  I didn't hold anything back. Full throttle, tail up, ground effect and off like.... a ROCKET!

A couple miles out, I went passed the Bonanza like it was standing still. And I had throttled back to 23 squared (all the way home). Then I passed the twin and started climbing. The briefer was right, I had a 20 knot push at 6500 feet. Then, at the turn (Chicago B), I went up to 7500 and had a 32 knot push. SWEET!  I was burning less that 13gph, truing at 198 knots and making 203 across the ground. I was in the pattern at Hulman in 1.5 hours to the minute. NICE!  Bill, at this point was about 20 minutes behind me (due to delayed departure, not airspeed). So I decided to do a show pass while waiting. I went down the runway at some 190+ knots, then circled and landed. It was just before sunset. No sooner did I get packed and the plane put away, there goes SOB also doing a show pass. I knew he would. He was talking to tower from some 80 miles out, so he was listening all the time.

What a great two weeks of vacation. A beautiful week of motorcycling in the Colorado Rockies, then flying my Rocket to OSH for the first time, and volunteering for the first time at the show, meeting lots of great new friends and then a perfect flight home. Even the autopilot worked!  Ahhhhhhh BLISS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A nice flight today over to visit Billy Werth and his son Trevor. Also had a nice visit with Jim Winings, who is sold on his new round air inlet for the engine. He says he gets .5 inch of manifold increase and 2 more knots without that flat spot under the prop. I like the concept and may hack my spare inlet just for funsies.  I'm not sure I need the manifold pressure increase, but less drag might do it. Jim said the filter area is almost double that of the square filter we now have, and that the airflow into the flow controller is more direct.


On a cooler note, I noticed my boot cowl and footwell areas were much cooler. John Watler and I insulated behind the rudder pedals and around the floor and right sidewall of the center bay in front of the stick bay. Wow, what a difference!   John also installed a Y connector on my heat and fresh air on the left, then attached my eyeball vent as a test. I think putting the Y connector backwards didn't hurt anything, but the bug screen over the inlet and the eyeball vent really slow the flow and reduced the volume. I gotta get bigger aluminum eyeball vents. But using the air inlets in the wing roots and turning the NACA duct on the right boot cowl so that it just cooled behind the instrument panels made a HUGE difference!


Where has the time gone?  Well I've made a couple un-notable test and food flights around the area. But today was a fun romp around Indiana. Watler and I flew up to Boone County 6I4 and met up with Jason Sharkey. Jason is the king pin of our newly adopted VICTORY DAYS event at KHUF. Jason is a big WWII enthusiast and decided to put together a tribute, remembrance and exhibit of life in and around an Army Air Corps base during the early 40s. So he and his team (and many of our Air Fair volunteers) are bringing military and civilian hardware to the KHUF grounds for display and reenactment. Anyway, we had a "warbird" meeting and then he was gracious enough to take John and I for L-5 Stinson flights. Now THERE is a sweet flying plane. Yep, I want one!


From Boone county, John and I started to fly to Grissom which is now open to the public (on one side there is an FBO). For some reason the tower was closed. I think that means it reverts to an uncontrolled field, but I wasn't going to take a chance, or bother Grissom approach about it. On to Converse, Indiana ... which has an unusual airport. During the war era, they decided to make an octagonal airport. Theoretically, you could land any direction. As it sits now, the airport is all hacked up and you are supposed to land on the indicated runway. No thanks.


The next stop was Monticello, White County. Billy Werth and his band of brothers were supposed to be there giving rides in his S2C. I guess we got there early. No Bravo Bravo in sight, so we departed for home.

The EVO flew nicely, I was able to lean it out quite a bit, but I think I need to remove the remaining .0275 injector and bump it back to .028. I get an occasional miss, and I'll just bet it's coming from that cylinder. Also, I had ducted both wing root air vents to eyeball vents. The amount of airflow through those little eyeballs just isn't going to cut it. At OSH, I'm going to buy a couple of the larger eyeballs and hack them into the front panel somehow. And Watler said I probably didn't need the other ventilator in the back seat. So I'm leaving that out for now.

Hacked the hole bigger in the leading edge of my right wing root fairing. Decided to double it's size, extending it UP from the LE midline. SUCCESS!  Finally got a reasonable amount of air in the big 2 inch hole I punched in the right boot cowl.  The hole in the glass is trapezoidal, so I'm going to round it out and try to make it sort of  "LoPresti-esque". The good news is that closing out the box between the wing, the spars, and the boot cowl  (using Great Stuff) actually works. I would imagine, however that using some vinyl flex duct in there will be a lot more efficient.  SCAT doesn't make the bend well enough. Using a simple elbow and making the boot cowl hole directly west of an elbow might work, but there are two longerons down low in the boot cowl in that area, so mounting that hole up above a little is a good idea.  I tried to stamp my 2 inch hole in the boot cowl as high as I could (with a  Greenleaf  punch), and still a 2 inch duct adapter will barely fit there because of the longeron.    Oh, and since this is the flying page, I will report that I did two separate test circuits in 14G21 winds to test the fresh air hole. The Rocket did very well!

Flew 3 planes this weekend.  My Rocket, a 1958 Comanche 250, and the EAA's 1929 Ford Tri-Motor. Yep. Got .3 hours of wheel time in that big beautiful air carrier. PIC was Rand Siegfried, a great guy with some mad flying skills. Also some vigorous testicular fortitude to allow ME to take the controls with 9 unaware warm bodies behind us. Actually it was easy in the air, but boy did it like to wallow. Different. But I could get VERY used to it. Thanks to the EAA for allowing Chapter 83 to host the Tri-Motor in Terre Haute for 4 days. Regrettably, the weather was pretty bad again for two of the days, but Sat and Sun were near perfect!


Went for some wing root vent test flights this evening. Decided to go to Shawnee Field near Bloomfield, Indiana. That field has already flooded once this year, and in fact has flooded into the hangars 3 time during the 15 or so years I've been a pilot. Fortunately, I'm high and dry, and so is my plane. But the good folks down at Shawnee aren't that lucky. These images are about 3 days following the 14 inches of rain our area received in less than a week. I think the water has receded at least two feet before John Watler (his pics) and I flew over in the EVO.




3 turns around the patch at sunset. Brake held fine, GLF closure at the TE held fine. Duct to the heater valve on the firewall did not transfer any heat, so that's good. Unfortunately, opening the rear seat back and baggage floor closure did not allow any more airflow through the cabin. So I used to speed tape and Great Stuff to seal off the right wing root just in front of the flap mechanism. Now the wing root is a quasi sealed box. I used a step drill and put a 3/4 inch hole in the root LE. Next step is to test and see if the amount of air from the LE into the center stick bays is more than the air/exhaust that was coming into the stick bays from the opening at the aft end. Even if  I don't charge the stick bays with fresh leading edge air, at least I will be a lot less likely to get carbon monoxide poisoning.

Jeff Tucker and I went out for a sweltering ride to look at the flood waters around the area. Wow, there's really some high water, with people boating to and from their houses. Cars underwater. Torrents ripping across fields into yards and basements. Glad my house and office are high and dry, but many were not so fortunate. It was almost 90 outside after the rains at the end of the day, and my OAT (which picks up some IAT) was showing 99. Whew, what a nasty greenhouse effect. Gotta work on some airflow. Also, had a brake line failure again that caused a mild ground loop again. Pedal went to the floor on a turn and the tail was too far gone to catch with the rudder pedal. Turned out that I used low pressure tubing on that last line replacement by accident. Replaced with Nylaflow (for certain) and bled the brakes. Found that where I had closed the right GLF, the TE opened back up and needed repaired. Poor workmanship on that one, too. Always something.

Played hooky from work this AM to hang around and fly with a PBS crew from Chicago. Evidently the Lehrer News Hour was doing a report on economic developement and air carrier usage at smaller airports. So the camera crew came out to interview the mayor, a board member, an airport administrator and no other than Chatter. SOB got to fly the interviewer, while Jim Fisher flew the camera man. Just for fun, Jerry Badger and I flew the Rocket in formation with  the Comanche and the Skylane. It was a fun way to kill .5 hours.

6/01/08:     Today was the annual Olney-Noble pancake breakfast. 5 planes from HUF, including Larry Richter in his vintage Bonanza, went and stuffed ourselves with cakes, snausages and b's&g's. The sky was beautiful and the air was silky smooth. The sun came out and I realized how much I need to improve the airflow inside the greenhouse. Man, at 85 the cabin was getting uncomfortable. And those radios get HOT. Especially that 480. Heck, I almost need to box the radios in, put a blower in there, and exhaust the heat directly overboard. HOT HOT HOT. No wonder guys fly these things up at 10K feet!

Took Michael King for a ride over to MTO, back to Brazil/Clay County and home again. He got some stick time between MTO and Brazil. Gas prices sure have shot up. I saved almost $1 a gallon buying at Brazil today, versus Hulman Field's tenant fuel price. I swear, that airport just does NOT want to bring in any transients. Anyway, it was a nice day of flying. Regrettably, the injector restrictors I inserted made the engine run poorly. I figured one cylinder was WAY too lean, so I chose #4, removed the .0275 restrictor and re-inserted the stock .0280 restrictor. A short leaning test the next day proved that #4 was the culprit, but it still wasn't quite right.
Time to contact AirFlow Performance again and ask Don Riviera what to do. 5/10/08:   EAA83, our Terre Haute chapter, had a meeting with a fly out to MTO. Coles County is a great little field with 3 uncontrolled runways and a restaurant right on the field. We had 20 planes show on a beautiful May morning, replete with sunshine and mild winds. Jeff Tucker road along with me, and flew the Rocket from the back seat. He even did a pass at Bussart's strip near Paris.  I took the controls for a 200 knot pass down 11, then came around for the BEST landing I have ever had in ANY airplane. I didn't know the rubber was down until I could feel the tailwheel turn the plane. SCHAWEEEET!

Keith Welsh finally made it to the airport and got out his Onan powered Quickie. That little plane still looks like new, and I'll bet it's a blast to fly.


Don Riviera at AirFlow Performance recommended that I change 4 injector restrictors, based on my engine leaning data. Stock restrictors are .028 diameter openings. Two of my TMX-IO-540 cylinders need .0275 restrictors and two of them need .0285 restrictors. The AirFlow Performance restrictors are $25 each (plus shipping of course) and not returnable or exchangeable. That seems kind of like a raw deal, especially if they don't help. But if you take your plane in to AFP, you can pay them $300 and they will balance your injectors within .2 gph if it takes many injectors and all day to do it. I'm just hoping that one round of injector nozzle changes is all that it's going to take.

Today, Jeff Tucker and I flew to Moraine Airpark, just south of Dayton, Ohio. It was a beautiful cloudless day. Surprisingly, the participation at Moraine looked pretty thin. That fly in has a reputation of drawing 2 or 3 hundred planes. Yet on one of the most perfect days of the year, by the time we arrived, there were probably only 50 or so planes. It was a fun fly in, none the less. Jeff took lots of pictures. I didn't get around too much, happily spending most of my time talking to Paul and Rudy Siegel, next to our Evo Rockets. Rudy evidently took a video of my departure and show pass as we left Moraine. Nice!

I was happy that on the way over, the autopilot drove Jeff and I just above the cloud tops. I had time to do the leaning documentation in order to actually get data for balancing my injectors. Looks like the injector nozzles as they are set up right now, and at the settings and conditions that I have on my TMX-IO-540 are within about .6 gph flow. I thought that was pretty good, but hope it can get better. There's quite an EGT differential, some 90 degrees, between the last cylinder to peak and the first. I'm sure there is room for improvement. I sent the data to AirFlow Performance to see what Don Riviera thinks. Anxious to change out some nozzles and save some fuel.

Today I flew to Greencastle for gas, then back to HUF, then over to MTO for breakfast with Wayne Sanders and Betty DeBaun. I flew leaned and throttled back to 172 speeds. I was definitly under 9 GPH, but the engine kept missing, so I didn't try to lean it out any more. It was a nice flight. Departed the grass at MTO which was great.

Didn't go flying many nice evenings or weekend days that we've been having because we have been having March-like winds. 100LL is just too pricey to want to go out and get beat up in the air. So I stayed on the ground a lot. And went and bought a new car. (My Subaru is still in the shop after 9 weeks, too!)


I went for a short hop after work tonight. Was going to check my leaning/EGTs to get my injectors balanced and try to reduce my fuel consumption at speed. After a short cruise climb, I set the AP and it wouldn't hold. I had burned about 1.5 hours out of my left wing, and the right wing was VERY heavy. Even when both wings are full, the right wing is heavier than the left. Now the autopilot did such a poor job of trying to keep track, either it's too weak with an out of balance wing, or the servo has let loose again. Either way, I gotta open up the floor and check it out again. Perhaps I need to install the torque enhancer after all. Certainly I was going to have a tough time holding the plane and writing down all the notes as I leaned at altitude. At least it was a VERY nice night to fly.

Didn't fly the Rocket today, but did get about 30 minutes behind the right controls on SOB's Comanche. That was fun. Nice flying bird to be sure. Rudder was VERY light and the plane was quite stable. Considering how much Mother Nature was banging us around, the Comanche was comfortable and performed smartly.

I didn't think we'd get a chance to fly because I was planning on tackling a blown master cylinder. Well, it turned out to be a poorly executed compression fitting. So I replaced the bit of Nylaflow tubing and the two fittings on each end (parking brake to right master). Then Watler, SOB and I futzed around trying to bleed the brakes. In walks Chad Williams. He makes a couple suggestions. Watler hooked the clear "fish tank" tubing to the bleeder screw, SOB held the other end of the tube in the brake reservoir (and made sure the res was full/not overflowing), and I pumped the brakes. All the air came running up through the tube, the pedal began to have resistance quite quickly, and the process was finished in a matter of 5 minutes or so. And no synthetic ATF fluid was harmed (wasted) with this process. Chad's "Fish Tank Hose Bleeder" trick is now my standard on the Rocket.


4/07/08 - 4/11/08  Sun N Fun:  
I got up and flew to Hendricks County (2R2) wondering if the gaggle of RV's was actually going to go down to Sun & Fun. 4 of them were, and they didn't have to try very hard to talk me into going. My plane was still packed and ready, so off we went. First to Franklin Indiana to hook up with one of the RV's. Then we headed south at 9500. It was nice and smooth up there with a little push. I locked onto our fuel destination and followed Mike Worth in his red RV4. When we arrived, 3 ships decided to fly VFR over the top, and Mike and I decided to stay low and run underneath. It ended up taking Mike and I a lot longer to get there, it was pretty ugly. But we made it as far as Cross City for the night. The next AM, we made our way under low scud again to Zephyr Hills, where Mike had a rental car and rooms reserved.


It had rained 5+ inches at SNF before we got there. And it showed. Man, that place was a swamp. Standing water everywhere. The crowds were down to a minimum. The planes were down to a minimum... maybe 10 rows of show planes on the flight line, less than half the warbird ramps filled, and the antique camping area had only 3 planes in it. What a let down.

The trip back wasn't much better. At least we had 20 knot tailwinds. But the weather went south as we got farther north, so Mike and I put down in Seymore, Indiana, which is just about 50 miles or so short of our destinations. A wall of black was moving in on us, so we put into the field. Don Miller, who owns a beautiful hangar at KSER allowed us to put the planes in, then gave us a ride to a car rental shop. It was a long drive back and forth for me to go home, but I was certainly glad to be on the ground. We drove through some fairly torrential rains heading up to Indianapolis.


Friday morning, the line of thunderstorms moved on, and there was a gap in the weird weather that was over the Midwest. So I took off in the car to pick up Mike at EYE, and then down to KSER. We had to hustle before the winds got up to the forecast 60 mph in the area. Even then, it started raining on us as we departed even though the forecast said it would be clear. Happily, we shot out of the rain right quick and it was actually nice conditions for the 30 minute or so trip home. Landing in 15G25 just off the nose was a real treat, but I was glad to be home and on the ground.

Just before we departed KZPH, a guy walked up to me on his way to the little yellow RV that was tied down two planes over. Turned out to be Lee Logan, fellow Rocket builder. We were both in a hurry to get home, but I couldn't resist snapping a picture of him next to the RV he flew down to SNF.


Even though it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood, I aborted my trip to Florida. The plan was to go to Mobile or Pensacola, visit museums and wait for the weather in Florida to clear up. Well, most places down in the gulf region stayed marginal if not instrument conditions. I'm sure I could have made it down, but even Southern Indiana wasn't that great. I took off, headed for KDCY to get (cheap) gas on the way, and found out that the FBO is closed on Sunday. And when I got there, the conditions were worsening to the south already. So I just decided to fly local again. I went to KBMG for $4.12 gas, then went up to 2R2 and had a long visit with Jim Winings and many of his friends. Turns out that Bob Japundza, Jim, and several others are going to SNF tomorrow, and Jim asked if I wanted to tag along. Well, I was going to go anyway, and I'd sure feel safer on my first Rocket cross country having some company. But right now, it looks like storms across the panhandle and IFR conditions with moderate headwinds. I'm not sure a trip to SNF is going to come off at all. Once I would get down there and stay a couple days, the weather in between here and there is supposed to get really ugly. At least I got some really nice local flying in today.


John Watler got to be my first passenger today. On the first leg, he just had to ride. On the second leg, he got a little stick time. I think he liked it, except for the lack of proper cushions in the back seat. He's a bit long legged and big footed, so he was worried about staying off the rudder pedals. Well, we did fine. Made a nice pass over Bussarts with Comanche Bill, and headed for home. It was a long wait for the fog to lift this AM, but the afternoon rewarded us with a good lunch and a nice flight. Man, it sure takes a bunch of nose down trim with about 220 in the back seat to get the tail up!

John in the back seat after a sweet landing at MTO:


Back of my head.... for some reason. Camera test?  I need a haircut!

One thing that SOB has to get used to is me passing him. Not many metal piston planes that are going to be in front of me from now on,


3/31/08:   Today I mailed a check to Wayne Hadath, who now owns the Jantzi Steering Arm. I bought two replacement arms to have a replacement and a spare arm for my tail wheel. I don't think they'll make it down from Canada in time to install before I go flying next week, but I think I'll be OK for a little while with the mods I made with the arm to square up the notch that drives the pin.  Got an email from Lucas at TT, too, who said I probably should set all my ARINC speeds down to LOW when using the VSGV, GRT EFIS and the GNS 480. Since the AP dropped out during en route steering, I thought maybe the AP was getting overwhelmed with steering commands at high speed from the 480 through the EFIS. We'll see what happens.

I like having the weight in the back when flying, particularly landing. I need to get rid of the salt bags and figure out some other way to keep 50 - 100 pounds way back behind me. Time to put some hold down "D rings" in the baggage compartment.

Another flight with 200 pounds in the back. Lumbering along following John Watler in a STOL 172. I was burning some 8 gph at some point. Engaged the AP and it really lumbered. The tail oscillated up and down some, and the plane sort of wallered. The winds at 3000 feet were gusting and pushing up over 35 knots at times. Not much fun. Not a very good day for pics, either.


Tail wheel failed again. Left rudder pedal was no good on the tail wheel when landing. Finally figured out that the problem was the Jantzi arm as much as anything else. Where the pin goes into the slot in the arm, on the right side of the pin slot, where the pin rolls over the edge and retracts to allow castering, the metal was deformed. Evidently the pin had folded the metal there or something. I filed it round and squared up the edge. Now the pin is sloppier, but rides on a squared edge, not a deformed one. Hopefully that will keep the thing locked in. I hate riding the left brake trying to keep the plane going straight, especially in that transition from rudder to tailwheel.


While John Watler and I were at MTO getting ready to taxi out, we saw an unusual GA plane taxi in to the ramp. Talk about the $100 dollar hamburger ($1000 hamburger?).


Not every day you see a BAC 167 Strikemaster running around!

3/28/08:   2.8 this afternoon!  
Ah, what a nice day. Went out with moderate sun and bumps and played with the 480 and TT AP. This time I was actually able to get the autopilot to follow a flight plan. It wasn't perfect, and the AP dropped off a couple times. But we're getting there. It's VERY cool to sit there and monitor everything while George does the flying.

Another thing I did today was load up the back seat. First with 120 pounds, then with 200 pounds. I like how the plane lands with weight in the back seat. Very nice.

Finally!  A nice little flight and the autopilot actually worked!  WOOHOO!  Last evening, I pulled the floor and seat out again, and repositioned the aileron servo push rod. I adjusted the rod ends and put the bolt in the inner-most hole in the servo arm. Using the hole closest to the drive shaft of the servo did the trick. Even though the rod is not quite perpendicular to the servo arm, it works great. At least up to 160 knots in calm air. I was just in awe of the fact that it held the plane dead nuts on track, and hold altitude beautifully (as it has all along).

Now to figure out why it won't follow a flight plan....  That's probably operator error. The TT manual says something about you HAVE to overfly a waypoint to get the AP to track a plan. Perhaps that's my problem. Or it's still configured improperly between the  AP, EFIS and 480. I need to get in there and do some more testing.

A nice little flight through some heavy flurries and sunshine after work today. Parking brake worked great. Repaired heater cable/door worked OK, but I need to crimp in some resistance on the cable. Another thing that worked beautifully was cylinder #1. I removed the cover plate, shield, restrictor, whatever you want to call it, from the angle on the front baffles. Removing that plate from directly in front of the #1 cylinder instantly brought it's temperatures down to "normal". When I got back in the hangar, I removed the shield from in front of the #2 cylinder. I hope those front two cylinders will now both be closer to the temps on the other 4 cylinders.

What didn't work was the autopilot and blocking the oil cooler. I put some metal tape over the intake side of the oil cooler and it didn't make a dent in increasing the oil temps. I'm routinely getting temps of 163 and lower. Guess I'll put another strip of metal tape over the cooler face and try again. Sorta nice to know that the oil cooler is doing it's job.... too well. The AP tried to work. It just doesn't have enough OOMPH still to move the controls. It still wants to fall off to the right. Either I still have it hooked up wrong, or it's time to install the Torque Enhancer. Bummer.

3/23/08:   Happy Easter!  
I desperately wanted to fly this AM, and I was hurriedly trying to repair the heater duct door I broke yesterday. Yes, while trying to install a parking brake cable, and trying to drill the heater duct arm for a B-nut, the drill grabbed the thin stainless arm on the door, spooled it up, and then ripped it off the tack welds. A few choice words were uttered...  To repair the door, I merely used a single loop of hinge stock, slipped it onto the cable, bent the cable in a "U" shape (so that it locked onto the hinge), and drilled the hinge to the center of the door. An AN3-5 bolt and lock nut later, and I'm back it business. I also pulled the front seat out and cut the AP servo push rod back. It wasn't quite perpendicular to the servo arm, so I  cut it, drilled it, tapped it and re-installed it. Now it the AP doesn't have the juice to fly the plane, next step would be to install the torque enhancer (TE), which is just a capstan (pulley) with a push rod (special shaped aluminum channel) with cable swedged at both ends and wrapped around the capstan. Just need the snow to clear out.

So I was anxious to test the parking brake, the modified heater door and the modified AP servo push rod. But alas, Mother Nature chose to douse the airport with copious flurries. Nothing like wet, sloppy, freezing IFR to put a damper on test flying. Oh well, it just gave me more time with Dad and my step mother. It was a nice sunny afternoon at their house, the birds were chirping and the sun was shining (intermittent with snow). Finally, I just went home to have a nap. And the METAR never got good enough to warrant going back out to try. Maybe tomorrow?

Tonight I was able to get to the airport early enough to do a little autopilot test flight. Initially, the AP worked beautifully. It held altitude and course for about 5 minutes. Satisfied that everything was good, I started trying to get it to intercept a GPS course and track to a waypoint. Nope. Dunno what's still wrong (probably my own doing). One thing I noticed is that the AP head, when switched to the EFIS, would show the correct heading and stay locked on. Also, it would try to get the control system to steer the plane to the course. It seems the "C" servo (without the torque enhancer), still doesn't have enough "oomph" to push and pull the stick to turn the plane, even though the torque setting is set to max.

I know that the push rod from the servo is not trimmed so that the rod is perpendicular to the servo arm. My next course of action will be to trim the rod back. In the mean time, I'm going to also have to figure out what's wrong with the communication between all three units (AP, EFIS, 480). Very frustrating.

No flying again today. But last evening I ran out to the hangar and reinstalled my TruTrak VSGV autopilot head and "C" aileron servo. Also re-installed my good old wet compass in the panel directly above the AP head. When I got everything powered up, the stick moved beautifully with the DG knob on the AP. When my toggle was set to the EFIS, the heading on the AP stayed locked and worked as it should. With the toggle set to the 480, it still wanted to "wander", so there could still be a problem there... probably still a configuration conflict, if anything.  

I took my tailwheel pivot apart again for the 8th or 9th time. It works well for a couple flights, then it wants to let loose on right turns. It unlocked and went full castor on me last Friday causing a little ground loop, so I'm very concerned about how well it stays locked to the one side. I took the spring/pin out and reshaped the head of the pin again. Smoothed it and tried to make sure that the right side was very well shaped and that everything was very clean. I hope that I can get that thing to be consistent for more than 5 or 6 landings!

Man, it sure is ugly today. Constant light drizzle, occasional thunder and soggy. Could be worse. If this was snow it would be a foot deep already. Since I have to work through the week anyway, it's not that big of a deal. I just hope it clears out by Friday so that I can finally fly outside my test box! Westward HO!

No flying today. Just happy to report that my TruTrak autopilot came back from Springdale already. The servo was repaired, and the VSGV head was updated. The problems I had in the beginning of my troubles with my AP was due to a configuration problem in the EFIS. Later on, the aileron "C" servo failed. Now that FEDEX brought them back to me (about 10 calendar day turn around, including shipping), I'll get them re-installed and tested. Now that my GNS 480 seems stable and properly working, can't wait to see how the 480 and the EFIS drive the autopilot.

3/16/08:   END TEST PHASE 1.
Today was a marvelous day. Four separate flights beginning about 10 and ending just before sunset. 5.7 hours.  Out early, warmed up the plane for a while. Went north first, toward the best weather. Marked Dave Wilson's strip in the 480. Then on to 4I7, and then I aborted going to 2R2 because of low ceilings, and back to TH. Next flight, I  programmed a flight plan in the GNS 480 and headed out for a big loop within my test area. At home in TH, it was somewhat low broken clouds, but very nice viz. On south to KDCY, then BFR, then KBMG and up to 2R2 and back home again, it was nice, then low clouds and viz over between Bloomington and Hendricks county. But by the time I got out there it was marginal VFR or better. This time I was leaning back the motor, going slow (about 145 knots) and trying to "burn time". Third flight (after a quick lunch), I flipped the route, and went along the same  flight plan, but in reverse order. When I got back to my hangar, I was a little  worn out, so I took some time to walk around, then relax. I didn't fuel up this time when I came back, and after about 30 minutes, I decided to go to Bloomington to buy some cheap gas. Of course I didn't go direct, I went over to Greencastle, then down.

After fueling, I realized that by the time I got back to HUF, I would be only about .7 hours short of the magical 40 hours that gets me out of the mandatory test time in Phase 1 restrictions. What the heck, no one was on approach, and no one was on tower. It was a beautiful day and no one was at the airport. Between St. Patrick's Day and ISU being on Spring Break, I had the airport all to myself. So for the last 1/2 hour, I just did bomber sized slow patterns, throttling back to around 7 - 12 gph. Well, except for the next to the last pass. I flew that one at 25 squared and was doing a stabilized 198knots at 600 ft AGL! WOOHOO!

And I ended the day with exactly 40.0 showing on the "Hobbes"  (or Hobbs Meter, if you aren't a Calvin and Hobbes fan...)!  On to Test Phase II, which essentially means I can fly away from my test box without the initial test phase restrictions. Time to plan that trip to Sun N Fun!

People keep asking me if I have finished my plane. My typical response is: "The plane will be finished when I sell it!" That is to infer that as long as I own my Rocket, I will ALWAYS be trying to finish it. Today was no exception. Forecast for lousy rainy/snowy weather all day. It was wrong. The sky almost broke open to blue, but man, was it blustery. As I type this, I'm sitting at home trying to decide whether to run out just before sunset when the winds die down to burn an hour. Well, tomorrow is supposed to be cold but nice all day for flying, so I think I'll just stay home.

When I got to the hangar today, I removed, trimmed, scuff sanded and primed all the gear leg fairings and wheel pants. After they dried for a couple hours (rattle bomb sandable primer sets up pretty quickly), I reinstalled them and taped them. I just wanted to get some paint on them before the trip to Florida for Sun N Fun.

Finally a better than forecast afternoon. 57 and somewhat sunny. Unfortunately, there was a low cloud deck until it was time to button up, so no rate of climb stuff today. However, I did solve my ILS cross hair flashing problem all on my own. Stupid configuration problem. Now it works great. Did two ILSs and used the 480 for some terminal and en route navigation. Pretty cool, actually.

Did my first ground loop today. That sucked. No damage, only a 270 turn when my tailwheel again unlocked into free castering. I tried to catch the plane turning right with the brake, but it was too little, too late. Oh well, the tower controllers thought it was pretty cool. Just remembered to keep that stick back and let it swing. Definitely need lots of work on my 3 pointers under 70 knots.... too bouncy. After bouncing two landings in a row, I figured after some 3.2 hours today of flying after work, I was just toast and better not even bother doing more pattern/landing work. But overall it was a great day, and I felt good about the accomplishments en route.

No flying today (not yet anyway). Word from Marcus at TT sez my AP servo was toast, but there was nothing wrong with the AP. He said my magnetic calibration was way off and that when it comes back (upgraded software and setup for a Rocket) not to re-calibrate the head. Cool. Also, noted to GRT that my ILS on the 480 actually worked after I reconfigured it a little. They said I still probably didn't have it set up correctly and to call them from the plane and they'd go through it with me over the phone. I'm going to do exactly that tomorrow. Wonder if I'll get a tracking number from TT? Wanna get all this stuff squared away before I blast off south for SNF.

Oh, today was just too good to pass up. I was able to button up the plane and  do a maintenance flight for .9 hours. Ah, what a sunset. OOOhh  what a waste of time bending and spacing the baffles was.  Guess the next step to get the CHTs down is to block the gaps at the front of the cowl and smooth the air inflow.  At least it was a pleasant cloudless, low wind  evening at 61 degrees. Don't get that in March around these parts very often! Great way to see a nice orange sunset!

No flying today or yesterday, down for minor maintenance. Drilled out the pop rivets in the gear leg fairings and removed the cowls. Dumped the mineral oil and changed the filter. Inserted 8 quarts of 15W50. I adjusted the idle down a bit. Hope to get the RPMs down to around 500 or so at idle, not the 630 to 720 that I've been seeing. The plane actually wants to start moving at those high idles. The prop max RPM has only been up to 2620. I want 2700, so I screwed the set screw on my governor 3 x 1/2 turns and wired it back up. The screw is almost all the way out, so whatever I get with this change will probably all I bother with. I don't run around at max RPM that much, and can't imagine 50 RPMs one way or the other at that range would make a lot of difference.

There is some oil bleed through on the cowl. A good coat of  pin hole filler, epoxy primer and /or finish coat would certainly solve that issue (as well as making sure no oil is leading inside the cowl anywhere). But my experience with older planes is that the fiberglass cloth cracks and breaks, and cracks the paint with it. So to add another level of  density (and weight) to reduce the likelihood of any cracking or bleed through, I painted on another layer of epoxy inside the cowl. Now I just have to watch and see what the heat does to it. Hope to button the cowl up tomorrow night and get back to flying on Friday. Time for some real testing.

Oh, and I modified the baffles around cylinders 1 and 2 to try and let some more air around them to reduce the CHTs. I tried to bend the front baffles away from the cylinders about 1/8 inch. On the left side, I put two washers under the front screw holding the baffle to the front of #2 cylinder. Eager to test fly this and see if it makes any difference.

Turned out to be a decent morning. Started navigating up to 6500 toward KBMG. Half way there I heard a big hiccup in the engine and turned back toward home.  For the next two hours, the engine ran smooth as silk. I did another ILS and figured out that the lack of audio from the outer marker was from lack of pushing the button to turn it on. Duh. Regrettably, I'm still having problems with the GNS 480. The GPS shut off after 2 hours, and DU#1 will not display proper NAV from the 480. I blew through the ILS course big time waiting for the bars to come in. Should have known something was wrong the way they were flashing earlier. Funny that the cross hairs don't flash on an off on DU2, but it still doesn't work. Using the SL30 and both DUs works beautifully. Must be some kind of garbage coming from the 480, probably associated with the ARINC ports... who knows. Time to email the avionics shop and give a call to Garmin AT... again.

On the second flight at the end of the day, I finally went the long way down to BMG for gas and back. BMG has 100LL STILL UNDER $4!!!!  I was out "burning time" anyway, so I figured I'd stop in and save 50 cents or more a gallon over what I pay at home. It was a nice flight, but the ceiling was down and the viz, too. Didn't accomplish much as far as testing goes, but I did warm up the oil for a change when I got back home. Time to put in the ashless dispersant provided by Mattituck.

Had a nice time flying through unforecast snow squalls today. Haven't had the opportunity to pilot through that much snow for several years, back in the Tiger days. Did my first vectored ILS approach to check out the GNS 480 and SL30 navs today with great success. Just for fun, I stayed at high cruise down the ILS. Works pretty well without any weather to speak of, until you get to the end, at the DH.

Happy to report that my GPS in the 480 stayed up and running the entire flight today. Hopefully, the last bit of trouble was a tray seating problem after all.

Had fun doing a few fly byes at a YE/Boy Scout event at Wilson Field, north of Rockville, IN today. Was really bumpy, but a few dozen scouts braved the 20 degree weather and harsh blowing snow to be outside while my Rocket, a Comanche 250 and a Mooney 252 did several overhead passes. I did a touch and go too. What really surprised me was that several kids were doing YE rides in a Cessna out of the field today. Wow, tough day for a first airplane experience. Hope they enjoyed the snow showers from the air!

Snuck away from the office early at the end of the day. Rarely get to fly during the week due to work. Enjoyed getting out and burning a couple hours, continuing to learn the avionics and flight characteristics of my EVO.  Did a couple of very sweet, very slow 3 point landings today. Yeah, baby.

The AP problems continue and are very real. Altitude hold still works, but lateral steering is kaput. After landing, I decided to see if I could still "steer" the plane with the heading knob on the AP control head. What I heard with the engine off was ugly squealing and no movement from the aileron servo. With the avionics disconnected from the AP, the stick should follow turns of the knob. Ruh Roh. Took out the front seat and floor and checked the aileron servo. I think it's fubar. I already have an RMA for repairs and updating of the AP control head from Lucas at TruTrak. Now I think part of the problem, perhaps ALL of the problem could be in the servo. Unless the control head is sending some seriously bad data to the servo, I think it's shot. Well, Lucas wanted to update the control head software anyway, so I think both parts are going back to the manufacturer.

I released, bumped, reinserted, released, bumped and reinserted the GNS 480. The GPS wouldn't turn on, still getting a "Warning, Communication lost with GPS". Sucks. I think the next step is to pull the tray, cut 1/16 off the panel end of the tray and see if the unit seats deeper into the connectors. This has worked in the past with some avionics shops and experimenters, but the problem may be the shape of the back of the tray, and how it holds the connectors apart, even with the unit fully and completely seated (which may already be the case). Then again, the 480 may just still be fucked up internally. Garmin AT doesn't think so. But they didn't think so the first time, either, and they had to replace the NAV board (which powers and communicates with the GPS). Grrrrrr....

I wasn't sure the winds would be amenable to any flying this AM. Surprisingly, they were only 150 @ 5 on the ground, so that was a pleasant surprise. A pattern altitude overcast doesn't build confidence in test phase cross countries, but I went out away from the airport for more testing, anyway. After about 45 minutes I was getting bucked so badly that I just didn't feel like pursuing the  effort any longer.

My GNS 480  stayed lit, this time, without rebooting in the air, like it did 4 times yesterday. That might have been a seating problem in the tray, which evidently has plagued these units over the years. However, after about 5 minutes, the GPS failed (Communication Lost With GPS) again. Frankly, I was surprised that it even worked for 5 minutes, since I couldn't get it to come back on at all yesterday after cooling down on the ground for over an hour. Back to the drawing board.  :-(

Today was much nicer than yesterday. Not as good as forecast again, but the flying was great. Four motley planes went to Greencastle, Indiana for breakfast buffet.  Then we went flying all over the place (within my test area). KSIV, KDCY, Wilson Field, and back to home. Lots of lolly gagging and pics in loose formation taken along the bumpy way.  Rocket sure looks bigger than it really is in the pic below (on the ramp at KSIV), doesn't it?!?

Comanche Bill, Mooney Jerry and Cessna John all got to be blown away by my Rocket. Jerry actually kept his turbo 252 up and out of the way most of the time,  but I still caught him down low.  A lot of fun to romp around with other guys and play in the air.

Was nice bumping into a bunch of other pilots and experimenters at Greencastle, too. Vince Frazier and John Crabtree were there in Crazy Horse (F1H). Bob Japundza was there in his RV, but I couldn't seem to catch up with him on the ramp. Guess I spent to much time eating. Anyway, that is a major Saturday morning hang out for pilots. Good food and a good time.

This is just a beautiful airframe. Even at 50 years old, the lines of the Comanche 250 are still impressive:

I got the chance to test my recently returned GNS480. It broke again after about 5 minutes. Now the GPS doesn't work. And it's rebooted 4 times in the air. Bad connection or wiring? Maybe. But it sucks. Autopilot still doesn't work properly either. This part of the test program is eating up a lot of time and patience. And money, too. Sucks big time.

Landed once today. That was enough. After two hours of constant light to moderate chop, I landed in a 40 degree cross with wind 14G22. It wasn't hard, but it wasn't pretty either. Wow, what a blustery day.

After landing, I installed a second RAMI antenna on the belly. I actually put it under the right battery bay. I disconnected the strut antenna and used what was left of that RG400 coax to hook it up. Then I re-installed my repaired GNS480 (Nav board failed, cost me $120+ to ship it back and forth which SUCKS) and hooked it up to the aft antenna. The SL-30 is connected to the new antenna. Tomorrow I'll test fly it.

The forecast morons blew the weather predictions for the day today. It was supposed to be CAVU and mild winds, and I was hoping to get over 5 hours.  At least they got the winds right... almost. I was fuzzing out in the pattern at about 800 AGL. Viz was being called 8 miles, but that was very optimistic. I flew anyway. I burned 2.2 hours in the pattern. Yep, in the pattern.  I did 57 touch and goes. Just kidding. I did OHARE sized patterns as much as possible and only touched down 6 or 7 times. I did floaty low approaches, nearly 3 pointing, then went around. I practiced dumping the flaps at around 80, which is a non event, although the tail does drop. I did a couple high speed passes, getting over 200 knots on final.  Not bad.

Oh, I actually flew twice. The first time was .3 hours. It was a test of the gear leg fairings (GLFs). While I was waiting for the weather to go VFR this AM, I went ahead and did a test install of the GLFs. I had to retape them after landing to check them, then I went out for almost two solid hours without stop. Fun!

2 hours and 26 gallons today at 23 squared. Didn't lean TOO much. Still need to work on getting the CHTs on 1 & 2 down another 50 degrees or so, otherwise the plane ran and flew wonderfully. Trying to reconfigure my EFIS so that my AP would work, and it died. Maybe THAT'S why I was having  problems getting it to lock on. It was CAVU over my airport today, but only in about a 25 mile radius. That limits me when I'm tooling around at 175 knots. Did a lot of back and forth along the impinging cloud deck, and climbed up to over 6500 feet just to test the CHTs in cruise climb.  Well, now I have to dx the AP problem and see what's up with that. My 480 is supposed to be back on Tuesday to re-install. Hope it works.

The weather is a little frustrating. Tomorrow was supposed to be clear and 3 knots all day. Now it's going to snow all day instead. Was hoping to spend about 5 hours in the air, but that might not happen. Maybe I'll work on gear leg fairings iinstead.

John Watler learned that my 2005 Subaru Outback XT was trashed on Monday by a kid cutting out in front of me. John also knows I have a reservation to get a smart fortwo. John also gets bored at work sometimes.
My smart is going to actually be blue and black... if I ever get it. Tired of wasting all that gas driving back and forth to work. This car costs about the same, and also gets about the same gas mileage, as my FJR1300.  My XT definitely took it on the chin. Note that the wheel is just sitting there. That, and all the parts behind it, back to the motor are all just sitting there on the ground. I just hope that they total it. The entire right side, bumper to bumper would have to be redone (although it doesn't look that bad in the pic). Ugh. Waiting for the adjusters and insurance companies to do their thing.


1.5 hours in the air today. Before taking off, I installed my wheel pants. Also removed the wet compass from over the top of the autopilot. Didn't seem to make any difference to the VSGV. Even with the steering data disabled and the AP set on HDG, it would not track. Something is wrong. Oh well, it was a beautiful day to hand fly the plane. Followed Comanche Bill over to Greencastle for good eats and hangar flying. Then up to Wilson, a private strip north of Rockville, Indiana. Then down to Shawnee field again to see how much the flood waters had receded. Not much. Then back to KSIV for a couple passes, then landed to hangar fly some more. Nice. Amazingly, my wheel pants as installed had no adverse effects on the handling of the Rocket, and made it just a wee bit faster. The plane sure seemed slippery after installing those babies. Can wait to finish the rest of the fairings.

Oh, and there was some question about whether or not my oil cooler set up would work. It works too well. Even with more than half of the back of the cooler blocked off with metal tape (for winter temp flying), I've never gotten the oil temps over 175 degrees. And the head temps on the aft cylinders is fine. Think I'll add one more width of metal tape to get the oil temp over 180. Then I'll fashion a winter cover plate for the back of my cooler for next winter's flying.

What a nice afternoon. I climbed to 3500 ft for a 23² cruise to a nearby county strip. I had changed my autopilot and GPS baud rate back to 4800 in order to see if I could get my VSGV to lock on and fly the plane. No such luck. For some reason the VSGV will lock on to a  heading for a few seconds (showing a flashing PLUS + sign), then unlocks to a question mark and resets the heading (kind of like spinning a compass heading). I turned off the GPS source and tried to use the autopilot in heading mode and it still doesn't work, does the same thing whether or not it has a GPS source. So I don't think it's the steering source. Maybe it's the wet compass I have installed directly over the top of it. You wouldn't think that itty bitty compass magnets would cause the AP magnetometers to go all wonky, but maybe that's the problem. Tomorrow, I'm going to remove the compass and see if it has any effect.

I re-aligned my wheels and this was a test flight with the improperly sized RV8 shims in place. Boy, the plane rolled by hand out of the hangar MUCH easier and felt "slick" when I was taxiing. That is a great improvement. I did a nice soft wheel landing and found that the plane is VERY stable and I didn't have to dance on the rudder pedals at all. I didn't have to dance before either, but I'm glad that nothing changed for the worse, it's all for the better. I could still stand to increase the camber on each side by about 1/2 degree or so, but until I can get some properly sized shims, I'm going to call it good.

My RAMI antenna on my SL-30 was able to get ATIS from my home base at about 40 miles at 2000 ft AGL. That's pretty good. Regrettably, the experimental tape antenna only reached out about 10 miles. We're still experimenting with it, but if that's all it will reach out, there's not much use in pursuing it's completion.

Right now it's 18F and 16G32 out at the airport. A good day to stay on the ground, especially when you only have 11.3 hours time in type. Today I fixed a broken wire. My trim position indicator in the EFIS went tits up because the 5 volt excitation wire broke. Yep, I was ham handing a bundle of wires around the autopilot and evidently "brokeded" it.

The other big project today was to re-align the wheels. All I did was reset the camber. 2 degrees on the left wheel, 3 degrees on the right wheel. More on that topic on the landing gear page.

2 Hours flight time combining three flights, today and a little itty bitty one yesterday (.3). Testing the autopilot, which seems to not like the ARINC output from the EFIS. Does a fair job in the heading mode, holds altitude very well, but something is amiss. The flights weren't eventful. Landed with about 12 knot gusting direct cross wind. It wasn't pretty, but no metal was bent. Went south to the Bloomfield/Shawnee area to look at tornado damage and inspect how flooded (as usual) the Eel and White rivers are. Everything is flooded near all the rivers and streams in the area. Thankfully all the rain we had a few days ago was liquid. If it was snow, we'd be tunneling out still. Ah, but looking over all the wetlands from the air today in clear blue skies was great. Today was one day that the forecast was wrong, actually BETTER than predicted for a change. Where we were expecting low clouds and high winds, we got clear skies and moderate winds. Nice. Unfortunately, I was planning on a couple more hour sin the air tomorrow, but the forecast is for winds of 21 gusting 34. Knots. Thanks to our friends to the North for sending us down a rapid moving Arctic cold front.  So I think I'll work on the plane in the hangar. Maybe.
Total fuel consumed, according to my EFIS: 30.8 Gallons. According to the fuel truck: 29.9 gallons. I can live with that. Maybe one day I'll tweak the EFIS a little to improve the accuracy of the fuel totalizer. But if anything, I'd rather it read slightly higher consumption if it's off a bit.

Also, spent about 4 hours trying to make the tailwheel stop "breaking free" on right turns and nearly causing ground loops. Re-shaped the "locking pin". Nope. Shim the tw axle in it's cylinder? Nope. Finally had to use a carbide bit (thanks Jeff!) to cut the slot (steel and bronze?) where the locking pin does it's job. Evidently my rudder moves WAY over spec from side to side, and/or the shape of the pin slot was just not conducive to keeping the pin locked at the stops. It is now. Wasn't pretty using a 1/8 inch carbide bit in a dremel, but the job is done. All my buddies agreed: the machining of the tail wheel yoke (barrel that holds the tailwheel axle with the locking pin slot) was not symmetrical by any means. The slot was short and narrow on one side, and the angle of the curvature of the half moon sort of shaped slot wasn't the same on either side. Reshaping the pin to blunt the nose or the sides was a big waste of time. In the end, cutting the pin slot in the tailwheel yoke did the trick. Sad that it was such a mess. Kept greasing the crap out of it, too. What the hell is that zerk fitting on there for? Forget using that thing all together. Anything more than a very thin film of grease and that thing doesn't work worth a crap.

Another day stuck in the office. Sent my new, discontinued, broken GNS480 to Garmin AT in Oregon at my own expense. Yep, Garmin evidently does not pay shipping EITHER DIRECTION. Maybe they only do that to experimenters? Sucks no matter how you slice it. ITMT, I'm trying to configure my EFIS to work with the VSGV autopilot and (eventually) the 480. I've come to learn that with an internal GPS in the GRT EFIS, you can NOT use the corresponding serial ports. I've also learned that the in and out port for the GPS has to be set at the GPS speed of 4800 baud. Now, the TT AP needs to be set at 9600 for the 480. So you find an empty RS232 serial port and run a wire to the AP (in my case to the newly installed GPS source toggle switch) and set THAT port at 9600 baud. Fine.

Now as far as the ARINC 429 module, you CAN use those serial ports, both in and out, for other uses. But the ARINC speed (shown after you tell the EFIS system that YES, it has an ARINC module installed) should be set at HIGH for transmit and LOW for receive. And evidently the GNS480 needs to be set similarly. The serial port speeds have to match at both ends, so I think what will happen is that everything will be set to LOW, just to be sure. Since my 480 is somewhere between Champaign and Salem, I can't really test the configuration. But it took several emails and a couple calls to Garmin AT, GRT and TT to just get this far. At least I was able to confirm that I now have two separate sources of GPS location and steering data for the autopilot. Which will make me sleep better, considering my GNS 480 failed in under 10 hours of use.

I spent the morning waiting for the snow fog to lift. I decided to install a flap toggle switch in the throttle handle (just a cylinder/tube as a grip). As an experiment, I just wrapped the ON-OFF-(ON) mini toggle with electrical tape and wedged it in the tube. After soldering 22 gauge wire to the three terminals. Then I spent an hour running the wires to the bow tie bracket in the stick bay. I didn't disconnect the L & R buttons on the grip yet because I wasn't sure I'd like the toggle on the handle. I do. I'll use the L & R buttons for something else.

Also, in preparation for the day when I'm ready to install the wheel pants and gear leg fairings, I installed 4 nutplates in each wheel pant in order to #8 screw them together.

The sun came out. I went for a nice 1.1 hour ride at the end of the day. I was literally flying circles around my friend Kelvin's Cherokee 6.  I went on a little cross country, did some playing in the pattern at a couple other airports, and generally was just burning gas and enjoying the flying. I still have lots of testing to do, and I am learning the avionics systems a little more when I go out. But I have over 30 more hours of testing to do in my "box", so I'm not in any hurry.

Another no-fly day. After about 4 inches of snow in the last two days, the finally sun came out, and the temps got up to 43F. The ramp melted off and much of it began to dry. I didn't feel like taxiing out on still partially snow covered sloppy runways and taxiways, so I worked on glitches. Yes, Rocket Fans, there are still glitches. Many of them. The main being that my new, newly discontinued GNS 480 lites up, but no one is home. The avionics shop says it's the radio. Garmin says it's the wiring. So I spent some quality time with a multi-meter and some pinned jumper wires. Near as I can tell, the wiring is fine. If it's an intermittent problem, I sure can't make it duplicate. Time to call the shop on Monday again. Probably have to send the 480 to Salem, OR to the Garmin AT shop. That'll leave a hole in the panel for a few weeks!

It's quite weird. The GPS plots my location and the MAP screen works, but the NAV, COM, MEMORY and RESOLVER all give up lost communication errors, and lock me out of ALL radio functions (except OFF). Now this unit evidently has a bad reputation for not seating fully into it's "tube" ("tray" to the rest of us), causing pins not to seat and the radio to have problems. Garmin AT said that was more a problem back in the COX80 days, no longer with the new units (what few remain....). Stark Avionics told me they really like how the radio works, but they are glad they won't have to install them any longer because they have terrible problems getting them to seat properly and function without "lost com" errors. Well, mine worked great for about 4 or 5 hours in flight. Finally, it dropped the COM and the NAV, and I pulled the unit at the end of a flight and it was REALLY hot. I mean REALLY hot. Today, I ran it for about 45 minutes and it was cool as a cucumber. So I don't know what happened. I also pulled the tube (tray) out of the panel and MADE SURE the radio was fully seated. The bezel was jammed up against the forward edge of the tray. Garmin AT told me to loosen the toggle and bump the face to seat the pins. I tried this several times without any success at all. Back to the drawing board. :-(

Another little project was installing a data source switch for my autopilot. The way the avionics shop wired my system, if the 480 fails (it did), then the autopilot is useless because the screwy data from the failed 480 makes the Digiflight II VSGV screwy, too.  So I put in a 3PST switch under the AP head in my panel. I split off the RS232 GPS data and the two ARINC 429 data wires from the 480 and the GRT EFIS, and soldered them to the switch. Now I can flip back and forth between the WAAS GPS in the GNS 480 and the WAAS GPS that's installed internally in DU2 in my EFIS.

Except that the GPS in the EFIS won't boot. Yep, it's toast, too. Or I have something configured so wrong in the setup that the GPS won't initialize. Time to call Grand Rapids on Monday, too. Ugh. Oh well, if it warms up tomorrow, I can still fly local (like I can do anything BUT fly local) and use COM2 and a sectional.

1/27/08:  Finally a beautiful winter day to fly. First flight of 1.5 was splendid. Plenty of heat (more than I needed). CHTs didn't really change. Calibrated the TruTrak autopilot and used it to fly back and forth. Then it started acting funny. Then the Garmin 480 failed. I switched to COM2 and landed ASAP. Pulled the box from the panel, hoping to reseat it as before to "reset" it, but it didn't work. In fact the radio was extremely hot. It stayed powered up, with the cooling fans running and plenty of breathing space (and not too much cabin heat), but the NAV and COM sides both showed an error. Got a memory failure that said service required. Great, just in time for my first cross country venture away from the airport.
First Cross Country
On The Ground at BMG
Second flight today was using COM2. The 480 screen still showed my GPS position, but otherwise was essentially locked up. But the flight was fun, anyway. I paired up with "Comanche Bill" in his 1958 250 model. He was my "chase plane". Actually, he was my navigator and my voice. We went to three other airports as a flight of two. Last stop before coming home was to Plainfield, IN to stop and say howdy to Jim Winings. Turned out that he was going for a sunset flight, so we made it a 3 ship flight for part of the trip back to HUF. Jim sure has a gorgeous Rocket, and man is he a smooooth stick! Ahhhhh, what a wonderful day! (except for the radio malfunction.)

Jim Winings in Formation Near 2R2

1/26/08:  Mother Nature still working against me this winter. No flying today. Dropped the cowl and did some engine compartment checks. Cut the alternator arm off about 3/8 of an inch to clear the bottom cowl (allowing for engine sag). Blocked off about 1/2 of the oil cooler to see if I can get the oil temps up over 180 (only 160 as a high so far). #1 & #2 cylinders ran 50 degrees hotter than 3 - 6 when moderately leaned, so I reduced the baffle in front of the cylinder fins (directly inside the air inlets on the cylinder "face"). I also rasped back the cowling air inlets to perhaps smooth the flow and get more air to the front cylinder head area. Finally, I added the second scat duct and interconnected the two heat muffs to hopefully increase the cabin heat to a tolerable level. It was about 23F when I was flying last and I had to fly with stocking cap and gloves to stay comfortable. One Robbins heat muff is definitely not enough, and I'm not sure that two is going to be enough. Seat heaters have been ordered, and I may start insulating the cabin.

1/25/08:  Another confidence building hour in the air over the airport. Getting better at keeping the nose where it needs to be in order to maintain altitude in turns. The plane is very stable, wants to stay where you put it. My OAT sensor needs to be moved more out into the air stream, it's reading is about 20 degrees high from being too far back inside the NACA duct. My GTX 327 is wired THROUGH the GNS 480, so if I have a nav failure (the side of the radio that really runs the show) I won't get any mode C. Going to have to work around that. Also, if you set the GRT Horizon 1 EFISs (EFI?)  to interconnect (Inter-Display Link), changing any parameter on one display changes the corresponding value on the other display. Makes sense, but it actually would be nice if not ALL parameters changed identically.  I have two GPSs and two ILSs, and it would be nice to view each one independently on separate DUs (Display Units). I may eventually turn off the inter-display link so that I can display different navigation units on separate DU's.
I flew precisely 1 hour beginning with full tanks. My EFIS was showing 14.7 gph burn @ 4500 MSL and 22/2400. When I gassed up after the flight, I put in 14.8 gallons. Pretty accurate, eh?! I put in 1 quart of non dispersant Phillips mulitgrade oil (came with the engine) to bring the oil quantity up to about 8.5 quarts (shows 7 on the ground). Seems like the engine threw out oil down to showing 6 quarts (about 7.5 actual). Wondering if the rings have started to seat yet? (Don't think so...)

1/21/08:  No flying today, but after work I went to the hangar to see if I could get my GNS480 (now extinct) to talk to my GTX 327. I hate not having mode "C". Word from the avionics shop turned out to be true. The 480 bezel was hanging up on the instrument panel and keeping the box from seating completely in the "tube". Without the pins contacting properly, no talky. After hacking the panel to get the faceplate to seat against the "tube", problem solved. Then it was only a matter of extrapolation and interpolation to get the configurations right. I now have mode C and the transponder shows pressure altitude.
1/20/08:  Another hour of flying goodness @ 4500 feet over the top of the airport. Running 21/24 and making about 170 knots or so. Leaned out a bit to get the fuel flow down to sub 15 gph. OAT showed 23, but seemed much colder. The sponge I used to help stop the wing root airflow through the stick bay helped. But mostly I figured out that with only 1 Robbins heat muff attached, there ain't 'nuf heat. Flow is good, but temps just aren't there. Time to run some more scat and see if I can warm up the front seat a bit more. The autopilot acted a little wonky. It wanted to pitch the plane pretty dramatically. Held course, but was pitch unstable. Going to have to look into that. This plane is fairly pitch sensitive anyway. In turns, I'm surprised how LITTLE changes in stick back or forward pressure is required, then in cruise I seem to always be climbing or descending. Rookie.
1/18/08:  Finally a full hour in the air. No glitches, just sweetness flying at a low 75% power. Back and forth over the airport at 4500 feet just burning gas and rebuilding confidence. No electrical problems. No troubles switching tanks. Used my "index" button below the trigger to turn on and off the autopilot and see if it would hold straight and level on CWS. It worked great!  I think it's time to venture out into the practice area, get up higher and start some real testing.

1/12/08:  Two test flights today. Two turns around the patch without the engine or electrical system quitting. That was nice. The first flight was probably the most nervous I've been in the 6 or 7  times I've been up. I made two circuits with a bunch of students in the pattern as well as inbound. I decided to quit. Later on, we tweaked my strut antenna and I went for a test flight. The EFIS data was corrupted a bit and the engine RPM were reduced when I pressed the PTT. Something's wrong there, so I decided to land. After I did a pass at 195 knots. Back to the drawing board with the copper tape antenna. As I was turning downwind to land, I heard Paul Siegel inbound to land. Nice of Paul and his brother Rudy to come over from Cincy for a short visit. His EVO sure is pretty. N4XU is VERY sweet!

12/24/07:  Two test flights this day. First one was up to 4500 MSL about 1 mile from the runways.  First flight of the day was nice and routine without anything scary happening. I was running full prop and full throttle in level cruise. I figured out that the prop was not turning the full 2700 RPM (in fact, I want 2750). Also noted that the rudder needed left leg in cruise. On the second flight I finally started playing with the quadrant controls a little. I'm breaking in a new engine, and Mattituck wants the engine run at least 75% power. I decided to lean back anyway just to see what happens. As the lever came back, I noticed the temps on the gauges start to show temp increases. Then the engine began to run rough. I eased the mixture back in a little and the engine was still rough. A little more rich, and the engine quit. I had been having electrical problems, and I had electrical problems on the brain. Instead of going through the standard emergency engine out procedures, I switched electrical systems and called the tower. With that MT prop and IO540 making almost no noise or power, I didn't know what to expect. I expedited to the runway for my first 3 point landing (which was beautiful, just passed the numbers) and the engine was actually at idle. Then evidently the little bounce on the landing sloshed some gas into the fuel lines because the engine went full throttle all of a sudden. Good thing I had the stick all the way back, otherwise I might have had a prop strike. Yes, I ran out of gas on my left tank. Evidently my fuel computer was correct, I was putting about 27 gallons an hour through the engine and emptied the left tank. No wonder the right wing felt so heavy. Duh.

Dec 14, 2007. First Flight!   Finally the sun came out, the air cleared somewhat and the airport began to dry out. Oddly enough, about 5 of my flying buddies figured out that I would try to go to the airport and fly today, and they showed up just at the right time.  It was nice to have a gallery of friends, well wishers, ground crew and photographers. You meet the nicest people at airports!


I pulled my Rocket out and climbed in. Strapped down and started up. It was a relatively balmy 60 degrees in my hangar with the sun on it even though it was about 30 outside, so my oil was somewhat warm before I even started. Waited for all the instruments (the EFIS) to show green and taxied out.


After a couple short taxi tests, I went back to the hold short line on our 9K+ runway and asked for take off clearance.

This first time I just eased the throttle in and the tail came up quickly. Broke ground and I was probably somewhere shy of 2K rpm. I went the length of the runway before making a subtle right turn to the crosswind, then another to the downwind.  I finally eased in all the throttle and noticed I was over 2200 feet  (1600 foot pattern)!  I left the throttle in, and nosed over. The plane was going straight and was simply easy to fly.  I did notice that the stick forces seemed rather heavy, but the plane was stable and smooth.

Ready to turn right base for a practice approach first time around a pattern. That wasn't the original test plan, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Back on the throttle and watch the speed bleed. Below 95 knots, bring down some flaps. Turn base. Speed coming down to about 75 over the approach, 70 over the numbers. What the heck, I was given "the option", so I did a touch and go. HOW EASY! DOCILE! NON EVENT! SWEEEEEEET!

This time, on the fly, ALL the throttle! Pull up to ground effect and push over. Tower gives me instructions to turn before the other end. Oh, don't EVEN give me THAT option!  "Wilco".  I turn out. This Rocket is SO easy to fly. Smooth, powerful, responsive. It's too much to bare. I definitely had a shit eating grin like you wouldn't believe! Butterflies all gone. After the first circuit I felt like I've been flying this plane for years!

On the close-in downwind, Tower gives me the option. Decide to try the low approach. All the throttle in. Turn base to final. Mid field I'm indicating 190 knots! Well, I didn't look at the GPS, but I'm gonna TAKE my indicated190 knots as a benchmark! Tower says turn out early again. Oh, it was SO hard not to do about a 120 degree wing over on the turn back to downwind. WOW, this thing SCREAMS!!!!!!!


Decide to land, call it good, I was having too much fun. It was supposed to be a test flight, after all. Throttle back, bleed the speed, flaps down, over the numbers at 70 indicated, stick it on the mains. Easy. Predictable. WAY too simple. My Rocket is MUCH easier to handle than I ever imagined. And FUN FUN FUN!

First Flight Summary: 3 circuits, 2 touch downs, 1 COMPLETE SUCCESS!!!!!!! "Oh, you gotta get you wanna THESE!"

Here's some YouTube vids of my first flight:

First Take Off     Not much to look at, but glad to have the documentation.
First and Second Time Around the Patch    T-N-G, 190 knot pass!
First Landing    sweetness!
Taxiing Back to My Hangar after First Flight    Yeah, baby!
Second Take Off    500 feet is all it took. I can do better. A LOT better!

Dec 9: TAF sez 1SM -RA BR BKN004 for all day, so I don't think I'll get out today. And since it's dark by the time I get off work during the week, it'll be next weekend before I get another chance.  Bummer. Oh well, even though my Rocket is officially finished, there's still lots to do. Since I was originally going to fly without wheel pants and GLFs, I didn't final align them. Guess I'll do that today. Maybe put on the flap bracket fairings, too.

Dec 8, 2007: No first flight for the last three days of attempts. Weather and glitches keep me grounded. Broke a PTT wire, so no com. Fixed that, blew two fuses. Fixed that, no GPS.Fixed that, couldn't get the engine started. Figured out that problem, had a rudder pedal hanging up. Fixed that, still hanging. Fixed the rudder pedal (actually dented out the footwell), then had a catastrophic tailwheel axle bearing failure during taxi testing.  And the rains settled in. Just wasn't meant to happen. It'll happen soon enough.

" Airworthy!! "
Dec 1, 2007:  I now am the proud owner of an airplane!  My F1-EVO Rocket is no longer a kit, but a bona fide airplane! Woohoo! Inspection with FSDO went smooth as silk, and was actually quite a pleasant time.  I learned a few things, did lots of paperwork and about froze my butt off because my space heater quit near the end. Well, it was worth it to get that special pink slip and my repairman's certificate.

The plane sits in the hangar. Ready for first flight, except that I need to re-install the engine cowls (from the inspection).

Click this pic to go to a current project page!


Engine START!  WOOHOO!!  The engine runs beautifully, started right up on the first try. Thanks to Mattituck for such a fine product.


11/02/2007: Now THAT'S what I'M talking about!  This was a big day. Hooked up jacks to tap into the avionics stack and went for a drive. Talked to the tower on the strut antenna. Taxied over to the big taxiway (wider and longer than most runways) and  dropped the flaps. Prop full forward, a little gas, forward on the stick. About 50 feet later the tail gently elevated. The view out the front was SPECTACULAR!




This plane is a PUSSYCAT on the mains with the tail up. Wow, what a treat! Glad to say that my mains seem beautifully aligned and the plane tracks true. All systems are GO!!!!!!!  Click this link if you want to watch a 14 meg mpeg of a taxi run. Warning: it's SLOW to load.

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