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Pete Miller’s RV-7 Flies!

Congratulations to Pete Miller! He received his airworthiness certificate and Chuck Wilson flew the first test flight. That is very exciting as Pete is really getting his feet wet. He passed his check ride earlier in the year. He is practicing his tailwheel skills and now is on the cusp of flying an airplane he has been working on for a decade. All that work is now paying off. What a reward.

Pete received the Airworthiness Certificate for N174PM from Mel on Sept 16th. The first flight then followed on Sept. 24th. If you notice from the picture there were quite a few chapter members and other AeroCountry residents on hand to take part and witness Pete’s RV fly for the first time.

That is something I would like to highlight. Building an aircraft is a monumental task, and having a community around you that supports and is interested in your success makes it that much more enjoyable. Pete is very fortunate, because that community is a highly skilled and experienced group of aircraft builders. Great work Pete, congratulations and welcome to the Homebuilt Aircraft flying community.

 

 


By Pete Miller

On Friday, September 24, my RV-7 N174PM took off from Aerocountry with Chuck Wilson at the controls. Jeff Hansen flew chase in his RV-4. Chuck reported that it flew very well, except for having no indicated airspeed. It needs a rudder tab to correct a slight indication of the Slip/Skid ball being off-center. There was a small gathering of Aerocountry friends, new and old, and we celebrated afterwards.

This project started on Thanksgiving of 2009, when I brought home a tail kit that I bought from a friend at work. Through just shy of 12 years, I kept at the project even through some pretty challenging life events. It was very therapeutic to step away and do some work.

 

 

The airplane is all standard-build, with an Aerosport IO-360 and the stock Hartzell blended airfoil prop. The panel is all Dynon Skyview VFR, with 2 10″ screens and 2 com radios. The interior is from Classic Aero. The airplane weighed in at an even 1100 pounds.The inspection took place on Thursday, September 16. Mel was thorough and found about 8 items. Before I closed the cowl, Chuck came and made a few more suggestions.

 

 

 

 

The most valuable asset to a builder is community. I can’t even begin to describe the support that I received from so many people, mostly in Chapter 168. After my move to AeroCountry in February of 2019, that level of support got ratcheted up. Everybody at AeroCountry was fantastic, listening to my dumb questions, and talking me off the ledge a few times. I was advised that when you move to an airport, you can’t get any work done because people stop by and volunteer their opinions, but I didn’t find that to be the case. Everybody there is so supportive and helpful. What slows me down is my open view of the departure end of the runway and all the fascinating airplanes that may appear…

 

 

 

My beautiful bride has also been a relative latecomer to the project, but she is excited to get this done so we can start traveling. She loves to fly and aviation is in her blood as well.

Jay Pratt’s N6YH First Flight

by Michael Stephan

Jay Pratt does it again. This is aircraft number six. Although Jay has helped with countless projects, this is the sixth one he has built for himself. N6YH is Jay’s third RV-8.

 

Jay Pratt’s wall of First Flight Plaques in the workshop at Hicks
Airport

This is not Jay’s first rodeo. The first Flight plaque will sit on the wall next to his other five plaques, four of those were RVs and the other was a Northstar Super Cub kit Named “Shooter”. N46RV was an RV-6 that flew in 1996. N82RV was an RV-8 that flew in 1999. N46RE was an RV-6 that flew in 2000. the Northstar kit “Shooter” N46NS flew in 2004 and N46RX was an RV-8 that flew in 2007.

Jay acquires 6YH from a builder in Houston who had completed the fuselage and tail kits. Jay then added a set of quick build wings from an RV 7. The plans showed that these two wings shared the same part number and Jay assumed they would be interchangeable. Unfortunately, Jay was mistaken, there was some fine print on the plans that differentiated the two wings. After finishing the wings Jay spoke with Rian Johnson of Van’s and he confirmed the RV-7 will not fit on an RV-8. With long lead times for kits from Vans, Jay was on the hunt for a set of RV-8 wings. He found a set here in Texas and finished and installed those.

Another fortunate event happened when Jay found an RV-8 that was being discarded by a widow of the owner. Not wanting the liability of selling the plane, it was destined for the crusher. Jay convinced her to sell him a few parts off that plane and that is where he acquired the wheels, brakes, gear legs and wheel pants.

 

Mel Asberry awarding Jay Pratt the Airworthiness
certificate for N6YH

Jay started the project in May of 2020 and the first flight was July 12, 2021. That is a 14 month build which is pretty impressive. Jay’s previous RV-8 was called “Borrowed Horse”, and Jay will extend that moniker to this RV and it will be the return of “Borrowed Horse”.
Jay is tireless when it comes to building RVs. He has build 6 for himself, but has also helped finished many more than that. But not all his time is spent building, Jay flies a bunch every year, and enjoys Backcountry flying which is why he also has a Cessna 180 and a Super Cub. You can see some of Jay and Carol’s adventures on his Facebook page.

I spoke with Jay in Oshkosh and he recounted the glory days of the 1990s and the RV BC (Butt Crack) Squadron where a group of local RV builders would fly somewhere at the drop of hat, and that was the days before social media and the internet. The number of RV builders in those days was pretty small which made them pretty friendly with each other. When they flew places other pilots were curious about the RVs since the kit was not that well know. Today most just walk past an RV like it was a Cessna 172. Jay told me while on a flight that they were referred on the air-to-air frequency as “a bunch of yahoos”. It became one of those classic BC Squadron stories. Now it lives on in the N Number of Jay’s new RV-8 N6YH.

That squadron is long gone, but those who were in it remember fondly those glory days of the RV. Maybe we can recreate it with some of the up and coming builders in the Chapter.

Congratulations Jay!

Charlie Wright’s N56VA Flies!

by Michael Stephan

In the morning of May 6th, the RV-10, N56VA took to the skies for the first time with Charlie Wright the builder and the pilot.

A small gathering of curious onlookers watched the event, just a few of the Grand Prairie builders including his son Ben.

Since the RV-10 had a new Lycoming engine under the cowl, Charlie needed to make a longer flight to help with the beak-in of the O-540. To do that he stayed in the airspace just above the airport and out of the Class-B and orbited for about an hour, coordinated ahead
of time with the GPM tower. It didn’t hurt that the Airport Manager is also a friend.

Since that first flight Charlie has made a few more flights. He is employing the Additional Pilot Program and is nearly finished with the Initial Tests Package (ITP). Once finish with that he will add an additional pilot on further test flights. His two sons Ben and Chris are both experienced pilots and I’m sure are very interested in being that additional pilot.

Charlie pushing the RV-10 back in the hangar after a successful and uneventful first flight.

 

N56VA’s dual Garmin G3X IFR instrument panel (Photo when airplane was under construction.)

Charlie did such an excellent job on the build that there very few squawks. After the first flight the examination under the cowl reveal a leak free engine install. The only issue was a slight discoloration on the inside of the cowling from the heat off the exhaust. On a recent flight, I monitored the speed on one of the flight tracking apps and saw a ground speed of 203 mph, which doesn’t seem that remarkable except it was done without gear leg fairings and wheel pants. So, the RV-10 is going to be much faster that the RV-9A he built previous to this RV.

The next step is to continue the Phase I flight testing, using the steps in the Additional Pilot Program and the EAA Flight Test Manual.

N56VA is a full IFR equiped airplane with a Garmin G3X panel. So, there is plenty of discovery and tweaking that will happen during testing.

First Flights are rare and we are excited about our first one of 2021. One, I hope, of several that we have this year. As any builder will attest, completing an aircraft is an exercise in small victories and patience, and this is a second completion of Charlie’s.

Congratulations Charlie on an excellent build!!

Go here for more information on the Additional Pilot Program

First Flight Celebration

We have a new airplane completion in the Chapter as Tom White flew his RV-8 on Aug 18th. For years we have only had a handful of few first flights, and in the last three months we have had three. Don Christiansen, Greg Schroeder, and now Tom White. Tom’s RV-8 is the lightest RV I have weighed in all the years I have been weighing airplanes. When Mel inspected the plane I asked him if any parts were missing, because I don’t know how Tom did it. I was impressed with his RV-8 build.
Light airplanes fly the best and Tom’s should be a real nice flyer. Congratulations Tom!

 

 

 

In conjunction with the rash of first flights, we have implemented our plan to celebrate them. So, we exited our COVID caves, gathered together at Northwest Regional Airport (home of Greg and Tom) and safely distanced and celebrated these huge milestones.

Tom rolled out the grill to cook a few hotdogs, and Norm brought a cake to celebrate the first flights. Several other members flew in to help get into the spirit of flight. Norm brought his Glastar. Brad Roberts flew his RV-6 and Joe Migas and A.D. Donald flew their Cessnas in.

Also taking part was Don Christiansen who brought over his recently completed Rans S-21. So we all got a good look at that new airplane as well. We spent several hours looking at new planes, eating hotdogs and cake, and enjoying the rare opportunity of each other’s company in this very strange year. We had a great turnout for our first celebration.

 

 

 

 

I want to thank Ann Asberry and Norm Biron for arranging our lunch. I especially want to thank Tom and Greg for hosting the gathering. I also want to thank all those who made it out to Northwest Regional which made the day very special.

 

 

Don Christiansen Receives his First Flight Plaque

By Michael Stephan
Since the pandemic has shut down our in-person Chapter meetings, I flew out to Stephenville on an early August morning and met Don Christiansen to award him our Chapter’s First Flight Plaque. With me and holding the camera was Norm Biron. He also brought the plaque.
This is a very special picture, since first flights are rare occurrences. We have only had a few of them the past 5 years. So being able to congratulate a builder for a first flight on behalf of the Chapter is very special.
Don, Norm and myself celebrated by having breakfast at restaurant just down the road from the airport. We don’t get to see Don that often, so it was enjoyable to spend time catching up and listening to some of the stories of him flying the Rans S-21 in the Idaho BackCountry.
One of the revelations that I learned about the Don’s S-21 is the Whirlwind ground-adjustable prop. Don said it was pitched to optimize cruise speed, but when he arrived in Idaho and planned to fly in the high density mountain air, he was able to adjust the pitch to generate more RPM and hence more horsepower.
Having hopped around Idaho for the summer, Don said the airplane will be in the paint shop next month. 

First Flight of N800GY

It is with great excitement to announce that another Chapter member has completed a First Flight.
On August 20th at Northwest Regional Airport N800GY took to the skies for the first time. On his builder’s log Greg said this about that day:
“Today is the long awaited day. First Flight! Thank you Norm, my ground crew. It has been a heck of a journey … I have turned from builder to maintainer & operator.”
Congratulations Greg!!

By Greg Schroeder
I ordered the Sportsman 2+2 tail kit from Glasair back in Nov of 2005. I started building and checking things off the list, then moved to Florida in 2011, then to Dallas in 2014 and saved the kit from a divorce. I have finished the roller coaster ride of building and completed first flight the morning of August 20th from 52F. There has been a lot of help from the Glasair Owners forum both online and in person. The factory sent irregular shipments of parts to replace the ones I screwed up from time to time and Dan Dudley provided me transition training to make sure I could fly the Sportsman. A few months ago I stuck my nose in an open hangar and met Tom White who became my building brother. We went through the last few months to first flight in lockstep. Jim Novak and Joe Migis fellow builders and chapter members who helped and cheered me on. Michael Stephan provided scales and support with weight and balance. It was then time to ask the DAR, Mel Asberry, if it was airworthy.
Mel worked me through the FAA paperwork and got me to airworthiness. The crew chief Norm Biron provided a second and third set of eyes on any squawks while I worked to get us to zero. Norm is a great mentor and ground crew member helping get the plane into the air and continues to be a sounding board for my steps through Phase I. In summary, I found out it does take a whole team of people to get an airplane completed.
I’ve had many rides in GlaStars and Sportsman owners/ builders. I want to thank all those who have patiently answered questions both simple and complex. I am looking forward to completing Phase I and return the favor of those rides. I will see you all at a Fly in, and join the formation into KOSH.
N800GY is no longer a project but a plane. I look back and simply can’t believe what it took to get to this point. Persistence, maybe stubbornness, are the only words that come close to encapsulating the experience. To other builders, stick to it. Keep making progress. The tasks do come to an end, and all that is left to do is fly it.
N800GY flew like a dream. I do have the heavy left wing and have to work on cooling. All issues others have seen with lots of potential solutions. I’m working on the Garmin VIRB cockpit video. I’m working through Phase I using the EAA Flight Test Manual task list moving toward Phase II.

N8281V Flies!

On Sunday May 6th, RV-8 N8281V took to the skies for the first time. With Mark Merrell, its builder, at the controls it flew for an hour.
Mark reports that the flight was uneventful. The engine was new and needed the hour to aid in the break-in. The flight circled the Parker County airport at 4500 ft. The autopilot flew part of the flight and worked well.
“I’ve done my speed tests and am happy with the results.” He noted.
As of last weekend, Mark has put ten hours on the RV-8 and has done the first oil change. We will get more reports as the phase one testing continues.
Mark has experience ferrying planes for Van Bortel in Arlington. So climbing into an unfamiliar plane isn’t unfamiliar to him. Although you can’t be any more familiar with an airplane that you built yourself, the flying qualities are however a new experience.
I became familiar with this RV-8 when it spent some construction time at Grand Prairie Airport. I would see Mark’s hangar door open, and I couldn’t resit seeing what he was working on. He had most of the airframe finished and was installing systems and avionics. I was interested in the electronic system controls of the VPX system. Designed by Vertical Power Systems, it replaces circuit breakers, relays, switches and displays the status of the entire electrical system on his EFIS display screen. It uses Electronic circuit breakers in place of mechanical ones. It also has functions that control the flaps and indicate their position as well as trim relays and their position. Built in is a
wig-wag function for the lights. External switches connect to the box, but electrical loads can also be switched using the display screen interface. That box does a some of neat stuff.
N8281V is IFR capable, which is not easy to accomplish in the limited space of an RV-8 panel. For his panel Mark chose Garmin radios and intercom, Advanced Flight Systems EFIS and autopilot, and a Dynon D-10 as redundant flight instrumentation. His panel is very clean and well done.
Mark has a bit more finishing to do before paint, but this is a very nice RV-8.

Congratulations Mark!

Richard Wingfield’s RV-14 Flies!

wingfield_14_ff02EAA Chapter 168 congratulates Richard Wingfield for his August 13th maiden flight of his just completed RV-14.  The speeds and handling are exactly what Vans Aircraft has advertised with the 210 hp Lycoming IO-390.  A little bigger engine for a little bigger airframe yields the same as the previous RVs.  The flight was uneventful and everything worked as expected.    The big challenge was getting the Garmin G3X touch system configured.  And Richard is really excited about the performance of that panel.wingfield_14_ff01

Richard was early to order his slow (QB was not available) build kit.  Yet Vans was a little slow to get the final kits out after the 2012 Oshkosh debut.  So there was about six-month delay in getting this RV-14 into the air.  According to Vans website there are now 12 RV-14s flying with the tail wheel version like Richards being only a couple.

As to a little background, this is Richards third RV.  The first being an RV-6 that he bought in the early 1900s.  It was an incredible build completed in Georgetown and was the first in Texas.  The second was an RV-8 that he built in the 2010-time frame.  And now this RV-14.

wingfield_14_ff03Finally, Richard held an appreciation dinner for all the help he received on this RV-14.  As someone said, the restaurant parking lot was full of cars.  But the table only included eleven people, all from either Chapters 168 or 1246.   This is a good example of how aviation people with amazing talents are more than happy to help someone get their airplane into the air.  The RV-14 is a different breed from previous RVs so sometime we need to get Richard to tell us the story.