May 22, 2024

From Michael Stephan

N18MS Instrument Panel view
N18MS heading out for the First Flight

On June 14, N18MS took to the air for the first time with a first time test pilot. Although I have over 800 hours in an RV-8, this RV-8 was untested and I was the person to test it.
The First flight was actually the second attempt. The first attempt had a few avionics anomalies and I wasn’t comfortable trying to work around them while evaluating the aircraft’s flying characteristics. So those issues were fixed and a few days later I made attempt number two. Since the engine was new and had a tendency to heat up quickly, I tweaked my check lists and run-up to minimize idle engine time.

Satisfied with the run-up, I rolled to hold short line and called the tower. I had previously phoned them to inform them that this was a first flight and that I was planning on staying above the airport for safety. When cleared for take-off, I moved out to the runway, lined up and added power. The plane tracked straight and with a hefty headwind was off the ground very quickly. I climbed quickly to get to a safe altitude, and turned into a traffic pattern above the GPM airspace and below the nearby Class B. I flew a number of orbits there while monitoring engine temps and pressures. Everything was in the green and looking good, so to add a bit more time to the engine break-in, I ventured down to Midway Airport for more orbits with much more room under the Class B airspace.

I made my first approach to landing and was a bit high and fast, so I went around for a better approach. The second try was much better and with the hyper focus on the first landing, I eased it onto the main gear and it smoothly rolled straight down the centerline. The tail came down and I applied some brakes and came to a complete stop. I paused and bowed my head to give thanks for a safe return and an aircraft that tracks straight.
Raised the flaps, pushed in the power and was back in the air headed for Grand Prairie. After the quick return to GPM, I made the second landing in a brisk headwind. Taxied back to the hangar, shut it down and climbed out with a
sheet full of notes.

Thumbs Up after a successful First Flight.

Issues? A few. It had a bit of a heavy left wing and a need to hold the right rudder in a small amount. The radios need some tweaking on the squelch and sidetone settings. I could not hear the GP Tower when near the Cedar Hill towers.
Looking back at my first attempt as a test pilot was a success. Everything went well and I returned with all the parts attached. There is still quite a bit of testing to do, and I look forward to working through it.
At this moment, N18MS has four flights and 4 hours of test time.

I am using the EAA Flight test manual and the FAA Flight Test Advisory as guidelines for the Phase 1 test period. So far things are going well. Stay Tuned.