Saturday, 29 May 2010

Altogether too much fun!

I've been gently taken to task for not updating the Blog for a while. Yep, you've guessed it, I've been having altogether too much fun (if such a thing is possible) flying my new toy.

The day after the permit arrived I did my "first solo" with about half a dozen circuits to get the hang of things. As always happens, the first landing was an absolute greaser and things progressively deteriorated from there on! I reckon I've nailed things now though. Every aircraft is different and it was simply a case of getting used to the handling, how the flaps behave, optimum speeds and so on.

Since then I've been gradually widening my range of flying. On 23rd May I flew across to Fishburn for the first proper land away and, coincidentally, my first visit to that airfield. I've also flown into my old airfield, Carlisle. Gradually I'm building confidence in the aircraft and my ability to fly her. Before long I think a trip to the Scottish Islands will be called for! I've flown around six hours since the permit arrived.

It's pleasing that there are no technical problems with JONL. There are a few minor things to sort out - there is a small amount of aileron trim required for straight and level that needs to be balanced out and I want to try a slightly coarser propeller blade pitch to see if I can improve the cruise speed a little, without upsetting the short field take off performance.

All these things can wait. For now I'm just having fun!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Let's go fly!

The Permit to Fly has arrived and I have it in my sticky mitts. Rather bad timing, as I have to work tomorrow but I have this feeling that I shall be airborne by tomorrow evening.


Friday, 14 May 2010

Permit issued!


The CAA has issued the Permit to Fly. All I have to do now is wait to get the piece of paper in my grubby hands. Should be flying next week with a bit of luck.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Jerry cans

The Sportcruiser works best on Mogas (petrol) although it can run on Avgas if necessary. As Avgas is much more expensive and also requires a more frequent engine maintenance regime, Mogas is far preferred when possible.

The problem is that very few airfields pump Mogas. This is something that is probably going to have to change in the not too far distant future but in the meantime, I have a problem to resolve.

The favoured solution is numerous Jerry cans. I've decided to get four, giving a total of 80 litres. Whilst this does not completely fill the Sportcruiser, which has a capacity of 114 litres, 80 litres is sufficient for over five hours of flying, so it will usually be more than enough.

Jerry cans are a bit awkward to transport and tend to rattle around in the boot of my Mercedes so I decided that I would build a wooden frame that they can sit in. I've designed the frame in such a way that it can hold two or four Jerry cans. If only two are carried then there is space for fuel filter, hand pump and various other odds and ends.

The idea is that I can safely carry up to 80 litre of petrol to the airfield by car. I can also put the frame in the aircraft, behind the seats and in that case I would take just two empty cans and use the remaining space for accessories. Needless to say, there is no wish to carry full fuel cans inside the fuselage! Apart from the obvious safety considerations, there is also the small matter of weight and balance to consider. But when one gets to the other end, some means of carting fuel from the petrol station is needed and for that purpose 40 litres should be sufficient.

I started making the frame today out of 9mm plywood. I need to get some aluminium angle and short coach bolts to complete the project and I will then paint the finished frame in G-JONL colours!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

CAA says "processing"

G-INFO has been updated to confirm that the CAA has received the Permit to Fly application and intends to process it by this coming Friday, 14th May.

Might be flying next week after all!

Monday, 10 May 2010

LAA says YES

Postie brought me a letter this morning from the LAA saying that they have sent my Permit to Fly application on to the CAA.

Whilst this is definitely progress, another step along the way, happiness is tinged with frustration again. I now learn that when the permit is issued the CAA will send it back to the LAA who say they will "forward it as soon as we have checked it", then, in big bold letters "...the aircraft must not be flown until you have ... the Permit to Fly in your hand". This despite the fact that G-INFO provides an on line snapshot of the CAA's database that is updated daily. We can be sure that at least another week will be lost in all this postal nonsense.

It is hard to think of a more unnecessarily bureaucratic process, which seems to be designed to waste as much time and (my) money as possible.

The wait continues.

Whiling the time away

While I'm waiting for the Permit to Fly, I've been helping out a pal at Kirkbride with rewiring the engine management system on his RV8. He is also using Dynon kit, so the problems are very similar to those I faced with G-JONL. It's an interesting problem and a lovely aeroplane to work on, so it's keeping me out of mischief... sort of.

I also did a little work yesterday on JONL. For the first time since we started test flying I had the cowlings off and did a full inspection of the engine bay.

I noticed that the water radiator is catching on the cowling very slightly. This is a known problem with Sportcruisers but fortunately it is easy to fix by glueing a piece of foam to the cowling in the appropriate place. The foam pushes up against the radiator and stops the two items from vibrating or moving with respect to one another.

I also took the opportunity to blank off part of the oil cooler and water radiator. The Sportcruiser is grossly overcooled for our climate (especially at the moment - it's only 5°C this morning and the overnight rain has fallen as snow on the fells!), so it is standard practice to blank off parts of the cooling system. G-SCZR, the other Sportcruiser at Kirkbride, has about two thirds of the oil cooler and one third of the water radiator blanked off and that seems to work well, so I've done the same on JONL.

Another area that seems to be problematic with Sportcruisers is the exhaust system, which can develop cracks due to vibration. A reinforced exhaust system is available but is only fitted if the cracks appear. I carefully checked mine and, for now at least, there is no evidence of cracks at all.

There are many jubilee clips in the engine bay and these have a habit of working loose, especially after initial build, so I went round and carefully checked that they were all good and tight. Most were, but it was a useful exercise, for I discovered that the clip screw on the hot air scat pipe to the airbox was preventing full deployment of the carb heat control. It's not clear whether this is because the clip has moved, or if I installed it wrongly. Anyway, it would explain, perhaps, why we were getting little in the way of RPM drop with carb heat on. The fix was easy and the carb heat control now has full travel.

All of which is fair enough but it's not flying! Hopefully I'll hear soon that my Permit to Fly application has been passed on to the CAA.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Embroiled in bureaucracy

I've just heard that the application for Permit to Fly is unlikely to escape from the LAA until the end of this week. The culprit is yet more bureaucracy associated with the ballistic recovery system, which I thought we had finally put to bed some weeks ago.

Once escape velocity from the LAA is achieved, the CAA will most likely take two weeks to rubber stamp the application and issue the Permit to Fly, so it looks like it will be late May before we are home and dry.

It is very, very frustrating!