00 Factory visit

This entry is part 11 of 28 in the series 00 - Prep/Logistics

Once the shop was finished, we (both of us this time) made the trek down to Sebastian to visit the factory, see the latest model and take a test flight.

After a tour of the factory and where all the parts a manufactured, we visited the Builder Assistance Center. This is where people can build and work on their Velocities. We will be taking advantage of this facility to do what’s know as the Head Start program. I’ll spend about a month starting the build process. Then we’ll transport the airplane home and finish it.

After the tour, it was time to take a test flight in the factory demo plane. This is the same airplane I’ll be building. This particular model has the Dash-V option which has a bench seat in the back instead of two bucket seats (haven’t decided on that yet) and a turbocharged engine (haven’t decided on that either).

Takeoff in the factory demo plane.

Me at the controls.

View of Sebastian, FL from 3,000 feet.

Post flight of me.

Me and Ann.

(Left to right) Me, Velocity instructor pilot John Abraham and Ken Baker.

Aircraft that are built in a non-production environment are certified by the FAA as experimental. This applies to all aircraft. Whether it’s the first couple of Cessna 172’s or the Boeing 747. Initially, all aircraft are designated “experimental”. It’s not until the aircraft, the manufacturing process and every other aspect of the aircraft has been evaluated that the “experimental” certification is removed. Until then, the aircraft must have the word “EXPERIMENTAL” plainly visible. There are also a number of other labels and notices that must be present.

Here’s a picture of what Cessna is currently calling the NGP (Next Generation Piston).

Notice the lettering under the window? Once Cessna has satisfied the FAA that the that the airplane can fly (predictably) and the manufacturing process is such that every aircraft that comes out of the factory will behave identically, then they will be allowed to remove the “experimental” label and related notices. Then the airplane becomes what we refer to as a “production” airplane. Homebuilt aircraft are never able to achieve production certification because they are all built by different individuals. Each one is a little bit different. Some types of homebuilt aircraft have gone on to obtain production certification. The Cirrus and Lancair, for example. The companies that originally built the components for homebuilders decided to go through the process and obtain production certification. You can now buy these airplanes the same as you would a Cessna, Piper, Mooney or Beech. When Lancair decided to come out with a production model, they changed the name to Columbia. In the fall of 2007, Cessna purchased Columbia Aircraft.

I mention all of this because Ann just had to take a picture of one of the required placards which are required for aircraft operating under the experimental certification.

Afterwards, we spent a couple days just hanging around the Flordia coast.

View from the motel room.

During turtle season, all lights visible from the ocean have to be off at night so as not to confuse the turtles when they look for the spot they hatched from to lay their eggs. In the morning when you walk on the beach, you’ll see numerous tracks where the turtles have come up to lay their eggs.

And finally, nothing says central Florida like this.

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