First Flight! (for me)

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series 16 - Flight Testing

Lots of things going on.  Because we sold our Chicago area house and bought a house in Panama City (literally on the same day), and said Panama City house needed a LOT of work before the planned move in date of 9/5, I haven’t had much time for airplane related activities. I did run down and get the roll trim installed but that’s about it.

Because I’ve only got 25 hours to fly off, I was planning on doing that in one trip.  And to handle the transportation, my good friend Rody (who was in the plane when I had the nose gear collapse on the 182-RG in Greensboro, NC) suggested that I just rent a car and drive down then drop it off there if I can fly off the hours in one trip. Thanks Rody!

So I got a car from Enterprise (only nationwide car rental company with an office in Sebastian) and drove down on Sunday, September 13th.  Then I got John Abraham to go up with me for a couple of quick take off and landings. Remember, I only have 5 hours in Velocities and that was the small trainer that’s fixed gear.

So we hopped in the plane and took off.

Holy crap, this this is FAST!  Rocketed down the runway, lifted off and before I knew it the we were at 130kts and climbing… rapidly. Then the “Low Oil Pressure” light started flashing.  A quick check of the gauges showed the oil pressure was reading right where it should. So we stayed in a tight pattern just in case.  After a minute, the light went out. It turned out that I had inadvertently set the alarm (which drives the “Low Oil Pressure” light) to indicate for low oil pressure and if a cylinder head temperature exceeded 400 degrees. Oops.

The two landings were far from impressive.  Long with lots of over-corrections.

Then I was up on my own.  I decided to fly south to Stuart (the south end of my test area) and then back north to Sebastian. This takeoff was even more… exhilarating.  With just me in the plane it accelerated like a sports car. In no time I was at 1,500 feet and climbing in excess of 1,500 feet per minute.

Lots of challenges here.  First is staying in front of the plane. I ran into this challenge when I moved from flying fixed gear Cessna 172’s to my 182-RG.  Lots more power and lots more speed. Eventually you start thinking far enough ahead that you’re playing “catch up” all the time.

The other challenge is migrating from “steam gauges” to a glass panel.

Here’s the panel I’ve been flying behind for the past 16 years.

6408S Panel 2 (low-res)

If you’re not a pilot, it may seem daunting, for me it’s been home for the last 16 years. Airspeed? Top left.  I haven’t really looked at anything other than the needle position for a long time. When I’m on base leg, the needle is about 3 o’clock. Over the runway for landing, 2 o’clock.  Vertical speed? directly over the yoke. Hard to miss being level or in a 500fpm climb. Altitude? Directly above the VSI.  It’s second nature.



So now when I need to know how fast, there’s no needle. Just to the left of center is a vertical tape with (in this case) 165 in the middle. That how fast I’m going (indicated, not actual). Altitude? To the right of center. I’m at 6,510 feet.  Vertical speed?  On the left side of the altitude tape are some hash marks that angle up and down. If I was climbing at 1,000fpm, the area from the middle to the “1” would be shaded.  For a non-pilot that hasn’t been looking at the old six-pack or steam gauges, this probably makes perfect sense.  But I’ve been flying behind those old gauges for so long that this will take some getting used to.

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