Spring At Last! PAGE 254. 

March 12, 2008:  I know, it's not really Spring yet, but the 70-degree temperature outside this Wednesday evening tells me otherwise.  Sorry I missed the usual update of the web site this past Sunday.   There was nothing to report of RV interest over the weekend.  Wendell is still flying off his 40 hours of Phase 1 flight testing now that everything works as planned.  

I finally got over the hangar on Monday evening, March 10th to remove my instrument panel and put in the alternator warning light I planned for way back when, during the finishing construction of my airplane.  It was during that panel disassembly that I managed to break a wire connection to the 12-pin connector powering some things on the main panel.  Before I started all that work, I checked my original wiring plug sketches to confirm there was ONE available connector pin available for the alternator warning light.

After I managed to reconnect the broken wire from the existing 11 pins in the socket, I finished by plugging in the 12th pin in the vacant number 8 location of the socket.  After the lost time repairing that broken connection, I decided I would stop working early at 9:40 PM and go home.  The re-assembly of the panel would wait until Tuesday evening in a new work session.

Here are the photos I took during the Tuesday session before putting the instrument panel back into my airplane.  This is the same kind of 12-volt LED warning light provided with my Grand Rapids Technology engine monitor.  You can buy these at Radio Shack in a package of two.  There is a built-in resistor in this light fixture.   The positive and negative terminals are plainly marked.  I put a red wire on the positive voltage terminal and the white wire is on the negative terminal.  The red wire is attached to the power source for the other warning lights at the top of the panel.  The white wire goes to the new pin 8 on my power connector for the instrument panel.  The two big holes above this new light are the clearance holes for my microphone and headphone connectors.
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I picked this location because it is near the instruments I scan on a regular basis.  As you can see in the photo above, there was also some empty space between the airspeed indicator, autopilot controller, and the instrument panel frame that is a permanent part of my airplane.
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Now you may think this is a done deal, but there is sometimes a last-minute surprise.  A few minutes after I took this photo, I was sitting in my pilot seat ready to secure my panel to the panel mounting frame when I realized the mounting plate for my headphone and microphone jacks was in the way of the new warning light.  I dug out my tin snips and cut off the lower corner of the aluminum mounting plate for the phone jacks.  A quick pass with the Dremel sanding drum and a pass with my deburring tool and the clearance for the light was ready.  There are eleven #8 screw holes around the edge of the panel.  There are four larger holes along the top edge of the panel and one larger hole on the far left edge near the bottom of the panel that provide clearance for the heads of screws that attach the panel mounting frame to the fuselage ribs and other mounting tabs.  And yes, the scratches on the panel went un-repaired since I could not find my can of gray spray paint.
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After everything was connected and secured, I turned on the avionics master and the alternator light came on just like it did when I made the short test flight to check the wire from the alternator on February 24th.  I looked back on page 253 and realized I had put January in the DATE line at the top of the page.  I had to go back to page 252 to confirm that error.  To err is human, oh well...

The next time I go flying will be the final test of the alternator warning light, but being an electronics guy, it should not be a problem.  That was why I used some clip leads to test the light with the engine running and in flight back on February 24th.

I just received a phone call (7:15 PM) from Wendell telling me about his flights today.  The Hobbs meter is now just over 30 hours.  He let local A&P Rich Nadig fly the RV-8 today.  Rich has been flying RV-3's for a couple of years now and has a Harmon Rocket (RV-4 conversion) nearing completion.  Rich only had one complaint about elevator range on landing.  Rich is small and light in weight and that could have been part of the problem for him with weight and balance.  His first RV-3 seen on this web site had about 15 pounds of lead to balance it since he is not very heavy in the pilot seat.

March 16, 2008:  Sunday and time for another update to the web site.  It started raining on Friday and storms continued through Saturday morning and the early afternoon here in the Chattanooga and North Georgia area.  The runway is water-logged from 2.5 inches of rain, preventing any flights today by Wendell or myself.  The weather was good today, but there were no flights from Chickamauga International Airport.

After the long drought in this area, it will be good to hear what the weatherman has to say about the water levels in the North Georgia lakes that provide water to Atlanta.  Speaking of Atlanta, if you watched CNN or CNN Headline News, you know what happened in downtown Atlanta with the tornado on last Friday evening, March 14th.   The tornado went right across the heart of downtown Atlanta.  The building that is the world headquarters for CNN was damaged and shown on their news networks.

There is nothing new to report on any current flights.  I bought a new VCR when I had one fail a few months ago.  It is one of those combo VCR/DVD recorder/player models.  It also has front panel audio video inputs.  I got out all my digital video tapes made during my flights to Denver and Oshkosh with the new camera and the sound coming from the intercom.  I put all the videos onto one DVD.   I even put on some of the very first videos made prior to getting the external camera and quiet intercom audio connections made.  Those old videos reminded me of why I went to noise-canceling headphones, etc.  I had apparently taped over the day when I put a music tape into my airborne tape and CD player and recorded that sound track onto a digital video tape while in flight.  I will have to make a new one for those of you have never had in-flight musical entertainment.

One more sign of SPRING is seen in the first blooms and colors in the trees outside in my neighborhood.  I will have to get a good picture in a few days when the colors reach their peak.

March 25, 2008:  It is Tuesday evening after a quiet Easter Weekend.  There were chores to do around the house and no money for AVGAS as I mailed a check to the IRS.  In May, that money will come back with more added to it in the tax rebate program.

I did manage to get a company holiday on Monday, March 24th -- at least for part of the day.  I went out to visit with Rich Nadig at the Collegedale Airport in the late afternoon.  I have added a new page to his section of the OTHER RV section of my web site.  You can see how close his Harmon Rocket is to being ready to fly on this NEW PAGE about Rich.

April 5, 2008:  Saturday morning came with a minor chore to do here before I head out for the day.  I will go visit Wendell shortly to discuss his aileron squeeze questions he should ask of other RV-8 builders at Sun-n-Fun later this week.  He is taking a low-cost commercial flight to Florida this week since the weather is not the best for light planes with the recent storms and heavy weather.  The weather that has just cleared our area is still a problem across south Georgia and Florida as I write this entry.

Speaking of the weather, yesterday was filled with heavy rain and tornado alerts across the southeastern states.  We had our share here in the Chattanooga area.  The north Georgia counties also got beneficial rains to alleviate some of the long-term drought conditions.  Lake Lanier is north of Atlanta and has come up a few feet from its record low levels, but there is still a long way to go before it gets back to more normal levels.

April 13, 2008:  I talked to Wendell several times this week while he was at Sun-N-Fun in Lakeland, Florida.   He did not take the RV-8, but flew commercial on a cheap round trip ticket.   He had encounters with several RV-8 builders who gave him tips on squeezing the right aileron to trim the airplane in the roll axis.  He did not come home and immediately take their advice.  He did get the mower attachment off his older tractor and attach it to the new one to get ready for more runway maintenance.  The new tractor has a front end scraper blade to work the runway in the rough spots.  I can see that Wendell wants to manicure the south end of the runway and reclaim that last 500 feet of the 2,500 length of the runway for easy use.

It seems this web site is doing what it was intended to do.  One guy came up to him at the hotel where he was staying during breakfast and asked him if he was Wendell Folks.  It seems we have another anonymous fan who has been following the exploits in these pages.  This is the kind of feedback that motivates me to go to Oshkosh again this year.  We shall see if available time and funds will allow that to happen again.

I called another local RV-8 builder here in the Chattanooga area yesterday.   Larry Champion will soon be ready to align and drill the landing gear leg blocks with the fuselage.  He thinks he should be ready in about one more week.  I have been invited to help with the alignment process when the time is right for that bit of work.  I really appreciate how my RV-9A was designed and built when I see what the RV-8 builders have to do.

My day job has not had any recent business travels for me.  The big trade show for the week ahead is the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas this week.  Our company has two other people going there to support three of our distributors with exhibits there.  I attended that trade show several times in the 1980's as part of my job for a satellite video equipment company based in Ocala, Florida.

As for the weather here, wait a minute, it will change.  The next 48 hours will have the "last blast" of cold air coming through this area.  The recent rains were part of a major weather front that moved across the eastern states.   The cold front behind it is due here tonight.  The clouds are beginning to build outside, along with gusting winds.  It is not the kind of weather that is inviting for a local flight.

I did not go over to Wendell's place yesterday.  As a result I have no relevant photos or updates to his airplane to report.  His web pages have not been updated this week.  I will report on his latest web page when he has a chance to squeeze his right aileron and go test fly the roll axis trim.

April 20, 2008:  Tax day came and went.  The last near-freezing weather was also during the past week.   I helped Wendell gather the documents needed to apply for his repairman's certificate for his RV-8.  He had called the Atlanta Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) and found the guy who would process his certificate application.  I made sure the name and address were correct and typed his letter for him.  That was all done this past Wednesday night.

Those of you here in the USA know how much the price of gasoline has gone up in the last two weeks.  The last time I bought gas for my car, it was priced at $3.16 per gallon.  I drive so little now, that was only about FIVE gallons ago.  The price I saw yesterday was $3.37 when I went out briefly.

We had about an inch of rain during the night this past Friday.  It had cleared up by Saturday morning and we had a beautiful day.  It is now Sunday morning as I write this and it is again a wonderful weather day.  I hope to get over to the airport and recalibrate my compass and Dynon D-10A remote magnetic sensor today.   When I helped Wendell set up his airplane, I realized that I may not have my magnetic compensation properly set.

Sunday Evening UPDATE:  I went out to the airport and calibrated the magnetic compass and the Dynon remote magnetic sensor.   After that it was time to take a short test flight and I got agreement between both magnetic devices and the magnetic corrected course headings in my GPS 296.  I was listening to Chattanooga Approach on 125.1 MHz during the whole flight and I heard the controller talking about me to the other traffic behind me as I flew across the valley toward Lookout Mountain.  The only airplane I saw during my short 20-minute flight was a Saab 340 turbo-prop commuter coming in to KCHA from Memphis.  It was a beautiful day and that was why there were so many airplanes out there today!  I heard at least six or seven other airplanes working with the controller on frequency.
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I headed over to Sand Mountain in Dade County, Georgia to circle around the former residence of my grandparents.  This was the first shot taken looking East.   Unfortunately, I had managed to select "forced flash" and this was the result.  Less than stunning for sure.  The shadow of my windshield and dash-mounted video camera are plainly visible on the left wing.
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Here is a better view looking North showing a pond where my mother once caught a snapping turtle back in the 1950's when I was about 8 years old.  The pond is round and just in front of the wing tip and near the curve in the road.  The old family residence where she grew up is on the left side of the roadway where the road forks to the left.  There are now two other ponds where there was one LARGE one back in the 1950's & 1960's.
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Here is one more shot taken just a few seconds later.  It looks as if a developer is grooming the land around the ponds for home sites.  All those dirt roads were not there when I used to walk around the ponds and in the trees as a boy of 10-to-12 years old.  At that age, I would never have dreamed of this day of flying around a place that was part of my early youth.  My grand parents moved away from there in the 1960's to be closer to my mother and our family when her father's health was declining.
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Here is the GPS map overlay of today's short test flight.  Chattanooga is off the top of this map above US 27 on the right side of the map.  I circled around the area photographed above twice as you can see.  That blue highway is interstate highway 59 adjacent to US 11.  This location is very near the north end of I-59.   The southern end of I-59 is at Slidell, Louisiana where I-10, I-12, and I-59 intersect northeast of New Orleans, Louisiana.
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Back at the hangar, the Aeronca Champ was moved to the SE corner of the hangar to make way for my airplane in the NE corner.  Wendell's RV-8 goes in the center near the hangar door since it is being flown the most.
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Here is my RV-9A parked in the NE corner of the hangar with all the bugs cleaned off.  They are just one more part of the warm weather flying.
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The main reason for moving my airplane back to this corner of the hangar is the upcoming work on the nose wheel fork and gear leg to comply with Van's service bulletin for all nose-wheel RV's.  There is a steel anchor in the floor under the tail of my airplane.  I used it last year when I did the annual inspection on my airplane to service the nose wheel bearing.

May 19, 2008:  It has been a month since my last flight of "Enterprise" as seen above.  I was back at the hangar this Monday evening to meet with Wendell and realized that I had not plugged in my trickle charger when I put the airplane away in April.  It was good to find the battery at 11.6 volts DC.  I have a few "keep alive" circuits that put a low current drain on the battery bus.  I got out my battery charger with cigarette lighter plug and connected it to the accessory outlet on the bottom right side of my panel.  I went through the basic checks with the avionics circuit breaker turned on to satisfy myself all was well. 

It has been a few weeks since I ordered the new nose wheel fork per the service bulletin for all Van's nose-wheel airplanes.  It should arrive about the time of my next annual inspection in June.  I will be publishing a new page when the annual inspection is performed.  Now I have to find a friendly local machine shop to add the extra 1-inch of threads to the nose gear leg when I get it off in June.

I also have two weeks of business travel to New England and Pennsylvania in June.  Whether or not I take the airplane will depend on the arrival of the new part from Van's Aircraft, and of course, the weather forecast for that period.  A trip to Providence, RI and the Philadelphia area would be easier by RV-9A if the weather is good.

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