Wendell Folks RV-8 Project - Page 82.
January 30, 2008: Here is the view of the
left wheel fairing and the exposed valve stem for adding air to the tires without having
to remove the entire wheel fairing.
While Wendell continued to work down below, I photographed the overlap in the
windshield fiberglass and the forward left canopy skirt by the latch handle. This
seam really looks GOOD!
Here is the same shot from the other side of the canopy.
February 2, 2008: The day of
the first flight has arrived. There was a good turnout of family, friends, and other
pilots. At this time, you can see my airplane in the background, clear of plastic,
cleaned and ready to fly chase when Wendell is ready to launch on his first flight.
RV-8 builders Larry Champion and John Myers were here for the morning.
John had flown over to Winchester, Tennessee for the EAA breakfast always held on
the first Saturday of the month. He mentioned his overflight in his RV-4 at 8 AM
Eastern time on the way from his place to the airport at Winchester. Not a direct
route, but it was the way he came. Since he did not see a lot of cars here at that
time of the morning, he went to breakfast and stopped by on his way back home.
Wendell is securing the last of the screws in the engine cowl. He also
plugged in his engine heater right after this photo was taken.
This is the roll out photo before the first flight. The wheel fairings
have been sanded since the other night and have a primer coat on them. Wendell is
wearing a flame-retardent military flight suit brought over by Terry McDowell. Terry went to Alaska with Wendell in his Cessna 182 in July 2007.
I suggested that Wendell taxi the airplane up to the wind sock and back to check
the handling on the runway and to see if the turf up there was soft from the rain that
came on Thursday night. The temperature was in the 50's by the time we were ready to
fly just after 2PM.
Now, you say, where are the photos of the crowd? I wonder too! I thought I was getting them with my digital camera (1). Could this be an omen? What can I say. While Wendell was taxiing up to the wind sock, I pulled my airplane down to the same spot on the ramp you see in the photo above. A minister and friend arrived right before Wendell was ready for the flight. He had called this morning and offered a blessing and prayer for a safe flight and all the journeys this plane would make in the future. When the crowd moved away from the airplane, I made a few last minute suggestions to Wendell and headed for my airplane. I got in, setup the video camera and camcorder to make some in-flight video of the chase to come in the sky. I checked my microphone and heard some feedback in my headsets and adjusted the volume control lower (2).
I cranked up first and went down to the north end of the runway. My runup went well, I checked the viewfinder on my video camera and had good video on the small display screen. The only thing I forgot to do was to push the record button before my takeoff roll! (3)
I took off to the south, climbed a bit, then turned downwind on the East side
of the field. By the time I got abeam the north end of the runway, still heading
north, Wendell was off the ground in front of the hangar and the southbound chase was on
as I turned to follow at full throttle. I told him to slow down after he got to
about 3000 feet MSL and I caught up to him, adjusted the video camera and flew about 150
feet behind and just a little below him. I reported that my windshield was clear, NO
oil or fuel spray was coming from his airplane. With that I gave him the go ahead to
climb to a higher altitude and just enjoy himself. He has about 25 more horses than
me and less drag. Any pilot knows how that goes. When he would turn, I would
turn inside him to close the range he kept opening up. Before departure, I had set
up my VHF scanner on my car for the folks on the ground to monitor as we flew around about
a mile above them. Here is a my GPS ground track of the flight of 116 miles that was
a losing chase for me.
After a circuit toward LaFayette, Wendell turned back to the north and a pass over his field. We contacted Chattanooga approach to get radar transponder squawk codes. The controller never got an altitude report from Wendell's airplane. That leaves just one more thing to trouble shoot when we get back on the ground. We headed back toward LaFayette and a landing there on the paved runway for fuel in his airplane. The departure from his home field was with only 10 gallons in each tank. The fuel tank capacity is 21 gallons in each tank.
As we neared Lafayette, we changed from the air-to-air frequency of 122.75 MHz to unicom on 122.8 MHz. Wendell was heading down fast and I reminded him not to shock cool the cylinders by pulling the throttle back too much. I had one more radio contact with him, then nothing. I lost sight of him and decended East of the airport to pattern altitude and never heard him calling his approach, pattern entry, nothing. I looked around and finally saw him over the numbers on runway 20 as I was abeam the numbers and 1000 feet up. He made what looked like a good landing from my view point. I flew the rest of the downwind, turned base, then final approach, and still no radio transmissions from Wendell.
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