Had not been up in my Q for a couple weeks, so I thought I would take advantage of a nice calm, cool, crystal-clear fall day to do a short local flight. I have recently finished the final paint on my wheel fairings, so it is nice to have the airframe “finished”. Although it is a homebuilt, so I guess you are never really finished, right Sammy?
It was my first flight in a long time where the density altitude was less than the field altitude. DA was 4250 and field elevation is 4750 MSL. So I guess you could call it a “low altitude” shake out flight for me. The good thing about cooler temperatures (5 degrees C at 1000’ AGL) is that it allows me to close up my radiator air exit doors and reduce drag. That adds some nice speed, so once I got up and level, I was showing over 170 mph TAS at about 70% power. Pulling it back to economy cruise (55% power), still gave me 160 mph TAS, which is really a nice speed at 5.5 gph! The scenery is tremendous out here any time of year, but the lower sun angles make it really pop. Had to take a little opportunity to take it in, so I flew along the west edge of our valley (Grand Junction, CO) and flew down over the cemetery where my dad is resting and made a tight circle and couple of wing wags to say hello. The plane really likes about a 35 degree turn angle. It kind of “locks in” at that angle.
At my last condition inspection, I installed the autopilot servos, so I have been playing with the autopilot for a month or so. It is really nice to have, and having it hold altitude and heading is a real pleasure. That gives you a chance to play with the engine settings without holding the stick. And magically, you can just twist the heading bug to make a turn. I have not used it for a multileg trip yet, but if I get the opportunity in one of the colder months, it will be nice.
Since it is starting to get chilly here, it is worth mentioning that I take my cabin heat air off the back side of the left and right radiators, so when I close up the exit air doors, I get extra pressure on the hot air source into the cabin. That is a nice feature of winter flying for me, since that is the time that you are flying with the radiator exits mostly closed up.
My engine is really running smoothly and the rest of the plane is functioning as designed, so I am a happy homebuilder and now have 121 hours on the plane. Hoping to get out and see some of you in 2021, and maybe make that long dreamt of trip to OSH this year.
For those of you in Canada, hope you had a nice Thanksgiving, for those of you in the US, Happy Thanksgiving, 11 days from now, and for everyone else, I hope you have a nice November 26th!
Jay Scheevel, Tri-Q2 N8WQ, 121 hours.