First Flight

July 9th, 2019. Weather finally was cooperating. My wife was taking one of the children to a doctors appointment and I had to pick up Hal from summer school, so we just kept going and picked up John and headed to the airport. We installed the cowling and I walked around the airplane inspecting everything again. We were waiting for Gabe to show up, so I installed the cameras on the wing and the SP360 behind me overhead. At that point we pulled the plane out of the hangar and I fired it up. Gabe, John and Halden with radios and phones in hand positioned themselves for a view of the runway. I taxied to the run-up area and ran at 60% power for a bit until I was dragging on the breaks.

On the way to the end of the runway I saw a few of our EAA members heading to the Club Hangar for the Burger-Burn (BBQ) before the chapter meeting. I was not planning to do the first flight with an audience but I was also not going to let it distract me either. Other than my support crew, no one else knew I was flying that day. I taxied to the end of the runway and made a call “Harvey Traffic. Experimental 19JF taking runway 15L for first flight. Will be circling above the pattern within gliding distance. Harvey Traffic.”

I pulled onto the runway and slowly pulled in the throttle. The slowly part did no seem to matter much to baby. Baby wanted to fly! Before the end of the displaced threshold we were in the air! Once airborne I had to make a few adjustments for what was the neutral position, and how much I needed to move the stick to get the plane to respond. The first few inputs were a bit more than needed, and then I had to counter them, but in a few seconds I had calibrated the input to tiny finger pressure on the stick and the plane would respond.

My plane was to climb over the airport and then at 2-3k feet enter a simulated stabilized approach and see how the trim was at approach speed and attitude. I would then descend and make the first approach to get the feel for the speed and sight lines. I would then go around and make a second loop and come almost to touchdown mid-field and go-around without touching down. Then on the third pass I would aim to touchdown just past the numbers and finally come to a stop.

During the stabilized approach I realized I could take my hands off and the plane was absolutely straight and level with no heavy wing or up/down pitch. Perfectly in trim. I never had to touch the electric trim the first flight. The plan was no trim and no flaps, and no “practice stall” the first flight. I was going by the outline of the EAA test flight plan and sticking to it.

On the second go-around I put some real throttle in finally into the Viking 130 and as I stabilized the climb I checked and it was reading a 1800 FPM climb. About 30 seconds later I was at pattern altitude and it was still 1800 FPM.  I was not even trying to optimize the climb! The power is unbelievable!

(EDIT) After downloading the data I got to see a more realistic picture the climb rate *BETWEEN* when I glanced down at the EFIS was a bit over 1200FPM. This was still great but the 1800FPM numbers I glanced at were not sustained during the that middle of the climb. I will get real numbers when I have a change to fly at consistent speeds and power settings. (EDIT)

On the last approach I extended my downwind. The plane is slick, and the idle is still had lots of thrust so I took a long final getting it down to final approach speed. I let the plane settle in over the numbers and it just slid right down to the ground and greased the landing. It was like it knew how to do it itself.

I taxied to the club hangar where I noticed that a crowd had gathered and my support crew were with them. I shut down the power and there were about a dozen EAA members who were gathered for the BBQ and watched most of the flight and the landing. Handshakes were non going to work here. Hugs were in order. We just defied gravity!



2 thoughts on “First Flight”

  1. Congratulations, Jonathan and Halden! On top of everything else you can be proud of, that was a picture-perfect landing. Way to go!
    Jack (Gabriel’s dad)


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