Dolly and KJ relaxing near the USS Intrepid on the Hudson River in New York.

Triple Tree Fly-in

Triple Tree is a unique place created over many years by Pat and Mary Lou Hartness. From undeveloped land they wrestled out a beautiful airdrome in South Carolina.

It’s centerpiece is a 7,000 foot grass runway of Bermuda bent grass that is irrigated and maintained like a golf course green.

For one week each year the private airport is opened up to all things airborne. All persons are invited provided they can show a pilot’s license or some other direct connection to aviation.

Facilities include the pavilion shown above, plus showers, wet and dry camp sites, an educational center, aerodrome control tower, a museum/hangar, pilots lounge and other necessary infrastructure. Pat’s prime aviation interest has been model aviation although he also has a full scale mirror polished Spartan Executive and a P51.

Pilot’s Lounge

DC3’s?

These two birds put on an airshow Saturday afternoon.

Shade from the sun and hangar flying conversation – Triple Tree hospitality.

Food at TTA is plentiful and delicious. There is a different menu for the cookout every evening. Thursday is “pick out and grill your own steak” night with tasty fixings and chocolate cake. Yumm!

On Saturday we lined up for a pulled pork dinner near the top of the hill by the hangars. A quartet played old songs and friends caught Dolly and I dancing. We had worked as volunteers all week; Dolly helped in registration and I drove six person courtesy golf carts.

Try it next year?

Happy Times

Tuesday morning at Triple Tree where the sun is always shining and the airplanes are forever beautiful. No WIFI so I had to wait till tonight when Verizon phone connections weren’t overloaded.

Sent a photo of N50KB in response to a query on Vans Airforce forum. Doug Reeves passed it on to Vans Aircraft where Rick Hayes passed it on to Lycoming. I received a call that Lycoming would like to have the aircraft on display at their Airventure booth in Oshkosh.

Back to Michigan

The paint job was finished on May 17.  Dolly and I closed up the house and departed for Michigan on the 21st; she in her car and I in the Dreamweaver.

It took me 6 hours 38 minutes flying from Florida to Michigan, plus one fuel stop.  Dolly required three and a half days.  She plans on leaving her 2006 HHR in Michigan next winter and flying back with me.

 

 

 

Painting

The prime mission for N50KB during the ’18/19 winter has been to be painted.  During most of the build I have had a design in mind, inspired by some of the spectacular paint jobs seen at EAA Airventure Oshkosh.

In November I started hunting for a professional paint shop as soon as we arrived in Florida. During a visit to their shops, each of three bidders was shown a black and white sketch depicting the design. We had a good discussion of what I wanted and they gave me an approximate cost.

It is amazing the range of prices I encountered.  The highest price was 240% of the lowest.  I chose Fosters Aircraft Restoration located on the Lakeland, Florida airport (KLAL), the home of Sun-N-Fun.  Although the high bidder has an excellent shop, the price was beyond my budget.  The owner of the lowest bid price shop was moving to a new location and could talk better than listen.

I found John Foster easy to work with.  His shop is huge. On my first 12/13/2018 visit there were seven aircraft in the preparation area.  These included two helicopters, a Citation jet, and other cabin class twins.  His reputation for quality work is outstanding.  Attached to the preparation hangar are three large (50′ x 50′ ?) paint booths.  I told John I wanted Fosters to do the job and accepted the three month wait till a March 11th start.

As I write this on May 14th, the painting is almost done.

As part of the deal, Dolly and I were to disassemble and reassemble N50KB.

For the first step in the process Fosters crew masked surfaces that were not to be painted, and ScotchBright scored the aluminum surface. Then an acid wash was applied to promote adhesion of the following coats.  This was followed by an alodyne anti-corrosion coating.  Next as shown below all metal surfaces were sprayed with a two part epoxy primer.

TWO PART EPOXY PRIMER.

There was considerable body work to be done in front of the tip-up canopy where it meets the front fuselage skin.  I was amazed how the crew was able to make a 1/8″ mismatch disappear.   Further, they were dissatisfied with their first attempt, removed the faring, and did it over at their own initiative.  That has been their approach to the whole process allowing no blemish to exist.  However, each of these steps takes time and the original four to six weeks has inflated to nine.

WHITE PAINT AT LAST

Near the end of April the white paint had been sprayed.  Dolly and I drove to Lakeland to install the cowl and tail feathers, enabling the layout of masking for color stripes.

TAPE APPLIED FOR MASKING STRIPES
MASKED AND READY FOR STRIPES

I visited Fosters last Thursday and most of the color work is complete with just some small areas to be painted.  It is coming along nicely.

Tomorrow Dolly and I travel to Lakeland to begin reassembly.  Vinyl N number, wing walk material and other decals are yet to be applied.

 

 

Confession is Good for the Soul

The first flight of N50KB, 1.7 hours, was made on June 5, 2018.  All went well except I felt it necessary to file a NASA report for busting the lower floor of the Flint, MI class B outer ring by 100 feet.  Contributing factors were the new airplane first flight and first use of Garmin G3X touch glass panel instrumentation.

That’s not the reason for “Confession” in the title of this post.  Some 12.4 flight hours later on June 13th I managed to do a very very gentle tip up of the plane during landing on a 2700 ft grass strip.  I don’t like to talk about it because I’m supposed to be an experienced tail dragger pilot.  Besides having way too high airspeed ~90 kts on final, I overexercised the excellent Berringer brakes.  The prop made nine cuts in the soft sandy soil  before coming to rest on a blade that broke.  The left wing tip was dragged.

It was an expensive lesson that halted further flight until September 19th.  The engine received a full tear down and reassembly at G&N Aircraft a Lycoming dealer in Griffith, Indiana.  All parts passed magniflux inspection with no problem.

The propeller was a different story.  Only one blade broke.  On the bright side Catto props recommended replacing the broken 68/72 with their new 66 inch diameter and 74 inch pitch three blade prop.  They predict a 3 to 4 knot speed increase.

Repair of the wingtip required replacement of the outboard forward rib and skin panel.  I have been complimented on the quality of the restoration.

Think that is the end of this tale?  Wrong!  On October 3rd I flew to Owasso< Michigan (KRNP) to practice landings.  With the airport in sight the oil pressure warning light lit up red.  An aluminum plate and gasket covering an oil pressure supply on the rear of the engine developed a serious leak.  I immediately landed and still had very low but positive pressure when the engine was shut down while still on the runway.  The airport staff was very helpful and N50KB spent two weeks in a hangar while Dolly and I diagnosed and fixed the problem with a new cover plate from Lycoming.

The plane has performed beautifully for the next 58 hours to date.  Whew!   I feel better already.

 

Some Storage Space

The Vans RV7 design has about three inches of unused space between the side-by-side seats.  So, I built an insert to provide storage for sunglasses, handheld radio, drinks, etc.

It is made of 1/4 inch popular from Home Depot that I ran through a planer taking it down to 1/8 inch thickness.  The bottom and sides of the box were angled to match the cabin floor which is not flat between the seats.  The cover shown above fits either of the longer compartments. The smalest compartment was sized to hold my Yaesu handheld.  Overall it worked out well and is a snug fit between the seats.

First Flights and Phase I Flight Testing

Difficulties, self inflicted and otherwise have been described in an earlier post.  The first and second flights were on June 5th, 2018.

A video of the second takeoff.

And the second landing.

The initial flight testing is known as Phase I and covers the first forty hours of operation where no passengers may be carried.  Other requirements such as a limited operating range are included in the FAA issued Operating Limitations.  The purpose of Phase I is to verify safe operation and establish the aircraft’s performance characteristics which may then be placed in a Pilot’s Operating Handbook.

Due to the problems described in the previous post the summer had drawn to a close and we were wanting to return home to Florida.  I was fortunate the FAA issued a Ferry Permit allowing N50KB to complete the last of Phase I on the repositioning trip to KBKV, Brooksville Regional Airport.  I arrived home on November 16th. Dolly had her first ride two days later.