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.

It is Coming Together Now

The engine was returned from Lycoming in February and sat until we returned to Michigan in April.  Reinstalling the engine and getting ready for the FAA airworthiness inspector took from April 22nd to May 17th.

Those weeks were occupied by:

  • Ordering new gaskets, oil filters, cotter pins, etc
  • Remounting the engine and reinstalling starter, crankcase breather, fuel servo, throttle and mixture cables, fuel flow sensor, spark plugs, exhaust pipes and temperature sensors, fuel and oil pressure lines, manifold pressure line. cabin heater scat tubing, Pmags, alternators, oil cooler and oil lines, engine fuel pump overflow line, Earthx battery and engine grounding wires, baffling and plenum cover, flywheel, propeller, spinner and 19.5 lb squash plate.
  • Installing a quick drain oil plug on bottom front of oil sump.
  • Redoing the weight and balance.
  • Running a “sparking test” to verify correct wiring between Pmags and cylinders.
  • Rerunning a failed fuel “bottle test” and sending the fuel servo spyder back to AVStar for diagnosis and repair.  There was a manufacturing burr in the #4 cylinder spyder outlet.  Ran the test again and it checked out OK.
  • Checking out the tail wheel hoist built in Florida.  Works Great!
  • Permanently installed faring at lower horizontal stabilizer to fuselage joints.
  • Fabricating a rudder control lock.
  • Designing, fabricating and installing a canopy lock sensor.
  • Installing HDPE canopy closing guides.
  • Test running the engine.

Richard Anderson of the East Michigan FSDO signed the builder’s log and issued the Operations Limitations document on May 25th 2018.

The Winter of Out Discontent – ’17/18

No airplane to fly.  No airplane to work on.  Waiting for the engine to be returned by Lycoming.  Cold and snowy in Michigan.  Waiting for spring at home in Florida.  What?  In Florida, and I’m complaining?

Hope recovered nicely when I read about a wooden tail lift in the VanAirForce forums.  Having a way to raise the tail of the plane is a great help in draining all of the oil during engine oil changes.  I used Sam Buchanan’s lift photo as a model and built my own as shown below.Tail Lift Jack

The winch mechanism and the castors are from Harbor Freight.  Dolly drove her HHR North in the spring with the lift stowed nicely in the back.

We Enjoyed Our Stay

Our mid trip rest stop.

Dolly and I are on the way North, and stopped for the night at a motel run by University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky. It’s the nicest “Motel” I have visited, and less expensive than Hampton Inns.

An Encounter with the Sheriff’s Department

EAA chapter 791 today held its monthly meeting at the Pasco County (Florida) Sheriff’s helicopter hangar.  We had a wonderful two hour session touring the hangar and the adjoining parking yard for the emergency response (SWAT and other) vehicles.

Dolly Admiring a Jet Ranger Helicopter

The Department has four operational jet ranger helicopters on a staggered 100/200/300 hour maintenance schedule, plus two other JRs that are scavenged for parts.  They have one civilian mechanic who handles everything other than instrument repairs.

Yes, it was OK to climb in

All of the helicopters were military surplus and have been rebuilt, renovated, reconditioned and painted by the County.  Several were previously used by the Columbian military.

The chairs were full during the Chapter meeting and a follow on presentation by one of the officer/pilots.

We heard a story about the time this officer while on a SWAT team support flight was repeatedly hit by a red laser beam – ground patrols were all tied – he set the helicopter down in a parking lot –  ran five blocks and caught the perp.  He could identify the person as the helicopters have FLIR (infrared cameras) and the pilots wear night vision goggles.

Then we watched a video (Click to see it on YouTube) that shows the performance of the FLIR camera.  It is so sensitive that if a person spends time standing next to a wall and then moves on, the camera can read the heat that was transfered from the person to the wall.  Similarly, automobile exhausts leave a heated trail on the ground showing their direction of travel, even on hot nights.

SWAT Vehicles

Finally, we toured the emergency response vehicle parking yard.  The vehicle electrical systems are plugged in all the time.  The department also has a large command system truck that keeps its air conditioner running while stored here awaiting a call.

I was Impressed that several of the vehicles and a canine training building were donated to the Department by an individual citizen and a community leadership association.  Others were acquired from the military at nominal cost.


Click here to see more of Dolly’s projects on Ravelry where her ID is DollyBambas.

Dolly has been crafting for more years than she cares to admit, and has switched back and forth among crocheting, tatting, sewing, macramé and cross stitch to name a few of her favorites. Right now, she is revisiting knitting and enjoying every minute of time spent with her needles and yarn.

photo 1

For about a year, she focused on beaded lace shawls and is currently exploring the joy of socks. Lacey socks, cabled socks, socks with stranded colorwork: they all appeal to her. But Plane Jane socks she finds boring! Averaging a couple pair of socks a month, she usually has two or three pair on needles at a time, switching back and forth between them as the mood strikes.

Knitting is a skill that takes time and practice to learn. Over the years, many a project has been ripped out to start over or just totally abandoned and found its final resting place in the trash bin. It is all part of the learning process. The Internet allows her to explore new techniques easily. Looking for ways to expand her skills, Dolly is currently discovering different ways to turn a heel in socks. Amazingly enough, she has found more than 5 different methods! She is also improving her stranded knitting (designs knit with two or more colors at a time.)

Dolly belongs to a local knitting group where she enjoys companionship with other people who love making things with sticks and string. The group knits and crochets sweaters throughout the year and sends them to Knit for Kids ( a charity that provides sweaters for children around the world. Dolly knits a sweater to donate about every 6 – 8 weeks. She is also a member of Ravelry, an online community for people who knit, crochet, weave and/or spin yarn.

Click here to see more of Dolly’s projects on Ravelry where her ID is dollyBambas.

Today at the Airport

The Experimental Aircraft Association  Chapter 1298 held a rally for Young Eagles.  The EAA Young Eagles program offers free airplane rides to children ages 7 through 17.   For many this is their first airplane ride, particularly in two to six seat General Aviation planes. In addition to the rides the kids receive a logbook signed by their pilot, and vouchers for an online private pilot course from Sporty’s Pilot Shop.

Dolly and I worked with other members who arrived early to be part of the ground crew. We are members of three EAA chapters, two in Florida and one in Michigan.

Waiting for the visitors at the Chapter Hangar
Lynn Postal and Piper Lance N146X
Paul Bryant and the Lightning he built
Don Whiting’s Piper Lance N222PP
James Chorvat’s retractable gear Cessna Cardinal 177












Paul Bryant built his Lightning ten years ago.  N82PB is registered as an AB or Amateur Built Aircraft.  The Lightning cruises around 150 miles per hour.

I have no photo of Tom Longo’s aircraft.  He made several flights today in N137JM his Vans RV9A, another Amateur Built Aircraft.

Five pilot members had their planes ready on the ramp and taxiways outside the EAA hangar.  The pilots donate their time, aircraft and fuel to give the youngsters their first small airplane ride.

Early morning pilot Briefing

An hour before the visitors arrive the pilots hold a briefing session where they agree on flight routes and review communications and other procedures necessary for safe operations.

Chapter 1298 Hangar

While they wait for their flight the visitors are invited to look around the EAA hangar and watch a video from EAA national.  The photo on the right shows the fuselage of a Vans RV10 that is being built by one of the chapter members.

Parents closely watching their children

Many parents bring cameras to Young Eagle events to record the children’s reactions following their flight.

The Ground Crew members register the children, escort them to the aircraft and introduce them to their pilot.  The pilots spend some time giving a preflight briefing and describing what to expect on the flight.

Pilots and Ground Crew