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Q-talk 90 - Hangar Talk - N777EG (formerly N920MR)

Ed Note: Eric recently joined the QBA and provided this introduction and observations about the crash photos he has viewed. Thank you for your contributions, Eric.

I began my interest in aviation at about the time Big Wheels were popular with kids my age, in the early 70's, in southern California. I moved on to rappelling out of helos and parachuting out of C-5A's in the Marines, as my hearing didn't pass the aviator qualifications. I became infatuated with the Q when I saw it in that infamous copy of Popular Mechanics, back in the early 80's. I got married and had to put food on the table, so I went to school and became a Tool/Die Engineer. I now have a BS in Automated Manufacturing. I also have a moderate education in fluid dynamics and physics. I have been designing, building, flying and selling R/C aircraft kits for several years to stave off the flying desire. The staple of our business is a scale replica of an Ultimate 10-300, the latest of which has a 10 ft. wingspan. Our website is www.barnestormermodels.com. (note the spelling after the principal partners name Barnes).

I have dabbled in Ultralights (BFI) and am now going for my private license. The flying disease is now terminal and the pocketbook can better afford the medication. Until now, I have been reluctant to get my license as I despise typical "spam can" airplanes. The idea of flying very expensive and slow 1950's technology in 2001 just blows me away! The Q will hopefully be complete prior to the pilot being sufficiently prepared to fly it! But rest assured, I will heed the advice of all of you who have gone before me by training in tail draggers, getting several hours flying prior and taxiing my Q until I puke. All before actually breaking the bonds of earth, praying not to rejoin the earth in a less than desirable attitude!

I got the plane by traveling from Henderson, KY to Miami, FL. and BACK over the Labor Day holiday. The round trip racked up 2400 miles. The trip home felt much longer as I was sweating bullets the entire way, praying that I wouldn't tear up the plane while in transit. The total cost of the plane equaled the cost of gas, hotel, food and tires for Bud Starnes' trailer to get it home. Technically, it was free. I told my wife that it was $29.95. For years, everything in the R/C hobby has been only $29.95. She'd ask "how much?" when I came home from the hobby shop with fuel, covering and servos. My reply always was $29.95.1 brought home a YS four stroke engine once and said it was a steal at only $29.95! She's on to the game now but it's still humorous.

The plane is a Q200 with LSI canard and is as nearly stock (QAC) as I can tell. The plane is at the Sturgis hangar now, being stripped of paint and filler to inspect the glasswork and make minor repairs. I made a note to self while removing the existing 0-200 upper engine mounts; Thou Shall Not put your fingers in blind places where sharp fiberglass can make you speak obscenities! The header tank was not sealed properly (no less than three times I might add), so I am removing the entire works. A complete wheel alignment, as per the article, will be done as well. The sparrow strainers have to be replaced, along with reworking all of the control surfaces and linkages. The previous owner only had mass balances on the right side of the elevator linkage (hmmm...). It does, however ,have reflexors installed. The lower rudder phenolic bearing is broken as well as the tail-spring from a ground loop. This, I suspect, scared the flying desire out of the owner back in 1993, at which point the log indicates the engine and instruments were parted out. I am going to put a combination droop tip (i.e. Bud Starnes' plane) with Doug Humble's clear lens cut in the front to house the strobes. I'm adding fairings to the elevator and main wing that were either not on the plane to begin with or are in poor condition. Although I despise conventional aircraft engines, I may follow the path most traveled and opt for the 0-200, although that Corvair looks darn inviting! I do realize that there are no curbs to pull over to at 10,000 feet in the event of engine trouble. Since I'm a techie sort, I am however, (sorry JM) going to venture out on a limb by incorporating a notebook PC installed in the cockpit coupled to a RMI MicroEncoder w/ compass module, MicroMonitor engine monitoring module and GPS. The notebook will have a Free Flight moving map and VBA graphic renditions of a/h, airspeed, climb, alt, etc. No initial plans for other fancy items like autopilot, etc. are planned. I want to get it in the air first and iron out the wrinkles without adding new ones.


I have reviewed many pictures of ill-fated crashes and have found a reassuring commonality to most of them. The design of the aircraft lends itself to maintaining the cockpit geometry, by allowing the rest of the aircraft to absorb impact energy. Now, physics tells us, that energy is transferred and not magically eliminated. The kinetic energy at impact is dissipated in one form or another. The impact medium (i.e., earth) absorbs a minimal amount of energy. The canard absorbs a tremendous amount of energy prior to fracture. The remaining energy is absorbed in the firewall mounting and tail section. The wing sections act like roll bars of sorts. Although, the attitude of impact will change the outcome of the story tremendously, the general idea is here. Indy cars explode into hundreds of pre-engineered pieces to absorb impact energy. Stock cars fold up like tin cans until only the cockpit remains.

My concern is the post-crash reviews I have heard about reinforcing the tail section, beefier canards, stronger firewalls and the like. Let's not lose sight of the design purpose; what happens if you prevent the structure from absorbing impact energy by not allowing components to break under stress? Yep, you the pilot, get to take the brunt of the energy. The human body is not nearly as equipped to stand the stress and isn't as easily repaired. lOg's is not an outrageous number. Can you imagine hitting the ground with a force ten times your own body weight? This is more than enough to cause an eternal nap. Since the aircraft is stronger through modifications, it conveys the energy rather than absorbing it. It, therefore, stops faster, leaving the pilot to slow down relative to the cockpit on his own, relying only on the safety harnesses. If I were to make modifications, it would be in the cockpit area, to remove potential flying objects, protruding handles and other things close to the flailing radius of the head, torso, legs and arms. NASA-Langley and the FAA have research documenting this subject. If I go down, I want the wheel pants to break. I want the canard to snap. I want the tail cone to break off. I want the engine to part company, and most importantly, I want to unbuckle my harness and walk away to build and fly another day!

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