Q-talk 19 - PILOT REPORT
- Category: Q-Talk Articles
- Published: Sunday, 31 December 1989 06:11
- Written by Jim Masal
- Hits: 1689
In my last progress report I had just moved from Austin to Denver. That winter I moved the project to the airport, 1400 miles away in Livermore, CA. This brought the total travel miles before first flight to 6442.
I currently have 175 hours in my Q-200. At the urging of local builders, I will share some of the highlights of my first several months of operation. Included also are some of my personal observations and opinions.
The first few taxi tests revealed a real sensitivity to rudder pedal input, which was eliminated by adjusting bell crank length at the tailwheel. When I started taxiing faster I noticed a shake in the rudder, caused by slack in the cables from tailwheel to the rudder. After a lot of low speed taxiing, I took to the runway. The best way to practice this is to apply just a little power and let the plane accelerate, ease the power off, do not chop. A tail dragger acts different when it's being pulled by the prop than when coasting. Make the transition carefully. I secured 40 lb of ballast in the baggage area to move the CG back. This gave tailwheel steering more authority and allowed harder braking without tailwheel lifting.
Originally toe brakes were installed and most taxi testing was performed with differential braking. I was getting pretty good with this system but experimented with a single hand brake and favored it. I could use my feet to steer and apply even braking with the hand brake. I now often start hard braking at touchdown and can drive right down the centerline. Taxiing with tailwheel steering is completely adequate. Surface irregularities are not the problem I anticipated. Minimum turning radius is within that of a C-172 so normal airport operations are, well, normal.
When you get comfortable with straight, controlled runs, very carefully induce some swerving and correct. Try hard braking and turning at fast taxi speeds. Get proficient and stay practiced at high speed taxi before first flight.
I have a comment on taxi ground handling qualities. For years we've heard about hazards this realm of operations would present. So much that I suspect when a person found his new airplane a real "squirrel" he unfortunately accepted this as inherent in the design and kept on until he damaged his airplane, further propagating the reputation. If ground handling is truly poor, you most likely have something wrong. Find the problem and remedy it. (Soft tail wheel, oval tailspring so it is not springy side to side, ground angle, weight on tail wheel, etc.)
Concurrent with taxi testing I got checked out in a Champ and practiced tailwheel technique. Realizing that a Champ is not in the same class as a Q-200, I got some dual in a Christian Eagle concentrating on high-speed roll out. We also did some aerobatics which increased my confidence level.
You will notice that most taildraggers require foot work to control while the Q-200 requires "toe work". The Q-200 has better forward visibility, which makes roll out easier. Continue practicing until comfortable. Many tricycle pilots relax when the wheels hit. In a taildragger you must peak concentration at touchdown and maintain through roll out.
I recommend flying a variety of airplanes to learn how to "feel" an airplane. And do get a ride in a Q-2/200 prior to your 1st flight. Ideally you will be able to get a Q-2/200 pilot to come to your field and "tune you up" in his airplane. Do a thorough inspection of your ship and make a few taxi runs. Most pilots like being a celebrity for a day and are looking for an excuse to fly somewhere. A Q-200 can make short work of several hundred miles.
The airplane was ready to fly for sometime before I actually made the first flight. I read all accounts of Q-200 flying qualities, made several phone calls, and quizzed pilots on their techniques. Had them describe just what they did, how things looked, sounded, felt, etc. I learned just how to trim the airplane, what power settings to use, what speed, etc. I was ready as I would ever be.
On March 26, 1989, Easter Sunday, I peered out the window and knew this was the day. Clear blue sky and absolutely calm. A good thorough preflight was conducted, the parachute was strapped on and I was strapped in. Ailerons reflexed 2? up, pitch trim set for nose up a bit, engine run up OK, "cleared for takeoff, good luck" says the tower. Ease the power in, accelerating fast, before I expect it, I'm airborne. I had been taxi testing faster than this by holding it down with reflex and elevator. The runway drops away and for a long heartbeat or two it seems I'm just a passenger. My shaking knees quickly brought me back to the task at hand. Holding a lot of forward stick pressure climbing at 80 kts, need more airspeed, nose down some, time for a right turn, "boy that wing is short"! 120 kts, CHT close to red line, this does not trim like expected, move the reflexor some, oh great, now the engine is rough! Everything seemed to be happening fast. I throttled back and the engine smoothed out so I climbed to 5000' above the field. I will not try to discuss flight test technique, but recommend the procedures in Burt Rutan's Long Eze plans. I did what he suggested and found the airplane behaved well. But it was difficult to establish a steady slow descent. I called the tower and told them I was coming down into the pattern.
When I got to pattern level it was easy to judge descent rate. Flew a wide pattern and made a low pass down the runway. On the down wind the engine faltered. "Oh great! My first landing dead stick!" Power came back fortunately, but I was now high on a close in pattern and I was not going around again. I learned fast that a Q-200 slips really well and concluded the flight with a very smooth landing.
What caused the engine to stumble was never pinpointed and it has never happened again. The discrepancy in pitch trim requirement was simple. The guys had described how to trim for flying solo and I had ballasted for mid CG.
I flew the 40 hours test time in 4 weeks. Always going up high, wearing a chute, following Rutan's procedure for flight testing, which progressed to more difficult and extreme tests as I got more familiar with the airplane. No problems in these 40 hours, except for high oil temperature. I had a remote mount oil filter and ducted air to the kidney tank hoping that as the rings seated it would cool down until then I would only fly at cool ambient temperatures.
My first flight out of the area was to the Watsonville CA airshow. A friend of mine has a real nice 160 HP Long Eze and was going also. I took off first, got to 4500', trimmed for best speed, and it took the L-Eze 10 minutes to catch me. The L-Eze pilot was really surprised. The airshow was fun, met a lot of people, also won an award. The most fun was on the way back when I over took a cruising Mooney at 5500', the expression on his face as I went by was just great.
I kept flying almost every day, made all the local fly-ins. Many are in the Sierra foothills where the typical airport is 3000' long 50' wide 3000' elevation with 2? slope. I would always use the whole runway but I always got in. One time leaving the Merced fly-in we had a gusty cross wind 90? from the left. Worst case because you need right rudder to counter P factor and right rudder to keep from weathervaning. The controllers were waving us off using both left and right sides of the runway. On my take off roll a couple of gusts moved me around but I was able to keep it going straight. The RV4 that took off beside and behind me wandered across the centerline and used the whole width of the runway.
The International Hospitality Club (Eze types and composites) has an event over the 4th of July weekend in Jackpot, Nevada. I thought this would be a good cross-country tryout. I tagged along with the same 160 HP Long Eze and due to a fantastic tailwind we averaged 194 kts ground speed. My buddy did comment a couple times about having to throttle back a bit. I told him to set fuel flow to 6 GPH and be quiet.
One of the events at Jackpot is the Jackpot 120. A 120-mile closed circuit all out speed race. There are 6 classes, 0-200 V-Ezes, 0-235 V-Ezes, 0-235 L-Ezes, 0-320 L-Ezes, Super modifieds and unlimited. Guess which class I had to race with - the Super modifieds. They must figure we are an improved version of the Vari-Eze.
Each class runs a separate race and all racers are timed to calculate speed. Races are flying start formed up on a pace plane 1000' AGL (about 9000' density altitude). As I looked down the line at my competition I noted the Catbird, Defiant, Mike Melville's O-360 L-Eze, Lancair-320, Lancair-235, Claus Savier in his 220 MPH V-Eze. "Piece of Cake". I hoped to keep up with the Lanciar-235 but he was a little faster and by the time we got to the pylon I couldn't see him. I made the turn back and had to choose between 4 or 5 valleys. If you have ever been low to the terrain in Nevada you can appreciate the overwhelming sameness of everything. After flying about 10 minutes on my selected course I realized I was headed between the wrong two ridges. "Wonderful", lost at 800 AGL in Nevada. It's 100? in the cockpit, bumpy, and with enough gas for about 100 miles. I backtracked some to follow a road, which did get me to Jackpot. My calculated speed was just over 180 mph. Disappointing but I did win $30 for 4th place. I must say the weekend at Jackpot was a lot of fun, and hope to see some of you there next year.
We left Jackson in the afternoon when it was hot and bumpy. Climbout was slow. To get to smooth air I ended up at 14,500' for a while. Pitch attitude gets quite nose high. The airplane is a little more difficult to hold trimmed and it slows down a bit but it will cruise up high.
I had been suspecting a decrease in performance for a couple of weeks. But thought it was due to the heavier loads and warmer air. I picked a day the next week and went flying solo timing the climb and checking the speed. Both were down. Back on the ground I did a compression check. One cylinder was 78 lbs, two at 60 lbs and one at 40 lbs. So two weeks before Oshkosh my 80 hr. SMOH engine had to be torn down. The valves needed major work, one jug was cracked and not repairable.
I worked long nights and got a fast turn around on the shop work to get the engine back together. I also added an oil cooler while it was down. Two test flights were performed before heading for Oshkosh. The power was back and oil temp 20? cooler.
The trip to Oshkosh was uneventful except that my VOR quit at Salt Lake City. The prop spinner was found cracked in Nebraska and had to come off and an oil leak developed that required a quart of oil every 2 1/2 hours. Leaving Rock Springs, Wyoming the density altitude was 8,600', ground roll about 4000' I held it in ground effect to the end of the 10,000' runway to accelerate, then climbed about 150 fpm. I was the 3rd plane to land at Oshkosh Thursday following temporary closing of the field due to a thunderstorm. Stayed til Tuesday and spent a lot of time talking with other Q-builders which was really enjoyable. The oil leak was located. With the help of the repair shack we pulled the #1 cylinder and sealed the case through stud that was leaking.
My airplane is built strictly to plans with the exception of Cleveland brakes and electric pitch trim. Canard and wing are both in at 0?, using a female template. Good carpenters square, plumb bob, and some trigonometry, very accurate. Rolls Royce 0-200, Warnke 60x66?prop.
The best cruising altitude is 7500' to 8500', which gets me about 185 MPH at 6 GPH. Top speed at sea level is about 200 MPH. I use a 2700' runway at my home airport but consider 3000' long and 36' wide to be the minimum runway if unfamiliar. 85 kts down final carrying a little power, ease the power off, 80 kts over the fence. On touchdown relax back pressure and when I'm sure I'm done flying reflex ailerons full up to give the tailwheel more traction.
To this point I am quite pleased with my Q-200. It is more airplane than I expected. The controls have very good harmony, responsive but very smooth. It takes very little backpressure to hold a steep turn and roll rate is about 110'/sec. When I critique the plane it is hard to keep in mind that it is only 100 HP. My closing advice is to build per plans and save the modifications till after you have worked out the teething problems. The highest time Q-ships (most successful) are very stock.
Barry Q Weber, 601 Morgan Common, Livermore, CA 94550 (415) 447-4524
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