First flight of Highlander N122ET

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First flight of Highlander N122ET

Postby ftcaruso » Tue Apr 01, 2008 9:09 pm

Yesterday morning, while I was driving down from a work project that I had just completed in Knoxville, TN to Walhalla,  to see how my airplane was coming along in its phase 1 operating regime, my phone rang.  It was Troy wanting to know my location and ETA.  “Just  crossing  the I-85 Hartwell Lake bridge”, I replied.  “Should be there in about 35 minutes.” Meet me at the Clemson airport, instead”, he said.  I got off at the next exit, and drove the 20 minutes over to the Oconee County airport, where I found my trailer and plane, towed over by Troy’s truck, all neat, clean and shiny.  “I just completed the 40 hour sign off, and though that you would like to make your first ‘official” flight’ beamed Troy”.  It had been over 9 months since my previous flights, in the factory’s tricycle geared Escapade, and the just over one hour that I had put on their Highlander, but I was not going to be deterred by a little rustiness.  Since Troy would be accompanying me for the 5 hours of dual that I was required to receive before my insurance coverage kicked in for solo flight, I was not overly concerned.  

The 6 cylinder Jabiru 3300 engine sounded smooth and powerful as I applied full throttle at 2900 rpm for take-off on the grass parallel to runway 7.  We lifted off at 45 kph and did a rapid climb up to 1500 feet.  This was my first experience with the Dnyon glass panel, and it took a few seconds for me to orientate myself to this all in one screen.  However, nowhere did I see rate of climb information, so I don’t really know just how many feet p/m we were using to obtain that 1500.  I have to spend some time digesting the operating manual on this all inclusive instrument.  We were also missing the gyro compass info, so didn’t have a clue as to what our actual heading was.  However, since the next 20 or so minutes were spend in doing turns, climbs and decents within view of the airport, these were not major concerns for this first flight.  For this exercise I used a 2400 rpm setting and I noted a 4.0 gph fuel burn indicated by the Dynon, at 80 knots of indicated airspeed.  

I was mildly surprised at the firm, even heavy feel of the stick.  It was responsive, but took quite a bit more control pressure than I recall did the Escapade.  Since my last airplane was a twin Comanche, I am used to firm control pressures, but Troy thought that it would become less so with further rigging adjustments and fine tuning of the trim control.  Now it was time for the first of several touch and goes.  Troy recommends keeping in close to the runway, “just in case”, and likes turning final with plenty of altitude “in the bank”.  We settled in to the same 45 knot approach airspeed used on take-off and Troy advised me of the VASI lights that we would need to clear, touching down on the grass.  Everything was going great until down to about 25 feet above the ground, when I pulled the throttle all of the way closed, and the prop suddenly stopped turning.  “This is interesting”,  I commented, and continued the flare to a nice 3 point touchdown.  On roll-out Troy said, “I think that I have the idle stop set too low, try starting the engine again”.  It kicked over immediately, whereupon we initiated the “go” portion of our touch and go.  On the next two landings I didn’t pull the throttle quite so closed, and everything went splendidly.  Since I had a 3 o’clock appointment with the FAA’s FSDO in Columbia, some 150 miles away, to initiate the paperwork for my E-LSA repairman’s certificate, we needed to cut this first flight short.

The final landing was Troys, and he set up for a really slow approach to the very threshold end of the paved runway.  I should have noted where the needle of my Lift Reserve Indicator was positioned, but I was too intent on watching his technique as he lightly touched down, and with a firm application of the breaks, managed to turn off on the taxi way which abuts the very approach end of the runway.  We used less than 185 feet in the process!  Shows what this airplane can do in the hands of a competent pilot.  Obviously we are still tinkering and playing with various settings and controls, but Troy has promised me that when I return from our European vacation in mid April, everything should be near perfect with the airplane.  That will be when I will really get down to learning to fly this amazing machine. :D
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Postby Johnny C! » Tue Apr 01, 2008 10:36 pm

Oh the Joy!

Congrats just doesn't do it justice.

Johnny C!
There are many things that happen really fast when you are
flying an airplane. There is no sense in rushing any of the others.

I would much rather be looking down at the runway, than up at it.

Duane Sorenson & Rick Norton Gone West 6/8/09. Godspeed
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first flight

Postby Gary H » Wed Apr 02, 2008 1:43 am

Good going, keep those pictures coming!!
Will fly for food!!
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Postby scubarider2 » Wed Apr 02, 2008 9:31 am

I know the feeling....I still get it at 25hrs on the hobbs.  Congratulations.  I know you are thrilled.  Keep us up to date on the progress!
Live as though you were going to die tomorrow, learn as though you were going to live forever...
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