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  • Steve

RV-8 and the Post Inspection Flights

Updated: May 4, 2021

5/1/21 and 5/2/21 - I was very happy to have my condition inspection done for another year. The one big thing that I still needed was a test flight to make sure that everything was still working well, particularly the "new" magneto I installed. It was supposed to be a pretty yucky weekend, but Sunday afternoon was supposed to be not bad. I had originally planned to clean my belly and clean up the hangar on Saturday and get in a test flight on Sunday.

As it turned out, Saturday was better than forecast. Not a lot better, but better. It didn't really rain at all during the day, though there were some relatively small showers in the area. There were some big holes in the clouds, but there were still a lot of clouds. It was pretty breezy, but not as bad as it has been at other times. It wasn't quite good enough to go anywhere, so Carl bailed since he had been able to fly earlier in the week when the weather was better.

After lunch I rolled the airplane out to go for my test flight. I couldn't get it started. It fired almost immediately and I think I let go of the key a little too early. Another couple of cranks and it might have caught for good. When cold it can be a little finicky with the priming. It is very easy to over prime and flood. In my effort not to over prime I think I sometimes under prime which is almost as bad. After letting it sit for 5 minutes on two separate occasions it still wouldn't fire. I was afraid to prime it any more as that could make it worse.

I rolled it back in and put the pre-heater on it for about a half hour. I figured that the heat would evaporate any residual fuel left over and I could start over from scratch.

That seemed to do the trick because when I rolled it out again it started up just fine. Unfortunately I had to get gas before I left, but at least with all that taxiing up to the pumps and back to the runway the engine was warm by the time I got to the run up area and didn't have to wait around. The wind was a little squirrelly so I cheated and took off on 29.

I headed south to about Snohomish, then east to Monroe, up on the east side of Lake Stevens, back to the casinos and up to the Skagit valley then back to do the whole thing all over again. An in flight mag check went well and the engine purred along just fine on either magneto.

At the north end of the Skagit valley in the hills around Lake Whatcom were at least a dozen Para-Gliders. There were several colors of them. It was a little strange as I hadn't seen them in that area before.

I was out for about an hour and then headed home. By the time I got back the wind had moderated a bit and was still 280 at 9, so I decided to land on 34. It was quite strange in that there was no one else in the pattern when I got there. I basically had the whole airport to myself. I pulled off a good crosswind landing, granted not overly challenging, but with as little flying as I have done this year it wasn't as easy as it should be. I know it was a good landing because there was no one there to see it.

Everything worked well and I think the engine was running smoother than it had before. I don't know if that is due to the "new" mag or the new spark plugs or some combination of all of the above, but I like it.

Sunday was a somewhat clearer day and also a little warmer. By the time I got lunch and got the airplane out it was about 1:30 by the time I took off. Carl got there before me, of course, but he hadn't left yet when I got there. He took off while I was eating and when I looked at my iPad I saw the he was on his way out toward Hoquiam so I headed that way as well.

I thought it might be a good idea to monitor the air-to-air frequency in case he was monitoring and just as I passed to the west side of Whidbey Island he called to see if I was on frequency. I was. He said he was just coming up on Hoquiam so I figured he would turn south toward Astoria. Once I got south of the Hood Canal I took up a course toward Astoria intending to meet him on the way back.

Thanks to ADS-b I can see where he is while is out flying. He called up about then and I told him I was headed that way, so he decided to meet up with me when we converged. As we met up I initiated a climbing turn back to the north in the general direction of home and he followed me through the turn and joined up on my right side.

He flew off of my wing for a while while snapping some pictures. He managed to get some really good pictures on me.

This is a sample that Carl zoomed and cropped.
This is one of my favorites.
Makes me wish I had cleaned the belly.

When we got back the wind was a lot more favorable than yesterday, but there was also a lot of other traffic. Still not as much as a couple of months ago, but more than yesterday. About 20 miles out I tuned in the weather to see what conditions were like. They were calling for wind variable at 6. Great, variable in which direction?

Everyone else was using 34 so I did too. On final as I looked at the wind sock it looked like I had an almost direct tail wind. Now, 5-6 knots shouldn't create any great problem, but again, I am a bit rusty at this point. In short, I really botched the landing. It was indeed a tail wind and I think I fell for the classic visual trick that a tail wind brings, it makes you think you are going faster than you really are. As a result, I pulled the power off a little too early and had a very solid arrival. In the end no metal was bent and no blood was spilled so all was well. I'll do better next time.

Now all is done and ready for the better weather to come, assuming there is better weather to come.

Some video from Sunday is here.

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