Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Pants on, speed gained, early regrets

I put the pants fully on for the first time last night, and promptly ran into something I wish I had given a bit more forethought to. As I was putting in the screws that hold the front halves to the back halves, both sides exhibited a really annoying problem. Because of where I placed the screw holes on the side closest to the gear legs, I can't get a full size screwdriver on them. I have a stubby screwdriver I can use, but it's hard to get a good grip on. Ah well, nothing that can't be fixed some time down the road.

I made my first flight with the pants on this afternoon, and as usual whenever there's some doubt as to whether all of the parts will stay attached to the airplane, I headed over to MadCo. I climbed to 5500' to ensure that anything that fell off would achieve sufficient velocity to bury itself deep beyond recovery by anyone wishing to track down the airborne vandal that dropped it.

So, at this point I will answer the two most likely questions: No, and 9 knots. No, nothing fell off, and the speed gain at WOT (wide open throttle) is 9 knots over having no pants on at all. Well, let me caveat that by saying I didn't have a scientific baseline to compare to, and the speed measurement from today was measured by going west for a few minutes then turning around and going east for awhile. It's a very calm (and HOT) day, so the east-west speeds were nearly identical: 160 knots west, 159 east. I don't often fly at WOT, usually reducing to about 2500 rpm to keep the noise level down. At 2500, I've been seeing 145 or so knots. Today at 2500 rpm, I was doing 154 knots. So, despite the non-scientific testing, I'm claiming a 9 knot increase going from no pants to the new pants. I'm hoping for another 3 - 5 knot gain when I do the rest of the fairings.

The pants are still not painted, and I have not cut a hole in the sides to provide access to the schrader valve in the tires, so they will have to come off again. But that ain't happening until I get a set of these:

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