Monday, January 01, 2007

Excuse me, your slip is showing

Taking a break from looking at the plane as a project rather than a flying vehicle, I made a short flight to Urbana on Saturday morning. I don't have all of the fairings done yet, so I just stripped everything off. No fairings from the hips down, if you will. The weather was fantastic and was actually worthy of a more significant trip than the 30 miles or so to Urbana, but I don't want to put an extended amount of wear and tear on the exposed wheel pant brackets which are prone to cracking from the flexing caused by the windstream. Well, that and the fact that it's kinda ugly all nekkid like that.

I had wondered how the plane would fly without all the leggings. The answer: not bad. We saw GPS speeds in the high 140 to low 150 knot range, with very little wind to factor in. There was a roll to the right that I couldn't fully trim out, but I had a passenger on board and had, as is my normal practice, burned from the left wing first after my last refueling so there was a fuel inbalance as well. Or, it could be an unintended slip being imparted by the wooden leg fairings (these are fairing-shaped lengths of wood that are fiberglassed to the gear legs to reduce unwanted movement/shaking in the gear legs - you can see them here) possibly not being adequately aligned with the airframe. I'm not sure, and it doesn't really matter since it's a temporary condition. It does somewhat infuse me with the desire to be extremely diligent in aligning the new fairings, though.

Now, if I could conjure up an even remotely plausible aerodynamic explanation for the atrocious bouncing of the ensuing three-fer wheel landing at Urbana, I'd insert it here. 'Tis not the case, though. It was a pilot thing. I knew the plane was going to be heavy and draggy, so I over-cautiously carried 75-80 mph down final and into the flare. That leaves way too much lift in the wing and without perfect technique is a recipe for what I have termed ICF, or "inadvertently continued flight." I have not perfected my technique. You can guess the rest.

Squeaker back at Bolton, though, to save the day.

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