First flight

With the inspection done, and a work session till around 11pm that night to get the last minute fixes and tweaks done, I met the factory pilot, Harrison Smith, at HRJ the next day. Harrison flew up in Just Aircraft’s owner’s airplane, a SuperSTOL XL. But the plan was to fly in my aircraft for the two hour insurance sign off. However, there was a hiccup. We have a ground adjustable propeller and the book setting was much too course for our little Rotax engine. When we went to make our first takeoff, the engine wasn’t making enough RPM and we had to abort. After a quick discussion, we switched to Troy’s airplane.

I was a bit hesitant to fly Troy’s airplane, because it is bigger and has the bigger engine. What if I liked his better than mine? After two very fun hours of air work and touch and goes, I was signed off and ready to fly my airplane. I pulled mine in the shop and reset the propeller pitch to get at least enough RPM to be safe. Once that was done, and everything was checked over one more time, I pulled our airplane back outside, fired it up, and headed to the grass to see if it was ready to fly.

I’d like to tell you I was nervous. Or that I was scared. But the reality is, I knew every bolt on this airplane. It had been gone over by myself, Spork, three A&Ps on the field, and two A&Ps for the inspection. Then finally the factory pilot had crawled all over it before he got in it. If something findable was wrong, I’d have been amazed.

I’d just spent two hours flying basically the same airplane. If flew GREAT! Very docile, very easy to fly. With all the hours and days behind me, and all the 40 hours of flight time in a short time in front of me, then a trip to Oshkosh across the country, I didn’t really have time to be nervous.

I pulled the airplane out, ran it up, taxied out, did a quick rolling RPM check, and then advanced the power to take off. I wasn’t trying to do anything dramatic, just a nice slow takeoff in the grass.

The entire thing would have been lost to memory had Craig from our airport not come out, twice, to film my first flight and landing. The flight was pretty much perfect. The airplane flew hands off from the beginning, not even needing elevator trim. It was neutral in all axis and flew just like the factory airplane, just like Harrison said it would. We had some avionics stuff to fix, and the RPM still needed some tweaks, but overall it flew as good as could be hoped for.

So now, all I had to do was fly my airplane for 40 hours, pack, plan, and depart for Oshkosh in a week. Can it be done?

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