Safety by Eustace Bowhay
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by: "Eustace Bowhay"Until the time I built my first RV and started flying it in 1992 I had no involvement with the experimental group. Since then I have tried to keep as well informed as possible mainly for safety reasons. I have subscribed to the RVator since 1988 and have been on the RV-list for a number of years. When I first started flying in 1938, on my first flight I was not disappointed, it was and still is everything I had imagined it would be, but coming from a farm and ranch background where one is involved in the handling and mechanics of servicing and repairing of all types of equipment I realized that an aircraft was going to require some very special attention. The importance of this has stayed with me ever since. It has been a steady learning process, but the remarkable thing about it is, the more you know about it the more you realize that with proper training and experience and a well maintained aircraft the chances of having a mishap are nearly zero. The key for me has been staying a bit on the cautious side, not pushing the limits of my ability, be it weather, runway conditions, the aircraft or what ever. Fight against being over confident and the tendency to get careless and a show-off as your pilot in command time builds. ( Hard to do when flying a P51) The ability to fly instruments is the icing on the cake and makes you a far safer pilot. After flying the RV for the past ten years and just finishing a 6A and being totally involved in the RV world since 1988 I would like to pass on some of my thoughts to the low time RV builders to safely transition into these fine aircraft. This post is triggered by the Tampa accident and the post by Jim Norman, Jim has to be given full marks for this knowing how hard it must have been for him. Jim's post has caused the best discussion on safety since I have been on the list. Build your RV to the drawings using standard aircraft practices and inlist the help and advice of experienced people. Know how to select a safe engine or get professional advice. Everything firewall forward done to certified standards or better. After final inspection is complete have a AME with at least ten years of experience go over it again. First flight should be done by experienced pilot with a minimum of 100 hours on same type of RV.Ideally someone who has a instructors rateing or has held one in the past and is willing to fly with the builder until he is satisfied that the builder is ready to fly on his own. All snags to be cleared before next flight or as many flights as it takes to get it done. An ideal scenario would be when snags are cleared and say five to ten hours have been flown off the builder should start his or her transition with the qualified pilot from the right seat in the case of the side by side, then when comfortable switch to the left side and let the check pilot make the decision when to turn the builder loose. While the RV's are a straight forward aircraft to fly and have no bad habits, it is a big jump from a 150 or a172 kind of like going from a golf cart to Mustang, you have to learn to stay ahead of a much higher performing aircraft. I have found little difference in the flight characteristics of the various RV's that are properly built and rigged. The numbers are much different from say at 172. Thought it might be of interest to pass on some numbers using my RV 6 as an example. All the numbers are indicated air speeds in miles per hour and taken between 5 and 6000 feet. My RV 6 weighs 1120 lbs. has a 0360 fuel injected engine with a Hartzell constant speed prop and a full gyro panel, flux gate compass nav- com, com, transponder and GPS. It flies hands off at 65% with no aileron or rudder trim tabs and the elevator trim tab is in neutral at 65% cruise. At full gross at standard temperature the initial rate of climb at 120 mph indicated is 1200 fpm, at 75% it is 1000 fpm. At the end of a climb to 6000 the head temps are 400 and the oil is at 180. Indicated speeds are as follows stalls at idle power at 6000 are, clean 65 mph, half flap 60 mph with a noticeable left wing drop at the break, full flap 58 mph with a sharp left wing drop at the break. With a throttle setting of 10" and maintaining 100 mph the vertical speed is -400 fpm, at idle maintaining 100 mph vertical speed is -1000 fpm, half flap 10" and 100 vertical speed is -800 fpm. full flap 10" and 100 vertical speed is -1200 fpm. With throttle at 10" and maintaining 90 mph and half flap vertical is- 400 fpm,idle at 90 and half flap is -1000 fpm, 90 and full flap is -700 fpm, 90 and idle and full flap is 1300 fpm. Idle RPM at 90 is around 2200-2300 with a governor setting of 2400 rpm which would indicate that the prop is in full flat pitch. To maintain level flight and 100 mph in takes about 14 " manifold pressure. Cruising at 6000 at standard temperature (was 98 F here the other day) indicated airspeed at 65% was between 170 & 180 (some light thermal activity) and the GPS was showing 185 and 194 on a reciprocal heading. Flying my aircraft at 85 in the circuit would only give a 20 mile spread, just not enough of a safety factor for someone just getting to know his aircraft. Eustace Bowhay -Blind Bay B.C.