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Old 06-04-2014, 05:39 PM
Gary Baker Gary Baker is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Medina, OH
Posts: 203
Default First Flight Write-Up - Long

My apologies in advance for the length of this post. I have served as an EAA Flight Advisor since the beginning of the program in the mid-90?s and wanted to remind everyone that the program is still available to builders as you get close to your own first flight. Hopefully I have included something that can be used on someone else's first flight.

I received my aircraft sign-off for my RV-6 Thursday, May 29. A friend of mine drove in from out of state to see the inspection and help me get ready for the first flight. I thought that, with Scott's help and that of a few other friends, it would not be too big a task to finish off the last few items in preparation of the first flight. Well, no one has ever accused me of being on time!

Scott and I worked all day Friday on stuff, putting panels in and double-checking things, going thru my preflight punch list. Earlier, I had forgotten to tighten up a bolt before pop-riveting a seat floor pan in place, so Scott took on that job of drilling out about forty rivets, tightening up one bolt, and then reriveting the floor pan in again. Needless to say, that was not a ten-minute job!

Another friend, Paul, flew in that evening to let me get current in his RV-6 and we flew part of the profile I would fly during the first flight, as well as flying a few engine-out landings, with and without flaps. Over the years I have flown many of the RV models, so I am familiar with the flight characteristics of the -6. I have also been an EAA Flight Advisor for the past twenty years. Well, now I was going to put all of that advising into effect and actually see how it works.

The next day, Saturday, May 31, saw Scott and me back at the hangar and more friends began to trickle in throughout the morning, asking ?what do you need help with?? I put everyone to work on different ?small? jobs and at one point, I stepped back and saw eight friends working on different areas of the aircraft! With all of this help, we called the plane ready to fly at 5 pm and I called for a lunch break. This was when I began to recharge my batteries, take off my builder?s hat, and put my pilot hat on. My current job has me flying 737?s for a major airline and I have over 22,000 hours of flight time, so I have some knowledge of being in the proper mindset at engine start. I have always pointed out to students and other homebuilders that these hours do not make me a better pilot, that I am only as good as my next flight. A successful completion of my first flight required me to put my game face on and be ready for the actual ?check ride.? After we took our break, my friends who volunteered to be a part of my flight test team, Scott, Walt, Tom, Randy, and Bernie (Smoker), sat down with me to review the flight.

I was going to fly out of Medina Municipal Airport, an uncontrolled field south of Cleveland Hopkins Airport, OH, which has a 3,500? east-west runway. The winds were very light out of the east. The very first item I covered with everyone was that each individual had the authority to shut down the flight if he saw or heard something he did not like. Randy was designated as the ground controller with whom I would talk to and give engine readings. We made sure that everyone had a handheld radio and a fire extinguisher. We noted that after I climbed out of the pattern, I would switch frequencies to 123.45 and pass info on to Randy. Bernie suggested having a back-up freq of 122.85, which immediately came in handy. I reviewed the airport layout and possible emergency fields to the east of Runway 9. We talked about the opening of the canopy and emergency steps someone could take to break open the canopy if need be, as well as cutting the seat belt and shoulder straps. I would be wearing a flight suit and Nomex gloves, as well as carrying a survival knife recommended by Gary Palinkas. We set up a staggered positioning of vehicles along the runway, so that no one would be more 1000? away from any part of the runway, with the trucks? engines running. I would not use a chase plane since I had not flown formation in a long while and had not practiced the flight with anyone. Bernie suggested taking his RV-7A up and stationing himself a few miles away in an orbiting pattern. This would put him in a position to provide directions to rescue crews if I had to make an off-airport landing. Another plus was that another RV builder, Joe, would be able to get an RV ride!

My flight profile would duplicate the EAA Flight Advisor flight test card I have passed on to many others. My plan was to add ten gallons to the eight gallons already on board. Then I would ensure that the brakes were completely broken in with a few slow taxis on the runway and perform a complete engine run-up. Climb-out would be at Vx, about 75 mph. This would, of course, allow me to get altitude quickly and confirm that my fuel-flow tests had been done properly. During the initial climb out, a control check would be performed. I would then climb out of the pattern and then fly an oval pattern over Medina at 3000? AGL. Shallow turns would be made along with shallow pitch changes. My first power reduction would be when I reached 2000? AGL over the field. A slow power reduction would be done and control forces checked. Full power would then be slowly applied and another control check completed. I was working with a new Superior XP-360 engine, received in 2007, and even though I hopefully had taken care throughout the years, I did not want to abuse it on its first flight with multiple power changes.

Air is under the tires for the first time!


First Landing!
Gary Baker
VAF 737
RV-6 Flying since 5/31/14!
Medina, OH

EAA Flight Advisor/Tech Counselor
Member-EAA Homebuilt Aircraft Council
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Old 06-04-2014, 05:47 PM
Gary Baker Gary Baker is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Medina, OH
Posts: 203
Default First Flight Write-Up - Continued

After running the power at full for another five minutes, I would slow down to flap speed and run the flaps to the full forty degree extended position. Control forces would be checked and then I would slow the aircraft into a near-stall condition, at about 70 mph. Recovery would be made and then, with the flaps again extended, a 500 ft/min descent would be initiated at about 80 mph. Another go-around would occur and then a descent into the pattern. I planned on using the high key/low key method of entering the pattern. With the various handhelds in place, Walt would be constantly monitoring Unicom and let Randy know if another aircraft was inbound as I was getting ready to enter the pattern prior to switching from 122.85. I would then enter the pattern and land using forty degrees of flaps.

That was my flight profile and emergency planning. I was now into flight mode and ready to finally fly “Odyssey,” because it had been an odyssey getting to this point! 18 years, 2 months and a whole bunch of days since I had received the empennage kit had now passed. My two sons had been active in Scouts and sports; and I had served as head coach, manager, or assistant for approximately twenty-five of their teams over a thirteen-year span. It seemed that when I wasn’t working on lineup cards, collecting stats, or studying for a check ride, I was either working on the RV or at least thinking about it. Many thousands of hours had either been put physically into this project or had burned up brain cells. Now this evening I was going to see if I passed the final exam!

We went to the hangar where a small crowd had gathered. My wife, Mary, was kind enough to clean the dust off the windshield for me! We pulled the RV out of the hangar and I got dressed. Fuel was uploaded and then I flew the flight as we had briefed. Lift-off took place just as Van said it would, at about 300’ down the runway. I climbed out at 75 mph and did my control checks. I turned downwind and let the aircraft accelerate to 110 mph. A few minutes later, my CHT’s in #3 and 4 cylinders climbed up to 420 degrees F. I lowered the nose more and reduced the RPM’s more in order to cool the cylinders. The CHT's came down below 400 degrees within a minute and I started breathing again. All of the rest of the flight went as planned and I found that I have a slightly heavy left wing.

I landed with full flaps and had it slowed down to taxi speed within 1000’. The realization of what had actually happened occurred when, as I pulled off the runway, I see Randy on my right with a big grin and giving me two thumbs up! A short taxi to my hangar row and I shut her down. Just then I heard Smoker’s RV-7A fly past with smoke on for a victory pass! I climbed onto the canopy rail and just sat there for a few minutes contemplating my accomplishment. I could not stop grinning and saying “Fantastic!” Mary gave me the most welcome home hug I can remember. All of my friends then came forth and we all shook hands. A bottle of champagne appeared and the first pour was over the spinner. Odyssey was now a real airplane!

I had mentioned having a backup frequency. As soon as Randy and I did a comm check on 123.45, others chimed in saying that Baker was on his test flight. We switched to the backup freq and had no other outside chatter.

I had installed the Fuel Guardian low level warning system, but had somehow got the wiring mixed up so that the left light was for the right tank and vice versa. I had plans to change the wiring on a rainy day after the first flight and didn’t think anything about it. I mentioned during my briefing that I would not change fuel tanks to preclude something going wrong. Randy gave me a time hack every ten minutes of the flight and at the thirty minute hack, the Low Fuel light came on for the left tank. The problem was that I was burning out of the right tank! After a few moments to sort this out, I realized that the light was working properly, the right tank was getting low, and the fuel flow transducer was indicating properly. The lights had been installed to indicate about 2.5 gallons left in each tank. I had neglected to calculate the actual fuel burn of my new engine at full power at low altitude. The Dynon fuel flow meter had been reading almost 14 gph for the whole flight. With eight-nine gallons in each tank, I only had about 1+10 fuel on board. I had calculated the fuel quantity to be worth about 1+30 at a 70% power setting. For a 35-40 minute flight, this was a big difference. This will definitely be added to my Flight Advisor program!

I cannot thank everyone who contributed their time to my project and asked for nothing in return! I have fifty names entered into my building log as helping me over the years. Unbelievable! It does take a village to build an airplane! I can’t thank Doug Reeves enough, for having the knowledge to take this website and make it what it is. I have binders full of reference articles and photos that I have pulled off of VAF, which helped me work thru problem areas. Many of the listers on VAF deserve so much credit to my success as well, for all of your posts also contributing. I, of course, want to thank Van and the employees of Van’s Aircraft for building and supporting such a fine flying machine! Lastly, I want to thank my family, my sons Brian and Drew, and my wife, Mary, for giving me the time to build this wonderful airplane and stepping in to help when asked. Thank you all!

Randy gives his approval!

Waiting my knees to stop shaking!

Mary gives me a congratulatory hug, as she finally starts breathing again!

Champagne flows!
Gary Baker
VAF 737
RV-6 Flying since 5/31/14!
Medina, OH

EAA Flight Advisor/Tech Counselor
Member-EAA Homebuilt Aircraft Council

Last edited by Gary Baker : 06-05-2014 at 04:52 PM. Reason: Corrected EGT to CHT
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Old 06-04-2014, 06:13 PM
Canadian_JOY Canadian_JOY is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,372


Excellent write-up and definitely not too long but rather very informative and inspirational to one who has yet to reach that first flight milestone.

Thanks for having the humility to point out the challenges as well as the successes. Well done on all fronts!
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Old 06-04-2014, 06:16 PM
humptybump humptybump is offline
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 3,180

Nice accomplishment and a great reminder that we must always keep our head in the game!

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Old 06-04-2014, 06:16 PM
6 Gun 6 Gun is offline
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 846
Smile First Flight

Congrats to your first flight from one 6 driver to another.
Love that paint job and the way you worked that 6 in to the tail.
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Old 06-04-2014, 06:17 PM
JimWoo50 JimWoo50 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Chicago sw suburbs
Posts: 403
Default Thanks for a great read

Congratulations! You're going to love your new plane. Don't get too wound up about your "slightly heavy left wing".
Jim Woolard C56
N9855J RV-6 Donated 2020
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Old 06-04-2014, 06:28 PM
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Radomir Radomir is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 1,524

I recognize that prop!

Congrats Gary!!! Here's to many, many more safe and fun hours!
RV-7A sold
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Old 06-04-2014, 06:33 PM
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Freightdawg Freightdawg is offline
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: New Albany, IN
Posts: 163

Not too long at all; an excellent write-up.

Jeff Rich
Airworthiness Inspection complete--waiting on the certificate
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Old 06-04-2014, 06:34 PM
vic syracuse vic syracuse is offline
Super Moderator
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Locust Grove, GA
Posts: 2,678
Default Congrats!

Congrats, Barry!!! It's been a long time!

Vic Syracuse

Built RV-4, RV-6, 2-RV-10's, RV-7A, RV-8, Prescott Pusher, Kitfox Model II, Kitfox Speedster, Kitfox 7 Super Sport, Just Superstol, DAR, A&P/IA, EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor, CFII-ASMEL/ASES
Kitplanes "Unairworthy" monthly feature
EAA Sport Aviation "Checkpoints" column
EAA Homebuilt Council Chair/member EAA BOD
Author "Pre-Buy Guide for Amateur-Built Aircraft"
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Old 06-04-2014, 07:48 PM
H-Ottawa H-Ottawa is offline
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 41
Default Love the paint job

Congrats and many many years of flying !
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