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  #1  
Old 10-20-2016, 02:45 PM
lndwarrior lndwarrior is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Cloverdale CA
Posts: 304
Default Dealing with the anxiety of the flight test phase?

I am 6 hours into my flight test phase and am definitely struggling with the anxiety of everything that could go wrong.

For background - I have been flying for 25 years, have a little over 500 hours in Cessnas and have an instrument rating (though not current).

So far nothing really scary has happened with possible exception of finding a small engine compartment fuel leak AFTER a recent flight test.

Yesterday I flew for about an hour - at 5000 feet agl, right over top of my airport. Yet even with the altitude and proximity to home, my anxiety level continued to grow the longer I was up.

I did distract myself by doing the CAS tests but as soon as they were done I did a "how am I doing check?". I decided that my anxiety level was reaching my limit.

I wanted to stay up longer to get the 40 hours down, and the weather was beautiful, but I had just reached my stress limit. So, i reduced power and managed a decent landing.

I don't think I ever really considered how the flight test phase would affect me. I was so busy building and besides, not many people talk about this subject.

I presume the more I fly the easier this will get, but that doesn't really help me right now.

I was wondering if anyone had any tips for dealing with the anxiety of flight testing?

TIA
Gary
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  #2  
Old 10-20-2016, 02:58 PM
YellowJacket RV9 YellowJacket RV9 is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Clearwater, FL KCLW
Posts: 1,330
Default

A few suggestions, from somebody only a few months out of phase 1 (and still doing plenty of learning).

Step back, find a trusted set of eyes and have him go over your plane, again. Even if he finds nothing (and there's always something), it's more reassurance.

Secondly, as soon as you feel comfortable, start easing your way into simulated engine outs. I started pulling the power earlier and earlier in the pattern until I was comfortable with a idle-power approach from pattern entry. When you get comfortable in "gliding" mode you realize how many options you usually have should there be a problem.

Lastly, mentally rehearse your response to the biggest problems, like engine out on takeoff. Know your plan for each runway, and be committed to it so you don't have to worry about "what would I do".

If you need to take a step back, maybe find another RVer to take you up and do some no-stress RV flying.

Have fun!

Chris
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Chris Johnson
RV-9A - Done(ish) 4/5/16! Flying 4/7/16
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  #3  
Old 10-20-2016, 03:04 PM
Robert Anglin Robert Anglin is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: houston, texas
Posts: 900
Default Your call.

It is normal to be apprehensive when doing things that are new to you and everyone takes it in their own way. I really don't have much for you other than just take it slow and easy. You don't have to do phase one in 5 days and there is no harm in flying shorter time spans, then stop and take every thing apart, check it all and get comfortable with it all again, then set down and make another test card and go do that one for a half hour or so. I would never tell someone to go outside their comfort zone, but give it some time in between each hope and think it through tell you are comfortable again. It is your call and I think we all would rather see you safe and sound. Hope this helps, yours, R.E.A. III #80888
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  #4  
Old 10-20-2016, 03:20 PM
Gary 40274 Gary 40274 is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Conyers GA
Posts: 348
Default Puncker factor

The designer of the first plane I built said that if you are not puckered up at both ends you don't fully appreciate what you are doing. I have test flown a half a dozen planes and that always makes me apprehensive. I think that is good. But as I aged I found that I had less of that "what the &?$ it is only a test flight nothing is going to go wrong" and more of the "there are so many things that could go wrong because I have seen so many friends die flying experimental aircraft"

Balance is the key here. Take a serious approach to this type of flying but don't let fear rule you. Either you will learn to control your fear or your fear will control you. As was suggested you may need to take advantage of the second pilot program. This is a hobby after all. It should be enjoyable or you won't be doing it for long.

I wish I could say I have totally conquered my fears but I think a little fear is a good thing.

Gary Specketer
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  #5  
Old 10-20-2016, 03:39 PM
jpowell13 jpowell13 is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
Posts: 718
Default Find an expert

Do you have someone like Walt Aronow or Jesse Saint out there in California? If I was worried about "what ifs" and had a real RV expert near I think I would have them look the plane over and fly it for an hour or two for me, then talk about squawks and potential issues.

It's good to listen to that voice in the back of your mind until you're satisfied everything is OK. Some things don't show up until you have a few hours on the plane, so, keep checking the systems between flights. John
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  #6  
Old 10-20-2016, 03:44 PM
pvalovich pvalovich is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Ridgecrest, CA
Posts: 439
Default Priorities

RV's display excellent flying qualities throughout the flight envelope. Even if you get behind the airplane, it probably will not bite you. Having said that, I did a very extensive "What if?" drill before Phase 1 - even though - or perhaps because - I had over 7500 hours and test pilot experience and developed my own emergency procedures checklist.

Came down to four prioritized concerns:
1) Engine Failure - takeoff, cruise, landing pattern. What EXACTLY was I going to do and in what sequence (in all cases, the first item was to ensure controllability). What were glide / slow flight handling characteristics?
2) Stall / Spin - did slow flight on flights one and 2 and stalled it on flight 3, including approach turn stalls after wings level stalls. Wanted to really know what the APPROACH to stall felt like. Didn't spin it until much later.
3) CG Awareness - used ballast to incrementally change CG.
4) Fuel Management - wanted to ensure I always knew how much gas was remaining - and where it was.

Incrementally MASTER the Phase 1 flight envelope without trying to do it all at once. Your anxiety level will decrease.
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  #7  
Old 10-20-2016, 03:45 PM
lndwarrior lndwarrior is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Cloverdale CA
Posts: 304
Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by jpowell13 View Post
Do you have someone like Walt Aronow or Jesse Saint out there in California? If I was worried about "what ifs" and had a real RV expert near I think I would have them look the plane over and fly it for an hour or two for me, then talk about squawks and potential issues.

It's good to listen to that voice in the back of your mind until you're satisfied everything is OK. Some things don't show up until you have a few hours on the plane, so, keep checking the systems between flights. John
The one thing going for me is that I have had a number of experienced builders, and an A&P, reviewing my work and plane on an ongoing basis. I have been very lucky in that respect

Last edited by lndwarrior : 10-21-2016 at 11:25 AM.
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  #8  
Old 10-20-2016, 03:49 PM
lndwarrior lndwarrior is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Cloverdale CA
Posts: 304
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by YellowJacket RV9 View Post
A few suggestions, from somebody only a few months out of phase 1 (and still doing plenty of learning).

Step back, find a trusted set of eyes and have him go over your plane, again. Even if he finds nothing (and there's always something), it's more reassurance.

Secondly, as soon as you feel comfortable, start easing your way into simulated engine outs. I started pulling the power earlier and earlier in the pattern until I was comfortable with a idle-power approach from pattern entry. When you get comfortable in "gliding" mode you realize how many options you usually have should there be a problem.

Lastly, mentally rehearse your response to the biggest problems, like engine out on takeoff. Know your plan for each runway, and be committed to it so you don't have to worry about "what would I do".

If you need to take a step back, maybe find another RVer to take you up and do some no-stress RV flying.

Have fun!

Chris
I think getting comfortable with gliding and landing power off would really help. When I flew Cessnas I knew I could set that plane down power off where I wanted it. Slow flight and stalls are next on my flight test program and this ought to help somewhat.
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  #9  
Old 10-20-2016, 03:49 PM
Mike S's Avatar
Mike S Mike S is offline
Senior Curmudgeon
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Dayton Airpark, NV A34
Posts: 16,095
Default

I hear you loud and clear.

I wrote this 6 years ago, following my first flight.

http://www.vansairforce.com/communit...ight=Aftermath
__________________
Mike Starkey
VAF 909

Rv-10, N210LM.

Flying as of 12/4/2010

Phase 1 done, 2/4/2011

Sold after 240+ wonderful hours of flight.

"Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground incapable of understanding or doing anything about it."
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  #10  
Old 10-20-2016, 03:57 PM
Bevan Bevan is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: BC
Posts: 1,718
Default

As Gary said, "a little fear is a good thing". It's evidence of our realization that this is serious business.

A few thoughts.

Prior to flight, I always ask myself "what's the worst things that could happen?" Then plan for those. For me it was fire and engine failure. For everything else, there's always MasterCard and you will deal with them as they come up, or ignore until back on the ground.

Hone your landing skills. Get comfortable with stalls (at altitude) and slow flight.

A thorough preflight and good maintenance will eventually bring more confidence (that things will not go terribly wrong). The idea is to rule out questions (about the status of things) in your mind. ie, There are not likely any leaks, loose bolt/fittings, missing fuel caps etc etc because I just checked them. Check fuel AND oil prior to each flight.

Do a little reading about the effects of (mental) stress and how to manage it. In some ways, stress is like physical exercise. It is tiring but we can improve our conditioning (mental stamina) through "exercise". But it will always be tiring. Noise, altitude, workload, physical and mental activity are all contributors.

Stay hydrated and well rested. Go at your own pace, not anyone else's.

My thoughts only. YMMV

Bevan
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RV7A Flying since 2015
O-360-A1F6 (parallel valve) 180HP
Dual P-mags
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Grand Rapids EFIS
Located in western Canada

Last edited by Bevan : 10-20-2016 at 04:00 PM.
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