SQ2000 N416 Travels and Ongoings

5/17/05: After test phase I completion, the first thing I needed was to get my transponder tested/certified at Spearfish SD about 150nm away. However, the long range weather prediction was lousy for non local flying. So I decided again to re-construct the left aileron so it aligns better with the wing shape to get rid of the minor (pesky) right roll.

5/29/05: The weather lately has been lousy for cross country, but took my wife up for her first ride locally.

06/02/05: Finally a break in the weather, so I took the bird to Spearfish, SD 150 nm away for transponder and IFR certification. This was my first purposeful "cross country" trip. It was about an hour each way - took it at leasurely 140kts. I am a low time, chicken pilot and am not rushing.

06/10/05: Flew up to Bismarck, ND to join my wife for a camp meeting - the first out of state flight. However the trip was marred by a bad landing with nose wheel assembly coming off. I probably put the nose down too early and too hard. The plane was easy to control sliding on the strut piece. Towing it off the runway took only few minutes, but the regulatory requirements, reports, etc. kept the plane on the runway and closed for over an hour. They found the wheel assembly somewhere on the grass area. Everybody at the airport was very helpful. Got it fixed and back about ten days later - $83 for the strut piece, but more for travel, express shipping etc.

07/08/05 - 07/10/05. Had a nice flight to St Louis MO and back - my first longer cross country, about 4 hours flight each way. Beats the airlines, with about that much time for security checks and hub relays. The auto pilot and altitude hold makes the trip much easier - and allows doing something you have to do sometimes. To avoid heat and thermals I left about 5:30am both days and got to the destination by 10am (one fuel stop). Thats about 650x2 miles (direct) on 66 gallons of fuel. That is energy conservation. By car it would typically take about 13 hours each way (850x2 miles) and 75 gallons of gas. People at St Louis could not believe it was hotter in South Dakota. Rapid City SD made a July 9 national record at 105F.

07/24/2005 - 07/31/2005. Nice interesting flight to Oshkosh and back. I participated in the "Glass Overcast" canard mass fly-in from Fon De Lac airport on the 25th, same day SpaceShipOne came into Oshkosh - in honor of Rutan. Thursday I buzzed over the lake to see my son in Michigan and then Sunday flew back home to SD. Oshkosh was really full. I brought my tent with me, but they could not find a spot for it and wound up pitching it on a piece of grass beside the bussiest campground intersection (near the barn). Monday night it rained cats and dogs and nearly blew the tent away and my bedding got wet. But thats all in the fun.

08/28/2005. A little 3 hour trip of the SD and WY monuments. Got quite turbulent in the the black hills vicinity, as you can see in the fuzzy Mt Rushmore picture. The Devils Tower in WY was one of the "lucky" shots.

09/04/2005. Was planning a trip out west next weekend over the Montana rockies. Wanted to know what the aircraft ceiling was so took it up in home airport vicinity. Managed to get to the 18K ft legal limit with still about 200+ft/min climbing ability. But it took a long time, since steady climbs get the engine to near temperature limit and had to do intermittent leveling out to cool the engine. Had a hard landing which sagged the RG springs and have to replace them which delayed my trip out west.

11/11/2005. Things are fixed up, but in November the weather is cooler and not best time for cross country. However today the weather was balmy accross South Dakota so I took a 150nm trip to Soux Falls to check my prop balance - $250. Soux Falls is only a class D airport but it can get real bussy with two crossing 8000ft runways. It tested my radio skills.

01/23/2006. Haven't been flying since above. Got the engine apart and had a machine shop balance the crankshaft, rods and pistons. Trying to cure somewhat annoying vibration above 2400rpm. Interestingly, I sent the starter gear separately to a balancing shop near Detroit. The starter gear has a patented viscous torsional damper on the outer part. I warned the shop not to disturb it but they ignored the warning and drilled a hole and the silicone goo come out. Their mistake cost them about $800.

Another experiment I am trying is a continuous real time prop balancer from Balance Masters They only stock small units for ultralight props but had one larger blank unit leftover from another custom production run in which I will drill the prop bolt holes in. I paid $250 for a prop balance (see above) which did not work well. If the new real time balancer unit works well I may consider ordering a production run for 120-300 HP engine props. And subsequently if you or others are interested I could stock them for sale - in the range of $200.

Hope to get all the parts in soon and put the engine back and try it out.

02/28/06. This is the first flight in 2006 after putting the engine back together. Unfortunately it was a very short flight. After takeoff the oil pressure went to 0. I did a quick 180 and landed downwind on the same runway. After taking off the cowling I found an oil hose has worked itself loose - lost 6 quarts of oil. The engine seemed to work OK taxing all the way back to the hangar - no overheating temps, or burned oil smell, etc. Will check the cylinder pressure. I think the AeroShell 15-50 synthetic content helped to protect it. I did a static run after assembly but no indication of hose problems.
03/05/06. OK. Got some parts from Wicks and modified the hose connection. Flew the pattern(+) to test it and it went fine. The engine balancing was also a success - there are no more objectionable vibs above 2400.
03/06/06. I installed the real time prop balancing disk and took the bird up again today. The balancer made a noticed improvement in vibration. There are still some inherent resonant structural vibrations - like around 2600 - but none unpleasant. The big thing this time is I achieved 180kias full throttle speed at 3500 altitude. Prior to this vibration discouraged me going faster. With the high compression Franklin engine this bird should have no problem cruising over 200ktas at altitude.
04/04/06-04/09/06. I took the bird, for its longest leg, to Florida Sun-N-Fun April 5-7. And then buzzed up to Raleigh, NC to see my older son, Elliot - a happy bachelor enjoying the interesting hobby gadgets he can afford.

I had a good time at S&F. I was dreading the S&F approach procedure but it worked out OK. When I landed the controller let me have the wide runway and directed the Cessna in front of me to the other one. The registration expenses were typically not cheap but they did not gouge. I filled up with fuel before leaving and they charged about $3.20/gal - the cheapest on my trip. Everybody was very helpful and pleasant.

I averaged about 175kts on the trip, 20mpg and 2450rpm. Could have gone faster but at greater fuel cost.

I was not trained on ATC atmosphere and when I diverted to RDU, on my way back, I managed the ATC there fairly good (not perfect). Somebody told me if you can manage S&F you can manage RDU.

There was only one exciting time on the trip when the engine quit for a few seconds on RDU approach. The severe turbulence near 1000AGL was shaking me like a baby's rattle. Somehow the electric fuel pump switch got turned off - not sure if I bumped it or the weight of the switch did it. I have two electric fuel pumps and had only one on at the time. But I was going fast enough and the engine restarted right away with the switch on.

04/17/06. How to haul a canard home. Went to Michigan 04/13/06. Nice flight except for the landing gear failure which got us sliding into the grass beside the runway. About $500 parts damage plus lots of fixing time (the IVO prop has replaceable blades and I have a spare set). The worst was hauling the bird home - had to buy a new trailer, plus take my motor home ($600 gas) to haul it, plus several hundred bucks for metals/hardware/etc to construct the jig you see. The haul probably cost me near $2,000 plus a week of extra time. Anybody need a canard hauling jig?

07/24/06. Update. Got the bird fixed up now (except for few spots needing paint finishing). I decided to buy new prop blades which added to the repair cost. Tested it today in the hot weather and it happily buzzes along.

07/26/06 - 08/03/06 Trip to west Coast, WA We took off Wednesday morning and headed to WA state. The flight destination was Bellingham, WA. But we stopped just south in Everett, WA (Payne field PAE) to visit Joel Conard who is a SQ2000 builder. Joel showed his project and looked at my bird.

Then we went north for the 20 min flight to Bellingham. Real nice view flying over the ocean around the hills. We visited my inlaws in BC, Canada.

Due to weather considerations we headed back Monday July 31. We scheduled two fuel stops, Missoula MT and Miles City MT. In Miles City it happened to me - forgot to put the landing gear down. Fortunately I realized the situation soon enough to pull up and drop the landing gear but not before mashing the prop. Otherwise there was negligible damage to the rest of the bird. Had to rent a car to finish trip home and return next Wednesday (Aug 2) with the spare prop blades I had at home and fly home the next day. It was 6 hour one way drive with the car but only 1.5hr flight. Several people at Miles City were amazed at the "save" I did with the landing.

In general it was a good flight with nice views of Montana mountains and Washington Cascades and the Pacific ocean. My wife is getting more used to flying with less motion sickness. The total Hobbs time was about 15 hours - incl taxiing.

The significant thing for this flight was my APRS flight tracking unit. It uses a small GPS and a ham radio frequency showing my flight location/velocity/altitude on a internet Google map. You can see my last location at http://www.findu.com/cgi-bin/find.cgi?N416 The unit worked great with just a rubber ducky antenna for the handheld ham radio. It transmitts the aircraft position every minute and there were only a few remote spots with receiving station gaps. For more info about my APRS project see http://www.abri.net/sq2000/GPStrack.html I have in mind to promote APRS flight tracking at 2007 Oshkosh Airventure.

08/24/06. Looking into flying to CA to visit mother. The August weather for WY/UT path has not been promising. Have been checking out the high altitude (7K+) airport stop points . Although I have tested the bird to 18K, I am checking potential high altitude takeoff distances. Since there is no POH takeoff details for the SQ2000 with the engine/prop I have, I am looking into the generic Koch chart. You are welcome to my revised, more detailed Koch chart. At 10K density altitude, and 25C, my bird will need about 5000 feet runway for takeoff. Both stops I planned have 7000+ runways.

09/11/06. As I mentioned in test phase I had problems with original prop blade vibration and replaced them with new ones. When I used the spare originals to ferry the plane back home from Miles City (MLS) on Aug. 3, the prop vibration problem returned. I just sent those blades back to IVO for examination. I noticed that the new replacement blades I just purchased are about a 1/16" thicker at root than the originals.

10/23/06. Nothing much happening except a couple of local short flights. Was thinking of a south California trip to see mother but things I wanted/needed to do on the plane and the forever time it takes to get parts ordered, machined, etc. have postponed the trip till 2007. I am a fair weather, chicken flyer and want the best weather when I fly.

04/07/07. Wanted to fly to Michigan but the 2007 April weather is not good cross country weather so far. Hope things warm up. Not sure if I will try going to Sun-N-Fun.

08/10/07. Didn't do too much flying lately. Had a delay with my MicroAir transponder which went kaput and took 7 weeks to fix - including a round trip to the Australia manufacturer. The repairs were $700+ not including the lost money trying to certify it initially. The other delay was my flight medical. I have white coat hypertension - my systolic BP went to 175 on my initial AME visit. Later I had some chest discomfort and my family practitioner marched me off to the local hospital for heart enzyme monitoring and then to another hospital for angiogram. There was nothing wrong (except the $10K medical bills that piled up). My physician put me on blood pressure medication anyway to keep systolic below 130. (My normal average is about 140 - diastolic is no problem.) Anyway... all this caused a bureaucratic mess and delay of my medical certificate for about two months - I just got it Aug. 3. Fortunately both the transponder and medical delay were at same time instead of different times.

I'll just go on ranting a little more here about medicals... I got my eye exam ahead of the medical. The first eye examiner went to town on the exam. He pulled out every eye machine he had in his office - including a laser imaging device. Then he told me I was glaucoma suspect because I had marginal left eye pressure - even though I have perfect vision (with glasses). He hinted how he had to put "professional opinion" on the FAA form and I had to come back for another special machine test - I did not. His bill came to $218. I went to another guy who did it quite promptly for $63. But when I actually went later for the flight physical the AME included the eye test as part of the examination.

I really think FAA fusses far too much with private pilot medicals. According to AOPA only about 0.25 percent of GA accidents are medically related.

10/10/07. Done less and mostly local flying this year due to delay factors above; and partially due to the extra transponder repair expense and 2007 flying weather was not as good.

April-2008 Its been a long winter. Had snow as late as April 6. Just started warming up lately so I can do my annual inspection. First 2008 flight was April 17. Click here to see an April 28 flight video around our airport area - its about long 10 minutes including takeoff and landing. I made a camera mount (this is 3rd design) from sandwiched pieces of rubber cushion between tin plates.

07/30/2008 - Oshkosh and more.
Went to OSH this year July 30/31. Never need more than couple of days to see what I want to. Then buzzed over to Cumberland MD to see some friends for the weekend. After that flew to Michigan to see one of my sons for a few days and then buzzed home.

Sure nice it took 16 hours flight what normally takes 50 hours with a car. The fuel costs were not unreasonable - about $570 total. The cheapest avgas was at Cumberland airport (actually located in Wiley Ford, WV) $5/gal. Auto fuel costs would not be much different and commercial air cost would be far more expensive and less convenient. I figure I average about 24mpg with good leaning.

Was a good day for flying. Planned to go to Rapid City (RC) with my wife to see my son go off on a commercial flight and retreive a car we loaned him for his stay near RC. But when we took off from Pierre the engine was rougher than usual and I decided not to chance it. So we got back down and left the plane and drove to RC. We got there too late to see my son off. Ahh well - the way the cookie crumbles.

The above roughness problem turned out to be a fouled plug. Put new plugs in and engine ran smooth in two test flights.
Also, slightly off the topic, it seems I had the LSE ignition advanced a bit high and retarded it to near standard TDC point when I changed the plugs. Now it appears some extra vibration 2500-2700RPM that I had before has diminished.

In 2009 I did not do much flying except for about 5 hours around the patch. My mom passed away in June and I was in charge of her affairs and then my sister in law passed away in September and we went to England for that.

However I made some aircraft changes, including an open end cowling and two new propellers - with one a spare.

April 2010
Flight testing the new Catto propeller.

May 2010
Flew more hours mainly modifying and testing the bird. I replaced the Franklin carb with a Rotec TBI - good results. For more info click here

Aug 2012
My travel has been limited by engine difficulty. Replaced the Franklin with a TCM IO-360 which took about a year with all the testing and finding out bugs. I think I am finally getting the engine going well and hope to start going cross country.