About Peter | Certified Flight Instructor (ASE, AME, IA, AGI, IGI) | Commercial Helicopter

Empennage Misc

I started off the night adding some additional fiberglass to the vertical stabilizer tip. Unfortunately with my hands messy with resin I didn’t grab any photos.

Next thing on the docket was to trim the empennage fairing in two places. First I trimmed about half an inch behind the elevator horns to provide clearance. I didn’t need that much, but its a bit tough to get on and off so a little extra was worthwhile.

I also trimmed about a quarter inch from under the front portion that curls under the horizontal stabilizer. This was purely to make it easier to get on and off.

With the empennage fairing almost compete, I turned my attention to the rudder bottom fairing.

I put it in place quickly to check the clearance with the tailwheel arm installed to check clearance. I’m pretty sure all the double-wide RV’s have to trim the bottom fairing per instructions. I’m not able to find any mention of that on the RV-8 plans or sites. The stock part does clear, but with very little room to spare.

I decided to trim just a little bit to give it that nice margin of error. I did about an 1/8 of an inch at the front and tapered to nothing at the back.

The trim came out perfect, and I’m much more comfortable with this clearance.

Next, I drilled a hole for my FlyLeds tailstrobe.

The strobe comes with a little c shaped bracket that to hold the strobe in place. I’ve seen all sorts of different methods for attaching the strobe.


I put it in place without fastening that c bracket in place to start. Took a little wrestling but I got it to line up. I’m happy with the fit and security.

There is a slight raise in the center of the fairing, so I sanded that down. You can see the before sanding gap here.

I debated how to best install this. I could just wrestle with it and leave the c bracket free. It would be perfectly secure once you have the screws in place, but if you take the light out, it might be a sizable pain in the ass to get it back in place. Alternatively, I could build a bracket that gets riveted or secured to the fairing in some fashion. I decided to keep it simple stupid. I mixed up a little bit of flow and held the c bracket in place with the flox. If I need to change it, I can break it out easily enough, and it should hold just fine for removal of the light in the future. Worst case scenario, it doesn’t hold over time, and I’m left fishing for the bracket if and when I have to change or service the light.


Empennage Fairing 4

Fairing installed before elevators

Tonight I secured the horizontal and vertical stabilizers and then temporarily installed the elevators to check clearance and fit with the empennage fairing installed. The result – I will have to trim about 1/4 to 1/2 inch more on the opening around the elevator horns. It fits right now but there is a tiny bit of rubbing and getting it on and off its a major pain in the ass.

I also spent a large amount of time with some tool organizing and list writing as I try to re-wrap my head around what I need to work on next.

Fairing with the elevators in place.

Bullock flies the R-44!

Mike has had the misfortune of flying in the helicopter with me several times. I’m not yet a CFI in the helicopter, so I could never let him try his hands at the controls. Luckily, my CFI Sean, was willing to let Mike try his hands at the controls. I have never sat in the back seat of the R-44 so it was fun all around.


Naturally, Mike had to get a SFAR 73 brief and endorsement before being allowed to put his hands on the controls. For those that aren’t familiar with Robinson helicopters they are subject to Special Federal Aviation Regulation 73. In a nutshell, SFAR 73 places additional requirements in terms of currency and training on pilots above and beyond those of other aircraft before they can operate a Robinson R-22 or -44. If you’re interested in the specifics a good synopsis can be found here. Helicopters aren’t necessarily less safe – but they are definitely less forgiving.


Mike got to do the startup procedure.


Sean took us out of the airport and then Mike got his hands on the controls for the first time. The helicopter is not that different from an airplane in straight and level flight. It doesn’t have any stability, and you can’t trade airspeed for altitude in quite the same way – but otherwise holding heading, altitude, and airspeed are very similar skill sets.



After Mike got to do some work at altitude including turns and climbs etc, we went back to the airport for some hover work. Mike said to Sean as we were entering the pattern “Peter had me believing this was hard!” I chuckled silently to myself as I knew the fun was about to start. Sean gave Mike the controls of the helicopter one at a time. The typical drill is to start with the anti-torque pedals (like the rudder pedals) while the CFI controls the collective and the cyclic. Then Mike did just the collective. Then he does just the cyclic. Then eventually all three together. Sean was pretty fearless in giving the Mike controls quickly. The sensation from the back seat was – well – like a carnival ride. The windscreen would show nothing but sky one moment, followed by nothing but grass the next moment. After awhile working on the hover – Mike started to get the hang of it. Hovering for the first time is a humbling experience, and Mike picked it up quickly. He was definitely sweating!


After the over work was complete we headed toward Baltimore for some sightseeing and to make our way over to Sugar Buns cafe at Easton Airport (KESN). If you’ve not been – its a well above average airport cafe and I highly recommend it. I’ve not had a bad meal there, and the eastern shore is always a pleasant flight.


It was a beautifully clear day to see the Baltimore skyline and the inner harbor.





When we eventually returned to Frederick, Mike took Sean for his first RV ride. Sean had a blast!

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