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Wings 35 (5.0 hrs)

Today I started with riveting the right wings aileron brackets.  This required me to do a quick countersink for the rivets closest to the bearings.  The flush side of the 426 rivets should be towards the outboard wing tips.  Then I placed the bearings in place and riveted the brackets.  This took some finesse as the AD426 4-11’s are long!  I had to play with several setups before I found a yoke and rivet set combination that could go allow enough space. IMG_6229.JPGIMG_6230.JPG

I slightly over-countersunk one rivet.  Its not drastic enough that I feel compelled to replace the part. I really hate the original countersinks I have.  I’ll try to post a photo comparison of the different countersinks. IMG_6252.JPG

Then I set up my saw horses, a large piece of plywood and a blanket as my make-shift table for the right wing. IMG_6227.JPG

Its been way too long since I riveted the top skins.  The past six months have been really slow!!!! I need to be in the shop more. I used the mushroom swivel set and a tungsten bucking bar to make quick work of the rear spar.  Only a couple mistakes along the way. IMG_6237.JPG

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I had a previous error from dimpling the rear spar. This required a reinforcement bracket and an oops rivet, both shown below. I’m really happy with how it came out.  You can see that mistake and solution here, in the post titled Wings 17 from March of this year. IMG_6254.JPGIMG_6253.JPG

The completed riveting job.  I’m very happy with the results. IMG_6241.JPG

Next up, it was time to rivet the aileron brackets to the rear spar.  This was a pain in the ass.  It took quite a lot of force to get these rivets to buck. IMG_6242.JPG

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After completing the riveting for the aileron brackets, I clecoed the flap brace and aileron gap fairing in place. IMG_6245.JPG

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My final task for the night was to rivet the aileron gap fairing to the rear spar.  Quick work. I finished out the night with a good shop cleanup. IMG_6248.JPG

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Current Stage: Fuselage

Total Build Time: 1220.25 hours.

This website details the building of a Van’s Aircraft RV-8, a single engine, two seat, tail-wheel, fully aerobatic, and cross country capable plane that strives to achieve “Total Performance.” This blog exists as a way to share the experience with friends, family, and other builders. Building a plane is a huge undertaking, and this site is my opportunity to pass it forward.

Current Update as of March 8th, 2016:  I’m currently working on the fuselage, after completing the majority of the empennage and wings. Recent work has focused on Service Bulletin 14-01-31 pertaining to the front spar of the horizontal stabilizer. The aft upper turtle deck was recently completed, and the majority of the parts inside of the cockpit are ready for installation. Also, I’m planning to fully detail all the work required for the Show Planes Fastback Build in a separate page. The details will still be available on the site, but this page should provide more comprehensive details. Check it out here. 

 


Workshop Redo

So I’ve been meaning to switch my shop around for quite some time, but a recent incident forced my hand.  Our garage is a three car garage.  The third bay has a bigger door, but it only opens by hand.  Because the tools and the air compressor were on the other end, in a bay with an electric door opener, I had set up shop there.  In the mean time, I’ve been parking in the bay with the manual door.  Well unfortunately, the door came back down about 1/3 of the way the other day after I opened it.  I couldn’t see it in my rearview but it was enough to clip the top of my car as I backed out.  Luckily it didn’t do much damage, but I’ve noticed its not staying up as well as it used to.  Finally time to switch the shop around.

On the bright side, this would actually allow for a better location for my workbench and plans.  Here are before and after panoramas of the garage.  Moving all the heavy stuff by myself left me utterly exhausted after a full day of work.  Now its priming time!

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Shop Update

As my two readers of this blog will know by now, I have been on a bit of a hiatus from building due to lots of other aviation activities, and due to multiple projects at our new (now 2+ years) home. The major project has been the construction of a new barn that has a 3 car garage / workshop. This workshop is the new home of my RV project. I had a company build the shell, but I have done the majority of the interior work from heating to plumbing and electricity myself. As a result – its taken me awhile, and distracted me from airplane building.

Luckily, the shop project is nearing its final stages. I have begun setting it up for airplane building again, and hope to be back at it again very soon!

I’m not going to go through everything I’ve done in this building. But I will point out that my buddy Chad and I installed a boiler and radiant heat in the concrete slab. The winter shop hours are going to be awesome!!

I modified my EAA benches so that I could sit behind them with my Dad’s old bar stools.

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I need a lot of storage for airplane parts and regular farm / garage items. I built two large sets of shelves to add to my one existing shelf. I now have two 6′ high shelves with each shelf measuring 2 feet deep and 4 feet wide. I have one set of shelves that is 7′ tall, 2′ deep, and 5′ wide.

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I also built a small workbench / shelf that is built into the wall on the end of the shop.

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Here is the completed build in. Notice the ethernet plug (I have wifi piped from the house via a ubiquiti – just like my hangar) and I have the ceiling wired for 4 built in speakers.

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After all of the construction, I have scrap wood everywhere. I’ve been trying to use up as much of it as I can in building various shelves etc. I had some small pieces left, and being vertically challenged, I quickly threw together a stool to stand on.

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Here she is – moved into her new working position. You can really see that the shop is getting close to being usable here!

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This is the larger set of shelves I built for the back of the workshop.

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I added another shelf higher up for more storage.

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Not related to the RV, but I had to do something with my ladders. Scrap wood to the rescue again!

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As you can see I’ve made several trips to the hangar for airplane pats and tools. I don’t have everything moved back, but its getting really close. I’m starting to get excited about the project again!

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Instrument Helicopter – Add on

I started my helicopter instrument training in December. As I already have my Instrument Airplane rating, the requirements were pretty minimal. I needed 15 hours of dual time, and certain amount of cross country time, and a few specific cross countries. However, between my work schedule and rough winter weather, progress was slow. It took December through March to get my 15 hours. It then took another two months and EIGHT cancelations for weather before I was able to finally knock out the checkride.

I don’t have any real pictures of instrument training, nor am I going to recount the experience in detail. I will briefly note my observations of the differences flying a helicopter vs an airplane by instruments.

First off, the aircraft you are likely to train in – Robinson R-22s and R-44 etc can’t fly instruments even when they have all the avionics to do so. Helicopters have some unique requirements to fly instrument. Helicopter manufacturers will use a combination of trim systems, stability augmentations systems (SAS), auto pilots, flight directors and or aerodynamic surfaces. Put simply, the aircraft you’re going to rent or train on, even with all the attitude indicators and GPS WAAS approach capabilities will not be certified for IFR operations. As a helicopter pilot, you’re unlikely to be in an aircraft capable of IFR flight until you get to major turbine aircraft with multi-pilot crews, advanced flight directors, and perhaps multiple engines.

All this is to say, that the Private Pilot Instrument Helicopter rating has to be one of the most useless ratings there is. If you can afford a helicopter capable of IFR flight – you can afford a pilot! Regardless, I got the rating, because, well basically because its a rating, and I’d like to collect them all, like POGs, or Pokemons (is that a thing?).

So how about the actual flying? I’ve heard a few airplane pilots say “Oh, instrument in a helicopter must be so much easier.” Followed by one of the following statements, “You can just slow to a hover on the approach” “If you’re off the ILS you can just go straight left or right” “It so much slower everything must be easier!” Wrong. And wrong some more. Hand flying the helicopter under the visor is more difficult than your standard GA aircraft. The relationship between the cyclic and collective, and performance – while similar – is not precisely the same. Further, the R-22 is FAR less stable than anything you will fly in a typical GA flight school. So, hand flying is harder. Cockpit management is both harder, and easier. In an airplane, its easy to trim the plane and take your hands off the controls to flip switches and dial frequencies. Most general aviation aircraft are so stable if you have it trimmed well, you can take your hands off the controls for a very long time indeed. I’ve demonstrated this stability to students. Trim the airplane. Take your hands off. A little rudder input can help to maintain heading, and as your nose dips, speed increases you start to climb – the reciprocal happens. They just want to fly straight and level. Well, in a helicopter, particularly a Robinson R-22, trust me, you are never taking your hands off the cyclic. To do so would be, well suicidal. You can take your left hand off the collective periodically, but this should be avoided at high power settings and for any extended period of time. There isn’t an autopilot, and the high instability combined with hands always on the controls makes managing frequencies, switches, GPS etc very difficult. Luckily, for the practical exam, you have an out of sorts. Since helicopters that are certified for actual IFR flight all include some combination of autopilots, flight directors and multi-pilot crews, you are allowed to simulate autopilot by having the examiner act as an autopilot while you do some button-logy. In this sense, the helicopter instrument rating becomes easier. While the airplane can be flown hands off for a period of time, you are expected to manage the cockpit as a solo pilot. The expectation is not the same in helicopters.

Flying approaches, and holds, and the like really are the same as an airplane. If you’re off the ILS you don’t just stop and go left or right. You have forward airspeed and you fly a correction just like an airplane.

Anyways, thats a quick down and dirty on the differences from a newbie helo pilot’s point of view. Did I enjoy the instrument training? Honestly, not really. While there was a novelty in doing it in a helicopter early on – for the most part it was more of the same. The most enjoyable parts of flying a helicopter, its amazing visibility, its ultimate STOL and off airport capabilities are all pretty much lost under the visor. Further, as I have no real intention of ever being a professional helicopter pilot (beyond perhaps a CFI as a hobby / part time gig) it does not serve much use. I’m glad I got the rating though, as I’m sure I’m an incrementally better pilot than I was as a result.

Next up, commercial add-on, and CFI-H add-on. Then I’m done. Except maybe a seaplane rating. I’d really like to get one of those at some point!


Trip to Pittsburgh

I recently was able to turn a work trip into a mini-vacation! My buddy Zack, who lives in Indianapolis, has always been interested in flying. I offered to take him up, and so we decided to meet in Pittsburgh. I departed on Thursday morning so that I could work Thursday & Friday on campus in Pittsburgh and then spend the weekend going out on the town. We planned to do some aerial sightseeing on Sunday.

The weather wasn’t great on Thursday, but it was VFR. Last time I flew to Pittsburgh, I did so in a well equipped Piper Arrow. I was able to depart IFR on the return leg. This trip I was in an older Cessna – and while it had a VOR, there was no GPS, and an autopilot I would rather not use. Translation – I had no desire to fly this puppy in IMC.

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On the way up I took a selfie and sent it to Zack to let him know I was on my way. Heck of a morning commute to work! This past winter I was able to snowboard at Ski Liberty about a half dozen times. The slopes recently closed – but as you can see there is still plenty of snow on the trails.

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On Thursday night, one of my engineers, Brandon, scored free tickets to the Pirate’s game. I was having a very Pittsburgh night. Primanti Brother’s sandwich, Iron City Light beer, and a Pirate’s game. Hard to be more of a “yinzer” than that!

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Work was rather productive, but I had a difficult time getting the locals to join me at a watering hole on Friday night. No matter – I have no issues with going solo! More Untappd checkins!

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On Saturday, Zack finally arrived from Indianapolis. We did a soup crawl in Sewickly, PA. Basically the main street shops all get together with various restaurants and put on the soup-ly equivalent of a pub-crawl sans alcohol. All told, I believe there were 13 locations with soup, and I do say there were some excellent soups!

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Zack went to both undergrad and pharmacy school in Pittsburgh, living in the city for nearly 10 years. He’s been out of the city for several years, so the weekend was a bit of a trip down memory lane for him. He took me to several fine establishments such as Howlers below. I left with my ear drums bleeding and my clothes smelling of cigarettes so badly I believe I was acquiring nicotine through osmosis.

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Fortunately, I don’t have picture of the other upstanding establishments!

Here is Zack and I on Hot Metal Bridge during our nostalgia pub crawl.

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On Sunday we awoke early to jump in the airplane and fly south the Davis, West Virginia where Zack’s brother lives in the family home.

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West Virginia is beautiful and we couldn’t have gotten better weather.

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Here is Davis from the air.

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We also flew over Seneca Rocks – which Zack tells me is something unique on the east coast. img_2711.jpg

We landed at KEKN, Elkin’s county for lunch. Zack’s brother Alex was able to meet us at the airport and I took him for a few laps in the pattern. Unfortunately, none of my landings were stellar. I should stick to my preferred low-wing aircraft.

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All in all it was an excellent trip. I got a lot done at work, Zack and I had a great time hanging out, and we flew a very scenic and enjoyable route. Looking forward to the next trip!

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