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Jet sailplane update
_Jet Sailplane Makes Its Maiden Night Flight_
Just a quick update on the jet sailplane. It's 11:30
PM here. I just got home from taking the jet sailplane
on its maiden night flight. I could not have asked
for a nicer evening for test flying. Thanks to Bob
Hudson - who is probably in trouble with his wife for
cutting out just before dinner - I got the wings on
before dark. (I spent last weekend in Phoenix practicing
aerobatics at Turf - more on that later...) By the
time I hooked up the lights and added fuel, it was
getting pretty rosy on the horizon. By the time I
towed to the end of 26, it was about as dark as it
was going to get. A 'Commander's moon' was lighting
things up fairly well. I did a pretty thorough checkout
of all the switches, knobs, dials and readouts under
the newly installed panel lights. All OK. After engine
starup, I clicked the radio for runway lights, but
couldn't reach the reciever. No problem. I taxied
out slowly until the centerline was along the left
side of the cockpit. Easy enough to see in the moonlight.
Takeoff was uneventful, and with repeated radio cliks,
the lights came on shortly after liftoff. I reached
about 75 knots by the end of the runway and pulled
to a 65 knot attitude for climbout. I did a fairly
normal pattern, reaching about 800' by mid-field on
downwind. I pulled back to about 30% thrust for the
descent. Visibility for landing is excellent through
the large canopy of the SIlent, and the extra thrust,
coupled with some spoiler, made the landing a piece
of cake. I slowed until the tail was firmly planted,
then spooled'em up for another attempt. Second pattern
was just like the first, except I shut down the engines
on base leg. I coasted to a stop at the normal ops
location. To summarize, flying the jet at night feels
very comfortable. Visibility is excellent, and the
insrument lighting provides plenty of light to see
not only the instruments, but also checklists, acro
sequence cards and anything else in the cockpit. I
can't wait to do it again...with acro!!! I'd love
to see how the engines look at full throttle. I know
the exhaust stacks glow cherry red, and there is a
fair amount of flame during spoolup. Not sure if I'll
get in enough practice to shoot the night show from
the jet sailplane in early May (biplane night show
is Plan B).
Somehow, the word 'wood' comes to mind....
_Engine 2 now has 17.2 hours and 66 start cycles.
While this doesn't sound like much, it is approaching
the 20 hour mark I'd hoped for by this summer. The
engine is still going strong with no indication of
any problems. Despite its excellent performance, I'll
be sending it back to the factory for a 'going through'
since my first three airshows are coming up in a few
weeks, and I'd like to start the season with fairly
fresh engines (engine 1 currently has about 5 hours
on it). This engine has been rock solid since it was
installed about 18 months ago. Other than a glow plug
or two, it has performed flawlessly. It has spent
almost the entire 17 hours at or above 100,000 RPM!
(That's over 100 million revolutions! By comparison,
that's about the same as 660 hours on a normal aircraft
engine.) This engine has been through a lot of 'experiments'
like ram-air starting at high altitude (successful
up to 10,000' MSL). I have no doubt I'll be seeing
30-50 hour TBOs in the near future. I wish the $50,000
Lycoming IO-360 engine in my Skybolt was as reliable...
The new wingtip mounts are working well. I can fly
with lights only, various smoke canister assemblies,
or night pyro (Special thanks to Kyle McDowell for
the new integral sequencing computers for the night
show). Lots of switches in the cockpit to control
all of this, but I'm getting comfortable with the layout.
The new EI fuel totalizer is working very well, despite
some earlier problems with radio interference. It
is very nice knowing exact fuel flow, fuel pressure,
fuel remaining and time-to empty numbers. The alarm
functions also work very well, alerting me to critical
points in my fuel situation. This instrument takes
a lot of the workload off of me, especially in the
Things are not going well at Turf Soaring School near
Phoenix. They have lost their insurance, and Roy is
putting the whole operation up for sale after 38 years.
Good chance someone will buy it and resume operation.
I sincerely hope I was not the last glider to launch
from the runway there. Very sad, but Roy is still
very upbeat. He is running for mayor of Peoria, AZ
with a good chance of winning. I wish him the best.
Silent Wings Airshows
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