Why don't we go fly?

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I'd been working on an RV-12 for just over a year.  Everything was going pretty good.  The kit is really put together well.  If something doesn't fit, you're doing it wrong. The plans and pictures lead you step by step every inch of the way. It's just all there. When I saw somthing that I did, that I didn't like I just ordered a new part and put it in. Although I had one spot that bothered me and I felt like it was going to require me to rebuild a flaperon. There were a few rivets that just looked ugly and I wasn't sure I could drill them out without some major pains that might make it easier to just rebuild that flaperon from beginning.

Will Fox, the chapter technical advisior (among other things) didn't think it would be a big deal and with his 90 pneumatic degree drill, he offered me a helping hand. Come the big day (one of my Friday's off from work) I went to meet and pick Will up from the Santa Fe airport. I never mind going to airport and kicking around on the flight line! He was flying in from his home base in Los Alamos (you know, of atmoic bomb fame).

While walking down the flight line I ran into Amy Ross (the chapter Young Eagles Coordinator), getting the oil changed in her Big Yellow Bird. Like many of our chapter members, Amy is also based in Los Alamos.

Amy and Big Bird

Amy showed me around her bird and I had the opportunity to see a Beech Musketeer/Sierra up close (photo's). That's one impressive, rugged bird! Just the plane for an ex-Iowa farm girl who cut her teeth on tractors. Of course I wouldn't mind one either!

While we were talking on the line and taking pictures, we saw Will fly in.  Will was in his record setting, red Pegazair.

Will Fox and his Pegazair

By the time I wiped the drool marks off of both airplanes, we were running a little late.  I had a tele-conference crop up for work later, right after lunch, so Will asks, "Do you want to go flying?" Heck yeah! (photo's). Will did a pre-flight while I hopped in and buckeled up. These sure aren't the seat belts or instrument panel you'd find in a beloved Cessna!

Inside the Peg

There was a good bit of nose up attitude on the ground because of the Peg being a taildragger and those large 'outback' tires on the main gear. Will fired up his 200 horse IO-360.  After a brief call to the tower, we did S-turns down the taxi way and Will preformed a run up.

Soon the tower cleared us and off we went.  Quite literally off we went, it happened so fast that we climbed skyward before I could even imagine it. Will headed southeast of the Santa Fe airport. He showed me slow flight and stalls. Actually the plane doesn't really stall in the sense I was used to - you know where you're stomach stays at one altitude but nothing else does, and you're doing a piroutte on one wing staring at the ground rushing up. The stalls in the Peg?  Well they're much more like a canard, with a very slight nose bob up and down while you're decending. There was no tendency for a wing to drop, even when I was doing it!

Will also showed me the slats.  The slats are leading edges in the wing that pop out when the speed drops low enough.  It provides more lift and allows you to fly around at really slow air speeds. They pop in and out automatically. When the slats are in he can cruise in the 140 - 150 mph range.

Then Will asked if I wanted to fly. I hadn't actually touched a stick or control wheel on an aircraft that was moving since the early 80's. So with trepidation I said, 'My airplane'! Rusty really wasn't a word I'd use.  The Peg was really nice and responsive, nothing like the 172 I used to fly. I remembered that old pilot saying of 'flying by the seat of your pants'.  This was the first time I could actually feel it.  Although I admit I didn't know what to do!

I was comfortable in the 40 - 50 mph range so it took a while to get anywhere.  However, the plane wasn't so far ahead of me that I couldn't see it. I did a couple of power off stalls and of course at this speed everything was slow flight. Will pointed in a direction and soon we were flying over the town of Silverado (from the movie of the same name). I think most of the actor's had already gone home...

Silverado

Will took the airplane back so I could get some shots below me.  After a few passes around the town we headed out across the plain.

headed out

Looking down below we came upon a pod of antelope running through the brush, just southwest of Lamay, NM.

pod

All to soon it was time to head back to the airport and think about that tele-conference.  Thankfully, I didn't need to give much input because, by now my head was spinning.  I was overwhelmed, by the sheer joy of flight.  What I saw and experienced could never happen just driving down the road. It was incredible and truely made the day an experience I'll never forget. The next day I turned...oh well let's just say it was an awesome birthday present!

Now back to those rivets! And by the way, Will was able to actually help repair those rivets in the flaperon and it looks just like it should; great! Now that's a tech counseler!