Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rejuvenation - The Flight Home

In order to get the seaplane back to Lake Martin after its restoration at Bibb County Airport, it was necessary to execute a trailer take off. (video link to follow) We ran up the engine and back taxied the plane down the runway. It was very disconcerting to have so little control, as I was at the mercy of the driver of the truck. We wanted to use every bit of available runway. I had read everything I could on the subject of trailer take- offs and watched all the other videos that I could find. I had been though the sequence a million times in my head. At the end of the runway I did another run up and then we unstrapped the plane from the trailer. I was in constant contact with the driver of the truck over the radio. I gave the go ahead to start the roll. I added power to keep positive thrust as we accelerated and I kept down elevator to "pin" the plane to the trailer. I did not want the plane to tilt back or slide forward, and I wanted sufficient airspeed to climb over the truck.

Once we reached 50 kts I began to raise the pitch. According to the truck driver we hit 70 mph before liftoff. The plane came easily off the trailer and climbed and accelerated nicely. I lost contact with my ground crew by radio shortly after takeoff. My partner in the Twin Comanche, Allen, was going to follow me to the lake, but since we could not make radio contact he went back to Bessemer. The flight to Lake Martin was about 45 minutes.

About 15 minutes into the flight I started getting a random 200 rpm drop in engine speed. The drop kept coming and going. I was 10 minutes from Lay Lake so I continued the flight and kept my eyes out for suitable landing spots should things go badly. The drop turned more rhythmic as I got to Lay Lake. Once over the lake I climbed to 5,000 feet. I could see Lake Martin and I felt that I could make it. I had people on the water at Lake Martin. If I landed in Lay Lake on untested floats it could be ugly. So I made the journey home. The engine did not get any worse, but I was sure glad to see my home lake and my buddy waiting for me in the pontoon boat. I had not landed a seaplane in 4 months, which did not help my stress level. Neither did the fact that the float skins were new and untested. I set up and landed near my buddy and then taxied straight to the dock to do another leak check. Once at the dock, I called everyone to inform them that I was good. The rejuvenation project was finally at an end and I could sleep well. The issue with the rpm drop turned out to be a bad ignition lead. I bought a fresh new harness from Aircraft Spruce. If you would like to see the video follow the

It was very sweet to finish this project and land back into Lake Martin. Thanks to Erol Kyzer and Allen Taylor for the videography and Kevin Williams for the metal work and paint job on the plane. The airplane design is by Anna Welden (my daughter).

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