Well after almost two years of construction, and about two weeks of nervous pacing, my Rans S6-ES Coyote finally flew today! Here is the long story for those that want to read it.
The plan was to gather at Oakdale Airport (O27) at 12:30pm with a scheduled take-off time of 1:00pm. Two pilot friends of mine, Joey Myers and Emmet Welch were to meet me for photos and all around well wishes. I arrived at 9:30am and cleaned the airplane off. I then went to hang out with the guys from EAA, Leon, Jim, Ken. They were definately looking forward to the first flight far more than I was. At about 11:30am Joey texted me that the winds were picking up at Rio Vista and that he was only making 11 MPH ground speed. He elected to turn around and head home. Winds were still light at Oakdale so the flight was still a go for me. Emmet showed up right on time at 12:30pm. However, I could see the wind sock starting to move and fearing that those 35 – 45 MPH winds were headed our way I elected to depart immediately.
After a few photos I climbed in and belted up. Ran through the prestart checklist and fired her up. She sounded good so I taxied down to the runup area. Runup seemed normal. I say “seemed” because I’ve only flown behind a Rotax motor a couple of times. After a short quick prayer I announced on the radio and taxied out on the the runway. I started advancing the throttle slowly to get a feel for directional control and the rudder inputs that would be needed. The tail came up and I made a few rudder corrections to straighten her out and then pushed the throttle in all the way. Only problem is I was too slow because I was already airborne.
As I climbed out I rolled the wings a few times and yawed with rudder. The airplane seemed to respond normally so I pulled back to about 75-80 MPH and climbed out. The wind had already arrived because at about 600 ft MSL I started feeling a lot more bumps and the plane had a yawing tendency. However, they were all easily overcome with correcting inputs on the stick and rudder. I continued the climb until I was at 2500 MSL but the bumps only got worse. It had the feeling of flying through your own aircraft’s wake over and over again. It was more than I wanted to deal with on a first flight so I descended back down to about 1700 MSL where it was relatively smooth and kept it there for the remainder of the flight. Engine instruments all looked and remained normal. I noted a climb RPM of about 5200. Oil pressure and temperature were good. CHT’s looked fairly cool but I didn’t write down exact numbers. I’ll do better at taking notes on the next flight.
After about 20 minutes I decided to head back to the airport before the winds came down to ground level. Two other aircraft entered the pattern just as I wanted to land so I circled a few more times then entered on a left crosswind. I throttled back and kept the airspeed to about 80 MPH on downwind. As I came abeam the numbers I pulled the throttle to idle and put in the first notch of flaps. The wind had pushed me away from the runway so I angled back in a bit on base and added a little power. I pulled in the 2nd notch of flaps and once I was back on the glide path I wanted I pulled the throttle again. On short final I pulled in the 3rd and then 4th notch of flaps. It was her that the first glitch of the whole flight happened. The flap handle would not lock into the 3rd or 4th notch. I had already pulled the handle all the way aft so I didn’t want to let go and dump the flaps that close to the ground. I elected to just hold the handle full aft and continue the approach.
So there I was making my first helicopter landing: the stick in one hand, the flap handle in the other. I go so distracted with all this that I didn’t watch the centerline close enough and allowed myself to crab and drift a bit. I touched down on one main, then the other, then the first again before I finally got everything straightened out. Once down on 3 wheels she handled beautifully. The rudder pedals seem stiff but I’m assuming that they will get easier as they break in. I taxied back to the EAA hangar and shut down.
There are only two squawks I have found so far. The first is that the left wing felt just a little heavy. I’m not going to do anything about that until I flight it a few more times to make sure I felt what I thought I felt. The other is that the flap lever would not stay locked when I pulled the flaps. That could have been my pants getting caught up in the lever though, I’ll check again next time I fly. There is one other change I might make and that is to change the rigging on the elevator so that I don’t have to pull the stick so far aft to get full up elevator. That or lose some weight.
The first flight was a success! After a week of worry I found that it flies normally, everything works, and lands normally. Now the fun can begin!
Video of the takeoff can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwRsrqT0BoA
Thank you to my daughter Angela for filming this.
Update: Here are a few more photos taken by Emmet Welch: https://picasaweb.google.com/svanarts/RansCoyote#
Update 2: Here is a video of the victorious taxi back by Emmet Welch: http://vimeo.com/19631518
Thanks for all the coverage Emmet!