This past Christmas Eve day in the UP was uncharacteristally balmy and free of snow and wind (well, marginally free of on the latter). After much prolonged trepidation, it was finally time for that first flight. Recently, I received flight instruction from a CFI in the same plane make/model down near Green Bay and got my Private Pilot license current. After eight years of not flying, it truly was not "just like riding a bike". However, I got to the point of completing landings successfully (although not pretty) and my CFI signed me off. His words following each completed landing were typically something like "we survived another one". Nothing like the Taildragger to humble a person.
Here are pics taxing to the runway.
Here is a time sequence of ground roll through flight.
Tail comes up almost immediately.
Lift off, in like 150 ft?!
Way over the 50 ft. obstacle by 1000 ft. Note the marker in the foreground.
Initially, I had considered a combination of fast-taxiing and crow-hopping the plane down the runway to verify flight control and engine integrity; however, the majority of people I trust recommend getting the plane above 3,000 AGL directly over the airport ASAP and THEN try different maneuvers all within glide slope of the runway. This makes good sense. My FAA guidance doc for flight testing stated that over 70% of mishaps occur during the first flight.
Only squawk was that I need to adjust the engine idling down a touch. Otherwise, an absolutely perfect non-eventful flight!
Finally, here is the as-built instrument panel.
During cold winter ops, I found that covering the front half of the oil cooler with cardboard resulted in the oil temp warming up in a reasonable fashion to min. specified (120 deg), yet would not result in over-heating of the oil; temp remained ideal around 180 deg. in flight. Cylinder head temps were running around 170 and should be closer to 200 degrees. As a result, I likewise plan on covering up half of the radiator. I will also monitor exhaust gas temps. I'm told if sensors are within 25 degrees, than one can assume the carb's are adequately synched. The engine sure SOUNDS smooth. One interesting observation was my power off, full flap stall speed was 45 mph. I was expecting less, since I installed vortex generators. Power on stall speed (clean) was 42 mph. Followup note from previous post: I had completed an intial static run-up with my plane tethered to a post, and found that my rpms were a little high, so I repitched the prop to take more "bite", statically ran it up again and hit the 5100 rpm I was shooting for. Now there should be no risk of red lining the engine in-flight. In addition, after MANY hours I was able to find a "sweet spot" in the tail where the remote compass would read accurately, so had to remount it. Magnetic interference was present everywhere.