Project Update

Hi Folks,

Well, I’m back into the flying game.  After getting all my requisite stuff out of the way (insurance, etc.), I successfully completed yet another Biennial Flight Review. I’ve flown a couple flights since then including my first instrument training flight in just a few months shy of 2 years! In discussions with 3 different flight instructors, it does look like knocking out my instrument rating might be a lot more feasible and obtainable than I initially thought. So…. I’m going to give it the good ‘ol college try.

Also as I noted previously, I’m waiting until late January to mid-Febraury before placing my house on the market. I would also like to point out that I typically don’t work on the build in a shop-based traditional sense during the winter since heating the shop to required temps is typically too exorbitant of a cost. Thus I normally work on electrical system and instrument panel stuff during the winter months.

Well, with both of those build areas being nearly completely done, I feel like I’m making a good use of time in relation to the airplane build.  I mean, I will need to actually fly it after all and I certainly wouldn’t want to head into that portion of the project with hardly any flight hours under my belt in previous 12 months!

Happy Holidays!

Chapter 22 – XM Weather

Last night I had finished making both a long list of notes –including questions to ask different vendors– regarding my in-cockpit XM weather capability using my WxWorx receiver.  Overnight I had an epiphany on two fronts.  The first was that I resigned myself that I was only going to pipe XM satellite weather into my cockpit on one device: my Bendix/King AV8OR portable GPS.

The second was that instead of messing about with trying to figure out how to purchase a nearly-impossible to find (original optional component) RS232 cable for a hard-wire setup between my XM Wx receiver and display (AV8OR), that I would instead look seriously at using Bluetooth betwixt the two.

You may be wondering why I’m not pushing to have my HXr EFIS display XM Wx data, and at first I was very much intent on doing just that.  However, having dug into the XM Wx display capabilities of GRT’s HXr EFIS, it honestly just doesn’t match up nearly as well in displaying various XM weather products as the AV8OR does.  Yes, although a bit older platform, the AV8OR simply beats out the HXr in XM Wx display at just about every turn (except display size).

The bottom line is that in my realization of the amazing & difficult number of technical/logistical hoops I’d have to jump through to get the XM Wx to display on both the HXr (fewer XM Wx products) and the AV8OR GPS (nearly all XM Wx products), I was driven to an undesired —but EZ— decision to go with just the AV8OR to display my in-cockpit XM Wx data.  To be clear, I will still display NexRad Wx data on my HXr EFIS, but just via ADS-B.

To provide somewhat of a full scope report, I will say that I discovered a device —Mobile Link— now offered by Baron (AKA “WxWorx”) that translates the XM Wx data across a WiFi signal to be used on up to 4 portable devices such as iPads, iPhones, and Android phones/tablets.  Upon a closer look however, I unfortunately discovered that Mobile Link provides an either-or solution, not an either-and solution in that I could either go the Mobile Link route for JUST a WiFi solution (mobile), or with my current XM Wx receiver to panel device solution (EFIS, GPS unit, etc)…. but not both.  Since it would cost much extra for Mobile Link, I decided not to go this route and will continue looking for more viable solutions to get XM Wx on my mobile devices…. specifically on my iPad for Foreflight.

In narrowing my target focus, I again decided to shoot for getting my XM Wx data solution implemented with the most elegant solution possible.  Although I currently have a USB cable connection on my XM Wx receiver, I still had a nagging question on just how exactly that would interface with my AV8OR GPS unit.  What I did know however, is that it would require an optional cable which I do not currently have on hand. Note, that “cable” here is also a significant, operative word.  The bottom line is the location and fit of my AV8OR on my panel is very tight, and introducing a new cable would add to its complexity of getting it situated on a tightly packed panel and its use (removing during non-use and during fly-ins, etc).

Although an unexpected expense, by purchasing the XM Wx receiver Bluetooth module from Aircraft Spruce, it knocks out the proverbial 2 birds with 1 stone: 1) It solves all questions about connecting device A (AV8OR) to device B (XM Wx receiver, and 2) it makes the install overwhelmingly much cleaner and easier.  So, I pulled the trigger on the Bluetooth module.

Fellow builders that know me know that I often use a term, half in jest, that it’s “better to be lucky than good.”  And as I’ve shared with you before, an old boss of mine used to so wisely say, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”  Well, I think both of those came into play today since I was able buy literally the last Bluetooth module that Aircraft Spruce had in stock for a 2nd generation XM Wx receiver.

On top of that, since the Bluetooth module replaces the USB cord module it then goes to reason that another power source is required (since the USB cord provided it in the wired configuration).  Well, due to a note on the Aircraft item page for the Bluetooth module that some of these peripheral items may be available, after a short hold while the very helpful Aircraft Spruce sales rep called the company that makes the power cords, I was happy to hear that I would be allowed to purchase one of just a few power cords they had left… Woo-hoo!

With my initial XM Wx data solution seemingly resolved, I then pressed on to creating a wiring diagram for the Trig TT22 Mode-S transponder.  I have depictions of its install in a few other diagrams, but since I decided to place it in the outboard pocket of the right strake, I figured I had better expound a bit on the particulars of its wiring and installation. Thus, here is the resulting transponder wiring and installation diagram.

The transponder wiring diagram above is actually a significant milestone in my build, since it caps a near 5-year effort to document my entire electrical system and components into individual diagrams.  So, for those of you that are interested, here’s the latest updated list showing all my Electrical System Wiring Diagrams:

0. Index Page
Z.  Z-13/8 Electrical System
A.  Switches, Circuit Breakers & LEDs
.99 Grounding Busses
1.  Panel Components
2.  Radio & audio system
3.  Panel Power
4.  Electrical System Components Location Diagram
5.  Aircraft Wire Labeling Sectors Diagram
6.  Nose Gear/AEX System
7.  Pitch & Roll Trim Systems
8.  Lights: LDG, TAXI, NAV, STROBE
9.  Engine Info Management
10. Fuel System
11. Cockpit Lighting
12. Landing Brake
13. Throttle Handle Switches
14. Control Stick Switches
15. Integrated Backup Battery System & X-Bus
16. Gear & Canopy Warning
17. Charging System
18. AG6 Warning Annunciators
19. Electronic Ignition
20. P-Mag Ignition
21. Oil Heater System & Seat Warmers
22. Starting System
23. ELT
24. Heated Pitot Tube
25. Trio Autopilot
26. Video Camera System

27. Heads-Up Display (HUD)
28. Transponder
29. XM Weather
30. Long Wire Runs

 

 

Chapter 22 – New Wiring Diagrams

Yeah, not a lot going on as far as actual building, but I am getting some of the low hanging fruit –which does take a good bit of time– out of the way.

To start off, I did get my 15 amp mini-ANL fuse delivered.  Just for sake of closure here’s a shot of it installed in the fuse holder.

In addition, over the last couple of days I’ve created wiring diagrams for the ACK E-04 ELT:

the Trio Pro Pilot Autopilot:

And the GRT HUD system:

I do have a bit of final cleanup stuff and crosschecking to do on each of these diagrams, but for the most part they are complete.

Finally, in the next few days I plan on knocking out the Trig TT22 Transponder wiring diagram, which at this point is the last wiring diagram left to complete.  Moreover, I’ve made updates and tweaked about 10 other wiring diagrams so my electrical system documentation is pretty up to snuff currently.

I’ll continue to update you all on any minor bits of progress or massive decisions that I make on the build as they occur!

 

Chapter 22 – E-Bus Feed Fuse

From my research this was the best Mini ANL (MIDI) fuse holder that I could find to serve as my new E-Bus feed fuse holder…. and I quite like it too.  It’s lightweight (1.4 oz) yet quite sturdy and simple in design.  As you can see, it has two #10 screw posts which each serve double duty to both retain each end of the Mini ANL fuse/current limiter and secure the respective wires’ terminals to the fuse holder.

The actual nomenclature for this component is the EATON Bussmann LMI1-E-2-0 Fuse Holder with Cover.

The attached red rubber protective cap simple pushes into place –with slots on the underside of the cap– onto the center vertical posts that are situated above and below the center fuse area in the pic above.

Below are pics with the red protective cap in place.

And here is a representative shot of the Mini ANL (MIDI) type fuse, which of course is just a smaller version of the more robust 40-60A current limiters often seen in many experimental airplanes on the alternator’s B-lead circuit.

I looked around at a couple of auto parts stores in hopes that they would have these Mini ANL (MIDI) fuses in stock, but alas, I ended up having to order them online.

So I now have all the components identified/on-hand/on order to make the modification in my conversion to Bob Nuckoll’s new Z-36 E-Bus feed circuit, which IMO is much better than the previous circuit design I was using.

 

Chapter 22 – GRT HUD

Well, as I was looking up some info on the GRT Avionics site yesterday I ran across their home page banner on their integration and use of a Heads Up Display (HUD).  I remember quite a while back my buddy Brian Ashton up in Alaska discussing how he had picked up a HUD unit for his GRT avionics suite.  We had a few brief discussions on GRT’s HUD system (the backbone component is actually from Hudly) and I really never gave it much thought after that.

Still being in my self-enforced downtime due to my back and hip (which are getting better at a snail’s pace), I took the time to really dive into this unknown world of GRT HUD technology.  Well, as you can see from the pics below, the integrated HUD along with the GRT avionics does a really good job of displaying a ton of key flight data.

These pics were taken by GRT’s Greg Toman in his RV6 during a bright day.  During Greg’s subsequent discussion on this HUD system he noted that after takeoff on his first flight with the HUD installed, he realized after landing that he had not looked inside the cockpit for primary flight data once during the entire flight.  In short, it was just way too EZ to reference the HUD for this flight data info, which then allowed him to concurrently keep his eyes looking outside for traffic.

Moreover, GRT’s integrated HUD provides a ton more information than just basic flight data.  In the depiction below, in addition to airspeed, altitude, heading, attitude, altimeter, turn coordinator and wind speed/direction, it also provides

  • HSI (lower left)
  • Waypoint info (upper left): WPT, distance, ETA
  • GRT’s Highway-In-The-Sky (HITS) boxes
  • Armed GRT Synthetic Approach (SAP) [4.5° descent angle, also shown during ILS]
  • Runway depiction (near center of inner HITS box)
  • Flight Director & Flight Path Marker (magenta circle & target symbol above ALT box)
  • Vertical & lateral approach “needles” (yellow hash marks)
  • Runway info/data (upper right): KLDM, Rwy 01, currently 976 feet above runway
  • Selected altitude (upper right) “SA-700”

Call me impressed (or a sucker… ha!) but after a 45 minute phone call with Greg at GRT, I was convinced enough to at least give this HUD technology a try.  I ordered a small Android Compute Stick [a mini computer somewhat like the Raspberry Pi, but quite often used for processing video signals] that serves as the BlueTooth interface between the GRT EFIS components and the HUD system.

Fast forward to today, where I received the Android Compute Stick and immediately started to get the GRT Remote App loaded onto it (which required an HDMI-cabled monitor, thus allowing me to use my recent space-saving purchase of a Smart TV!). In the end, I was able to cobble together just enough bits n’ pieces to make this happen.  As you can see below, for the pic of the Android Compute Stick I added the ubiquitous decimal tape measure into the shot for size determination.

I then set-up the various HUD parameters for what will be my specific HUD configuration.

One nice feature of the GRT Remote App is that it lets you check how the HUD display will look as you change out the various configuration settings in the app menu.

Finally, I do plan on having a small Android screen on a RAM ball mount for GIB situational awareness, so just as an FYI this PFD below is how flight data info will be presented to the GIB.

I don’t plan on actually purchasing the HUD equipment until next year some time, but I did want to get a jump on things for planning purposes HUD-wise.  Thus, I’ve already designated the HUD’s power connection points in my current electrical system configuration.

 

Chapter 22 – Electrical System Tweaks

My current back ailment puts me in a bit of an irony at the moment: since I want to take it EZ for a good bit to let my back and hip heal up, I am now actually able to do some much needed administrivia and cleanup tasks on the electrical system.  Kind of a catch-22 scenario at the moment in that the longer I delay on getting my house sold, the longer it will take to get back on the build… but in my current state, I’m actually able to focus on a number of aspects of the build.  Life can be weird sometimes!

To start off, Bob Nuckolls must be bored (or something!) as he’s been ginning up some new Z diagrams to tweak some of his older stuff.  Well, over a year ago he reviewed my basic electrical system architecture and signed off on it, but in the process told me that I didn’t need a relay that I had to control isolating (powering) the E-Bus to SD-8 b/u alternator power when/if I had a main alternator failure.  I removed the relay to simplify and lighten my system, but never had a 100% warm fuzzy on doing so. I also wasn’t keen on my entire E-Bus being powered via a 15A ATC blade fuse off the Battery Bus.  ATC blade fuses tend to be a bit more on the fast-blow side so they are more likely to nuisance trip, so the sizing is a bit more touchy on critical components than say a slower-blow CB.

Well, Bob has since remedied both those issues with a new Z-36 design (see below), which I quickly scarfed up and implemented into my system architecture.  Not only does the new Z-36 put the relay back into play, but it feeds the whole E-Bus circuit from a much more robust ANL fuse.  Since I wanted to go with a lower amp rating than 30 amps (depicted on Bob’s diagram), I actually downsized to a MINI ANL fuse and will be using either a 15A or 20A mini ANL fuse. During my research, I was also able to find a good fuse holder mount for it and pulled the trigger on it.

I updated my master electrical system diagram to show this modification, which significantly changed my wiring circuitry to/from the Battery Bus & E-Bus for the b/u alternator power feed, and also the switch circuitry that drives the switching from main to b/u alternator/E-bus power.  Luckily, I hadn’t really wired any of that up so I won’t have to do any major rewiring work. Now, while the logic of my configuration matches Bob’s Z-36, my mechanical implementation is just a tad different than his, as I show here (focus on top center of diagrams):

In addition, I spent a bit of time reworking the AEX switch on Marc Zeitlin’s new gear architecture to add an “OFF” position [which, BTW, Marc had in his original design and I am now putting back in based off the advice from Joe Coraggio in his recounting his off-field landing].

My new switch’s wiring is not exactly how I would design it if I were starting from scratch, but it will definitely work and –moreover– will keep the aviation standard of the bottom switch position being “OFF.”  It also eliminates any extensive re-wiring other than lopping off the wires from the current switch and re-soldering them to the new OFF-ON-(ON) switch.  So, on the new 3-position switch, the bottom position is OFF, the middle position is AEX AUTO, and the top momentary position is Emergency Gear Extend, as shown here.

If you’re wondering what switch I’m talking about and it’s location in regards to the panel, I’ve circled it in white and have an arrow pointing to it.  Yes, it’s the one in the black and yellow striped switch guard.

I also took a bit of time while adding the new Z-36 design into my system to do an inventory of all my relays and inline fuses.  I found a couple of discrepancies in the component ID numbers due to repeated additions, changes and swap outs during system design.  I’ve cleaned up the IDs and the lists so I’m up to snuff with both of those electrical system component categories.

My final task related to the wiring was that due to a variety of reasons (from limited behind-panel space to near-max antenna cable run) I decided to place my Trig TT22 transponder out in the right strake pocket and worked up the new wiring scheme for that.  I’m actually running the power wires via the CS spar conduit from the hell hole, so that only leaves 4 x 22AWG signal wires that I’ll need to run through a nylaflow conduit imbedded into the lower front LE of the strake.  While working the wiring for moving the Trig TT22 out from behind the panel to the end of the right strake, I also finalized the configuration for another (2 of 2) consolidated 22AWG 6-wire cable that will start behind the panel and end in the hell hole.

In addition to working my plane’s electrical system taskers, I’ve also been getting back into the books on flying, IFR and avionics.  I’m hoping to get back in the cockpit for another 1-3 months during my transition down to NC to get my flying “sea legs” back underneath me!

 

Chapter 23 – Engine move to NC

I actually started off this little tale yesterday: 25 October….

Today I finally got the remaining significant aircraft assemblies for my Long-EZ build hauled down to North Carolina.  The big 3 components that I moved were the engine, the canard and the panel mockup.  In addition, I also moved my glass storage cabinet and cutting table down as well.

The panel mockup, sans the majority of the avionics, simply went into the pax seat of my truck. EZ-PZ.

On the canard, I used 2 of the wood flooring boxes and wrapped each side of the canard, from the mounting tab outboard to the tip.  A tad bit of effort going on there, but still relatively EZ to add some shipping protection to it.

The engine was a different story of course.  Although not overly difficult, it did take a good bit of machination to ensure all would be secure and safe during transport.

My first concern was that since I have the engine pert near full of pickling oil, I couldn’t just simply remove the oil quick drain valve on the bottom of the cold air induction oil sump since it was keeping all the oil where it’s supposed to be!  And since the oil valve protrudes downward a good 3-4″ below the oil sump, it clearly need some nearby supports to keep it protected.

Thus, it was quickly apparent that unlike the thick styrofoam that I had used in hauling the engine home from the shop, I needed a transporting base to keep the bottom of the engine (e.g. the quick oil drain valve) off of the truck bed while in transport.

Being a rather clever fellow (ha!), I grabbed a spare 2×6 I had laying around and concocted this thing here.  The 2×6 upright “post” towards the front of this thing is situated along the bottom of the engine case in between and just forward of the alternator and starter, where the case has a little flat spot.  The quick oil drain valve is situated inside the open area made up by the boards running on each side of the vertical post.

As you can see somewhat, I then strapped my engine transport base to the bottom of the engine using 2 tie-down straps.  I also prepped the engine for a good road trip by encasing what I could in large garbage bags and then wrapping it all with plastic wrap.

Here’s a more closeup view…

After the 20+ minutes of setting up and configuring the engine hoist, then came the somewhat laborious process of undoing the engine-to-engine stand bolts, then hoisting the free engine –with the attached transport base– into my truck.

I then secured the engine into the bed of my truck.

About 15 hours later –after unloading the rest of my stuff into the storage unit– I then got my engine unloaded into my friend’s garage down in NC.  It’s hard to tell in the pic, but there was a steady light rain coming down at this point.

In addition to my engine, I had also hauled down the much required engine hoist and engine stand on the trailer.

I then simply reversed the process to get the engine back off my truck and onto the engine stand.

And Voila!  Then engine is now safe and sound in NC!

Thus ends another successful mini-adventure in the tale of my airplane build!

 

Back in black!

Ok, so after a month-long detour my fuselage is back where it’s supposed to be: in North Carolina.  Along with the left wing and motorcycle.

However, before loading the fuselage onto the trailer and departing Virginia for trip #2 down to NC, I decided that I wanted to actually sit in my fuselage and actually look out of the finished canopy for the first time.  I started by peeling the protective plastic wrap back over the canopy to just aft of the roll bar.

Then I climbed in and closed the canopy.

This was the general view I saw looking forward over the nose.

And the view 45° out to the right.  Yes, the bright garage lights were on, but it was night and remember that my canopy is tinted.

I then lowered the nose significantly to check out the nose gear deploy/retract system with me sitting in the fuselage.  Although it sounded like death warmed over, the nose gear actuator did it’s job like a champ both going gear up and then back down.

I then climbed out of the fuselage, replaced the canopy’s protective plastic cover, and loaded the fuselage onto the trailer.

Here’s a shot of fuselage and wing back in it’s proper place: the storage unit in NC.

I still have a few more major build components to bring down, including the canard and the engine, but beyond that I’m calling the build pretty much moved.  On my next trip (in a few weeks) I’ll be bringing those last components down along with my very near to final load out of household goods.  By the end of October my house should be ready –or very close– to put on the market for sale.

 

Rough River 2018

As I mentioned in my last post, Marco was in town Monday (24 Sep) for training and stopped by for quite a few hours to talk shop and have dinner at a Peruvian chicken place that I turned him on to.

While here, Marco and I discussed Rough River with the underlying assumption that I wasn’t going.  Marco’s Long-EZ is down for engine repairs and he was making plans to fly over to RR with an EAA chapter buddy in his Velocity.  However, after a few “check” flights it turned out that the Velocity was having some avionics issues and needed some tweaking before flying any instrument approaches.

Thus, I got the call just a couple of days later (Wednesday) that Marco was driving to Rough River and really wanted a wingman to come with during the 12+ hour drive there … So, not wanting to leave a buddy high and dry, I decided it was acceptable to take a few days off for RR.  Especially since it only happens once a year.

Moreover, I was thinking that there’s a very good possibility that this would be my last RR to glean any good ideas before finishing my airplane!

Below are the pics I took for this year’s RR.  Be forewarned that there are no full airplane pics as I was specifically looking for interesting tidbits that I might incorporate into my build.  Also, I’m posting the pics per topic, not per airplane.

Starting off is a unique ingress/egress step that pops out of fuselage sidewall of Robert Harris’s Long-EZ, much in the same manner of many military aircraft.

Another means of providing an ingress/egress step is shown on Jim Price’s Long-EZ, with a retractable rod/tube type.

Note that the step sits just forward of the left thigh support/lower instrument panel when stowed.

Here I tried to get a shot of Jim Price’s retractable step both on the inside and outside of the fuselage.

Marco’s buddy Chris from Chesapeake showed up at RR, so I took him over to introduce him to Bill James and check out Bill’s awesome Vari-Eze.  While at Bill’s Vari, I wanted to look at how Bill had done the internal lips on his removable canard cover.

In turn, here’s a partial shot of Robert Harris’s canard and aft nose cover held in place by screws.  As you can see, there is a screw on the top side of the cover where it transitions into the inboard elevator fairing.  I too will have a screw holding the aft nose cover to the inboard elevator fairing, but my securing screw will be located on the bottom of the fairing.

As far as the elevator fairing shape itself, I really like the one on Curtis Wray’s Long-EZ (originally built by Dave Lind).

Mike Toomey had his beautiful newly finished Long-EZ at RR (he also owns/flies a Cozy III) and I took note of the fresh air vent inlet that he placed at the strake/fuselage intersection. He said it works great.  As a point of note, this is a considerably smaller version of James Redmon’s Berkut 13 fresh air inlet –which James says works great as well.

Since I have a large, oversized canopy I am very interested in keeping the front right corner of the canopy secured to the fuselage.  Below is the front right canopy latch on Curtis Wray’s Long-EZ.

Whereas Jamie Hicks has a roller type canopy securing “hook” on his beautifully painted Vari-Eze.

On Saturday Mike Bowden showed up with his once-twin engine Long-EZ, which is now powered by a single O-360.  Mike has been gracious enough to have some extensive discussions with me on how he constructed his canopy latch handle that I will in most part emulate.  As you may recall, I had started with the thought of using Jack Wilhelmson’s EZ Rotary Latch canopy handle, but its installed configuration impedes with my GNS480 GPS unit and F-15 throttle handle . . . yes, space is tight in my Long-EZ!

Since I hadn’t seen Mike’s bird since we discussed the canopy latch I wanted to get some good pics of it.  Mike wasn’t around when I grabbed these, and unfortunately I never got a chance to talk to him!

Here’s the external side of the latch, which resides on the upper side of the fuselage just below the longeron.

For size comparison, I held up my Diet Coke can.  Also, note the very tip of the strake on the lower right side of the pic.

Here’s the internal view of Mike’s canopy latch.  Again, my version will be heavily based on Mike’s version, but it will have a couple of distinct differences since I will have a canopy latch hook above and forward of the canopy latch handle (Mike’s canopy has a fixed windscreen on the front, negating the need for a forward canopy latch hook as is standard in most Long-EZs).

For my final canopy-related tidbit, I grabbed a shot of Curtis Wray’s canopy handle.  I like the idea of having a little handle, but mine will either be along the lines of an indent or small ridge to grab ahold of with my fingers, or a spring loaded handle that returns to a flat profile against the internal canopy frame surface once I release it.

Back in the GIB area, here’s a shot of Nick Ugolini’s very nice interior on his Long-EZ.  You can see a bit of the strake window, the GIB LED map light and the heat controls.  I grabbed this shot mainly to take note of the position of the LED map light, and as a point of note in my Long-EZ: all the heat controls are up front.

My final RR pic with one last shot of Nick U’s Long-EZ.  I really like the professional look of his fuel site gages.  I will add one final point of note, and that is I had heard a vehement disapproval of the red cork ball floats inside the fuel site gages by a number of people online.  It seems the issue was that static builds up and causes the red cork float to stick to the interior of the site gage rather than float on the surface of the fuel, thus making it hard to ascertain the real fuel level in flight (BTW, I also have fuel tank probes that feed fuel quantities to my EFIS).  But then when I asked a myriad of people at this RR whose planes had the red cork floats in the fuel site gages, none of them reported any issue other than the need for an occasional wrap of the gage to knock the red cork float back into the fuel.

I had planned on drilling a hole to remove the red cork float, but now I’ll assess it more to figure out if that’s really necessary or not.

So another Rough River is in the history books!  I really am very hopeful that my pics at next RR will include throngs of people hoarded around my finished Long-EZ!!!

 

Hurricane Florence Extraction Operation

Well, what seems to be the norm in my build —and anyone else’s build admittedly— I had to engage in the proverbial “two steps forward, one step back” as Hurricane Florence loomed towards the coast of North Carolina.

Since I had already turned off my cable service to my house in Northern Virginia in prep for the upcoming move (and to save money) I was blissfully ignorant of Florence’s maniacal intentions until my buddy Greg texted me and asked me what I thought about “Florence.” I thought I must have forgotten some discussion we had on his vacationing in Florence (Italy?).  Upon Googling it I then became one of the watchers-n-waiters to see what would happen.

And it just so happened that on Monday evening I had plans to head up to Old Town Alexandria for happy hour and dinner with some real estate agent friends of mine.  I got a text about an hour before heading out that we couldn’t go to our usual haunt since it was under siege by a couple feet of flood water, along with the rest of the Old Town waterfront a couple blocks in from the Potomac River.  (“Uh-oh” I thought, “if this thing is already impacting us this far north, I need to take heed!”)

I immediately called Sunbelt Rentals to see if they had my trailer available for rent, which they did. [BTW, this location happens to be one of the very few out of all their locations that has a trailer wide enough to accommodate the width of the main landing gear].  Since it was right before their closing time, and I still didn’t have an exact update on what Florence was doing, I decided to hold on off on reserving the trailer.  In addition, they open at 6 AM so I could grab it right at opening time if need be.

After dinner I got a Florence update and heard of the non-mandatory evacuation by noon Tuesday, I decided my mission was most likely a go.  I set my alarm for 5:30 AM (Tuesday) and headed off to bed.

By the next morning it looked very likely that Hurricane Florence was going to hit the North Carolina coast very near my storage unit.  Thus, my fuselage rescue and evac mission was a go.  I got to the rental location just after 6 AM and rented the trailer, did the paperwork, and got it hooked up.  I was then on the road just a bit after 6:30 AM, and arrived my storage unit just before 1 pm.  It took me about 5 hours to load up my motorcycle, fuselage, wing, and miscellaneous expensive stuff (including the baggage pods, wheel pants and my main avionics box!) before heading out of there about 6 pm.

As you can see a bit in the pic below, the weather was beautiful on Tuesday and hard to believe that a hurricane was bearing down on that location.

I then scooted over towards the west side of NC and went to Greensboro for a couple of days, offloading a few things at Stacey’s house before taking off at 3:30 AM Friday (14 Sep) to head north towards home.  For the most part, I had been able to keep the unpainted airplane components out of direct sunlight, so wanting to drive while dark and avoid traffic was my main reasons for leaving so early.  As it turned out, it was a perfect time to depart Greensboro.  I hit 10-15 min of heavy rain just west of Raleigh and maybe a half hour on each end of very light rain, but for the most part it was a dry trip and the fuselage was fairly water free upon my arrival home around 8:30 am.

My friends from the Cherry Point, NC area had also traveled over towards Greensboro and stayed in a hotel, and then followed behind me a couple of hours heading up to my place in Northern Virginia.  It was great having them for the week and a half that we waited out Florence’s shenanigans and ascertained what damage she had wrought.  They then departed on Saturday, 22 Sep.  Needless to say, their visit slowed me down considerably on my house updating efforts in order to prep it to sell.  Moreover, Marco was in town the following Monday (24 Sep) for training and stopped by for quite a few hours to talk shop and have dinner at a Peruvian chicken place that I turned him on to.

During Marco’s visit we discussed Rough River with the underlying assumption that I wasn’t going.  Marco’s Long-EZ is down for engine repairs and he was making plans to fly over to RR with an EAA chapter buddy in his Velocity.  However, after a few “check” flights it turned out that the Velocity was having some avionics issues and needed some tweaking before flying any instrument approaches.  Thus, I got the call just a couple of days later (Wednesday) that Marco was driving to Rough River and really wanted a wing man to come with during the 12+ hour drive there . . . so, not wanting to leave a buddy high and dry, I decided it was acceptable to take a few days off for RR.  Details of the RR trip are covered in the next blog post . . .

[BTW, I learned from both my friends returning back to NC and the owner of the storage unit that miraculously there was no flooding at the storage unit and all my other stuff made it through the hurricane unscathed!]