Flying the F1 Rocket

The first 200 hours

After you get over the first 25 hours of excitement, you start to get used to the Rocket.  Seems strange, all that performance just seems normal, that is, until you get into another aircraft (say a 172) then jump back into a Rocket, it just seems unreal.

Problems - 1st 50 hours:

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Wheel alignment.  This didn't quite work out like the book.  I think better is to put it on the gear and draw lines on the floor making it all square.  I wore out a set of tires in the first 50 hours!  Second set is still looking great after 150 hours.  The plane also doesn't "scrub" when pushing around the hangar.

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Plugged injectors - to be expected and didn't cause me any problems.  Landed cleaned all (including both filters - don't forget the one on the servo) and all was good.

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Throttle quadrant needed re-building a couple of times until I got the angle right.  At first pulling the throttle back would trap my fingers between the bulkhead and the throttle.

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Ailerons - right wing heavy way too much!  Found the factory had not lined the holes up on the ailerons.  At first I just ovaled the holes out and drilled a third in the middle.  After I was satisfied, I bought new hinges from Vans and drilled them right.

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Removed booster for MP3 player.  Intercom had it built in and it is loud enough.

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Pulled rear rudder pedals out.  Put a piece of 4130 in their place and gave me 1/2 inch more leg room. 

50 - 200 hours:

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ACS - having troubles with the EGT readings.  One or two (specifically cylinder three) wanders around making it almost impossible to lean following the instrument.  I have yet to sent the unit back as it means having the plane down for a month.  I replaced the probe, wire, and swapped wiring, but still have the problem.

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My voltage always read low, luckily I checked with a volt meter before adjusting the voltage regulator.

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A couple of times I lost all electrical power!  Very interesting, especially when you aren't expecting it.  Always happened after I'd been in the air for more than 1 hour.  Took quite a while to figure out (intermittent) but finally tracked it down that my e-buss diode was under sized.  Replaced it with a larger one and bigger heat sink and no problems in the last 50 hours.

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Changed the tail wheel bracket out to one of Vince's units.  I was leaving trenches (I could have planted potatoes in it) on the softer grass fields.  Now it works better and I have a bit better over the nose view.

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Rebuilt the canopy for paint.  I didn't like the back of it.  Now it is good.  See canopy section for final result.

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Painted aircraft.

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At around 150 hours I came home to a flat left tire.  Put a new tube in.  Next day, while landing at another airport) right tire was flat.  Turns out you can land and taxi a Rocket with a flat tire.  This was something that always bothered me, would I be able to do it.  Yes it takes lots of rudder and brake, but it can be done.  New rule; when I change tires, I change tubes, they are only good for so long.

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The trim was giving me intermittent problems from day one.  I did test and I could land and go around at full off trim, so I wasn't overly concerned, but finally did something about it.  I was sure the relay couldn't fail, so I check the thumb switch (fine), changed the servo, still no luck.  If I banged on the relay though, it worked!  Ah ha.  Changed the relay, now it works perfect.

I've flown the plane up to 10 hours in one day.  Glad I bought Oregon Aero seats.  

I fly to Mabel Lake and back regularly.  I carry oxygen and have flown at 15500 ft for 1/2 hour, then had to descend for landing.  Best altitude seems to be 10500 ft.  I get great speed and economy there.  I never cruise fast.  I set up 2300 rpm and 22 inches.  At 10500 I see 223 mph true, burning between 10.7 LOP and 13.7 gph ROP. 

15500 ft 217 mph 197 kn GS. 2300 RPM/17.3" 12 gph ROP

10500 ft 224 mph 187kn GS. 2300 RPM/20.8" 13.2 gph ROP

No wind this day.

Some views from the Rocket on the way to Mabel Lake

I've landed on many grass strips.  1800 ft is no problem at all.  First time in over the electrical wires tested my nerves.  The field just seemed so short and the trees came up fast, but after the second time it became normal.

Strip looks so nice and long from this angle!

The aircraft really is a time machine.  Drive to Mabel Lake?  10.5 hours minimum, count more if you have traffic.  Worst flight time to Mable Lake?  1.6 hours!  Best?  1.1 hours, grounding 258 knots that day, great push from the wind and not bumpy (I was up at 13500 ft at the time) at all.

Drive to my fathers?  1.5 hours.  Fly? 15 minutes from take off start to engine off!

It does have it's limitations.  Fly from my home to Edmonton City Centre airport and you must have all the frequencies programmed in ahead of time, it is hard to keep up otherwise.  You also can't get the engine settled down in that time.

I've never flown a plane before that allows you to pop up 2000 ft (just to check wind or ride conditions there) in under a minute.  Makes it so easy for cross countries.  Strange though when you get back into a regular plane that gives you 500 fpm at 6500 ft.  You get spoiled in the Rocket. 

The aircraft flies very differently with a large person in the back.  Because the rear seat is behind the CofG, anything you put back there has an effect on the pitch pressures.  

As of June 2009, I have 170 hours on FROK.  Very low maintenance, but some fine tuning and changing to make it really nice.

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