I need to start out with the following caveat; I can't compete with Scott Laughlin's flight reports. In fact the only way I can compete with Scott is that I'm older and better looking. Now that I have that out of the way, here is my latest death defying feat.
At 6:40 AM I took off in "Papa Goose" (4568G) leaving a very quiet 3R2 (Legros) behind and below. Surface temp was nearly 80F already and I did my best not to waste too much time on the ground. As soon as I had adequate CHTs and oil temp for full power, I did my run up and mag check then headed down runway 31 behind the massively powerful Jabiru 3300A. Being alone (still under 40 hours in Phase 1) the plane climbed easily at 2900 rpm , 97 mph IAS, and 550 fpm. As soon as I was satisfied that the engine was reasonably happy, I headed SE for Vermillion Bay on the Gulf of Mexico due south of Lafayette, LA. All the way there I was steadily climbing through gaps in the scattered cloud layers... not sure why but there where little cloud banks at different altitudes all the way up to 4,000' MSL with tops around 5K. With lots of huge gaps in the clouds I had no problem maintaining VFR minimums and visual contact with the ground. The high pressure dome that has been parked over us for several weeks has begun to drift west and over the last few days there have been a few T-storms in the afternoons to stir up the air a bit. Despite it being very hazy, I was thrilled find that the OAT was dropping nicely as I climbed so I kept on climbing. By the time I reached Vermillion Bay I had reached 6,000' MSL and the Goose was still climbing. Wonder of wonders, the combination of OAT in the upper 60s and the engine getting more broken in was producing oil temps around 210 F. That was a nice surprise since on the last two flights I was seeing 215 - 238 F at 2,000 - 3,500' MSL in high power cruise (2900 RPM). Today there were no such worries to mar the bliss of being airborne doing what I have wanted to do during three years of building.
Soapbox time: Keep on building... address whatever issues you feel need to be addressed but don't get disillusioned or discouraged. Disappointment is inevitable... disillusionment is optional. You will finally get to do what you set out to do as long as you don't let the bumps in the road break you. End of sermon; death defying tale resumes now.
Having seen the Gulf albeit through the haze, I decided to turn west and fly along the intracoastal waterway. It's so funny that now I have an airplane that is faster than the bass boats in the canal. There have been a lot of times in the past when my Excalibur ultralight could not overcome a headwind and overtake a fast boat. Now I have to work on sightseeing quickly as I breeze on by. It is taking some adjustments on my part.
I kept on climbing just to evaluate the performance on the plane and to see how cool the OAT would get to be. By the time I was directly over my home airport once more, I had reached 10,100' MSL and the OAT was a pleasant 52 F. The CHTs and EGTs were all happily in the green and the oil temp was very nice 204 F. At that point I needed to descend because I was expecting Bob Beach in his CH701 to arrive for a visit at 3R2, so I gradually throttled back, pulled on the carb heat and eased the nose over to re-trim for descent at 110 mph IAS. I dropped back down through the holes in the still widely scattered clouds, giving thanks all the way. Up at 8,000 - 10,000' MSL I had no EGT problems when I had tried throttling back into the midrange of the carb. In fact up at 10K full throttle made the engine rumble a bit as though the mixture was too rich for the altitude... probably was. That was a nice surprise because I was planning on changing the midrange jet to the next larger size soon since I had been seeing high EGTs between 2,600 - 2850 rpm at low altitude. Now I'm going to need some advice and rethink that move, but that's for another day and another time.
As I crossed the approach end of 31 and began to flare in ground effect, there were three of the pesky Mottled Ducks that have an absolute fixation with sitting on our runways at Legros. They seem to have decided that sitting in the grass is for other ducks... they prefer the concrete. I added power to allow me to balloon up and drift left then realigned and cut power to resume the landing. It was smooth and none of the embarrassing nose wheel planting that was a problem for me on the first 2 - 3 flights. I taxied up to a friend's hangar as he was preparing to pull out his Grumman Tiger for a quick hop over to Jennings (about ten miles west of Legros) for the Saturday morning breakfast version of the hundred dollar hamburger. He and another friend looked over the Goose and grinned at all my petty concerns about this temp and that pressure and so on. One of the guys told me to "throw all those gauges out the window" to which I replied in my best Brooklyn accent, "Yeah? Well I got your window right here!". It was all harmless of course and guess what? There was not so much as a hint of ZBAGing.
I was about to board the Grumman for the short breakfast hop when Bob's 701 appeared so I jumped back down to wait for him to land. We decide not to go for the breakfast on the grounds that our two obviously superior Zenith aircraft might cause widespread depression among the mortal pilots in Jennings. We opted instead for a photo session aloft. Bob had his buddy, Lloyd along as a safety pilot and his camera was at the ready so back upstairs we went. Heading north out of Legros we climbed back through the holes in the clouds and formed up at 4,500'. As I carefully and intently slid the Goose into low echelon left Bob snapped away and motioned me ahead to get some different views and angles. I can't wait to see what he got. It's reminiscent of Christmas when I was a kid. Who am I kidding? I'm the oldest juvenile on the block and I don't really want to grow up anyway. My inner child likes airplanes... what can I say?
Once Bob got enough shots from different angles we said our goodbyes and parted company. Each of us headed back to our own roosts before the heat of the day made flying too bumpy. I had 2.39 hours to log and besides, neither of us like to abuse our toys. That sort of thing can make a bad reputation for the designer ;-)