October 2012

Experimenter is a magazine created by EAA for people who build airplanes. We will report on amateur-built aircraft as well as ultralights and other light aircraft.

Issue link: http://experimenter.epubxp.com/i/84816

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Page 16 of 47

out. All of it. Then I made up a new instrument panel. Well, actually, I made six of them because I either had problems in making them or found I didn't like some of the ar- rangement. As it turns out, the first arrangement was the one I came back to in the end. Isn't that always the way?" Bill obviously got his S-51T back in the air, and in the end, knew much more about the airplane than when he bought it. He said, "When you go completely through an airplane the way I did, cleaning up and changing every- thing to both fit your mission and work better, it does a lot for your confidence in it. So, I fly the airplane more comfortably now than I think I did at the beginning. "As for how it flies, it's pretty much everything you'd want in an air- plane. A real fighter. On takeoff, as long as you remember to preset right rudder trim, it's pretty easy to keep straight, and with 724 horses dragging you down the runway, takeoff doesn't take very long. As soon as you're off the ground, the throttle comes back to 657 horses, and at cruise you're right at 380 hp, which gives 250 mph at about 40 gallons per hour. That's a pretty conservative setting. It'll go a lot faster, but at that setting I have a solid two-and-a-half hours with one hour reserve. T e residual power at idle always gives a pretty good fl oat, and ground eff ect keeps it up, but at 70 mph it's on the ground. "On approach, I get the first notch of flaps at 140, which helps slow it down; the gear is down at 125 and I'm flying downwind at 100 mph. I try to have 80 to 90 over the fence and it stalls at 72. The residual power at idle always gives a pretty good float, and ground effect keeps it up, but at 70 mph it's on the ground. Once on the ground it's a no-sweat operation. However, when taxiing it, if you stick your head around the windshield while S-turning, it's like sticking your head out into a hair dryer, and it'll blow your glasses and hat off." The allure of the Mustang is univer- sal, something that Bill enjoys. "I'm never alone at the gas pump," he said. "It gathers a crowd be- cause everyone on the planet seems to recognize and like Mustangs. So it's really fun to take it places. The only thing missing is the magic sound of a Merlin." Hmmm…with all of the creativity EAA homebuilders seem to have, we're wondering how long it'll be be- fore Bill designs an audio system that produces that distinctive 12-cylinder bark. As he has said, projects like his Mustang are never truly fi nished. Budd Davisson is an aeronautical engineer, has fl own more than 300 different aircraft types, and published four books and more than 4,000 articles. He is editor-in-chief of Flight Journal magazine and a fl ight instructor primarily in Pitts/ tailwheel aircraft. Visit him at www.Airbum.com. Photography by Tyson Rininger EAA EXPERIMENTER 17

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