Experimenter

OCT 2014

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.

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EAA Experimenter 23 angle to each other and the cabin frame. Of course, it becomes a bigger challenge when time is against you and you have a few hundred people watching. Nonetheless, able-bodied wing holders held those wings in place, whilst the angles were set and the wing struts cut, set, and checked. With the day slipping away and just a few rivets left to pull, it was time to take the wings of and cordon of the outside area where fi nal work would take place. Plumbing, prop, header tank, and a host of little works suddenly could now take place, in the failing light. Floodlights were brought out, and the amazing gift of power provided brightness to those who would burn their candles at both ends in the sprint toward the fi nish line. As they worked, the crowds departed after the night air show. Would it all come together in the morning? It was an open bet, but the belief in the "spirit of building aircraft" was grow- ing, and the majority remained cautiously optimistic. DAY SE V EN: T HE DAY T HE Y S T OL E 16 HOURS Arriving on Sunday morning, nobody felt rested, but everybody felt totally exhilarated. The One Week Wonder sat out front looking like a toddler about to go out in its push chair for the fi rst time, full of anticipation, ready for an adventure, but look- ing so innocent and unprepared. It was 99 percent ready, and with just 50 percent left to go! But that 50 percent was going to be a challenge. The EAA management sent a man to reset the clock to just seven hours left. At 3 p.m., the clock would show 00:00:00, and it would all be over. Just seven hours—and there were still no doors and no seats and not all the rivets had been pulled; it was a long shot. But where there is the "spirit of building aircraft," there is a way. And the Force was strong in the team; if only the weather would hold. The FAA man was coming, so the team must be ready. More folks wanted to pull a rivet, sign the builder's log, and share some stories with the crowd that had now grown to the size of a small town. This was a day of making wishes come true, and so they did pull rivets and sign the log. A sudden, violent storm came through; everything got wet or drenched, people were holding down wings on aircraft all around, and crowds took shelter in the One Week Wonder Tent, where just hours before it was a delivery room for the new baby now sitting out in the rain. Nonetheless, the front moved past and the sun revived the spirits. And work continued. Necessary tasks were done in broad daylight, with full participation of the crowd. Fuel test, weight and balance, engine checks, and tidying up those last little niggles were close at hand. With a big crowd on hand, it was time to spread that "spirit of building aircraft" wide. A narrative was established. As the barker, I informed the crowd: "Rob is doing the fi nal checks on the Rotax 912 iS Sport. This is based on the 25-year-old, proven and reliable concept of the Rotax 912 aircraft engine series, but updated to an ultramodern, light, and powerful engine." Nug- gets of information and inspiration seeds could land on the ears of anybody passing by; perhaps some would grow. It was time for the fuel fl ow test, and the crowd grew even bigger, waiting to hear the engine start for the fi rst time. Never before has a two-seat aircraft had so many observers as it pissed fuel into a calibrated vessel while being timed. The One Week Wonder passed its urological test with fl ying colors. The crowd was pushed back, ready for the fi rst engine test. Nobody wanted to move; they just wanted to be near the airframe, to feel its energy, to be a part of the event that had taken Oshkosh 2014 from an aviation event to a life experience extraordinaire." The engine would be run for a very short time, at low revs as part of that was for priming the fuel system, and frankly, just to see if it all worked. Rob warned that it might take a few turns before it started since the fuel system is run at 45 psi with a maximum of 120 liters per hour while consuming a mere 13 liters (about 3 U.S. gallons) per hour in cruise fl ight. One lady standing at the front, eyes pinned on the machine before her, started muttering that aircraft engines are always hard to start the fi rst time. Then as the start procedure was undertaken, everybody was thrilled when the engine didn't even miss a beat, as it fi red up and ran as smoothly as a sewing machine that had just been oiled. Tickity, tickity, tickity. The lady in the front row shouted, "Yay, fi rst time and so smooth. I want one!" The only dif cult part of aviation is convincing people that it is not dif cult! The One Week Wonder team handled the task like a pro! The "spirit of building aircraft" was getting stron- ger, infecting more and more, and the emotions were running higher than cruise level for the SR-71 Blackbird! As the team drained fuel and fi xed the fi nal components, the scales were brought out to weigh the aircraft. The One Week Wonder "weighed in." To enable greater understanding, Patricia and a 12-year-old girl from the crowd demonstrated what center of gravity meant, by using a plank of wood and a fulcrum. The opportunity to educate the crowd was greater than anticipated, and it soaked up the knowledge like sponges dried in the desert and then tossed into the sea. Each volunteer who pulled a rivet on the airplane was invited to sign his or her name adjacent to the rivet.

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