Well, we have a plan for getting our Tundra back into the air, and I think it is a good one--partly because we think we know what caused the ripples in the belly skin, and mostly because we had a chat with the factory engineers over the issue, and came up with a plan that they liked. Never underestimate the value of getting answers directly from the folks that designed you airplane or kit, despite that it might be difficult to get ahold of them and the internet with your type’s user forum is so easy to ask. When it comes to complex problems, I like to get my answers from the folks that have data to back up their answers--even if (as in this case) it requires a translator on the phone to convert the questions from English to French, and the answers from French to English. Continue reading "Torsion"

Grounded! (Well, sorta…)


Continuing the theme of flight testing--one of the hardest things for a builder/pilot to do, especially when their airplane is new and they are enjoying it--is to ground the machine due to a mechanical problem that isn't understood. We all know that you can fix an oil leak by tightening something, correct a heavy wing via a number of methods, or trace out  the wiring on a radio that isn’t working. But what do you do when you see a problem developing that seems to be design related and you don't have an answer? Continue reading "Grounded! (Well, sorta…)"



No airplane is perfect right out of the box--that is, really, why we test them isn't it? Of course, there are lots of kits with many examples flying, so the designs are pretty mature--but when it comes to the rarer birds, or popular models that a builder has customized, there are certainly things that Phase 1 will tell us that we need to tweak a bit. Continue reading "Tweaks"

Phase 1 Complete – Testing Continues


With a marathon fight of nearly four hours to gather cruise performance data (take advantage of the smooth air when you can get it!), my wife nudged the Tundra's Hobbs meter to 42.8 hours. Having completed the required testing to assure that the airplane is controllable and has no undesired flight characteristics thought its speed, weight and CG range, and having determined Vso, Vx, and Vy, we made a logbook entry formally taking the airplane out of Phase 1 flight testing. The airplane now resides in that never-expiring “Phase 2” that we all consider to be normal operations - which it is for the life of the airplane. Continue reading "Phase 1 Complete – Testing Continues"

It Flies!


With a fresh airworthiness certificate in hand, pre-fight inspections complete, and gorgeous spring weather (cool with no winds) in the Smith Valley, there was nothing left to do with the Tundra but take her up for the maiden voyage. It has been Louise' and my great pleasure to help our partner, Jim Kinninger bring his dream to fruition - a dream that began about ten years ago when he wrote the check to start his Tundra journey. We joined a little over a year ago, but it's been a whirlwind time getting to today's departure from Terra Firma. Jim's wife, Georgia, and her sister, Marta joined in as photographers, and we were also aided by Manny, a Smith Valley resident and professional pilot who retired from a full career that ended as a contract pilot for NASA Dryden's 747 and DC-8 research aircraft. It takes a team - but a small one - to make a good first flight, and we had a good team. Continue reading "It Flies!"

(Almost) Engine Hanging Time

We riveted on the firewall of our Dream Tundra project the other day - a major milestone because we think that means we have buttoned up all of the airframe wiring, and are ready to just connect things up. The engine has been on before, when we mocked up the firewall equipment placements and fit the cowling. That means that engine installation is really mostly installation - not a whole lot of fabrication is left.

Tundra Firewall Continue reading "(Almost) Engine Hanging Time"