Building Suggestions from Jim Agnew
Wing Bolt Torque After First Flight
I would suggest that you re-torque your wing bolts after the first flight and maybe again after 5 hours. I found that after the first short 15 minute test flight the torque on the wing bolts was about 1-2 Ft. Lb... low and they were torqued before the flight by me and then checked by Sam DaSilva. Since this is the first time the wings are really loaded negative, relative to gravity, there may be a small amount of shifting as well as wear on the fine machining marks on the bushing faces. Maintaining the torque should reduce further wear if this is the cause.
Cheapest Safety Product You Can Buy During Building
I strongly suggest that you purchase about 4 tubes of Torque Seal also known as Anti Sabotage Inspectors Lacquer in different colors. This $10 purchase should last for the entire building process. Chief Aircraft carries this product. When John Murphy inspected my plane he thought it was a very good idea. I normally used YELLOW for myself (2 tubes) and had a tube of BLUE & Orange for others to use when doing follow up inspections.
I made it a policy that any bolt or fitting was not considered torqued or tightened until it was marked. You place a small dot of Torque Seal in a visible place at the junction of the nut & threads after you tighten it for the last time. If you ever loosen the nut or fitting the paint cracks and you know that it must be re tightened. I know we don't think we will ever need to loosen anything but I can assure you you will. Have someone else go over your plane and double mark everything with a different color to make sure you didn't miss anything. Great memory aid and insurance.
Off Field Landings, Your On The Way Down!
I know we all never expect this to happen, however, the following is from personal experience and we can all learn something from this actual incident. I will not discuss the reason or who, just how hard it may be for someone to find you.
Before you say you don't fly in remote areas, this aircraft was within 2.5-8.6 miles of four cities / towns. The plane was sitting in a wheat field, it has started to rain, and the pilot could not see anything in any direction. Luckily the plane had little damage and the pilot had no injuries. As an experienced pilot he knew that he was about 8 miles from his last VOR (initial report SW actual SE).
On the way down he called a Mayday with no response and after landing tried the radios unsuccessfully again. He tried his cell phone and could almost make a call. By walking to a higher spot in the field he was able to call me and tell me his approximate position. I told him to save his phone battery , go back to the plane and turn on the GPS to get an exact fix. I told him I would use my flight planning & moving map software to find his approximate location and call him back.
I was concerned since it was getting dark, raining, I didn't know about the temperature, and injuries were still possible. I called back a few minutes latter and gave him his approximate location. He was about 3/4 of a mile from a tiny dirt road and had railroad tracks about 2-3 miles to his east & west and nothing else. He gave me his actual Latitude & Longitude and I suggested he call 911 and get someone started looking for him. I recommended that he have the 911 operator call me and I would have a solid fix in 10 minutes or less.
What happened, once they got him on the 911 line they wouldn't let him hang up. I sat waiting with some route numbers and instructions based on distance, railroad track and power line crossings for the dirt roads that would have gotten them to the location in no time.
They had police cars running up and down roads blowing their sirens and asking if he could hear them. His battery went dead and he had to go back to the plane and plug in to recharge it partially. Bottom line, almost 2 hours after landing they found him.
So what have we learned?
First 911 does not know what to do with a radial and distance nor do they know what to do with a
Latitude and Longitude so on your way down it may be wise to look for one or two prominent landmarks if possible.
Second, if you carry a cell phone make sure you have a charging cord with you.
Third, locating you even with detailed location instructions like latitude & longitude may take a long time so you might want to stack the deck in your favor. If you are injured it may be too late.
Off Field Landings, Stacking The Deck In your Favor - Skyblazers!
Boaters are required to carry signaling devices for locating them. There are a number of these devices, however, for aircraft use I feel that the least expensive and useful are a product (one brand Skyblazers) that is a flare projector. These are available at all marine stores for about $20-25 for a three pack (You need at least 3 projectors, less and you may not be located). They are plastic about 3/4" in diameter and 4" long and weigh about 2 oz ea. that fire a 10,000 CP. red magnesium flare 300-400' in the air. Unscrew the cap, point and pull the chain. They can be seen for miles and can really attract attention. I do not recommend a flare gun since in some places they can be considered a weapon and get you arrested. In real emergencies they can be used to start a fire if necessary. When used with aircraft overhead never fire them at the plane, they will not see it. Fire well in front of the aircraft.
Why 3 projectors? The first will get the attention of the pilot, the second will allow the pilot to locate your approximate position and the third will probably be seen coming up from your location. After firing each flare wait for an indication that you have been seen before firing another. These flares have expiration dates and pay attention to the date and replace them.
This is long, however, I hope you have learned some important things.
-- -- // James F. Agnew // Tampa, Florida // Velocity 173 Elite FG Airplane 100% Complete