We have been getting questions lately on the size of the baggage area. Some of these photos were posted a while ago, so it must be time to show them again. We will get some photos on the website too.
You can see that there are two seperate areas, split by a bulkhead. Heavy objects in the front, light ones in the rear. The entire area is about 8 cubic feet and can handle 100 pounds. The small wingtips fit in with plenty of room left for baggage. The long wingtips don't even come close to fitting in the plane. You can't have everything. (But the Phoenix tries to come close!)
A nice smooth evening flight to Merritt Island Airport to get additional avionics gave me an opportunity to explore slow flight with the long tips. The sun was just above the horizon.
Patrick Airforce Base just off the right wingtip.
Prop feathered over the Indian River.
Banked turn to the right with the sun shining on the Integra, and no problem seeing the display.
Tied down at Merritt Island outside of Sebastian Communications. The light weight canopy cover offers nice coverage over the canopy, and fits really well. This will be perfect for those cross country trips to come.
After a few small details to work on Saturday, it was time for some flying. The main purpose was to break in the engine at fairly high rpm. The skies were crystal blue with no evidence of instability or thermals, so the short tips were chosen.
The Becker radio was yet to be installed, so the Sporty's handheld did the duties with the Melbourne tower. After the short take-off roll, we were off before the 500' marker on the runway. Patrick Air Force Base was closed, so we boogied through their airspace and toured Port Canaveral and circled Merritt Island airport. Then back south above the MLB Class D to Sebastian Inlet (below).
A helicopter was unloading skydivers over Sebastian Airport, and many aircraft were coming and going. So we then headed for Valkaria Airport for some touch and gos after about an hour of flight at almost 120kts. Valkaria was busy with student training but we squeezed into the pattern for some landings at various flap settings.
The Phoenix is a delightful aircraft to fly with the short span. Super quick roll rate due to the full span flaperons, yet still enough wing area and span to soar.
N24PG received S-LSA certification on Friday, December 3rd.
FAA DAR Jim Allen is really impressed with the Phoneix. The certification took about two and a half hours, and included paperwork review and aircraft inspection. No issues at all, and now we can go flying!
I arrived in Tehachapi with 3 pilots lined up waiting to see the Phoenix. After we all looked over under, and inside the plane, I flew with Bryan. The wind was stil blowing hard from the west so we climbed east of the airport though blowing dust and ratty thermals. Not the best conditions to show off the plane in. But we made some climbs, and ran downwind to a ridge for a little ridge soaring too. Engine back on, we made an easy landing in the crosswinds. David hopped in next. He is a Minden local with a Stemme and a Sparrowhawk, and he knew exactly where to go to find 900 up. We made some in-air restarts, and expored both engine off and on performance. Joe was next, and we didn't have much time to stray far from the airport since he had to fly back to Fresno that afternoon. But he is an experienced glider pilot and motorglider owner, so he knew what he was looking at.
The next morning David and I met for coffee at the Taildragger Cafe and discussed the Phoenix. Our meeting concluded with David ordering serial number 07/U15. Thanks David, and welcome to the Phoenix Club!
After a hop with Fred La Sor at Soaring NV, it was time to return to Tehachapi. Fred, Brad, Jeff, and everyone at Soaring NV was as helpful and friendly as possible. Check out their website at www.soaringnv.com
The White Mountains to the east with Boundary Peak off the wingtip.
Wow, what scenery! What great flying there is to be had in the Sierras. Great views, great people, great soaring, great aircraft. I'm a lucky man to have made this trip. Thanks again, Dennis!
Dennis had some personal business to attend to, so he handed me the keys and told me to take his Phoenix and go visit some customers. Well I didn't need to be told twice, and was off the next morning for Minden NV. Tehachapi is in the southern "foothills" of the Sierras, and makes a perfect launch point to fly into Nevada and back for the local sailplane pilots. I have not made that trip, so it was great to be able to fly the route without even working hard.
Except for 25kt winds out of the west, the soaring conditions were great. I had to stop and take a couple of thermals to cloudbase just for grins.
Approaching Mt. Whitney
Closeup of Mt. Whitney. About 10 hikers were on top, and seemed pleased to see me. But the wind spilling over the peak really had me bouncing around, and with a long way to go through this air, I decided to head on up for smoother air. And as long as I was already going past 16 grand, I wanted to see what the climb performance would be up at 18 grand (17,999').
The good ole Phoenix U2 Spyplane didn't have any qualms about climbing right up to 17,999. We were still climbing about 400fpm at that altitude.
The view from 18 grand was quite different from below the clouds at 15 grand, so I'm glad I went up for a look.
I stayed high past Mammoth Ski Area, and started a descent into Minden about 30 miles out.
After leaving Sedona, the afternoon overdevelopment happened big time. We again flew high, 14,500', most of the way. We were above most of the clouds, and weaved around the higher buildups.
After bypassing China Lake and Edwards AFB, we descended into Tehachapi with the hundreds of wind generators lining the pass.
We were loaded with almost 100lbs of gear. Even when you intend to travel light, the weight seems to increase of it's own accord. Besides our computers, charts, oil, tie down anchors, short wingtips, food and drinks, clothes, EPIRB, and back-up radio and equipment, the Phoenix had to carry the fuel and us, which it did without complaint. Those long wings really handle the weight and the altitude well.
There was enough room in the cockpit to make our journey comfortable. Dennis repeatedly said how easy and comfortable the trip was. He was expecting more of a long slog westward. It really was a great trip. I know we will both cherish the sights, experiences, and friendship we experienced.
Last leg stats;
So from the East Coast of Florida to the foothills of the Sierras, we managed better than 100kts against the wind on every leg!
Thanks for hauling me along on a great journey, Dennis!
We left Moriarty in the morning, bound for Sedona. It was easy to get on top of a low cloud base, and cruise through the gap between the Sandias and the Manzano Mountains. We flew through Albuquerque's Class C airspace with flight following. The radar in western New Mexico was broken, so when radar coverage was lost they kicked us loose. We only had to circumvent some small rain showers, under a mostly overcast sky. We saw the Acoma Pueblo, also called Sky City because it is on top of a mesa, and has been occupied for about 900 years. After crossing into Arizona we saw Meteor Crater, and then flew over Sedona.
Although a cirrus layer cut off direct sunlight, the red rock spires were still awesome.
We had lunch, and Ted Grussing came out to the airport to meet us. Ted is a friendly guy, and a great photographer. I will post some of his photos of us departing Sedona in the next report.