New Pietenpol, EAA #1279, French Valley CA
January 8, 2013 2 Comments
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Steve Williamson, Pres. of EAA chapter 1279 in French valley CA wrote to say that their multi-year Pietenpol project had flown. This is a very important milestone and an outstanding effort that his chapter can be very proud of. It is a little publicized statistic that less than 10% of Chapter projects are ever finished. The flight of this plane is a serious tribute to Steve and all of his chapter members. It is physical proof that they have outstanding spirit, skills and persistence. Hats off to the whole crew.
Below are some photos and a letter Steve sent, followed by some photos and notes from our flycorvair.com website, and some comments on the type of support that we offer our builders. Enjoy and learn, -ww
Above, the Piet out on the French valley ramp. 1279 wisely brought in a very experienced Piet pilot for the first flights. There is nothing unusual about the Piet, but I have a lot of respect for a person who chooses to put the most qualified pilot in the plane for the first flight, rather than the typical ‘I built it, I fly it’ mentality. The first flight went as planned, no surprises.
Above, the plane takes to the air. It has a 2700cc engine. It is built around a short fuselage and straight axle gear with spoked wheels. Below is Steve’s announcement letter:
I am happy to report to all of you who have been following progress on the Pietenpol Air Camper project being built at the French Valley Airport by members of EAA Chapter 1279 that the airplane has made its maiden flight. On Saturday, January 5, 2013, long-time Pietenpol owner and pilot Scott Liefield made the trip from his home in Lancaster, California to the French Valley Airport near Temecula, California to do the honors (see photos below).
Construction on the airplane was completed in October. DAR John Shablow performed the final inspection on Saturday, October 29, 2012. As part of his inspection, John performed a formal weight and balance calculation before issuing the Certificate of Airworthiness. With all of the paperwork completed and the C of A in hand, the first flight was scheduled for Sunday, November 11. Unfortunately, an engine problem developed which delayed the first flight for a couple of months while we made the appropriate repairs.
By the first of the year everyone was satisfied that the airplane was ready to go. Scott and his father arrived early Saturday morning. We all did a thorough inspection of the airframe, making careful notes of anything that needed attention. With the engine cowling in place, we tied the tail down and started the engine. We warmed up the engine before running it up to full throttle for a full two minutes. It ran smoothly and all of the gauges were within normal operational limits. After a brief cockpit check, Scott climbed in, taxied the airplane onto the active runway, and took off. Staying within a mile or so of the field, Scott climbed to three thousand feet and checked the flying characteristics of the airplane. He later reported having to hold in some left rudder during the entire flight. This he thought could be eliminated by offsetting the leading edge of the vertical fin by a half inch. The airplane topped out at 88 miles per hour at full throttle in level flight with the engine turning 3,000 RPM. Scott said that stalls in the airplane were straight ahead with no tendency to fall off on a wing. It recovered normally with simple release of the back pressure.
After 30 minutes in the air, Scott returned and made, by his own account, one of his best landings in a long time. A perfect ending to a momentous event.
For those of us involved in the building process, it was a moment that brought smiles, hand shakes, and high fives all around. To those of you who have been following our progress through these regular updates or through our chapter website, we thank you for your interest and your encouragement.
Now we begin a new chapter in the history of Pietenpol Air Camper N1279Z. The airplane will continue to be based at French Valley and will forever be associated with EAA Chapter 1279. It is our hope that wherever we go with the airplane, it will provide inspiration to others pursuing their own dreams of building and flying their own airplane. Blue skies!
Steve Williamson, Pres. EAA Chapter 1279 French Valley, CA
What kind of support do we offer our builders? This question comes up from time to time when people on the internet who are not yet builders comment that I don’t return email questions in an hour, and they got our answering machine when they called. The 1279 Piet is a good illustration of the difference between companies that offer consumer mentality instant gratification of quick email, and ourselves who are focused on real builder support where it is effective, in-depth, and aimed at getting people safely flying. I personally find the later a more valid goal. If you are new to homebuilding, read these notes to understand what real support is.