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Thread: A fool and His Dream

  1. #1

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    A fool and His Dream

    Building a plane from scratch.
    We have all heard this on TV do not try this from home we are professionals. Well were does that leave people like me.I have always dreamed of flying and never had the money to do it.I will never have even now.With but one accept ion. That is to build my own plane. Not being an aeronautical engineer. That would likely mean I must adhere to someone else s design plan. So does that mean I am foolish to attempt the whole thing on my own ? I suppose in the eyes of of at-least some I am.
    I had skills many builders have only part of . I didn't like the status of the available plan form.I think I can do better and I also think I may well have done better.
    The Ultra light Plan form is the only path I would choose .

    I still feel very humbled and meek about what I have done and also unsure. Taking as much care to educate myself as I went along. Still left me uncomfortable to speak with those that know more than I.As well as to confront them with new Ideas. I had one good Mentor in Mark Stull .He was a good source and a comfort to move along with my plan form. He is painfully missed. His invaluable input filled the void where others feared to go .I felt from the beginning that getting information carried liability and sealed the lips of many.Its to bad,but thats the way it is these days.

    The main tool I used to achieve my end was to buy a set of plans. Even though I did not build that plane I used the example to define and place . The rest is an evolution of trial and error parts constructed and cast away not because of failure. mostly because being to heavy. The struggle to build light and stay stronger than the typical plan form was and is my goal still.I explored none typical methods .The tube and cable was being avoided . I looked for ways to construct with sheet aluminum and ways to lighten and use geometry to gain an edge on the typical UL plan form

    I searched for plans I evaluated the appearances always found the typical UL to be a bit short coming .Even as I found out later that cable make all the difference. At the beginning they did not look safe to me. I concluded that if that were true for me it was also true for the general public,even reflecting the displeasure of general aviation pilots to be less that acceptable to fly.

    I set to make a difference in this area, to build a more acceptable plan form .that the GA and the general public would not look upon as unfavorable .
    Who am I to be the one to make this happen? Maybe it needs to be someone who doesn't know not to go there .Someone that thinks outside the box. and even though short on funds one that has no limitations. Why is this because I build machines and I can make virtually any metal parts.Machined , formed ,welded As well as machinery to make it happen. that's why the evolution began .I needed no one to say for a plane, no way I m not going to be held liable. I had not only the skills but the work place that allowed me access to the machinery to build my own machinery. As well as the plane.

    And so after 7 years I have a plane.I spent the first year making the most crucial item to my plan form this was a roll forming machine. It takes coil aluminum and roll forms it into channel. after that I had to develop other forming tools to work the channel. Originally I intended only to use this channel for ribs my latest work has shown me much more is possible. Another tool was a pressure flare die. It allows deep ashtray like flare that enhances the diaphragms of the triangle mono spar and fuselage boom . The triangle mono spar is the limb I dared to go out on if I may. I will say it is and isn't. I used it wrong on this first plane.A hint that maybe. The spars failing now is resolved with the single flying wire per side it has a 4G plus .The V-tail was an effort to reduce weight one of the only things so far that I consider a failure . the other was an attempt to make the rear floats steerable. On my last taxi Murphy's law came into play and an excess length of strapping that holds the fuel tank found its way into the cable pulley for that steering. With pulley stuck in an extreme turn I had to shut down the engine and struggle to free the system restart and limp back to the launch. With the float system being redesigned it was eliminated turned out to be a substantial weight saving with the float rebuild.

    A new tail was designed a horizontal stabilator was chosen . Because I had the design and method to support it,cantilever to boot,and Its lighter than you would believe.
    Spring will be here soon. A return to the testing and eventually flight.

    For any that never fallowed my build blog in the EAA. forums This is also a huge hurdle.Not yet knowing how to fly
    I began my dream build the year before the end of the UL training exemption was to end. For financial reasons I avoided the expenditure to learn to fly expecting that some alternative would be in place by the time I was finished.

    That has not come to pass I have had some good advise and I have taken it. being self taught is not the best way to go even with the books. I suppose though i am not the only one take to the sky in this way.

    I pose to all of you Am I foolish are any who would dare . ? I personally see any one who sits on a motor cycle as a fool who risks more than I But that's just my view point.

    Regards a fool and his dream designer builder of Norms flying boat

  2. #2

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    I would not say that someone building an original ultralight is a fool.
    But doing the test flight without flight training probably is foolish, in my opinion.
    I built a homemade hang-glider (Lambie Hang Loose) as a teenager. On the first flight I was stunned and froze and forgot to do the needed weight-shifting for control, I was just "hanging on". Fortunately, I was only about 20- 30 feet and the thing came down like a parachute and I was not injured. That was end of hang gliding for me, I got some flight training and moved on to light airplanes.

  3. #3
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    But doing the test flight without flight training probably is foolish, in my opinion.
    I would go a step further and say flying without training (let along flight testing without it) is pretty close to the dumbest thing a person can do in aviation and perhaps is almost borderline suicidal. As you (Bill) pointed out, test flying without an idea of the basics of flying an aircraft that has been proven to be stable and easy to handle is a good way to find yourself in a predicament that causes the "deer in the headlights" reaction. Norm, get some flight training first. In an ultralight, it's not that expensive and it will pay huge dividends not only in terms of safety but also it will help you rationalize choices that have to be made during the design and construction of an aircraft. It can also help you to have the insight necessary to pick up when something just isn't "right" during the construction. Money spent on training is seldom ever wasted so long as one approaches it with an open mind and a willingness to learn.
    Unfortunately in science what you believe is irrelevant.

    "I'm an old-fashioned Southern Gentleman. Which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-***** when I want to be."- Robert A. Heinlein.



  4. #4
    rosiejerryrosie's Avatar
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    Norm - I've been following your saga with admiration. You have proceeded carefully and logically, and have produced some work that approaches artistry. But, If you are planning to test fly your creation without some flight training, I fear you have departed from your basic good sense. I made my first flight without any training BUT, luckily I made it in Microsoft Flight Simulator and all was made well by "Restarting" after the crash. That choice is not available in the real world. PLEASE GET SOME FLIGHT TRAINING!!
    Cheers,
    Jerry

    NC22375
    65LA out of 07N Pennsylvania

  5. #5

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    Thank you ,All three of you. You are exactly right. I do not debate any of the commentary.
    I have little to offer in defense of my intent to fly as my own test pilot with so little. Foolish at least. If I am, so were the Wright Bro's. That is not the real point here anyway.
    There are threads in the Oshkosh 365 forums that covered most of what I could reflect on.
    If I have anything I have thousands of hours in simulation. But no one gives credit to that. What good would flying anything that was not close to what I built.w
    Would it be any better than a simulation. If its not the same its not any more acceptable?There are plenty of threads that comment on the unacceptability of dissimilar aircraft.
    None of what I say will make it acceptable. I have little choice but to proceed with extreme caution. I do not like the position I am in . It just is.
    Let the comments above be an example to anyone that thinks they can ,Even if you build a kit its still needs test flying. If you are not a pilot with the skills of a test pilot your in another boat but its not any safer.
    Last edited by Norman Langlois; 03-02-2012 at 06:39 PM.

  6. #6
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    If I am, so were the Wright Bro's.
    Not really. They learned through flying gliders and a lot of experimentation as well as talking with folks who had tried and failed (and were lucky enough to live to talk about it). Saying they went in cold is a bit misleading.

    If you are not a pilot with the skills of a test pilot your in another boat but its not any safer.
    To a certain degree. However, assuming you didn't botch the build and whomever designed it did their calculations correct, it should be flyable in a manner that a pilot of average skill can handle.

    If I have anything I have thousands of hours in simulation. But no one gives credit to that. What good would flying anything that was not close to what I built.
    The same argument could be made for what difference did Sully's experience with gliders far lighter than a heavily loaded Airbus with two goose-filled engines make regarding the ditching in the Hudson. Unless you're building something truly outlandish, almost any experience would be beneficial. Most airplanes of a similar weight, horsepower and configuration (pusher vs. tractor, canard vs. traditional layout, etc) will handle reasonably similarly. It's why we don't have to get type rated from aircraft to aircraft as GA pilots (although there are a few I would argue probably should mandate a type rating because of their safety records in the hands on under-qualified pilots).
    Unfortunately in science what you believe is irrelevant.

    "I'm an old-fashioned Southern Gentleman. Which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-***** when I want to be."- Robert A. Heinlein.



  7. #7

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    Simulators do help. I was able to reduce the time needed for helicopter training with simulation at home first. But I would have crashed the helicopter without additional proper instruction.
    Just get 5 hours of airplane dual instruction or enough to land the airplane comfortably. Then you will have learned what simulation did not teach. There will probably be something you cannot do well enough on the first lesson and the instructor can take the controls.

    If you can afford to build an aircraft and a computer, why not 5 hours of dual instruction? A pilot certificate is not needed, but the skills are needed.

    Bill

  8. #8

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    I will make the effort Bill.
    Steve a note to you. Building is past tense The aircraft is built. I have been modifying the impinage to a more traditional. the other thing is its a seaplane without wheels. My airfield of sorts is wide and uninhibited.and five miles long.
    Secondly I do have a flight instructor as an adviser. So I have all the advise I can ask for . The only problem is no dual instruction available.
    The simulation devise I use is more sophisticated than a desktop joystick.
    Last seasons taxi runs were all ruder control issue and a poor rear float system. Taxi tests will resume I will take it up to ground effect flight on my own in stages.This will of course include many stages of land backs.All of these tests will be carefully evaluated for adverse effects.The plane being a pusher will improve with speed according to the book so if it handles better than last year as I expect it will You all may be surprised . I will evaluate with the help of others to proceed from there if suitable.
    Learning comes in many forms some from good books the book Flight testing home built aircraft is one of my books. It has good information on awareness and treatment of adverse effects. As said above I will take it very slowly with extreme caution. If it handles well I know I can fly it .Its the landing that worry's me most. Of course the effects I experienced last summer were sever adverse yaw and settling back into the water was squirrely
    I didn't mean to say I was completely ignorant of how an airplane fly's I just say I have no dual flight instruction except for a half hour in a trike Witch I deem useless information.
    If I could find some one to build my plane in X-plane 9's Plane Maker, It might also be helpful .That program is harder for me to learn than Auto Cad was.
    I wrote the original post to make a point that being in this position having to test fly an unproven design is no place to put ones self if the are not already a pilot. I am not in disagreement with any thing said here . Its more of a warning for anyone else coming along with wild Ideas . Its not a good feeling My family is worried and I cant blame them.

    I felt i left so much out that I should try to explain what I have tried to learn. As well as the fact I am not intending to take off the training wheels to soon.
    Last edited by Norman Langlois; 03-03-2012 at 03:58 PM.

  9. #9
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    Norman, best of luck with test flying. In all seriousness, I wish you the best and hope everything turns out well.
    Unfortunately in science what you believe is irrelevant.

    "I'm an old-fashioned Southern Gentleman. Which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-***** when I want to be."- Robert A. Heinlein.



  10. #10
    hydroguy2's Avatar
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    It's not to late to have an independent engineering evaluation. Also ask around and find a actual test pilot to do some initial taxi runs and tests flights. If they won't do it, your not qualified to do it either. You owe it to your self and your family.
    It's just one dam job after another

    Brian C.
    Sport Air Racing League http://www.sportairrace.org/
    Race 155

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