My 2nd "first flight". My first First was Spezio Tu-holer N92JM Aug. 2011 which was exciting. Except for slightly out of rig, heavy wing which was quickly fixed it's first flight went well.
The Acroduster proved to be a challenge not because of the airplane itself but other things happening in life. My DAR was going to inspect N22JM on Dec. 4, 2015. No sooner had I entered my hangar on Dec. 3rd to make sure everything was in order, my phone rang. It was My DAR Bobby to make sure I made another endorsement in my log..... I hung up and opened the big door and my phone went off again I thought, What else does Bobby want? But it was my wife Marcia calling to say that our son in law Shawn had just been in an accident and "didn't make it"! Talk about life(and death) intruding on well laid plans.....My memory of the next couple days is nuts. Marcia headed to be with our daughter and our 10 year old grandson. Since I had to hold the fort taking care of animals we decided to do the AWC inspection on the 4th and AWC issued. Then several days of travel back and forth 250 miles...... By the 11th I called insurance company and then got an e-mail, "went was the last time you flew a Pitts Special?" 35 years ago didn't make them happy. They wanted 2 hours dual/10 full stops ! I called Bill Finagan, he has a cancel so I drove to Annapolis on the 12th and flew with him in the S2C....
Finally to the first flight on Dec. 14th, 2016.
All was calm on the 14th so I called Marcia and a few friends. I believe in high speed taxi and had flown in ground effect. Ground handling was fine. My plan was to achieve a 100 mph climb to 4000', level off not exceeding 120 mph IAS, check rig and trim watching CHT and oil temp etc. Make shallow turns. Stall of the SA750 was said to be abrupt and w/o warning and I only wanted an approach to stall to calibrate ASI for a decent approach speed. Published stall is 55mph at 1800# gross(not sure I believe it?). I had bettered my EW goal of 950# and was at less than 1300# so I decided if I slowed to 60-65 w/o stalling I would use 100 IAS for approach....
I rotated at 80 IAS. TO and climb at 100 was normal. Rigging seemed fine and trim worked find too. I busted my speed limit. As I leveled off it seemed like it took forever for the throttle to come back and I was going 140 like right now. (MUCH more Pitts like than my Tu-holer which would have to be going straight down to see 140) Anyway rig was perfect. I made gentle turns but soon discovered the wind was higher at 4000' and kept blowing me back towards the airport. It's TOO easy to bank this airplane, again compared to the HEAVY bard door ailerons of the Spezio. I turned S. against the wind to gain room in my practice area and tried slow flight down to 80 IAS. I then trimmed to a 120 cruise and made my approach to "stall". No stall at about 60+ IAS so I filled that and would use 100IAS for approach.
Meanwhile, everything seemed absolutely normal. It was 50 F. and both CHT and oil temp were a little low but easier to cool than too hot for sure. The airplane is a delight compared to my other mount which I still love but....oh well. Anyway, time for the big moment for any first flight(we hope nothing else big happens), the landing.
It happened that I could use the same numbers as the S2C a few days earlier. 2100 rpm gave me 100 mph IAS. The only issue is the nose is a little high at that speed and one needs to clear left and right to see traffic. I was still fighting the wind which although still calm on surface was blowing me toward RW at 800 AGL. I had to bank a little more than I wanted to line up on final but approach was good at 100 IAS but again I needed to slip slightly to see runway. 90 over the fence, maybe 200' of float and a very good landing even if I do say so myself. (after 10 hours now, the best one yet)
Bottom line! Build Straight, Rig Right, W&B Right and Engine Keeps Running= a first flight that is a Non Event!
My thanks to so many especially my friends on the Biplane Forum who have a bottomless pit of knowledge and experience.