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Thread: Airdrome Airplanes Nieuport 11

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2011

    Airdrome Airplanes Nieuport 11

    If y'all have been following my build thread, you knew it was just a matter of time! Like always, what an adventure!

    New aviation term - Squirrelly Speed.

    On my last fast taxi attempt everything got squirrelly with lateral control being really difficult, and coupled with too loose bungies and a left brake that was rubbing hard, lead me to a ground loop.

    So this morning I decided to give it another go, since I have a new set of main wheels and a new solid rubber Harbor Freight tail wheel. I had one of my EAA brothers on hand in case the aircraft needed to be unceremoniously pushed back to the hangar.

    After a nit-picky pre-flight we discussed my plans, which were simple: 1) Slow taxi to make sure my new tail wheel was up to snuff, and 2) See if the bungee and brake fix had solved the bad lateral instability when the wheels are off the ground. If I get into trouble or things look really good, I might take flight.

    A very, very long taxi and I make the turn onto the runway.

    First issue - over a standard leather flight helmet I can't hear the radio over the engine.

    Second issue - with the radio next to me in the seat, Mike could barely make me out when I spoke. So it'll get moved to the rear cabane strut. I'm thinking bungee cords to begin with and then maybe velcro.

    Back to the aircraft!

    She's tracking true as I slowly advance the throttle and at about half she starts acting squirrelly again. I backed off the throttle and she started to behave. I advanced again and back to squirrel mode....but this time she wound up pointing towards the grass!

    Ghaa! I'm not bending another wheel, and I'm definitely not rolling off of the runway into the grass and down a slope.

    I firewalled it, did a quick stick forward-stick back and she immediately went into flight! I mean just jumped off of the ground.

    Nose down a bit to make sure I wasn't just in ground effect and a small adjustment to align over the right edge of the runway. She's climbing in a stable state, not much pitch up and the ASI is telling a fine lie (70 MPH? I don't think so!) but other than that she's singing to me.

    Literally singing. Wind on wires!

    What the hell, I'm already up, might as well do a circuit and land.

    Stable, stable, stable. Holy smokes, she's a beauty to fly. I pulled a bit of throttle and she flys straight without adjustment, meaning the rigging and ground trim are as spot on as I could hope for. Like a Champ (7AC kind), a little lead with the rudder and she turns nicely, and all the controls did what they're supposed to do.

    Coordinating turns felt like cheating!

    Indeed, all those people who say a 7AC Champ is a good analogy for this aircraft are dead on the money.

    So long right half circle, pulling only the power required to lose altitude gently until I was on a very long final. Forget the numbers, let's land somewhere on this strip. At 8,000 feet long I think I'll be able to be a bit cautious.

    Gently pulling power, I flew it down to the runway, just a tad nose high. The right wheel just kissed the pavement. I picked it up a little, gave her a little more nose high, and the mains rumbled without a bump. Chopped the throttle and she she slowed quickly, the tail floating down to meet the asphalt.

    She slowed straight and true without any of that goofy stuff.

    So there's a particular speed where things aren't good. I think it may be right when the rudder is biting and might be fighting with the tail wheel. The solution is to be in one of three states - slow taxi, taking off, or landing and not muck about with the mid throttle.

    It's a long airfield and that makes for a long taxi. I made my way to the turn off and things got weird immediately after. The tail was trying to dance around like a drop of water on a hot skillet.

    I killed the engine and rolled it onto the grass next to the taxi way.

    WTF? Oh, the solid rubber Harbor Freight tail wheel had disintegrated and fell apart on the turn off from the runway. I was grinding down the steel mount for it.

    So once again me and my helper tote the aircraft to the hangar, one on each side of the vertical stab.

    But who cares! Hurray! I'm officially a test pilot - me and a famous test pilot, peers.

    Mike volunteers to make a new tail wheel mount and happens to have a spare tail wheel to donate to the cause. A real aviation one with bearing and everything. It came with his KR kit and he went for a larger one. He said he would be able to work it up this afternoon and bring it out to the airfield tomorrow. I had to explain my incredulous expression - every time I've had to farm something out or get a spare part it's a month. One day? Incredible!

    The last note is that I guess I either pressed the record button on the GoPro twice or missed it entirely, so no video. And Mike was so enthused with watching he didn't take any video with his phone. I'll make sure to take some video next time.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Marietta, GA
    Congratulations, Frank. Sounds like you had a very successful first flight in that:

    A) The airplane and you are both in good shape.
    B) You have a good story to tell.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! Never a doubt in my mind!
    P.S. I have to admit I am slightly saddened that your always entertaining and candid posts about this endeavor may be coming to an end.
    P.P.S Make sure you get your pics and story to Hal for publication in SA
    Last edited by wyoranch; 05-17-2016 at 12:25 PM.

  4. #4
    EAA Staff / Moderator Hal Bryan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Oshkosh, Wisconsin, United States
    Quote Originally Posted by wyoranch View Post
    P.P.S Make sure you get your pics and story to Hal for publication in SA
    Frank - CONGRATULATIONS! Well done! So sorry I missed the post over the weekend!

    Like Rick said, let's get your story published!

    Here's the boilerplate request for what we need:

    1. A medium-length (700-1000 words) story about the project.
    2. A high-res photo or two, as clear as possible with no clutter – just the airplane.
    3. Answers to the attached questionnaire.

    We'll refer people back to the forum thread as well. Send stuff to me at

    Once again, congratulations! I feel like a proud uncle!

    Best -

    Attached Files Attached Files

    Hal Bryan
    EAA Lifetime 638979
    Vintage 714005 | Warbirds 553527
    Managing Editor
    EAA—The Spirit of Aviation

  5. #5
    rwanttaja's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Congrats, Frank.

    I'm just about to my 30th year of open cockpit flying, and it's still a kick. You're going to have fun!

    I can't remember what you're running for a radio, but I'm using "plugfones" in my Fly Baby. They're foam earplugs with tiny directional speakers. For the first time in years, I actually have to turn the radio volume down. They have 25 dB of passive attenuation and cost $20. If your radio is a handheld, all you need is an adaptor plug. If not, a radio shack transformer will match the impedance.

    Ron Wanttaja

  6. #6
    Dana's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Ron, your inbox for PM's is full - could you visit the main build thread and give some advice?

    Tomorrow I'm going out for flight number two - this time I hope to remember to turn on the GoPro and gather some info on what the dash is saying. I was too busy flying to look at anything but the ball.

    Oh, and wanna know what made me just giggle like a schoolgirl?

    Writing 5/14 / N112GV / Nieuport 11 / 1 (landing) / .3 (hours) in my logbook. And then updating the airframe logbook as well.
    Last edited by Frank Giger; 05-17-2016 at 10:25 PM.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

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