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Q-talk 147 - Sanjay Takes Flight

by Sanjay Dhall

Sanjay Getting Ready!

[Editor’s Note: As of this writing Sanjay Dhall has completed 3 flights in his new Q-200. Congratulations Sanjay! Besides doing a great job building his plane, he’s done a great job of documenting his first flights. I have reprinted those reports here for posterity!]

Flight #1 – June 17th, 2011

It finally happened !!!

My Quickie Q-200 took to the air today for the first time. What a thrill! After months of taxiing and tweaking, and with considerable apprehension in my ability to deal with the unknowns, and after listening to the advice of several of you, I finally took my Q-200 on its maiden flight today.

It had been a great day for any flying, with winds below 5 knots all day with temps in the 70's. I felt bummed all day that I missed the early morning opportunity to make the first flight, and somewhat dejected at myself for not being able to face the reality of actually making the first flight. The thought of handing the job to a test pilot did cross my mind. But my EAA flight advisor was available this evening. I had proposed that I fly this evening. He came over to the hangar and spent time with me generally gauging my state of mind. He gave me many outs.

A friend came over with a video camera.

I had spoken to the tower before the flight and they were ready with emergency vehicles, and were ready to assist as needed, and were OK with flying directly over the airport above pattern alt.

KYIP 7:30pm. temp 78.

Willow Run is a pretty big airport with long and wide runways. I decided on RWY 23L 7500 x 150'.

Taxied out, did an engine run up, and mag check. Left mag sputtered. Oops. Do I turn back?

After running that mag a few extra seconds it cleared up, and ran smooth. I can still turn around and go back. Kept on rolling towards the runway. Lined up at the very end of 23L. One last check of engine temps, pressures, gauges. All in range.

Decision point. Deep breath. Applied full power. No turning back now!

Concentrated on staying on the centerline and watching for any nose up or tail up tendency. A quick glance at the airspeed ~80. The nose dropped a little, so I pulled up slightly and it was off the ground and going faster. The left canard dropped just a little, and I easily corrected. Airspeed quickly crossed 110, so I started climbing out. Quickly climbed to about 2000' AGL airspeed about 140mph as I turned crosswind, then downwind. Engine showed 2600 rpm. Cut back to 2300 rpm. Still climbing, cut power some more and leveled. Since Willow Run is underneath the Detroit Class B airspace, could not climb too much higher.

Performed a simulated landing at 2000' right over RWY 23L. During this process I noted that the speeds were just not coming down as quickly as required. Arrived at 2000' alt. approximately at midpoint of the RWY. This was useful as it told me that for the actual landing I need to make a shallower approach and reduce speeds further.

Descended into pattern alt, cut power. The Q does not seem to want to lose speed and alt together quickly. Still going 115 on final turn. But did make a fairly shallow approach. Crossed the threshold at about 95. Once below 95 I did note a tendency to rock back and forth in the roll axis. Left canard down, left canard up, left canard down... Maybe it was me over correcting.

Dont know what my speed was now but seemed a whole lot slower than the rest of the flight. Just kept on approaching the runway. And then it was down, a slight bounce, but it stuck, and now the familiar part from the last many months of taxiing. Taxied back. Total flying time ~12minutes.

Friend and onlookers were cheering. BTW, the friendly tower folks who had been watching and assisting me in my taxiing up and down the runways in the recent past, must have been relieved. Many surely wondered if this thing was ever going to fly.

Well, today it did!

I am thankful to so many of you, for your help, advice and support. Today's flight would have been far more difficult without it.



Flight #2 – June 20th, 2011

Thank you all for your good wishes and comments on my first flight. Indeed it was a most momentous milestone and a memorable day in my life.

I have posted 2 videos on the QBA site. The soundtrack is original and not much has been edited. You can click on the links below to see them.


Some of the cautionary comments I take to heart:

"Don't let your guard down"
"Now you'll have plenty of opportunities to screw up"
"Be careful of the 2nd flight!"
"Personal attitude: Always a test pilot, always a student"

I had not been able to sleep in the last three days. I have relived that first flight over and over in my mind countless times. The other reason was an anxiety, imagining what the second flight would be like, without the beginner's luck, or the pressure.

So Monday morning back at the hangar. Following first flight, checked to see that all parts were still attached, no new artifacts were present, all surfaces moved same as before, no nuts and bolts had moved, no cracks on top or under the canard and wings, tailspring, tailwheel fork, engine parts...

I did collect a lot of bugs on all leading edges ( canard, wings, prop) which I cleaned.

Added 3 gallons of fuel (header stayed full + ~1-2gal left in main tank from last flight). I still don’t want to carry too much gas - fire hazard, I think.

My goal was to stay up for at least a half hour directly above the airport and build confidence in the engine.

KYIP 10am 70F winds 110 at 5-7knots RWY 23L 23R were in use. (Slight left rear cross-wind)

I spoke to the tower before the flight to ensure that I could just circle the airport at 1000' above pattern alt for a little while. Little more traffic today. Takeoff on 23R - didn't wait as long as I did with the first flight. Ensured gauges were all in range, and added full power. Same behavior as before, lots of right rudder, then a slight nose down, pulled up and was off the ground, then the left canard dipped and corrected with right stick. It seemed to take a little longer to get off ground.

Noted that my rpm was a shade lower than before (~2500+ versus 2600 - more humid?). Climbed 1000' before turning right. Climbed 800' more and stayed in a wide right pattern. Noted airspeed indicator showing 170+. GPS showed 160. Cut power to 2300.

Generally, stayed at that alt and just flew for a while. Varied speed while staying within a few hundred feet alt variation, rpms ranged generally between 1800 and 2300. Turned on carb heat a few times. It was supposed to rain/thunderstorm today, the view was a bit hazy. Visibility was not too bad. It was getting hot and I was sweating. I will have to do something about adding more vents/airflow. On this flight I had plenty of opportunity to look at the instruments, and noted that oil temp stable below 200Fand pressure at 40, and CHT stayed below 400F. (This was very reassuring, as during all my taxiing, I would taxi till the oil temp approached 225 and pressure had dropped off to 20.)

Since I had been making only right hand turns all this time, I requested to switch to left hand patterns. Did that for a while. Noted that banking left seems to be more effortless than right hand banks. Also it is easy to get into steeper left banks and lose alt. I realized I needed to make these left banks more coordinated with right rudder. Less so with right hand turns. It also appeared to recover more easily from right hand banks. I mention this because while this should in theory happen with most airplanes with right turning engines, it appeared much more pronounced in the Q.

Getting a little hazier and maybe a touch bumpier. Decided to land. Over shot the final turn, banked left a lot to correct, then right to level, then right rudder to line up center line, overcorrected, repeated... Not a good approach. Airspeed indicator (which I now suspect may have more error, reading high) showed 105 on final turn. Did not notice GPS speed. Finally leveled off and continued to add more aft stick and was now real close to the ground, I thought. But still no contact. Then a big bump, back in the air a foot (or more?), another bump, and back in the air, settled down on the third bump. With the relatively low airspeed I was afraid to add power, with torque effects I may not be prepared for. What is not clear to me is, whether I flared and descended, or my landing flight path intersected the ground, leading to the bounce, as I do recall floating close to the ground for quite a while.

I noted 3 lessons for next time.

  1. Make a much longer approach giving me a
    chance to stabilize the glide.
  2. Carry more power, to land or to go around
  3. Make wide square base leg so final turn is not cramped.

On returning to the hangar took a close look at the upper and lower canard surfaces for any evidence of the landing. It held up fine. I also noted that I am flying rather light with total landing weight less than 900 lbs. Now if I had been flying closer to gross...

Total Hobbs flying time 1.1 hours cumulative.

Sleep - no factor.


Flight #3 - Sunday June 26, 2011 10am

KYIP ~70f winds 110@4 clear

The goal of this flight was to stay very near the airport, build confidence in engine by a prolonged flight, calibrate airspeed indicator against GPS, test my recent transponder antenna attachment fix, study slower speeds, approach pitch-buck speed, practice landings and go-arounds.

Took off from 23L - needed a lot of right rudder to keep centerline – did not do too good at that - plane wandered left a bit, then the nose tucked down, I added aft stick to get it off the ground. I seemed to have gained a false familiarity with the plane's behavior, where I was anticipating the expected behavior but expected it sooner. So I was more aggressive in wanting the plane off the ground. Hasty, somewhat less graceful takeoff, but airspeed was not an issue.

As it climbed I watched the gauges more carefully now, tach showed 2450, and saw the climb rate go from 700 to about 1200 and 120 mph on airspeed indicator. Engine sounds a little rougher ( just my imagination?)

Today I was also watching GPS speeds and being generally aware of wind direction upwind and downwind. As I turned right slowly leveling out and started to setup 2-3 mile radius circles around the airport at about 2500 msl, airspeed indicated little over 170 but adjusted for wind direction and correlated to GPS I estimated an average GPS speed of 160. I also saw the tach cross the 2750 mark to about 2800. CHT showed just under 400, oil temp was still rising to settle at about 175 and oil pressure was steady at 40.

I noticed that with full power it takes a lot of fwd stick pressure to level the plane, it wants to keep climbing. Cut power to a steady 2400. CHT settled at about 360. Circled. watched speeds, watched response. enjoyed the view.

Asked tower for my alt - they reported 2500 when my own alt was showing 2600, good enough, the transponder is now back online. Not far I saw the Detroit Metro airport on the east, Ann Arbor downtown on the west. Farms and lakes elsewhere. Slowed engine down to about 2200.

After several more circuits, I climbed to 2700 feet, and then slowly reduced power close to idle, then tried to maintain alt. Now I was losing speed gently and descending. I was around 85 on airspeed indicator when I began to feel a mild hint of pitch-buck, but not as marked as it had been in other Q flights where I was a passenger (perhaps the pitch buck will be more marked with more weight and more aft CG location). My stick was all the way aft. but no further reduction in speed - just descending. At the end of my test I had descended about 600 feet. Tower called to alert me that I was approaching the 2000 feet floor they wanted me to inform them about if I was going to breach. So I added power and climbed back up to 2700. No trouble recovering from the pitch buck state.
Based on GPS speed changes in keeping as level as possible through the circle, and comparing indicated airspeed I concluded that my airspeed indicator shows about 10-12 mph higher than actual (GPS based) speed. Based on this my pitch-buck speed is about 75 actual. Does this sound right? Indicated is about 85 on my airspeed indicator. Will have to test these numbers again at higher alt.

Requested flying left hand circles for a while. Transitioned to the left traffic via a very tight bank. That was a rush!

After several more left circles came in for a landing with a long stable approach. And just when I thought I was about to make a smooth landing, I felt a bounce. Added power to go around. Tower asked me to make a tight approach. I requested the tower to let the other traffic land first, so my approach was not rushed. Tower informed me not to wait for the other traffic, since I probably would be able to go around the pattern 4 times before the other traffic was going to land. Looking around I located the other traffic which was a replica of 1911 Ely Curtiss. What a sight.

On my second landing the approach was shorter, but stable. The canard/wings rocked back and forth. Landed about 2500 feet down the runway, but no bounce. 7500 foot runway did come in handy! Taxied back - refueled. Then saw the Curtiss on the taxi way.

Total cumulative hobbs time 2.1 hrs - 3 flights

Took the Q out of hangar again Monday morning, but listened to weather and talked myself out of flying, due to near crosswinds of 10 gust to 20. Soon I will need to deal with these conditions but not today.