The Monday morning weather was mixed in Fort Worth Texas so I waited around on the ground until I was comfortable with my options and finally launched on a local IFR. Of course the field went vfr just a little while later.
The pre-flight brief with Jarhead was quick and easy and we were on our way in short order.
RV1 escort tip #1: The RV1 always, when possible, takes off and lands first and is Lead when in the pattern or on the airport surface.
Just a few moments after leveling at 2500′ I got the first “gimme one”. Oops, sorry, “roger”. I heard this many times in the next 15min while we got the speed dialed in. So, we threaded our way around / under the DFW Bravo with me squaking and talking. Keep in mind, the RV1 has no real nav guidance in this modern world that we’re so used to. All it has is a compass that isn’t exactly accurate.
After clearing the Bravo airspace, we climbed up just a little for most favorable winds. My oil temps prompted a second glance. OAT was about 65deg and my oil temp was more than 15deg higher than I’ve been seeing recently so I opened up the oil cooler door all the way. No problem. We had been droning along at 106kts indicated for almost half an hour.
RV1 escort tip #2: The RV1 likes to fly at 106kts or 122mph! Don’t believe the airspeed indicator on the RV1 it is reading quite high .
I think Jarhead said the speed produced around 2500 rpm. It does climb nicely when you put the power in though. Anyway, the escort should be well prepared to control oil temps to fly this speed the whole way. I imagine there are a lot of people that just aren’t up for that.
With a little talk about the best winds, I popped up another couple of thousand feet real quick to take a peek. The RV1, with its bright yellow paint is super easy to keep in sight. With the better winds lower confirmed, I pushed over for the 1800fpm decent back to the little yellow airplane chugging along below. I pulled the -1 back “on course” and just tried to give general location / time / distance / performance updates. Jarhead commented that he might be looking forward to getting under a cloud deck up ahead as it was getting pretty warm in the -1 with little airflow and full sun from above. Another tip to future flights: Take this into consideration. So this is how we settled in. The escort provides everything, while the ferry pilot wiggles the stick and tries to keep his mind off of the pain … I mean, marvels at how in the world Van flew this thing all the way across the country.
As we closed in on our fuel stop, we did a detailed briefing of a nice simple arrival to the downwind. The field was confirmed in sight and the -1 took the lead. A nice, completely uneventful, arrival was executed. Watch that rudder deflection and brakes on the rollout in the -1. This was one of those fuel stops that I wouldn’t recommend (M79). We taxied around looking for the fuel pumps until a random local came on the radio, “What are you fellas lookin’ for?” … “The fuel is that old broken down fuel truck over there.” Enough said. We did get fuel. Roy was definitely feeling the burn by now. We walked around just a little and I fed him a “spare” turkey and cheese sandwich, a Coke, and of course a chocolate chip cookie. He was very appreciative. This was no accident, I promise you, I had a plan.
RV1 escort tip #3: Have a plan!
We launched 1 + 1 and were all joined back up on the crosswind departure headed east to see The Horton. Metar data out there is pretty sparse and at times, the best I could do was to look ahead 80-100mi.. I was conveying what the data was saying well ahead about our most conservative altitude (stay low), but we were bumping along and Jarhead was longing for smoother cooler air up higher, so up we went, and up, and up. That worked out for a while with a little maneuvering. Good call, it was worth it, but it was finally time to come back down and get under the multiple layers starting to form. As we closed in on a few light showers in our path, we briefed a penetration airspeed in order not to damage the beautiful new Catto prop on the RV1. Easy cheesy, we just barely got a little spit of moisture, not even enough to dampen the wing skin. I was of course working the XM weather the whole way to try to put together a certain plan. The clouds kept us around 2500′ for the last half hour or so. Once we cleared the last of the precipitation I hit the Direct button and heard “push it up a little”. Uh, we’re already doing 108kts “Yeah, I know, I’m done sitting in this thing, giddyup” was basically what I got from Jarhead.
RV1 escort tip #4: Make the ferry pilot think long and hard before committing to a leg any longer than 2hrs.
Wetumpka, Alabama was almost in sight as we briefed our arrival, a direct left downwind entry to runway 27 (hard surface) with a direct crosswind of about 7kts. I made the first couple of radio calls inbound, then the RV1 had the lead. “RV1 flight entering the left downwind for 27, Wetumpka.” As we entered the downwind, Jarhead got his first glimpse of the beautiful grass strip at the west end of the field pointed directly into the wind. “Aww, man, I can’t pass that up. Wetumpka traffic, RV1 dash one is turning left downwind for the grass strip runway 18, Wetumpka.” I didn’t miss a beat and followed up with “dash two will follow you in with a low approach only, returning to the left downwind for 27 (hard surface) on the go, Wetumpka.” And that was exactly how it went. I must say, it really was a thing of beauty to see the bright yellow RV1 touch down on this beautifully groomed, bright green, grass strip from a vantage directly off its right wing. I knew at that moment that I was looking at a calendar picture of a lifetime, but there was no opportunity to capture it for you to see. That one will just have to be for me to enjoy in my own memory .
RV1 escort tip #5: No messing around, Fly The Airplane! There is no picture worthy of doing otherwise.
We joined up on the taxiway with perfect timing and started looking for where we were supposed to go, with the RV1 in the lead of course. Jarhead paused in front of the first open hangar and a gentalman came out to point us further down the field. As he opened the canopy to get instructions, with the prop still turning, the wind blew the hat off of his head to a prime spot on the ground just in front of my turning prop. Obviously, the mission had just changed! I couldn’t see the hat, but I could see a lot of discussion and pointing between Jarhead and the gentleman that he was talking to in front of me. As he walked slowly back toward me, I could see he was looking closely at a point just below my prop, slightly off to the left. He motioned for me to come forward nice and slow, which I did, then he crossed his arms in front of him right quick and I stomped on the brakes. This nice cool gentleman immediately burst into laughter as he carefully approached my canopy to consult. “You just ran over his hat!!”, as he laughed over the noise of the turning prop. I just about busted a gut laughing too. “Ok, just release the brakes a bit and I’m going to push you back a little.” He retrieved the now defiled “Falcon Flight” cap from beneath my left main tire and handed it to me as we both chuckled with glee! I enjoyed that terrible mishap so much, tears were running down my face as we taxied to the other end of the field where we were to park. We had made it all the way East to see The Horton, and he was kind, as we dismounted from our long journey, he handed us a cold beer. The adventure has only just begun for this final tour of the RV1.
So, I know you’re asking where all the pictures are. They do exist, but are currently trapped in my camera which is still in my airplane at the hangar. It seems that when I turned off the master once I got back home, it also turned off my brain. I’ll retrieve the pictures soon.
Escort: Scott Card
Ferry Pilot: Jarhead
Leg: Hicks Field to Wetumpka