First Flight

First flight occurred on Black friday, just after thanksgiving 2015. Initial preparations began at 06:30:

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I asked my ground crew to arrive at 7AM.

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My ground crew for the first flight consisted of my brother Steven, Greg Mitchell (volunteer rescue squad member), Dan Havens (rated private pilot familiar with Manassas airport), and Mark Gramann (good friend in town for Thanksgiving). My wife Rachel and 8 month old Zack were also present.

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For gear, I wore my road rally racing fire suit, nomex socks, nomex hood/balaclava, work gloves (nomex ones hadn’t arrived), and regular tennis shoes. I carried a 1.3 lb. halon fire extinguisher, a small hatchet (to help if I needed to break the plexiglass window to extricate myself from the airplane), an aviation handheld radio, and smoke goggles in a duffel bag I strapped to the passenger seat.

Ground gear consisted of a 20 lb. chemical fire extinguisher, Greg’s fire axe, Greg’s rescue sawzall (used on car extractions for cutting A/B pillars), a hand held aviation radio, and a 4 wheel drive vehicle.

We performed a preflight briefing and I provided the crew with maps of the airport and surrounding area, local tower and ground frequencies, and a gate card to let in the local rescue squad if required. Greg contacted Manassas City Fire & Rescue and we learned that they knew how to access the airport perimeter and had a 3-5 minute estimated response time to the airport.

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Airworthiness Approved!

October 16, 2015

Today I paid a much too large sum of money to a Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) to inspect my RV7 and approve my paperwork. The fee was excessive because I wanted the inspector to come with very short notice since I was feeling pressure from the Manassas Airport to complete the aircraft or loose my hangar lease.

I moved into the Manassas airport in June of 2015 after 5+ years on the waiting list. Every 18 months or so, we would come to the top of the list, but each time we weren’t quite ready to make the move. That all changed this June when we reached the top of the wait list for our third time. I felt it was a bit early, but decided to bite the bullet and grab the hanger instead of waiting another 18+ months.

The airport gave me an initial 90 day lease (I asked for 120 days), and stipulated I would need to be airworthy by the end of that period. I knew that would be tough, but we gave it our best shot. As the end of the 90 day window neared and it became apparent we wouldn’t finish in time, I sent the airport a letter showing the 30+ items that had been accomplished and the “5” items remaining to complete. With this letter I asked for a full 1 year lease and as a fall back asked for a 90 day extension. They did neither, but gave me a 45 day extension.

Thus after 135 days in the hanger, I scheduled an airworthiness inspection on short notice with the DAR. Ironically, the day before my airworthiness inspection, the airport granted me my 1 year lease, since it was clear the aircraft was nearly airworthy.