Bleeding the brakes again (3rd time)

After my first flight, I noticed the brakes were spongier than before. After de-cowling after the first flight, I found that when I had bled the brakes the 2nd time, I hadn’t gotten the cap on the brake reservoir on the firewall tightened securely enough. During the first flight, some of the brake fluid  (~1 oz) had overflowed the master reservoir and coated the firewall.

Today I attempted to bleed the brakes for a third time (to git rid of the air bubble sponginess I had introduced when bleeding the brakes a 2nd time (to fix the right brake leak). I got several noticeable bubbles out of the master reservoir by bleeding the right brake, and made sure I tightened the cap on the reservoir securely this time.

After standing on the brake pedals on both passenger and pilot sides, it feels like they are once again firm (like they were after the first brake bleeding with Steven). I will check their performance on the 2nd flight, probably this coming Saturday morning.

First Flight Cylinder Head Temps

During my first flight of 0:28, I flew at reduced throttle settings and prop full forward (high RPM). This is not really recommended for several reasons: 1) the throttle full forward enables an enrichment path that increases fuel flow and helps to cool the engine during breakin, and 2) for engine break-in you want to fly with 65-75% power for the first 5+ hours to ensure you seat the rings. By flying with reduced throttle settings, i bypassed the enrichment circuit and had higher CHTs (or this is my working theory).

The desire is to have CHTs during climb stay below 400 F and CHTs during cruise in the mid 300’s. My CHTs peaked at 434 F during climb and were in the mid 300’s during my low power circuits around the pattern.

On my second flight, the goal is to fly full rich, and possibly pull back on the prop control to keep airspeeds reasonable while still enabling the full throttle enrichment feature. My airspeeds during first flight never exceeded 115 KIAS, but with these settings for my second flight I may see airspeeds > 150 KIAS and will need to be ready for the rapid pace in the KHEF class D (4 nm radius).

It is quite the dilemma for the 2nd flight. KHEF class D has a ceiling of 2000 MSL and 4nm radius. Warrenton airport (8 miles away) is outside the Washington DC SFRA and I could have unlimited altitudes out there. Should I depart the proximity of manassas in exchange for the added safety of extra altitude available near warrenton, but risk the 8 nm flight between the two airports during flight 2? Current plan is to wait till flight 3 for that. I will try to fly flight 2 inside the KHEF class D at higher power settings.

You can see the advice I got from Vans Airforce here:VAF First Flight Post

First Flight

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


I asked my ground crew to arrive at 7AM.


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.


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.



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.