I've started my adventure to build a Van's Aircraft RV14a. For several years, I've been planning to build an Experimental (homebuilt) airplane - once retired.
But first, I needed to get my Pilot's License. (Kinda key !) So... first things first: I retired March 2014 from Caterpillar - and started flying lessons in the Summer of 2014. Soloed a day after Christmas, and got my Private July 2015. Shop set up, tools acquisition, and practise kits during Fall launched me into my build starting Dec 31, 2015 !

I've chosen to build the RV14a since it's about 10% larger than Van's prior models - so it fits my 6'4" frame well. Van's is well known for great value & outstanding flying qualities. It's been a no brainer decision for me. A tour of their facilities and demo flight in Oct 2013 clinched the deal. My wife - also a pilot - exclaimed after her demo flight "retire NOW so you can build one of these". The RV14a fits my mission of a good compromise between cross country & aerobatics. Plus...I fit, too.

So far, one month into building, it's been rewarding. Very challenging, but certainly a learning experience. The builder community is terrific - as is Van's tech support. I'm finished with the Vert Stab and Rudder (Jan 2016). So... with a 5 month delivery lead time, I've ordered the Quick Build Wings and Fuselage.

I hope this blog assists other new builders, just like several others have been valuable to me. Plus it will serve to document my build step by step. Please drop me a line via the "contact me" form on lower RH margin.
Update: April 2020 relocated to Wickenburg, Az to escape Illinois winters.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Finish Kit

First Flight !

First Flight ...Success!  Due to hot/humid weather, Nancy and I arrived at 3MY by 6am to pre-flight N3714R.  Terry Moushon and Bill Lane arrived also to help as needed ( a terrific pit crew!)  Takeoff weight was 1,810 lbs with 39.5 gallons fuel.   Took to the air at 6:48am with clearance from KPIA ATC to climb to 5,500' through overhead Class C airspace.  ATC provided Flight Following, while insuring the area near airport remained clear of traffic.   (Special thanks to ATC's Jay McKinty and Brady Seei for super cooperation).  Performance was spectacular - from acceleration pushing me into seatback during takeoff, to climb out to 5,500'.  Quickly dialed back to 25 squared for climb. Climbed using Vy (109 mph) since CHTs were not high. I reached 5,500' in approx 5 minutes...averaging 1000 fpm - but data shows my rate varied from 1700 fpm to 600 fpm.   I established cruise at 70% power maintaining between 150-160 mph.   CHT temps during climb never exceeded 380 F, and held steady around 320-350 remainder of cruise flight.  Kept within 5 miles of airport in rectangular "pattern", using Garmin Pilot map showing Glide Ring to insure I was close for deadstick return.  Totaled about 1 hr before descending to normal pattern.   Controls and trim worked perfectly.  I did have a heavy Left Wing, requiring moderate right trim input (Vans and VAF have excellent info to diagnose and tune).  I came in too high on first approach, so simply performed Go-Around. (really like the simple 2 clicks to return flaps from 30 to 15 to 0.  Next approach was great with a "greaser" touchdown.  Prior to start, I had 39.5 gal, and dipstick measured remaining at 12 gal in LH & 13 gal in RH tanks for 25 total.  Burned 14.5 gal.  G3X shows 14.4 gallons used, 25.1 gallons remain. (believe G3x using "red cube" flowmeter is more accurate than my dipstick).  Now at 1.5 engine hours (0.3 prior ground runs)
Several aviation friends gathered at ramp to help celebrate a terrific flight.  Special thanks! to my wife Nancy, and Terry Moushon (EAA Tech Counselor and chief pit crew) and Bill Lane (super pit crewman) for their strong commitment to help make this happen.
First takeoff...accelerates quickly with moderate load

A little more than 1 hr later....touchdown!

Celebration begins !  ( Nancy was very relieved!...and happy)

So far just baffles rubbing on inside of Top Cowl...faint dark lines

NO leaks, nothing loose...RH side looking into Bottom Cowl

And LH side

NO issues found...

contact pattern of baffles on Top Cowl showing.  Looks great

Friday, July 12, 2019

Finish Kit (and other kits for Final Assembly)

Airworthiness Certificate

Ross Carbiener, DAR performed inspection and completed all required FAA documentation Fri morning.  EAA's Amateur Built Certification Kit including "Step-by-Step Certification Guide" was valuable to lead me through all the forms from first application for Registration to this Certification.  Their kit includes all the forms required, and excellent instructions with examples.  It's a bargain and worth every penny (less than $12.99 for members).   I was pleased Ross found no issues with all my documents, build log, and the plane itself.   It was a great experience - Thanks Ross !   I'm quickly re-assembling all the covers, Seats, panels etch required to be off for the inspection.   First flight will be soon!
Ross Carbiener with the completed Airworthiness Certificate.

Later same day all the interior was re-assembled
for these "beauty shots"

It's been awhile since interior was installed...so photo op.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Finish Kit (and others for Final Assembly)

Inspections by RV builders/flyers ( 2 hrs )

Today I benefited from "pre-inspection" inspections by 4 local RV builders/flyers.  My afternoon started with a mini-airshow as 3 arrived together:  Barry Logan (RV7) arrived from the north, joining the pattern just ahead of Ric Woldow (RV8) flying his Super Cub in formation with Chad Poblanz (RV8) flying his Waco.   A few minutes later, Rick Olson arrived from the east flying his RV4.   Inspections proceeded quickly, with a few questions and recommendations.  Nothing significant, fortunately - but it's great to have their experienced eyes examine my build thoroughly.  Mostly they noticed some differences in design for the RV14a vs their earlier kits - but a lot hasn't changed over the years with Vans design.  After some enjoyable hangar talk, I got to enjoy another mini-airshow as they departed together.   A great experience.  Thanks guys!
3 of 4 arrivals for Inspections

Barry Logan with his RV7. 
(he was my flight instructor a few years ago)

Chad Poblanz flew his beautiful Waco.

Ric Woldow's Super Cub

Barry during his thorough  inspection.

(L to R )  Barry Logan, Rick Olson, Ric Woldow, and
Chad Poblanz wrapping up.

Ready for departure.  Rick Olson's recently completed RV4

Finish Kit ( and others for Final Assembly)

First Engine Run video from June 29

Here's the video shot by Bill Lane.  Shown monitoring radio is Terry Moushon.  Both were fantastic help all day getting engine system ready for first run.  I had to trim video to less than 100Mb to upload, so missing toward end of this video Bill walks to other side, showing how the plane is connected to Terry's pick up with strong tow rope.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Finish Kit (and other kits for Final Assembly)

Wing Walk applied ( 2 hrs )

Nancy helped apply Wing Walk material to Left and Right Wings today.  Best to have 2 people to insure align straight, etc.   Another hot and humid day, so after I removed remaining interior panels we headed home to our pool. Ready for inspection now.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Finish Kit (and others for Final Assembly)

ELT tested, G3x data logger, etc ( 5 hrs )

During past couple days, working to prepare for Airworthiness Inspection, and First Flight.  Cleaned Canopy of some residue left from sticky plastic layer (Plexus spray, and some isopropyl alcohol).  Removed Spinner so I could removed protection tape off blade roots.  Tested ELT Model E-04 (emergency locator transmitter) per Sect 9 in ACK Tech, Inc manual.  I heard a tone from my hand-held radio tuned to 121.5, and beep from system in plane.  (note: I called AFRCC #800-851-3051 first, but contrary to other info, they don't need coordination of self-test for 406 MHz systems)  Also verified receiving GPS data per Fig 134, page 9 re: test tool set-up.  ACK Tech confirmed using voltmeter on test lead was acceptable alternative to using an LED & 300 Ohm resitor.  Saw "pulse" every second as expected.   With Nancy's help, did another engine run for few minutes - this time insured I turned on Alternator power ! - immediately confirmed charging battery as volts increased, and Amps display registered high current tapering off quickly as battery recovered from start.  Removed SD card, and charted data on home PC.  (prior run July 2 was first time used SD card in G3X to record.  I'd forgot to turn on Alt Pwr, so I was concerned when data showed NO charging of battery, and 0 Amps.  Now using checklist w/ engine runs to insure I turn on Alt)  Rick Olson, friend in area who recently built a RV-4 stopped by to see my status.  He spent about an hour "inspecting" and found a couple minor things, which I quickly "fixed"...see pics below.  Thanks Rick !
Modified plug rack to fit the 4 "Automotive"  14mm plugs
for the PMAG.  Epoxied on 1/2" ID aluminum washers,
replacing the cardboard "fix" Terry created on day of 1st run.

Per Rick's recommendation (Terry had suggested earlier too),
I  constrained the PMAG leads on top cylinders to adel style
clamp on injection fuel line

Rick found the blue T fitting on MAP line had slipped out of
adel clamp - so I re-positioned clamp, and shoved  "T" much
farther in.  Seems secure now, but I'll continue to examine

example screenshot.  Terry reminded me easy to do on G3X...
simply hold "menu" key down for few seconds.  This was
several minutes after today's engine run...CHTs (stopped
run once reached 250F) and EGTs were lower

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Finish Kit (and other kits for Final Assembly)

Engine RPM and Prop Control ( 3 hrs )

Success!  Ran engine for another few minutes w/ correct RPM set up in config (ref July 1 log).  Terry Moushon was great assistance again.  After stabilized at 1200 RPM, opened throttles to 1700 RPM to test Prop Control.  No response at first, so raised RPM to 1800.  Began responding to input - with changes immediately.  Next did R Mag and L Mag checks.  Each dropped ~100 RPM (OK).  Returned to 1200 RPM, then lowered to 900 RPM to check robustness of idle.  Didn't go lower, since the CHTs were now at 250F.  Slowly reduced mixture to ICO (idle cut off) to stop.  After returning plane to hangar, masked top of Rudder and VS and sprayed grey primer ( Cromax Quick Prime A-4240S) to protect epoxy filler from UV.   Recently, Terry noticed I had original diameter (.120") hinge pins for top cowl attach.  His RV10 instructions had him replace with .090" diameter pins - which are much easier to insert/remove (while reaching inside via oil door).  My instructions had me use full diameter pins...but I did find another Vans doc that clearly instructs builders to use .090".  Sterling at Vans builder support confirmed the RV14 instructions changed from prior convention, retaining the .120" so the cowl does not slightly "lift" during flight as top is pressurized.  He noted optional to use .090" since easier to insert.   Since I'll be assembling cowling frequently over next few weeks, I built 2 pins w/ smaller diameter...to try.  Finally, I removed remaining plastic film from Canopy.  Sweet !    Since really hot and humid (again!), went home to download SD card to review engine run data.
Primer over epoxy filler so UV doesn't affect

Surprised how much removing the plastic film on
Canopy improved appearance!

Gotta clean the dust off glareshield...