I can't express in words how much I enjoy this plane. I look forward to each flight and it's better than I even could have imagined. The things I remark most is the visibility and the speed this plane offers.
I began my test phase flights with a thorough pre-flight. Checking oil, lines, nuts, screws. Everything. After the first ten flights or so I was getting the confidence that this plane was just going to work the way it should. Never a problem. Just a few little squawks that I can fix later. Some of the Squwaks include getting my fuel set-ups correct. The idle is very rich and causes the plane to run rough in the pattern unless I lean. I spoke with Ron Monson and Stuart Fetherstone at Performance Engines and they told me to bring it to him and he would do it at no charge. Now that is great customer service. I also need to reinforce the oil door hinge with about ten-bid as it flexes up in flight. And my brake lines still have a little air in them on the right side, even after I had them bled twice. So that's it for the squwaks.
The first twenty hours I didn't want to do a whole lot except break-in the engine and enjoy flying. I kept it at under 7000' and flew 25"@2500 RPM and 24"@2400RPM changing power settings each fifteen minutes. My oil consumption went from about a quart every 1-2 hours to a quart every 5 hours. I can't seem to get it to stabilize above six quarts, so That's what I used as my mark and check prior to each flight. The oil temp stays right around 180 degrees on a warm day (70 degrees in California) and will go to 170 degrees when the outside air temperature is cold (40 degrees).
My speeds seem good for a motor breaking in and still in primer. I see about 205-200 KIAS at 2500 and 190 KIAS at 2400 RPM. On a recent trip I flew at 10,500 and got the same indicated speed. I've been a bit lazy on calculating true air speed. I'd like to wait until after paint, but my ground speeds average 225 Knots below 5000' and 235 up at 10,500 with 2500 RPM. It's a fast plane and I'm very happy with the performance. The true joy of the Legacy is the feel of the controls and the visability.
||After the first ten hours I moved it from Watsonville to Hollister. Dave Leonardo at Gavilan Aviation was kind enough to offer hangar space in his HUGE hangar. So I kept buying gas there and my plane found its new favorite watering hole. I made a habit of taking off and climbing to 3000'-5000' while orbiting. It gave me confidence the motor and everything was functioning properly before blasting off to do my course. I'd fly from Hollister to Paso Robles to Fresno to Modest and back again. Three of those circuits would give me about 3 hours and 45 minutes of flight time. A quick way to get my hours flown off.
I did get a bit lost north of Sacramento and found myself in Ashland, Oregon. It just so happens that Steve Green, my painter, is there. So he got a chance to look the plane over and I got to see Scott Alair's being taped-up for paint. The scattered layers of clouds were magical beyond belief. With the full view from inside the canopy it can be enjoyed like I never had before.
I made several trips to Columbia to visit fellow builder and good friend Jim Thomas. On one occasion we got to meet up with Legacy builders Steve Cowell and Dennis Johnson for lunch. Always nice talking about our planes; the building and now the flying. I've had so much help along the way learning from others mistakes and trials, it's good to pass mine along and make the building easier for others. Plus, these are all the nicest guys I've known in my life.
Another trip I made was down to Bakersfield to visit with Stuart Featherstone. He helped me with my motor and we have become pretty good friends. He's about as big of a smart-ass as I am, so it's always back and forth insults and pranks. His Legacy is near completion and painted solid red. His N# is N54NE (insane). It is stunning and I'm sworn to secrecy about the IO-580 that's driving it (oops). Sorry Stu.
A few more flights and circles around Northern California and I had my test time off and the plane legal to bring back to Ried-Hillview to a new hangar. It's one of the coveted "Old County T-hangars and I love it! I took my son Patrick for the first ride and he was thrilled. Since then we took a trip to LA and got to visit with Ray Allen and Kris Storkersen. They have a Legacy that is almost ready for first flight. I took my son Nicholas to Camerillo to see the CAF museum and eat the "pilot's hamburger". A fun ride. The best part was that it was on the spur of the moment. No booking a month ahead, hoping for a cancelation and then lumping along at 130 Knots. I now Travel at better that 220 Knots and getting close to my destination, get it slowed to 160 KIAS at 10 miles out and upon reaching 5 miles open the speed brakes, bring out 10 degrees of flaps, drop the gear and keep it at 120 KIAS until a mile final then slow to 100 KIAS. What a plane!
I love it. I love it. I love it!
OK, so I finally calculated my true air speeds from my LA trip. Amazing. I wrote down all my numbers including barometric pressure, outside air temperature, indicated airspeeds and all engine indications. Flying at 10,500 at 2500 RPM and 24" MP, I got 247 KTAS with a fuel flow of 18.9 gph (120 degrees RoP). When reducing power to 2400 RPM and 24" MP I trued out to 235 KTAS with a fuel flow of 15.5 gph (120 degrees RoP). Amazing!
Throughout my entire phase 1 I called Josh Brungardt and Start Featherstone almost daily with any little concern or with my engine indications from various power settings and oil consumption. I can't express enough how nice it was having mentors of that sort to reassure me everything was normal and going smooth. Since this is my first kit-built plane and my own high performance motor I wish to see go to TBO, it's very important to talk these thing through and know you're doing all the right things. The thing was, everything was fine, the motor broke-in well, all speeds and flight characteristics, W&B were as they should be. And now after having close to 60 Legacy flight hours I find myself very comfortable with the plane and it's as easy flying this and landing, as a Piper Cherokee, just twice as fast in all respects. It's a docile little airplane when flown the way it should be flown. I just can't thank my friends enough for all the encouragement and advise.
For the next couple of weeks I'm fixing a couple of little body-work things and getting ready to drop it off for paint. I'm looking forward to just visiting with other builders and resting after the build. I'll keep updating my flights as they come and go.
I did find one thing about the Legacy I hate. The oil change. What a mess. But I have an idea! Stay tuned.