So, at long last, after 4.5 years of building a Quickie Q2 and then 7.5 years of building the COZY, I finally got to fly one of my creations. At approximately 845 AM EDT on Sunday, August 4th, 2002, I lifted COZY MKIV N83MZ (named "Precious Time") off of runway 14 at FIT.
On Saturday I fixed the backwards rudder belhorns and attached the cable thimble to the belhorns with a bolt/large washer/sleeve assembly, so that it becomes easily removable. I also mounted and wired the Garmin 195 GPS and attached a clock in the old compass hole. My E.A.A. Flight Advisor (Willard Thorn, builder of Vari-EZE #30 or thereabouts in the late 1970's) spent two hours reinforcing the information in AC90-89A (whence I derived my first/second flight plan) and saying "FLY THE PLANE" to me about 752 times -). He also let me shoot two landings in his Cessna 310 (not that it flies remotely similarly, but he wanted me to get the feel of a 120 mph approach).
I arrived at Fitchburg at 7:15 AM Sunday (today) to find my friend Claude already there (Claude and another friend Pete were there to act as ground crew/emergency crew/official photographers). I performed a pre-flight and loaded 50 lbs. of ballast into the passenger seat to put the C.G. at 100.5". Just about then, Ed Masterson flew in with his Vari-EZE that he finished about 4 years ago from LWM (Lawrence Airport in MA). Ed had volunteered to fly chase plane. Pete arrived, and we spent about 10 minutes going over radio procedures, emergency procedures, how to get me out of the thing if I was unconscious, and getting the phone # of the Fitchburg Fire Department to call on the cellphones. The ground crew had cameras (both still and movie), cell phones, a portable radio and binoculars. Ed had his VE and the radio therein.
I decided NOT to do a high speed taxi run to lift the nose - I had already had it up to 70 mph twice and knew what it felt like - I didn't want to accidentally lift off and the have to decide whether to try to put it back down on the second half of a 4700 ft. runway.
I turned the plane around, started everything up, and then followed Ed down the taxiway to runway 14. We did our runups, and then Ed took off. He said not to worry about him - he'd be behind and to the right after I took off.
This picture shows N83MZ (with me in it there) taxing from tie-down spot #61 at FIT (Fitchburg Municipal Airport in Massachusetts) to runway 14.
I waited until Ed was above 800 ft. or so, and then took the runway. While nervous, the six takeoffs and landings in Bob and John's COZY's had made me feel a lot better. All the nightmares ran through my mind in about 3 seconds - had I tightened the wing bolts? Had I tightened the canard bolts? would the elevator fall off? Would the fact that the elevator bottom surface was 1/16" to 1/8" low cause the plane to be unflyable? Would the engine croak? For some reason, the canard bolts breaking was/is the biggest concern (clearly illogical, but hey, that's what it is).
I said (to myself) "screw all that" and pushed the throttle forward smoothly. With about 120 lb. of fuel, 80 lb. total of ballast, and 160 lb. of me, the plane was only at 1515 lb. It jumped forward, I maintained runway centerline and at about 75 mph pulled back on the stick gently (after about 1500 ft. of runway, maybe). PT did not need any wrestling or "popping" of the elevators to get in the air, nor did the nose rotate so high that I needed to push forward - it rotated to canard on the horizon and stuck there. The main wheels couldn't have been on the runway for another 0.1 seconds - the plane jumped into the air and I started a climb at 100 mph straight out to 1000 ft. at about 1100 FPM. After a gentle 5 degree bank turn to the practice area, I climbed to 3000 ft., leaving the gear down and leveling off at 2250 RPM and 135 mph.
I flew around there for a while, gently testing the controls in all directions and building up to 20 degree bank angles. I then climbed to 5000 ft. and did two practice approaches back down to 3000 ft. After climbing back up to 5500 ft., I retarded the throttle to 900 RPM and slowed down. I had decided that if I did not get a nose bob at 65 mph, I would not go any slower. Well, at exactly 65 mph, the nose started the classic bobbing up and down, with the airspeed occillating between 62 mph and 65 mph. I tried some control inputs and gentle turns. I then increased speed back to 135 and descended toward the airport. Ed had been calling traffic and position reports for us both to lessen my load, and he let the traffic know we were on our way back in.
I set up for a left pattern to runway 14 at 100 mph on downwind and base, slowing to 90 mph on final (extending the landing brake) and 80 mph over the numbers. I did a slight lift of the nose as I got closer and squeaked it on pretty close to centerline at about 70 mph. I could have turned off the runway at the 2500 ft mark, but I let it run all the way down to save on braking.
The only two things that were not perfect about this flight were the pitch trim, which was not NEARLY strong enough to trim the elevator down at any speed I was at, between 62 mph and 140 mph, and the sidetone squeal in my headset when transmitting.
I parked the plane, and Claude, Ed and I went into the restaurant for some breakfast. Twenty-one years of on and off plane building had culminated in an almost perfect flight - I couldn't have asked for anything better.
So after breakfast, Ed and Claude left (Pete had left right after the first flight) and I went back to the plane to remove the cowl and do a complete once over of everything front and back. Everything nominal, as they say - looked good. I added a quart of oil to bring it up to just over 7 quarts, and added 5 gallons of gas to the tank I had been running on.
I put it back together and then started work on the pitch trim. I removed the top spring and cut about 1.25" out of the length (Easier said than done -) ).
This all took a couple of hours, so I hung out with a guy fixing his BD-5 after his first flight (high temps - he was putting thermocouples everywhere to figure out what was going on) for an hour or two, got some drinks (it was 90 degrees) and studied the sectional for my restricted area.
Around 4 PM, I said what the heck, let's go again. The wind had picked up and shifted, so I used runway 20 with a 9 knot quartering headwind.
This time, I think I lifted off in less than 1200 ft. (same weight). I followed exactly the same plan as for flight one, so I won't bore you with it again. Suffice it to say that everything went very well the second time as well. While the spring change had made the stick forces a lot better, it was still not good enough - I need to get a stiffer and shorter spring, or cut another 1.5" out of the existing one (or get a "Strong Pitch Trim System", which worked really nicely in John V.'s plane -) ). With the lowered pitching force, I was able to notice that the aileron trim wasn't right either - the plane needed full right trim to stay straight and level. At 135 mph, the right aileron was only up about 1/8" at this trim level.
I came in to land on runway 20, landed at about the 700 ft. mark, and surprised the heck out of myself with a real greaser at about 70 mph. All in all, an EXCELLENT day.
So, thanks go to everyone that made this day possible - first and foremost, my wife Deanie, who has put up with me and my airplane crap (not to mention all the OTHER crap) for 19 years now, and shows no sign of giving up - I could not have done it nor could I continue without her. Secondly, I'd like to thank Nat for creating an aircraft that works so well out of the box (except for a couple of relatively minor adjustments). Thirdly I'd like to thank Bob, John, Ed and Willard for helping me out in these last few stressful but incredibly important times, and doing so in a totally giving manner. Lastly, I'd like to thank everyone that has given me even the slightest bit of encouragement and support over the last eight years - it adds up and makes these sort of things possible.
You can read the Flight Test Protocol for Flights 1 and 2.
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