Phase I flight testing–13.6 hours

Yesterday I check my flight controls to see if I could locate the source of the aileron bumping I’m experiencing.  I couldn’t find anything loose or interfering in the aileron controls.  I tightened up the aileron cables that go from the stick to the cockpit overhead bellcrank as a precaution.  I also checked the rigging of the ailerons themselves.  I found that the left aileron was set a little high so  I adjusted the aileron to the correct angle.  Weather was not the best yesterday so I elected not to do any flight testing.

This afternoon it was a little windy but I decided that the winds met my minimums.  I took off and it was definitely a wild ride for the first 1000 feet of altitude but everything smoothed out to within acceptable bumpage.  I flew northwest towards Farmington.  As I was flying along I noticed my tachometer was swinging between normal RPM indications of about 5200 RPM to well over 6500 RPM.  I could hear that the engine was not changing pitch so I knew it had to be the gauge.  As I was mulling which gauge to switch to in my mind I noticed that I could no longer see the display on the radio.  Also the GPS started displaying it’s loss of power countdown.  I also recalled that on my last flight another pilot reported my radio as scratchy.  Hmmm… That helped me narrow the problem down to my battery not having enough of a charge to excite the alternator.  I think.  The rotax engine is a different animal than I’m used to.

I got back to the airport and the winds were really gusting at that point.  I carefully checked for other traffic (since I couldn’t use the radio) and entered the pattern.  Everything went well until I actually tried to land.  Then I found that I had developed a new landing technique.  This technique involved letting the upwind main wheel touch down, and then pick it back up.  Then letting the downwind main wheel touch down, and pick it back up.  Then let both wheels touch simultaneously, and again pick them back up.  THEN drop and pick back up all 3 wheels in rapid succession all the while maintaining poor directional control.  The problem?  I was distracted by the loss of power and failed to adequately control the airplane.  Did I break or bend anything?  No.  It was just one of those landings that made me SO happy the airport was deserted.  God is indeed good!

So two things to address before my next flight: the battery charging system, and my wind minimums.   God bless and happy landings.

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