Supertweet Moves to St. George, Utah

On September 29th, Supertweet flew out of Florida, VFR. Bad weather was moving in, IFR traffic southbound was a mess, so we blasted out VFR up the east cost, turned left at St. Augustine, and on to Tallahassee.  That was first stop of the cross-country.

Leg 1.  KTMB VFR to TLH  40 kt. headwind

Leg 2  KTLH VFR to KHEZ  50 kt. headwind

Leg 3  KHEZ VFR to KGGG  60 kt. headwind

Leg 4  KGGG IFR to KLBB.  70 kt. headwind  Night flight.  Spend night in Lubbock Texas.

Leg 5  KLBB IFR to KGUP  20 kt. headwind

Leg 6  KGUP VFR to KSGU  10 kt. headwind

Ground fog kept the aircraft grounded for two hours at Lubbock; then blast-off when fog burned off.  Besides me having an ill-fitting mask, everything went perfectly. No squawks, nothing down.  We landed at SGU at 1:30pm.


N87921 on ramp of Western Sky Aviation Warbird Museum just after landing

The night flight from KGGG to KLBB was something poets write of. And always fail to capture. Unlimited visibility, smooth air, and bright lights of Dallas looking surreal.  With smooth running engines humming the flight is a highlight in my flying career.

I pinned the landing gear, attached the nose-gear towing brace, and pushed the plane into the shade of the hanger, its new home.  Sitting next to a MiG 17, a T38, T37….a great stable.

Phase 1 Flight Testing Completed. Bird is Free

Hello anyone.  Been quiet here for some time for a reason(s).  The Dragonfly had a couple of maintenance issues that were a horror to get repaired and adjusted. So, here’s the scoop:

The Dragonfly was starting engines for its final Phase 1 flight the first week of March when the main fuel boost pump decided to go south. Getting it repaired turned into a nightmare as we couldn’t find a shop that was willing to tackle the job.  After months of looking for an FAA approved repair station, I called a mechanic in Arizona who put me in touch with the ONLY shop in the US that would do the repair. Turns out the shop was right around the corner from me in FL!  So off it went, the parts ordered, and 30 days later I had a like-new boost pump.  They also repaired a spare I had, but the parts took several weeks to get. So now I’m golden.

boost pump

We were, in the meantime, trying to figure out a hydraulic indication issue. The books did not enlighten us. With some advise from a friend in Australia, we looked at the hydraulic actuated wing spoilers and their associated activating cams. Turns out that when we readjusted the ailerons a year ago we should have adjusted the cams at the same time. Book did nothing to advise on this.  Cams adjusted to neutral, and now it looked like the bird was set to go.

With new tires, all squawks eliminated, it was time to fly.  Steve K, test pilot, came into town to finish off this tiny beast.  The flight was flawless. A full functional check flight was flown again with zero “down” items.

Steve did a roll to let some FOD fall, and found a couple of small items, including a razor blade I lost at the very beginning of the project 14 years ago. And there it sat on the floor awaiting my magnet.

Fod test flight taxi out 2

Performance is terrific and the excess power allow a much greater safety margin.  Aircraft did a 1 engine-at-idle through touchdown as a simulated engine-out landing. Truly a piece of cake.  Single engine go-arounds easy.  This is going to be a dream to own and fly.

Phase 1 completion means the bird is free from its home base at KTMB.

Can’t wait to get this to Utah museum, Western Sky Aviation Warbird Museum. Will be flying it out of Utah.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Phase 1 ongoing

Flew 5 hours this week in Phase 1 with no major issues. Gotta re-align main gear, put in new taxi light, and fixed the g-meter (was in locked position–agh!!). New VSI, but we still peg it at 6′ooo fpm. Completed aerobatics for the testing, including Cuban 8s, loops, rolls, split S, etc. Full Monty. Even shot two ILS approaches.


Phase 1 testing

Flights and testing are ongoing. I’m fixing hidden bugs as they show up, but every bug fixed is one less problem in the future. We flew again and have some more time on the plane.  We found a tiny pinhole leak in a bleed air line.  Naturally it was in the worst place, but after removal of the line, it was easy to weld up to standards.  Back together now and engine starts show no problems.

Some photos of bird last time out.

On the way out.  Power steering makes taxiing easy.

On the way out. Power steering makes taxiing easy.

Thrust attenuators and belly brake are very effective

Thrust attenuators and belly brake are very effective

Nose profile.  Plan is to use only two underwing fuel tanks.  Nice to have extra fuel but there is a drag penalty to be paid, too.

Nose profile. Plan is to use only two underwing fuel tanks. Nice to have extra fuel but there is a drag penalty to be paid, too.










Lousy photos, but proof–so THERE!

The photos from the first flight did not come out, but someone had a camera that caught the A37 in the air for the first time in decades.


Quick Departure

Quick Departure


Final Approach with speed brake down

Final Approach with speed brake down




It FLIES! Really!

N87921, Dragon921, has flown.  On November 6th it left the ground, finally.

With Phase 1 Ops Limits in hand, and no more items to fix, correct, modify, etc, it was time to fill up the wings, taxi out, and see if it would fly.  Major butterflies!  This is a complicated bird with lots of things happening, all at once.

Everything worked mechanically, just a couple of minor adjustments to make.  In the air, it flew straight and true, hands off.  Acceleration was perfect and ground run was so short it almost looked like some airshow routine.

Gear came up right away, and much quicker than I had expected.  Power back to 90% before halfway down the runway. Then down to 8o% on climb out. Straight out over fields and Everglades in case of any problems. The ‘chute was just repacked and certified, but I just don’t like the idea of leaving unless you absolutely have to. But NOTHING wrong came up.  No anomalies whatsoever.

Over the ‘glades to verify the gear, flaps, stall speed, indicators for landing, etc. And all looked great.     Up to 8500 feet.  Cycled the gear several times checking for pitch changes–none.  Time to return to base and check out the bird.

Power down, landing instructions, gear down, speed brake out, thrust attenuators working perfectly at 60%, in and out for speed control, landing smooth, no bounce, no aerodynamic breaking first time out–use brakes right now to ensure stopping. Taxi in and shut down.

No leaks, no burn marks, no “down” systems.  Checked oil, hydraulics, etc. and all perfect.  Time for some photos and handshakes, congratulations.

I’ll post some videos and photos later. We have some adjustments to make. One item I am seriously looking at is putting in an Aspen AHRS and getting rid of the electric gyros, heavy and an expensive issue to rebuild.    Talk to you all later. Thanks for being here!

Champagne anyone?

Status on first flight?

I decided about a year ago to NOT update the blog unitl the bird was flying.  But several comments and questions have pushed me to tell when the bird is to fly.  Hopefully end September if the test pilot (EAE), can work it into his schedule.  In the meaintime it sits in the hangar, in ready-to-go condition, no leaks or problems that we know of.

Test flights soon!

If it’s not one thing, it’s another!

Holy Crapola! Do you think anyone could find more ways to NOT fly an airplane?

The test pilot wanted the fuel system and throttles checked, and now it’s done. But we broke the left throttle cable putting it back together, and it took 4-5 months to get a new one in and working.  In the process, we found what went wrong. Turns out that there are jam nuts on the threaded ends of the cable. But when you tighten them into position, the front nut under the center console will have a tendency to turn the cable too as it tightens. This causes a twist in the cable making it subject to breaking. Unfortunately, the WARNING that is in the book is NOT in the same area as the cable installation–it’s further into the book.  Too late.

I’ve had some business and personal traveling lately and it took time away from the bird.  With cable in, I got the interior back together (a big job), the seats in, and closed up.  Only issue is that dang-nabbed hydraulic leak in the nose gear.

So, the steering cylinder was leaking enough to warrant me taking it out and rebuilding the system.  To take out the cylinder you must take out the nose gear entirely.  UGH!!  I had to make a special tool to dismantle the cylinder which took a couple of days.  And, then it was time to take apart the cylinder.  It’s a complicated multi-shaft, multi port system.  One shaft had a pitted end.  Its out now and somehow I have to rebuild it.

Nose gear out to remove steering cylinder


Steering Centering Shaft with pitting

I’m thinking of using the HVOF system to build up the shaft then lap it down in the lathe.  This may take a couple of weeks to get someone to do the metalizing of the shaft. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Sorry for the delays. I am anxious to fly.

Tailwinds all.

Short Update

After Airworthiness Inspection and Certification, all seemed going well. We called in the test pilot. We ran into a gliitch that I felt needed further investigation. Also, the pilot asked for a little bit more “cushion” under the throttle stops.

During throttle alignment, we found a tiny bit of play in the torque tubes that could mean a sloppy movement later on. So I elected to take the system out.  WHAT A MESS!!!! Jeez!  Whoever designed this mechanism is a sadist and a can short of a six pack.  Anyway, we got the things out, fixed, and back in.  Now time to re-set the throttles.

And guess what?  We somehow snapped the internal throttle cable.  So OUT it came, along with its attendant parts.  Now I am trying to find someone who make this cable to specs, and it is not easy. Its an unusual cable system.  I think we found a supplier, but will have to see if they can do what we want.  Next week will tell the story.  Otherwise we have to change to a different cable system, which I don’t want to do.

Broken Throttle Cable

Anyway, it’s still not in the air. I think the test pilot, Steve, is going to shoot me.  He wanted it at Lakeland and Oshkosh. 

Finally, it’s great to know that there are some airplane buffs out there watching this blog.  The people who are in Seattle know who I mean.  I’m flying out on Alaska Airlines next week for some R and R and visit some family.  I promise to put up photos of the bird in its present state later. Hopefully it will be doing some airshows out there soon. “See ya next week Cory”.

Airworthiness Certificate!

Today, March 15, 2011, was inspection day for the A37.  The paperwork took 3 times longer than the aircraft inspection, actually.

Engine Start. FOD screen coming up.

We pulled the bird out, started it up, made noise, turned on the lights, flapped up and down, wiggled the wings back and forth, pulled the tail up and down, and did all kinds of magical pilot stuff.  After toggleling the trim up and down, left and right, back and forth, all the movements were correct and verified. He liked that!  Then I wiggled the nose wheel with the power steering to show that I really knew my stuff!

Ready to go

All paperwork was in order, except I needed to print out a new 8130-6 Application. Somehow I left my original at the office. So a print out and new signature finalized everything.

Ops Limits were as expected.  The DAR knew his regs and liked the airplane, so it went smoothly.

We celebrated with a big burger and beer at a local pub–11 years of work completed.  Now we just have to fly this puppy!