Friday, January 15, 2016


Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope everyone had a great holiday season and you are all off to a great start in 2016.

In my last blog update, I reported on Ray's taxi tests that he invited me to take part in.  I had a day off in LA on Dec 23rd and Ray invited me up to the Camarillo, CA airport to get some pictures and videos of his Prowler airplane during the tests.  We were joined by Ray's friend Jim who has helped Ray during various stages of his Prowler build.  It was a beautiful day, the weather was great and the taxi tests turned out to be very productive.

As I outlined in the last blog update, the objectives for the day were to:
A.  Put more time on the engine, while monitoring parameters to determine patterns and possibly detect any problems;
B.  Test the brakes, tail wheel castering and overall taxi characteristics;
C.  Monitor fuel consumption from individual tanks and see which tanks drew down fuel the fastest, the most total fuel consumed from each tank, etc.;
D.  Look for general issues, problems or gripe items;
E.  Take pictures, videos and have some fun.

For the most part, all of the objectives were accomplished.  Since then, Ray and I have discussed a few issues that he(we) would like to address.  To quickly recap (in the same order as listed above):

A, The engine ran great.  Ray may tweak his fuel control just a tiny, little bit, to give a little better top end performance.  But, overall the FWF is working very well, all the parameters fell well within expected ranges, and there are few gripes;
B.  (Brakes) He did find that the brakes started to drag again (was a previous problem that he had worked on).  You can see this on one of the videos towards the end (below) where he has to add a lot of power to get the airplane to move.  He has since re-plumped the brakes with a flexible brake line in place of the hard line that George had provided with the kit.  Ray says that has completely fixed the brake issues. 
B.  (Tailwheel)  We've found that the tailwheel castering is not optimal.  You can see in a few pictures that the tailwheel strut is canted (lower end is pointed aft) a fair amount.  This makes the plane of rotation of the tailwheel NOT parallel to the ground.  This causes the tail of the aircraft to lower as the tailwheel rotates off center and requires the tail to raise up (from the ground) in order to get the tailwheel to return to center.  In order to lift the tail when coming out of a turn, you have to step on the opposite brake and add a significant amount of power to get the tailwheel to center up.  Ray has decided to tackle this problem and we are currently exploring options to fix this issue in the easiest, most practical manner.  I will report more on this, once we determine what the appropriate changes are.
C.  Fuel Consumption - All the fuel consumption characteristics fell in line with what Ray was predicting.
D.  We didn't find any other large squawks with the airplane during the tests.
E.  Between Jim and I, we managed to shoot about 30 short videos that day.  Some are very short, while some are a little longer.  I've put them together in (mostly) chronological order.  I will post them all below. 

Videos are below, but first, here are all the pictures from that day - not in any particular order:

Video Disclaimer & Information - I uploaded these videos using the system.  The uploaded videos are limited to 100Mb file size and it resizes the videos to reduce the file size during upload.  In doing so, the videos are fairly clear in the (only) window size that the system provides.  If you click on the larger video window icon, the window size gets larger, but the videos get grainy.  Sorry, but this is the best I can do  using the system.  The 100Mb video size limit forced me to break several videos into 2 or 3 individual videos.  If you're not familiar, with today's smartphone cameras, 100Mb represents about 60 secs of video!

The day started with using Ray's own design for a tailwheel towbar system to push the airplane out of the hangar.  Here is Ray's towbar design that lifts the tailwheel off the ground to allow easier steering with the electric tug.  Here it is:

Jim and I both captured Ray tugging the airplane out of the hangar (from different vantage points):

Here's a few shots of the engine area and the cockpit:

Climbing In:


Pre Start-up:

Taxi out:

First Taxi Runs:

Run Ups:

Done, Already!?!?

Jim's Turn:


Back to the hangar:

What an awesome day!  Thank you, again, Ray!  I really enjoyed the opportunity to taxi your INCREDIBLE airplane!  Thank you also for providing me the opportunity to share it all with the Prowler community.

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