Flight to 5500 feet






Another amazing experience in Belite 254.

I’d been working on several systems. The fuel tank was new (again); this time it was a 5 gallon tank along with a clever new attachment system. The fuel gauge was working.

I’d changed the relative position of the Flaperons (again); because I was getting some negative roll response at extreme flap settings. Made me feel like a test pilot when I rolled in full flaps and left aileron and the plane started to roll right. Wrong! Something was wrong in the flap setup.

I’d also lubricated the flaperon push pull cables, because they were tight and needed to be a little smoother.

I’d also been working on the Lithium Polymer light weight battery.

Anyway, time for a test flight.

I departed Jabara airport in an 8 knot crosswind and started an eastbound climb. Indicated airspeed was 52mph; I targeted an altitude of 5500 feet because I wanted to know that I could cruise at that altitude as I took the plane towards Oshkosh later this week.

The flight started at 07:30pm.

20 minutes later, I leveled off at 5500 feet. With no doors on either side, and with a fading sun at my back, the world showed off the most immaculate mix of green colors, shadows, and beauty. I was in awe of God’s creation, floating below me. Heading into a headwind, my groundspeed was probably 35 or 40 knots, but it didn’t matter. I was suspended far above ground, enjoying it all, feeling the wind whip past my arms (but my torso in the calm of the cabin). Wow.

Soon I was over Eldorado reservoir, with sailboats and so forth zipping around in the water. I banked the little taildragger to the right and started my return trip back to the airport.

But why head back so quickly? Why not fly over my friend Terry Alley’s house, somewhere near Augusta, KS, but out in the countryside?

I couldn’t find his home. Disappointment. I should have checked the position beforehand. (Later, Terry told me I was off by 3 or 4 miles, due to my misunderstanding of the position).

The air was warmer as I descended. I briefly thought of William Least Heat Moon’s book, “Blue Highways”, as I saw a two lane highway peeling off to the north. I could follow that highway, in my little freedom machine.

One hour after liftoff, after climbing over 4000 feet above ground level, after seeing the beauty in God’s creation, I set back down at Jabara airport.

I want to do this flight again. I am so grateful I get to do this.

BTW, the flaperon setting changes worked out fine.

I plan to fly this plane to Oshkosh, weather permitting. It will take at least 5 hops. I plan to leave Wednesday morning. It will be amazing.

James Wiebe

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