Ben Charvet

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I added a spar to the center section where the aileron spar is,  Made the angled side pieces out of scrap 3/4 inch lumber routed out on the side that doesn't show to decrease weight.  The flop itself is made out of aluminum and was pretty easy to fabricate with a small brake I borrowed from a friend.  A simple piano hinge on the front edge, and a simple slide to hold it in place.  My wing is 4 inches back from vertical and I can get into the pilots seat without opening the flop, but when getting out I open it and use the cabanes to pull myself upright before stepping out.

Ben Charvet

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The combing across the front has a piece of 1/2 or so plastic tubing split and pushed over the edge of the aluminum.  Over that I put a piece of foam pipe insulation.  I measured where the forward edge of foam insulation ended up and marked the aluminum cowl for 3/16 holes for the leather lacing.   I used a high quality vinyl for the covers, which were cut so that there was extra material to fold over into the split in the foam pipe insulation.  All this was glued together with contact cement.  The leather lacing and the vinyl all came from JoAnn's fabric store.  The cockpit sides were made by forming a piece of thin aluminum in a "U" shape that would fit upside down on the cockpit rail, allowing for a thickness of vinyl on either side.  A piece of the foam pipe insulation was split in half and glued down to the top side.  Vinyl was then glued to it, wrapping around the bottom edges, so that there wouldn't be any sharp edges to damage the fabric.  I had added a 1/2 X1/4 inch piece of capstrip along the all edges of my fuselage so the fabric would stand away from the plywood, so the width was just about right for the foam pipe insulation.  These side pieces are just pressed into place and held by a wood screw on either end.  The back edge of the pilot's seat is a strip of aluminum with 1/2 inch plastic tubing pressed over the forward edge.  This was wrapped with vinyl, and laced with leather.  Its just held on with 5 small wood screws.  Hope this helps.


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After watching the wind sock stand straight out for a week, today finally was the day.  I did one high speed taxi down the runway, just to make sure the airspeed indicator worked (it didn't come alive till the tailwheel came up).  Lined up on the runway and went for it.  This was the first time the new engine had seen full throttle, but it came right up and I was off.  I'm in Florida , call me a wimp, but it was in the 40's here this morning.  Following the recommendations in the FAA advisory circular I climbed up to 3000 ft (Real cold up there).  This was my first flight in any Pietenpol.  I've been flying an old Baby Ace for the last 3 years, and the Piet was really quite an improvement.  It seems to be about 15 mph faster.  I was cruising easily at 78 mph at 2050 rpm.  I'll take the GPS up with me to see if that is accurate, but it just seemed faster using ground reference.  I even flew down the interstate and outran some trucks!  

I was determined to stay up for an hour, and by then I was really getting chilled.  I was really surprised that the Piet is a lot less draggy than my Baby Ace.  I overshot the first landing, the folks on the ground thinking I was doing a fly-by.  The second approach was still a little fast, but I managed to do what I considered an amazing landing, considering how many people were watching.  I'll attach a post-flight picture with the "Pietenpol Grin".  The airport bums and my wife went out for a celebratory lunch, and I went back to the airport for a post-flight inspection.  While I was doing that a stranger drove up and congratulated me on my first flight.  He introduced himself as an FAA inspector!  He was a real nice guy, though and asked if I would be going to Sun-N-Fun (70 miles past my Phase 1 radius).  I told him I would if I could fly my 25 hrs off.  He said if I could get 15 hours on it he would write me a waiver!  Look for me parked in the homebuilders corner.

After I put it all back together, the wind sock was starting to droop, and a friend was dragging out his J-3.  I figured, why not go again, so off I went.  I climbed up to 2500 feet this time.  It was around 3 PM by this time, and it was still cold up there.  I decided to check out the dreaded Pietenpol Airfoil Stall.  I slowed it till it was showing 28 mph on the airspeed indicator and felt the burble, and called that close enough.  About that time I could see my friend's J-3 taking off.  I had handed my camera to a buddy that was riding along with him and he got a great shot of my Pietenpol time maching with the Kennedy Space Center in the background. I'll attach that too.  

In all I flew 1.9 hours today, and if it warms up a little and the weather cooperates, I should be able to take my wife up for her long-awaited first ride soon.  This list has been a great help and inspiration.  Hope we can get a good showing at Sun-N-Fun.  Get building guys, its worth it!


Ben Charvet


23.1 hrs to go


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