2014 Rough River Fly-In                                       

09/25/2014 -

After returning from Oshkosh we had a laundry list about 5 miles long to attend to on the Cozy.  The tires and tubes needed to be replaced, one brake disc needed to be replaced, one wheel pant needed to be replaced, and while at Oshkosh, we had picked up an ADS-B receiver, an oxygen system, and new batteries to install in the plane.  To top it all off the condition inspection was going to be coming due the end of September, so that was on the list as well.

All of that work took about a month to complete, and there was just enough time left to get a couple of local checkout flights in to ensure the plane was ready for the cross country trip to Canard Heaven, a.k.a the Rough River Fly-In, held at a beautiful and peaceful state park in Kentucky.

As we've done in previous years, we planned to drop Ella off with Grandma and Grandpa in Bloomington, Indiana.  While Ella enjoys canard airplanes, there usually aren't many children around for her to play with, so she prefers to get spoiled instead.  The flight to Bloomington is about 3 hours and from there it's only a half hour to Rough River.  We took off from Saint Cloud as soon as the morning fog burned off enough to go, but clouds along the route would have me file IFR anyway.  We spent about an hour in fairly solid IMC, which would have required a much lower altitude to avoid than I was willing to entertain.  Eventually we broke out into blue skies, and for the next 3 days that is how they would mostly stay.  With the time zone change in Bloomington, we arrived just in time for lunch.  After lunch we returned to the airport and got a little extra fuel to ensure we had enough for going on some joy rides while in Kentucky and still making it back to Bloomington (there is no fuel at Rough River).  Then we set out for the quick hop to Rough River, sans Ella.

When we arrived there were already about a dozen canards on field, and by the time we unloaded the plane and got checked in a few more had arrived.  It wasn't too surprising given the great weather that was forecasted.

For us, one dangerous byproduct of seeing so many gorgeous canards is that it stirs the desire to build again.  We've frequently discussed the idea of building a Defiant, which is a twin engine canard similar in design to our Cozy, but with an engine on the front as well.  There are rarely more than one or two Defiants at Rough River, but this year 4 of them made the trip.  All of them were simply gorgeous.

On Saturday morning, as I was preflighting the Cozy in order to take a friend and current builder from Iowa for her first Cozy ride, I was tempted with a rather dangerous proposition.  Steve Sorenson was going to take his Defiant to a nearby airport to fill fuel, and asked me if I would care to join him for the flight.  OH WOULD I EVER!  I quickly explained to my friend that there would be a slight delay in our Cozy flight, as I simply HAD to go for a ride in the coolest airplane EVER!  :)

The flight from Rough River to Tell City is only 10 minutes or so, but along the way Steve and I discussed the flying characteristics of the Defiant, and how they compared to the Cozy and Long-EZ, as well as some of the systems differences.  After conducting what, as far as I can tell, is the only painful part of flying a Defiant - fueling it, we hopped back in for the flight back to Rough River.  Once airborne, Steve asked if I would like to take the plane for a bit.  I debated this for much less time than it took to answer him: "Oh wow, heck yeah!"  Unfortunately for me and my garage, it flew very bit as much like a dream as I would have guessed.  I'm glad I didn't sell off my epoxy pump!  When we got back to Rough River, everyone on the ramp could see the perma-grin on my face for miles.  It still hasn't gone away!

Next up was a less exciting, but still rather fun flight in our Cozy.  I had initially planned on taking Kim Meyer for her first Cozy flight when her boyfriend Chad and I returned to Cedar Rapids from Rochester back in July.  Unfortunately the weather was looking a little iffy and I decided it would be better to get started back to St. Cloud.  Now, sadly 2 months later, we had a great chance for her to see what she was building with Chad.  We took off to the North and flew over the Ohio River.  After trimming the plane out I asked Kim if she wanted to fly it to get a feel for the response.  4TF is a little bit more sensitive in roll than other Cozys I've flown (I have no idea why), but she did a great job of making nice smooth standard rate turns.  Kim asked about steep turns so I decided to demonstrate one for her.  Normally when rolling out a steep turn in the Cozy attention must be paid to not letting the nose balloon up and gaining a pile of altitude.  I was trying to be very exactly with that, but for some reason it was extra climb happy.  I had to add a fair bit of forward pressure on the stick to prevent the climb, and subsequently we got a little negative G loading.  Enough so that I managed to unport the fuel sump a bit, and trigger a low fuel pressure warning (<20psi).  It quickly purged any air and the warning went away in a couple of seconds, but it was enough to catch my attention.

We made our way back to the airport and I set up for what appeared to be a nice stabilized approach to runway 2.  There wasn't really much wind, and my touchdown spot was staying nicely in one spot on the canopy.  As I got to about 100 feet altitude my airspeed had increased by 10 knots and there was no more throttle left to chop or airbrake left to extend.  I went around and tried again, this time everything worked out perfect and I was happy to have made a nice landing for Kim's first Cozy flight.

The following morning the weather was good for our entire route home.  Just a couple of cloud layers we would have to either go over or under.  A fire at the Chicago TRACON facility would prevent us from being able to file IFR without some serious detours, so we were thankful for the weather cooperation.

We stopped in Bloomington to pick up Ella, and have lunch with the folks, before continuing on for home.  When we used to drive this trip it  was about 2 hours from Rough River to Bloomington and then another 12 plus hours home.  Now it's about 3 and half hours flight time, making it a far less daunting trek.  We don't even have to take our shoes and belts off before boarding.  What a great way to travel!