First Flight                                       

In the weeks leading up this moment we had numerous conversations with a lot of folks who had already done this.  One of the most important pieces of advice we received was to PLAN THE FLIGHT AND FLY THE PLAN!  This is repeated over and over in any article or book on the topic of flight testing, and it bears repeating here.  We tried to be as thorough as we could in planning out every step of the flight, and setting limits for everything.  Limits on time, limits on airspeeds, limits on weather.  Intentionally breaking these limits was not acceptable.  Of these, weather was the one really couldn't control.  So despite that burning desire to "see if it flies". we waited until we had a calm clear day to conduct first flight.

July 24th, 2011 we got such a day, and our opportunity had arrived.  The weather forecast had been favorable, so we had lined up our additional ground crew the night before.  Christine would be on the radio and take video, and watching with binoculars would be Dan Huwe, who was John's original flight instructor.  Having Dan present was extremely special for John, as Dan had conducted John's private, instrument, high performance, and complex training.

At 8:15AM CDT John made a radio call he had waited 5 years to make:  "St. Cloud tower, Cozy Two Zero Four Tango Foxtrot is ready to go, runway Three One.  Will be remaining over the field at six thousand."  And then came the sweetest words to the ears of this amateur aircraft builder: "Cozy Two Zero Four Tango Foxtrot, cleared for take-off, runway three one."

Here it was, moment of truth.  Excited, scared, and hardly able to breath I lined up on 31, and pushed the throttle to full.  Here's what happened next:


I rotated the canard a little later than I had planed (around 75kts), but when I did it rose nicely to the horizon. I had no trouble keeping it from over rotating though, as the mains took flight right along with it. Aside from making some right turns while checking out the controls, I maintained a left pattern within about 2 miles of the runway at all times.

4TF flew straight and true. No roll or yaw tendencies. The engine ran strong, though I noticed my oil temps climbing throughout the flight. When the oil temp passed 240 deg I decided I needed to return to terra firma sooner than I had hoped. I pulled the throttle back and did a practice approach from 5k' to 4k', slowing to 80kts on final. All controls still felt good, so I increased the throttle back to 2000RPM and sped up to 120kts as I wound my way around the pattern and down to our 1800' pattern altitude.

On my first approach to landing I was pretty nervous and having a bit of trouble maintaining a stable airspeed and decent angle. About 1/4 mile out I decided I didn't like the look of things and called a go around. While the oil temp was concerning to me, I figured I'd rather trash the engine the slam it on and risk trashing myself. The oil temp hit 247 degrees during my go around, but my second approach was much better, and I set the mains on nicely at 85 kts, then just gently eased pressure off the stick to allow the canard to settle. The Matco 3 pucks stopped the plane nicely, and I taxied back to the hangar. We will have to investigate the high oil temps before further flights, but we needed to get home to pack for our departure to Airventure 2011. What a great way to start the best week in aviation.