First big trip for 1VP

I built my plane for travel and it was exciting to take her on my first “big” trip after a week at home. Yeah, yeah I know – no grass grows under my feet. I left Steamboat fairly early in the morning but after my wife left in our car (maybe I shouldn’t have sent her a picture from the pool with a beer when she had six hours of driving still ahead of her…). Both of us headed to Fountain hills, AZ.

It was a spectacularly beautiful day and the route kept me busy enjoying the views. Just like that I was into the Phoenix terminal area and damn was it congested. I was on an IFR flight plan so that resulted in a small routing change and an over the top downwind entry on 26R into Mesa airport (KFFZ). I called my sister to tell her I was there, much to her surprise as I padded my arrival time (so as to not worry her if I was a bit late) and because I failed to realize Arizona was in a different time zone. Oops.

While in Arizona I decided one morning to do some additional flight testing since I was finally at a lower elevation. I was performing a number of climbs at a fixed speed when I noticed on the decent between climbs my number four cylinder EGT was dropping significantly more than the others. Ugh, what is going on… The next day I called Launch Pad Aviation and they offered to squeeze me in last minute to check everything over.

After taxiing over I helped de-cowl, I had already talked to Airflow Performance (manufacturer of my fuel servo and divider) who recommended a fuel flow test. The mechanic at Landing Pad recommended the same thing. Since the engine was hot, I took a break and an hour later we ran the test. Of course fuel flow in all throttle positions was normal. Hmm. We checked the injector and it looked good too.

Since this was the first mechanic to look over my engine I took advantage of having him give my work a good once over. I also requested we do a compression test and borescope cylinders 2 (always runs lean) and 4 (low EGT on last flight). Everything looked good so it was perplexing to what caused the EGT drop other than a possible EGT sensor failing. Before cowling the engine I did a run up and it was noticed that my idle mixture was off so we dialed that in and buttoned her up. A quick test flight showed everything was running well. But still no solution to the issue.

I want to plug Launch Pad Aviation a bit, these guys had a hanger full of planes they were working on and dropped everything to help me out. On top of that they gave me a couple of rides to my car. And on top that, the price they charged me was extremely reasonable. Definitely recommend these guys, great prices and excellent knowledge. Give them a call if you get stuck in Phoenix or need an annual – 480-404-4202.

Since then I have do some additional reading and researching. One possible idea is fuel boiling in the line from the divider to the injector, I’ll be doing some more testing shortly.

Nice easy flight to Las Vegas (KVGT). Not nearly as scenic until I reached the Grand Canyon and Lake Mead. But I did get to log my first 0.1 hours of actual instrument flight as I had some clouds to pass through on the way.

After a nice visit with my family it was time to fly home to Steamboat. My sister was driving back to Portland and wanted an early start resulting in a 4:15am arrival at the airport. Pre-flight, weather briefing, and flight plan filing left me with a 4:45am engine start. My IFR clearance took forever but I am glad I got one because to avoid the Las Vegas Class B airspace would involve flying near mountains where I would be below the peaks. Oh did I forget to mention it was pitch black with no moon? Yeah. So on take off it was basically all on the instruments with nothing but black in the windshield. A quick climb, 180 and soon I was cleared over the Las Vegas airport and direct home. A bit of clouds to deal with near home convinced me to cancel IFR, turn more to the west and go around them. It only added a few minutes and ensured I didn’t pick ice in the clouds (forecast was for moderate rime ice in clouds). A nice smooth landing and the first big trip was in the books. Woohoo!

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