N199TW: Tim Witham's RAF 2000 GTX SE
Flight Pictures & Movies
Construction Log /
Instrument Panel /
GPS Track Log and Flight Maps
OLD PRA Chapter 5 Newsletters, information and
I am documenting my gyroplane building and flying project in this
area. Follow the above links for more information.
Progress Reports, in latest first (backwards) order:
Hi everyone, sorry for the lack of updates here. Unfortunately, there
are no updates to be made. Due to continued negative cash flow that
has nothing to do with flying, I no longer get to fly. If you'd like
to help, donations are gladly accepted. My mailing address is readily
But seriously, until I can afford to fly, this page will not be
updated much. I really miss flying my gyro, and dream of returning to
the air one day. In the meantime, I'm also dreaming of building a portable hangar. But I can't afford to do
that yet either. Ah well. Check back in a year or so, maybe I'll be
flying again or building the hangar or something.
I suspect my metal carb float failure was yet another victim of my
propeller vibration problems. However, I also heard of another metal
float that sprung a leak and caused gradual loss of power during an
approach to landing. So we know the metal floats can fail. Based on
this, and consulting with some others, I opted to replace my broken
metal float with the composite/plastic version. It definitely can't
break off the lever or spring a leak like the metal one.
After getting the fuel level set, I did a runway flight behind the
power curve. Couldn't get my full 5400 RPM out of the engine, only
5100. Did another and same thing. Oh well, 5100 is plenty to climb
with, so the third time I went around the pattern, staying close just
in case. Ran great, but not knowing why the top-end RPM was down, I
didn't go anywhere. Instead, I landed, packed it up in a trailer and
hauled it home to my garage. Here I will do the annual/100 hour
inspection. It will be several months before I fly again...
Pleasant surprise! I assumed wrong on the cause of my engine failure.
After rechecking everything, making sure I had power to the CTI and
removing a plug to check for spark, I cranked the engine. I had
spark. Also had gas flowing out the top of the carburetor! Removed
the back float section. The metal float had come unsoldered and
completely separated from the lever to the valve. So the engine had
simply flooded out. So instead of a $500+ ignition system, I got a
$10 float to fix the problem. I'm thinking about drilling a hole or
two through the lever near the float and wrapping safety wire around
to hold it should the solder ever break. Anyone know a good reason
not to do this? Only downside I could think is if the wire should
break and jam something.
A common question from non-pilots is "what if your engine quits?" My
answer has always been "I land". What follows is my longer, more
specific answer to the question.
Saturday, October 13 2001, the plan was to fly north from Vacaville to
Marysville California for the annual
air show. The main highlight for me would be the performance by
Jim Vanek, including the world's only loop and roll demonstration in a
gyroplane. Then I would spend the night there and fly around the next
day at the annual PRA Chapter 5 gyro gathering and picnic. I took off
just before 9am.
N199TW was purring like a kitten.
After leveling off at 1,000 feet I noticed my airspeed was 70 MPH
while my ground speed on the GPS was 35. Wow I thought, there's more
headwind up here then I expected from the weather briefing. I ducked
down a few hundred feet to see if I could get to slower wind and began
calculating how long it was going to take to get to my destination. I
have over 2.5 hours of fuel, but the airport closes at 11am for the
air show. No problem, I can still make it with time to spare.
Enjoy the view for a few minutes when suddenly I hear and see my
engine RPM dropping quickly. 4000, 3900, 3800... Hmmm, that's odd,
I'm pretty sure I didn't reduce throttle. I'm in the center of a huge
plowed field at 600 feet but making good progress towards the edge of
the field. Scan the guages: all looks good. Fiddle with throttle: no
change, 2000, 1800, sputter, shake, sputter, shake, silence.
Probably 5 seconds has passed since first indication something out of
the ordinary might be happening. All the time I'm evaluating my
landing options: dirt road straight ahead but over power lines. Yes!
I think I will be able to clear them...
Fly the airplane! Airspeed had quickly bled off below 50 as the
thrust stopped. Stick slowly forward, get that airspeed back up!
Glide slope looks good to clear the power lines no problem. Airspeed
now good. Key off. Master off. Power lines cleared and behind me.
Lined up with dirt road, begin flare, gradually slowing down, follow
through normal power off (for real this time!) landing as practiced
dozens of times on the runway, touchdown and stop! Whooo Hoo! One of
my smoothest landings! Later, the GPS log would reveal that less than
a minute elapsed from engine shutdown to touchdown.
Back to the original plan for the day: fellow Chapter 5 members were
preparing for takeoff when I departed less than 10 minutes ago. They
were flying fixed-wing airplanes much faster than mine. So we had
made arrangements to communicate along the way, they would pass me in
the air, and we'd all meet at the show in Marysville.
Blades still spinning, still strapped in my seat. Master on. Key on.
Radio on. Our conversation went something like this:
"Gyro Niner Tango Whisky: Gary, Bob, you on frequency yet?"
(I recognize Gary's voice) "switching to in-flight freqency now."
"Niner Tango Whiskey: Gary, can you hear me?"
"Gyro Niner Tango Whiskey just had engine out landing on a dirt road
5.76 miles from Nut Tree; I am OK." (Yes, 5.76. I just love my GPS!)
"Tim, what's your altitude?"
(me thinks: huh? Good one! Very funny!) "ground: I'm on the ground!"
"Say again, you're radio is cutting out."
"Engine quit: I landed on the ground."
"Tim, we're only getting the first word of your transmissions."
"Gyro is on the ground! Tim are you OK: yes or no?"
"North or South of Winters?"
"East or West of Highway 505?"
So, this went on a little longer. I spotted them, they spotted me and
said they'd be back in a while with a trailer. Excellent!
Blades spun down by now I got out, waved to the farmer on the tractor
passing right by, and looked the machine over briefly. Everything
appears just fine. Fuel pressure is good from both pumps and the gas
looks/smells good. Everything seems to be connected. I did not try
to start the engine.
Instead, I began trying to figure out how to get from this private
dirt road to the public paved road only a couple hundred feet away.
There were water canals around the field and between the two. I
stopped the farmer on his next pass and found that we would have to
drive all the way to the other end of the field to get around and over
the water. The guys arrived with the trailer, we loaded it up, slowly
pulled it out of there, back to the airport and tucked it away in the
hangar. Unfortunately, it was too late to get to the air show.
I still don't know what the root cause was as I won't have time to do
a thorough check out for a week or more. Most likely suspicion is
that the electronic ignition has failed. Perhaps it (or something)
caused an electrical surge that has also fried my radio
At least I got to fly and as always had a blast doing it! For some
reason, I felt extreme happiness just after the landing. I feel like
a more complete pilot now as this was my first engine out landing.
By the way when you learn to fly your instructor says "this is what
you do when your engine quits." Note the correct operative word
"when", not "if". Then you practice for this event over and over.
I'm glad my first engine out landing went just as I had planned and
has such a happy ending. I hope my next one goes just as well.
After our monthly chapter meeting, I only had time
for three laps around the pattern. There was some sort of crazy
"Pleasure Faire" going on down below; lots of people and tents and
traffic jams. It was just nice to be in the air now that we are free
to fly again.
Happy Labor Day! Went flying west for an hour to see how far I could
get. With a headwind, I only got to Petaluma. But from 4,000 feet I
could see the ocean! Circled around up toward Santa Rosa and then
back. Lots of sights to see on this trip.
After getting permission to land there, I flew in to Freedom Field to see if I
might be able to handle a 1500 ft. dirt strip and move my gyro closer
to home. Landing was no problem after a couple passes to check it
out. Takoff would be the trick. Only about 1000 ft. are usable when
taking off to the south due to powerlines on Baseline. But I did it
with full fuel on a warm day!
Up to 4,000 feet and towards Lake Berryessa. Dropped down lower while
flying around the lake. What a beautiful day and nice flight.
"Nut Tree Airport, Vacaville, California. Automated weather
observation one seven three zero zulu. Wind one six zero at zero
niner, peak gusts one four." This made for interesting takeoff and
landing on runway two zero. On takeoff I taxied out into place and
parked on the numbers, letting rotor speed build up in the wind. To
170 or so. Then start rolling power on with full aft stick. Hit 200
RRPM. Full throttle. Liftoff in just a few yards! And with this
headwind it feels like an elevator; climbing steeply up away from the
runway at 70 mph. Out for a quick 30 minute spin up to 2000 feet.
Then back in for the landing challenge. Throttle to idle on base.
Steep descent while turning final and lining up with the runway. Just
a couple feet to go, whoa! Gust and we're back up to 10 feet! Add a
touch of power and lower the nose to keep that airspeed and rotor
speed up. Ahh, back to a foot or so, power off again. Airspeed
nearly gone, touchdown! Ok, that's enough excitement for one day.
Spent the day watching all the fun at Travis AFB Air Expo 2001. So
then I just had to go flying for an hour. Click GPS Track Log above
to see a map of where I went.
After the last flight, my exhaust was cracked again! And the starter
was dead again, like back in July and August. Figured there's got to
be a reason for all these problems. A buddy suggested propeller track
and/or balance is causing high frequency vibration. Ah ha! That
makes sense. Took forever to find time to work on this, but I finally
did. Tracked the propeller by shimming one side with two layers of
paper. This fixed the 1/8" out of track problem. Then used an
electronic microbalancer and applied an extra washer to two of the
mounting bolts and got the vibration minimized as much as we could.
But while doing this, antifreeze started dripping out the top of the
radiator where the hose connects. Yep, apparently this vibration had
got to that too. Today I drained and removed the radiator, resoldered
the hose connector, put it back together and filled it back up. After
running a few minutes until all the air was out of the system, it was
finally ready to fly again. Flew 3 stop-n-goes around the airport
just to brush up on my landings and make sure no more exhaust cracking
or leaks or anything. Everything checks out! Hopefully the propeller
vibration has been the problem all along and it will be smooth flying
from now on.
Long fun sight seeing flight on a bumpy windy day. Flew around SMF's
class C airspace. Overflew the closed Natomas runway where I learned
to fly and then Rio Linda's runway. Dropped down along the Sacramento
river to watch the boaters. Finally headed back on a line between
Davis and Yolo. Landed with a 90 degree crosswind at 10 with no
problem. 1.6 hours aloft and enjoyed every minute.
Finally! A beautiful sunny day, no wind and enough free time to go to
the airport after work. Checked her all out and took off. Went to
Yolo County and did 5 stop-n-goes to brush up on landings after five
weeks of no flying. Excellent, I haven't forgotten how to fly!
Finally headed back towards home, looking at all the beautiful green
fields along the way. Pulled power and practiced an engine out
simulation down to a few feet over a dirt road. I gotta get up here
Got the exhaust welded back together. Also the left side where the
pipes slip into the can. Painted and installed the exhaust, then
rewired my master relay such that it kills *all* electrical including
the heavy starter cable which previously bypassed the master relay.
Went to start the engine, but it didn't want to fire. Battery quickly
ran down so I connected jumper cables to my truck and finally got it
running. But then I ran out of time and had to give up on flying
today. Oh well, at least it's ready to go again. Maybe after work
Hobbs: 84.6. Right on schedule, my exhaust cracked. Noticed crack
part way around a pipe on the right side where it is welded to the
flange that bolts to the block. Decided to go anyway and just stay
local and keep an eye on it. After a couple trips around the pattern,
on my third go I heard more engine noise than usual. Aborted the
takeoff and taxiid back in. Sure enough, it had cracked open.
Removed it for repair.
Took off with Mike under a 1,100 foot overcast. At 600 feet I am my
required 500 feet from property on the ground and 500 feet below the
clouds! It's cold outside, but man this thing is warm, cozy and quiet
with the doors and heater on! Went north where the clouds were
breaking up some. Played over the hills south of Winters, spooked a
coyote and a few rabbits. Decided to go up through the break and over
the clouds for a look at the cotton blanket over the valley; beautiful
from 2,500 feet. From here it was time to demonstrate a vertical
descent. Throttle back, "pop!", engine hesitation! Yikes, forget
this, add the power back in. Pull carb heat. RPM drops, then
increases. Ah, with all this humidity and cold day we just
experienced carb ice! It must have caused a little backfire as I
throttled back, then the engine had nothing to burn as it sucked the
already burnt mixture back through, causing the hesitation. OK, no
problem, just use that carb heat! Back to the airport for a couple
stop-n-goes and a break. Then went up around the pattern several
times for more landing practice with the doors on. The wind was
steady today so I didn't notice any yawing problem with the doors on;
it was real stable unless I forced it sideways and then it would want
to keep going sideways until I corrected it. This is the first time
I've had the doors on since my horizontal stabilizer addition. So
maybe the dihedral in it is also helping. Either way, flying with the
doors on was much nicer today than I had remembered.
Took my cousin Mike up for a spin at sunset. Took a couple laps
around the old oval racetrack off of 80 and Midway Rd. We noted that
this would be the perfect property to keep a gyro. The race track
makes a nice little gyro-sized airport traffic pattern. After dipping
down to just a few feet at one end and simulating a takeoff, we could
climb to 500 feet by the other end, nicely clear of the neighbors.
Afterwards, we drove by and the track seems to sit on about 1/4 mile
by 1/2 mile piece of land, or 80 acres. Anyone got 80 flat acres for
sale in north central California? Cheap?
After the local PRA Chapter 5 meeting I went up for a spin out near
Dixon. But with no doors on I got cold and had to come back after 45
minutes of fooling around. Had fun as always.
Took a quick spin around the airport with 3 landings just to keep
proficient. With the 6 mph wind right down the runway I was nearly at
pattern altitude by the time I reached the opposite end. Hobbs now
80.8. 2738 miles so far on the GPS. I just got a serial cable for it
and am thinking about putting my track logs here so
we can see where I've been. Trying to figure out how to plot them on a map image.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
I couldn't have asked for a better day for the first flight of the new
millennium. Took off and did a pattern and low pass over the runway
for an on-looking video camera. Gary did the same and then followed
me to Winters. Then we headed for the hills west of 505 and played
follow the leader over them, slowly winding our way north. Stirred up
a couple coyotes on the way. Near the intersection of highway 5, we
finally parted ways with Gary continuing on to Marysville and me
heading back home. What a great way to spend New Year's Day! (click
image for a 1024x768 view, 188k)
Stayed in the pattern practicing landing skills. Did two idle
approaches from downwind. Had a blast even though I didn't go
anywhere. I just love it when I get to go up! Thanks to Gary I
finally got a bunch of excellent digital pics of my ship. Put some of
them here at Gyro-Cam, panel and tail.
GPS Map & Newsletter Article
Whoooooooooooooooooooooooooo Hoooooooooooooooooooooo! Man I needed
that. How in the world do I survive not flying? Flying is just
waaaaay too much fun to go for a couple months without doing it. Went
up for nearly 2 hours; I just didn't want to come back down. Up and
over and down and around a bunch of hills and valleys. Around some
trees, spooked a couple deer and several rabbits, skimmed a plateau at
a few feet at 80 mph and shot off the edge over a cliff to several
hundred feet AGL. Hey, what's that black spec over there? Turn
towards it. It's Bob! Another PRA Chapter 5 member flying his Bandit
Pro. Waved and followed him back to the airport. Did a couple
stop-n-goes before rolling back to the hangar. What a great day.
Took coworker and private pilot Hassan up for a spin at sunset.
Flew to the first annual Air Fair at Kingdon Airpark near Lodi. A
couple Pitts, several RVs and more airplanes were on display and
flying by throughout the day. I was the only gyro and tried to answer
all the questions. Several mentioned they would like to see it fly,
so I finally took it up around 3pm. Did one pattern and demo'd a
vertical descent over the runway. Then went back up and did a real
tight 720 degree turn on downwind. Man I love those! Then headed
back home. What a great place, friendly people and a real nice fly-in
for their first one ever. I'll try to get back there next year!
Went out for a short joy ride in the evening. Practiced some vertical
descents and real steep turns near highway 80. Then touched down and
caught Gary about to go out. Played follow-the-leader with him. Out
around the hills, over the top and drop down real low over a flat
plateau and blast off the cliff end of it. Wheeee!
The plan was to leave for El-Mirage at sun up. But weather briefing
the night before said 30 mph gusty winds over the mountains. No
thanks. Decided no go.
Flew over the hills and up the Napa Valley. Then over Lake Berryessa
on the way back. Then did my 75 hour maintenance inspection.
Took friends Jennifer and Grant up for a ride as a beautiful orange
sunset reflected off the overcast sky. Did stop-n-goes as it was
getting dark to slowly accustom myself to my first night flying and
landing. The night lighting on the machine works great and I had no
problems landing at night.
Had planned to fly-in to the Golden West EAA Fly-In after work. But
when I got to the airport, the master switch was on and the battery
dead. By the time I got it started, it was getting dark. So I didn't
get to go.
Flew to Marysville to visit the guys. Took one for a short ride. Did
the irresistible low flight along the Sacramento River on the way
Got the starter fixed much better this time. Also put silicone around
the wires that have broken. Put it back on and took Mom and Dad up
again. Did some fun flying over the hills and got the attention of a
couple deer. Went up to 1000 feet and demonstrated a vertical
descent. Also demod flying sideways. They have really enjoyed the
First passengers! My Dad was my first passenger. We went out and
flew over the local farmland and circled a hot air baloon that had
just landed. Then my Mom was my second passenger and we did the same.
Then my Dad was ready to go again and we found a tomato picking crew
and watched them from above. Took a break for lunch and then decided
to go back for more. But the starter didn't work again! That same
wire (see 07/23) was broken again. Took it off to go work on it...
Flew by the buildings I work in, about an hour flight away. My
coworkers came outside and were waving at me. Later, I heard a lot
more were inside watching out the windows. I had a blast. Made
several passes to show off the aircraft. Then to Cameron Park for
Finally got back from vacation. Flew for just over an hour and a half
and the Hobbs clicked past 60 hours. 20 on the ground plus 40 in
Phase I of my Amateur-Built Operating Limitations. Whoo Hoo! The
test is over and I can now fly all over the place with a passenger at
night! Any volunteers?
So I'm thinking I'll get 2 of the remaining 3 hours of testing done.
But the gyro had decided otherwise. It wouldn't crank over.
Everything looks good electrically but no response from the starter.
Not even a click. So we start looking around and discover the heavy
guage wire from solenoid to motor is busted! Put on a new connector
and hook it back up, surely that will fix it. Nope, still nothing!
Take the back off the solenoid. Ah ha! The coil wire in there is
busted where it goes to the external terminal. Solder that one back
together. Starts right up. So finally up for a spin over the hills
north of Winters, 1.6 hours. Only 1.4 hours to go now! But I gotta
leave for Oshkosh. So it'll have to wait until later August. Bye
Flew north to the Sacramento River, almost an hour. Then dropped down
to just over the treetops and followed it back toward Sacramento.
Right over the river banks, sharp curving turns and all. Oh man what
a blast! Being low is safe because there are levy roads along both
sides. If the engine quits, you can just point it there and land. So
I'm just flying along having a good ole time when my GPS beeps 'SUA 10
minutes ahead'. Yeah, OK, I think, Sac Metro's over there somewhere,
no biggie. So I keep flying. Then it beeps again 'SUA 2 nm ahead'.
So I take my eyes off the river and look further ahead. Whoa, there's
the control tower, and a jet taking off! About 7 miles away, just as
the GPS said. Ok, time to turn away, their airspace goes out to 5
miles. Man I love this GPS! The cool thing is since they turned off
SA, it even gets altitude right. It never warned me of the shelf of
higher airspace because I was well under it.
The gyro flys even better close to the ground! South of the
intersection of highway 505 and 5 are many square miles of rolling
hills and nothing else, not even many trees. The hills are real
smooth and I could land just about anywhere if I had to. So, I took
the gyro down close to get a better look and have some fun. When you
approach the surface at cruise speed, it feels like ground effect
wants to "bounce" you back up and away. You have to push the stick
forward to stay close. Then you pick up a lot of speed in ground
effect and go shooting up and away. What a blast! Then there were
valley areas where I could fly down in between hills and be looking up
at hilltops on either side. Sort of a weird feeling like you're
flying below gound level or something. What fun. Only 5 hours to go
until I move on to Phase II and can leave my restricted test flight
Completed the 50 hour maintenance inspection in about 6 hours.
Includes things like changing the oil, regreasing bearings and
prerotator cable, and inspecting all sorts of things. Everything
checked out OK so it was time for a test flight! 1.5 hours along the
ridge north and west of Vacaville. Got a lot of up and down drafts
over and around the hills. With my huge horizontal stabilizer, the machine pitches
slightly down into updrafts and up into downdrafts, which is a good
thing but took a little getting used to.
Hobbs now: 50.0. Time to do my first 50 hour inspection! Today I did
a fuel burn test. Vacaville to Marysville to Vacaville to Yolo
non-stop at 1000 feet, 125 miles. Cruised around 4640 engine RPM, 67
mph indicated airspeed, 57 mph average ground speed. This took 16.3
gallons of fuel in 2.2 hours which comes out to 7.4 gallons per hour.
Higher than the published 6 gph, but that is mostly due to my new
propeller. I replaced the noisy 68" Warp Drive with a much quieter
66" Prince P-tip. I didn't get quite enough pitch put in it, so I'm
turning a couple hundred RPM faster than normal. Max engine RPM is
5400 with this particular prop. Long term I may get a 68" one cut
with more pitch, shoot for 5200 RPM max. But this should work for
now. I can safely cruise for 2.5 hours on a tank of gas, with over
1/2 hour reserve.
Flew for a whopping 3.5 hours! Not all at once, in 3 separate
flights. First was a short 1/2 hour local flight. Next was straight
north to Dunnigan, then followed highway 5 back toward Sacramento.
Turned just west of Woodland toward Yolo. There was no traffic
around, so I did a stop-n-go then pulled power midfield, about 300
feet altitude and landed again at the far end of the runway. I'm
getting better at judging where my touch down will be. I landed,
rolled a few feet and turned off. Taxied back the full length of the
field at a nice pace to keep the rotor spinning. Took off and headed
back home. Did a vertical descent over an abandoned race track by
highway 80. Went back for more fuel, and then went flying again! Out
around Winters and over the rolling hills out there. What a nice day
to be in the air!
Flew 2 hours. Did 4 stop-n-goes at Yolo. Paced my pattern time to be
the same as a Skyhawk by flying a close downwind. That way I stayed
out of his way: when he was on downwind I was on the runway and vice
versa. Then went flying around Dixon and over farmland at 500 feet.
Waved at some farmers and at some cars on highway 80.
This morning I did a climb test. 5100 engine RPM all the way from
liftoff to 10,000 feet. Yep, 10,000 MSL! That's the advertised
service ceiling so I wanted to test it out. Last 1,000 feet took 8
minutes which is still 125 FPM. So, sure enough, it can get way up
there! And this was at 18 degrees C on the ground, a little warmer
than standard day temp. But cooler up there; I need to get an OAT
thermometer. Engine temp never went over 200 degrees. Rotor RPM
increased from 310 at sea level to 340 at 10,000 ft. Best rate of
climb dropped from 60 MPH to around 50 MPH. At 10,000 pulled carb
heat and throttled back to 3,300 RPM for a 700 FPM descent at 70 MPH.
Felt good to get back down closer to the ground!
Today was Northern California Rotorcraft
Association's annual picnic and gyro flying contests at
Marysville. I missed the bomb drop target by a miserable 54 feet
(winner was 17 feet) and did the timed pylon run flying 2 traffic
patterns within 4 seconds of each other (2 winners tied at 0 seconds).
Then I missed man an machine by 1 vote. But it was a great day at the
airport, and the food was fantastic. Then I followed Gary back to Nut
Tree. We dipped down and played along the river for a few minutes,
waving at boats.
Flew into Marysville early this morning for their [Air Expo 2000] air show. Gary
followed me from Nut Tree, about an hour flight. Called into the
tempory tower "flight of 2". Once on the ground, enjoyed a great air
show with highlights including 3 passes by the B2 bomber, and an F18
hornet demonstration. Finally, they announced aircraft judging
results and N199TW took the second place trophy in the gyrocopter
category, out of over a dozen gyros judged! Later that evening went
flying around the new Sacramento Ampitheatre where there was a Motley
Crue concert going on.
OK, so I forgot to update this page. I had a long winter of no flying
and way too much other stuff to do. Last fall I had decided to build
a horizontal stabilizer before flying again.
I finally got this done a few weeks ago and am now flying again! And
man what a blast. Maybe I'll write something here sometime. Or not,
flying is more fun!
My First Solo Flight in N199TW! I've been flying
Cessnas for 100 hours and have 10 hours dual in gyroplanes. Today I
did 3 unassisted take offs and landings with my instructor followed by
an engine out simulation all the way to a landing on the runway.
After passing a written test, I was signed off for solo flight! So I
went for 3 takeoffs and landings by myself. It all went very well.
The machine's performance is awesome with just me on board. Click the
link for some pictures.
2 hour dual lesson. Flew to a nearby bigger and less busy airport for
take off and landing practice. Did 18 landings, all of them pretty
good. Each time while taxiing back, practiced balancing on the mains
to learn a better feel for the stick and machine. Also had 2 engine
out simulations. What fun!
N199TW flies for the first time! Wow, all the hard work finally
paid off. The machine performed flawlessly. Gyro CFI Gary Brewer did
the honors of the initial test flights since he has way more
experience than me. Everything went as planned.
We first did a thorough check of the machine, using a rotorcraft
inspection checklist. Then tied the tailwheel to my truck bumper and
did the static runup. It topped out at 5180 RPM full throttle.
Perfect, no prop adjustments were needed.
Then he spun up the blades and did a quick taxi down the taxiway,
getting the feel for the ground handling with rotor spinning. Cleared
for traffic and lifted off slower than normal, behind the power curve,
and kept it just a few feet off the runway. And let it set down at
the other end of the runway. Taxied back and we torqued the blades
Spun up the blades noting the black tip was higher than the yellow.
Took off, this time at normal speed and higher. Noted rotor RPM was
low and there was a slight one-per stick shake. Set back down at the
far end again. Since rotor RPM was low, we need to reduce pitch to
speed it up. The black blade was high, so we took out 40 thousandths
of pitch from the black blade to lower it.
Another run and the shake was less but still there. Took another 40
thousandths pitch out of the black blade. Next run was close, but we
went another 20 thousandths.
Finally, it was flying quite smooth. Took off and checked it out,
this time away from the airport. All systems checked out and it flys
N199TW passes FAA inspection! Bill Janis of Sacramento FSDO
performed my inspection. I had attended an FAA presentation on the
certification and registration of amateur built aircraft last year so
I had everything prepared and ready to go. This helped significantly.
There were no major problems found, just little details noted. Like
securing wires better, replacing the too-short tail wheel bolt, etc.
He was impressed with the quality of the kit and workmanship and my
detailed construction log and pictures.
Most of the actual construction was recorded elsewhere:
Construction Log /
Now I'm finally wiring the panel. I scanned in a picture of the
panel, it has turned out nicely. It's now all on the Instrument Panel page.
When I designed my panel, I set up pairs of
holes for separate switch and fuse or breaker. Since then, I
discovered the combined toggle switchable breakers. So I'm thinking
that with some planning, I could use all those extra panel holes to
create more circuits. Here is my wiring
plans so far. Pretty much everything gets its' own dedicated
I seem to not update this page very often since I'm writing what I did
in the Construction Log which is auto-uploaded to my
web page and pictures are being auto-taken by Gyro-Cam. Please see them for the actual latest info.
Sorry, what can I say, building the gyroplane is more fun than writing
web pages. :-)
First actual day of work, finally! Gyro-Cam did an
excellent job of recording it. I did section 1, mount the nose wheel
bearings and bend the keel.
My camera finally arrived yesterday and Gyro-Cam is
nearly on-line. This will be automated time-lapsed video
documentation of the project and current picture uploads to the
I'm thinking I'll use a timecard-mode for emacs to log my time. You
just hit a button when you begin and end activities and write comment
about what you did. Then it can total it all up by category. Here is
my Construction Log so far, even though I haven't
The time has arrived!
So I get a call at work today: "what is your street name again, our
truck driver can't find it."
I say "What? I thought we agreed to unload it tomorrow!"
But the driver was near and ready to drop it off. So I scrambled and
found 5 other guys to borrow from work. You really do need at least 6
guys if you want to unload it w/out a lift. We got the engine uloaded
without much problem. But that 560 lb. crate is huge! I happened to
have ten 8ft 2x4s laying there so I duct-taped them all together to
make a ramp which just happened to fit in a crack in the concrete so
it couldn't slip away from the truck. We carefully slid it down the
ramp. Worked pretty good. I don't know if we would have been able to
lower it otherwise.
We couldn't resist and quickly opened one side of each crate just to
see it. Looks like it's mostly there. Looks like a lot of work to do.
The engine came with the crank driven ignition; I wasn't sure which
I'd get. The anodized parts are beautiful. I found my custom panel and
it looks just like what I drew up. Wow.
Man, how am I going to sleep tonight?
I have the panel layout finalized. Thanks
for all the great input on this. I'm faxing it to the factory
tomorrow and they may cut it as soon as next week.
I ordered my [RAF 2000 GTX SE]
from my friend Gary Brewer of West Coast Gyroplanes! Now I have to go
buy a few tools, get the garage ready, figure out my panel layout and
so-on. What fun this is going to be!
Timothy D. Witham
Last modified: Mon Jun 17 18:38:58 PDT 2002