I have been flying Columbia 400’s for a while, and they are great, but married with a baby on the way and the desire to travel with friends, we just need something a little BIGGER. 428x can only carry 2 people with full fuel and baggage, so we need a bit MORE if we are to go anywhere with friends. As well, I have always wondered how GOOD an airplane can be, if it is not encumbered by the countless reams of regulations of the federal government. I have also wondered how fun, or easy, it would be to BUILD my own airplane! With these thoughts in mind, I placed my order for a Lancair Evolution.
This is a 315-knot single-engine turboprop that flies at 27,000 feet. The urban legend goes that there can never be an expensive homebuilt airplane because those that can afford to BUY the plane do not have time to BUILD it!
People that can afford to buy a plane like a Lancair Evolution DO have the time to take vacations, and building an Evolution is MORE fun than any vacation. I have learned so far that there IS something as fun as flying your own airplane: BUILDING it!
GM offers a buyer engine-assist option where the customer can pay extra and show up at the factory to help build the engine for his Corvette. Showing up at the Lancair factory to have an expert staff help you build your Evolution is every bit as fun as that, and when you are done, you will have an amazing airplane to boot.
Well, I showed up at the Lancair facility this January to start construction of my Evolution with help from the expert staff at Composite Assist (the company that normally helps people start the construction on their Lancair Evolution), and RDD (to help take me to completion) it was more fun than any vacation I have ever had, and here is my journal:
WHY NOT A JET? (because they are not efficient for small craft under Mach 1)
WHY AN EVOLUTION? (because it is the best)
AERODYNAMIC MODIFICATIONS (5 things that will make the plane look better and go faster!)
ELECTRIC AND HYDRAULIC SYSTEMS (a few minor changes that will enhance safety a little more, at the cost of some convenience)
ENGINE AND PROP SYSTEM (this is what makes me want to race people)
BUILD-SESSION #1 (with COMPOSITE ASSIST in Redmond, OR)
BUILD-SESSION #2 (with RDD in Redmond, OR)
BUILD-SESSION #3 (with RDD in Redmond, OR)
BUILD-PIX #4 (at RDD in Redmond, OR)
FIRST FLIGHT! (with RDD in Redmond, OR)
PRELIM PERFORMANCE (at RDD in Redmond, OR)
PAINT-SCHEME PLANNING (all on the web)
PAINTING (with Tom Connors in Redmond, OR)
ARTIFICIALLY-INTELLIGENT AVIONICS AND AUTOPILOT PLAN (designed by me with hardware by Vertical Power)
ARTIFICIALLY-INTELLIGENT AVIONICS AND AUTOPILOT FLIGHT-TEST (prelim tests done in an RV-7 at Albuquerque, NM)
FIRST GLIMPSE (with Tom Connors in Redmond, OR)
FINAL ASSEMBLY FOR OSHKOSH (with RDD in Redmond, OR)
Did I mention that we are playing with fire?
Well, we are.
And, after paint: