Seawind Splash-In 2005
What an incredible Splash-In event for the many Seawinders in attendance. Our group was graciously hosted by Chad Fey and George Osborne who have beautiful lakefront homes to bring their Seawinds to (Chad's Seawind to be finished at a not too distant date; how's that for a little pressure Mike?). I find it difficult to describe how wonderfully we were treated by Chad & George and their families. Words are not enough. If you missed the Splash-In this year I would highly recommend that you don't miss it in the future.
George Osborne's remote control docking platform being load tested by (L-R) Keith Walljasper,friend of Ed Lynch, Earl Boeve, Tom Thunnell, Fred Lohr, George Osborne, Ed Lynch and Tom Saccio.
Some highlights of the days were talks by Keith Walljasper on nose gear trials and tribulations; a seminar by Jack Ardoyno on flying and training in the Seawind; incredible meals put on by Joan and George Osborne and the Fey family and very lively discussions on everything from the fuel system to the mixer to most every system that a Seawinder had a question about. The amount of knowledge shared was immense. It's always difficult to find spare time (especially at the cost of losing building days) but the time spent at Splash-In will no doubt save many of the builders and flyers weeks or months of not having to re-do things and may possibly save a hull or a life. It's very difficult to put a value on what was learned this week by the many attendees.
Assorted Nose Landing Gear parts replaced by Keith Walljasper
Three beautiful Seawinds were in attendance and were graciously opened up for tours by Larry Sapp, George Osborne and Keith Walljasper. Keith even went to the trouble of removing his glareshield so we could all marvel at his avionics and systems layout. It is very neat indeed. Larry's distinctive fishing lure paint job is even more impressive in real life. We were also treated to pictures of Earl Boeve's distinctive paint job on his soon to be flying Seawind out of Leadville, Colorado. Hopefully we will be getting some data from Earl on normally aspirated Seawind performance at high altitude airports.
Keith Walljasper's N80CC bared for all to see. Very Impressive!
Day 1 of the Splash-In started with a round of introductions by all present. In attendance were: Keith Walljasper, George Osborne, Earl Boeve, Bob Anthis, Tom Thunnel (kit #170), Jean Peter (Brazil), Fred Lohr, Tom Saccio, Ed Lynch, Jack Ardoyno, Larry Sapp, Jeff Trowbridge (kit for sale!) , John Ricciotti, Brent Carlson, Chad Fey, Mark & Alex Maloney , Dorian Olson and Bill Hayes (if I've missed anyone, please email me and I'll add you). We had the full assortment of Seawinders, from those who were just started their kits to those that have been flying a few years.
The first topic discussed was past accidents for the Seawinds and what could be done to avoid repeating the same mistakes. It appears that with the proper training most the the pitfalls could be avoided. One suggestion to come out of the water takeoff accident as well as water landing incidents, was that the nose landing gear should have a positive method to keep it from coming out ot the top of the wheel well. The sudden rushing in of water in the nose wheel well compartment has contributed to the nose gear literally popping out the top of the compartment and doing considerable more damage than would have resulted if it had stayed in place. The other suggestion concerned test flying. It MUST be done in a sparsely populated area with many options if the only motor you have decides to stop running. The Seawind is fortunate in that water is a suitable forced landing sight that many homebuilts cannot take advantage of. Use the advantages of the Seawind to make your test flying safer. Many times in homebuilts, it's not IF your engine is going to quit, but WHEN. The thoughts of our lost Seawind pilots are certainly with us and we don't want the lessons they learned to be in vain.
Next on the menu was a great talk given by Keith Walljasper on the things he has learned building and re-building the nose gear. Keith has uncovered many weaknesses that perhaps if correct during the building process will never occur in your Seawind. First is the welds on the lower attach point for the oleo. Seawind, SNA published a bulletin long occur advising you to inspect these aluminum welds. If they don't meet specs, call Seawind for instructions. Keith has reinforced this area with additional aluminum bracket between the original forks. You can see this in the picture.
Another weak point is the nose wheel fork attach bolts which calls for four AN-4 bolts (1/4") tapped into the aluminum casting. Just about everyone agreed that they had upped these to AN-5 bolts (5/16") with a coarse thread for a little better bite into the aluminum. Another suggestion was to use thru bolts on the forward two bolts so as to not rely on aluminum threads in the extreme tensional loading during a hard landing. The nose landing gear retract yoke upper attach points, where the 5/16" threaded rod travels, were also beefed up in member's Seawinds due to damage in this area from rough surface taxiing. The early retract cylinder attach forks also have failed on few Seawinds. The newer retract cylinder has a beefier attach fitting.
Keith also has the new nose wheel steering rotary actuator and has yet to install it. He highly recommends the hydraulic nose wheel steering (NWS). Another note on the nose wheel steering that has been pointed out in our discussion board is the clearance between the NWS actuator and the nose oleo shock. When the shock is fully deflated you must ascertain that the oleo does not contact the NWS actuator. Members have put shims on their overcenter downlock bar in order to obtain the necessary clearance. One method of moving the downlock bar can be seen on the left. Click on the picture to expand it. Notice the bolt which moves the downlock point aft.
(Click on this picture to see more detail.)
That evening we were treated to a wonderful dinner at George and Joan's home on Lake Elora. Also part of the festivities was watching George's lifting platform for his Seawind. Remote control just like operating your garage door. WOW!
Not to be out done, Joan modeled the latest in Seawind fashionwear. Joan had waited a year to spring this on George.
Day 2 of the Splash-In had us meeting in the hangar graciously donated for our meeting by the owner of a beautiful Beaver and Cessna on straight floats. After a morning of close inspection and snapping detail pictures of the 3 Seawinds in attendance we started our 'Seawind Seminar' with Jack Ardoyno. Jack has been doing quite a bit of training in many Seawinds in order to check out their owners on land and water. He is fast becoming the most experienced instructor (if not already) and was willing to share what he has learned with our group. His talk alone was worth the price of admission!
His comments started with an overview of the Seawind design which he noted had good characteristics as a fast, sleek looking, heavy hauling sea bird with not so good short field performance and not being an easy airplane to master. One must look at a few of our flyers with just a few hundred hours flight time conservatively operating the Seawind safely. Of course it is possible to master the Seawind without vast experience, but it must be done with proper training and conservatively expanding your boundaries day by day.
Under system review the fuel system was the first hot topic. The necessity of the header tank was debated feverishly and it sounded like most would go with the header as designed. A good debate was made for no header tank at all but not all were in agreement. Another hot button was the check valves. Some members believe they restrict the flow too much and will use either the Andair valve as installed by Mike Bowes' shop or they will use cable operated ball valves to stop fuel flow from one tank or the other. A rather simple idea was presented by one member of using a cable to operate a valve for each wing feed and then a third cable for the engine fuel shutoff mounted in the middle of the wing shutoffs. All neatly aligned in a row. I hope I can get some pictures from that member to share with you. Some discussion was made about increasing the size of the fuel lines to help fuel flow. One danger mentioned was that too large a fuel line can actually increase chance of vapor lock. Unless you have good fuel system design knowledge do what SNA says, "Don't mess with the fuel system". I think many in attendance will do just that and "build it by the book". Most importantly, the discussion created much greater fuel system knowledge which is very important in the operation of any aircraft.
The control mixer was next on the discussion block and once again there were many opinions. With Jack's experience in Seawind test flying he stated that he won't test fly someone's Seawind unless the mixer is deactivated. Once you determine you have good control function then you can re-connect the drooping aileron portion of the mixer. Not everyone has followed that route but it was the method Jack is most comfortable with. He also felt 20 degrees of flap was optimum, especially if you are landing in a crosswind. That is similiar to many aircraft, lesser flaps in a crosswind give you a little more control authority.
The bilge pump was mentioned that it should be on it's own CB directly from the battery. You don't want to run the master just to run the bilge pump.
Flight testing discussions were next. Try to do ALL flight testing in the center of the CG envelope, i.e. 140.25. Make certain that you can get a full 2700 RPM from your engine/prop combination before you fly. One builder had a bad tach which caused erroneous readouts and led to further problems in flight by overcorrecting with prop RPM.
Be ready to fly BEFORE any high speed taxi test. The Seawind is capable of leaping off the ground when the power is reduced due to the high thrust line design. The other notes given by Jack before flying were:
|1. Ailerons - Balance with the flaps|
|2. Check for water leaks, a ramp to taxi into the water is best.|
|3. Minimum 5000 ft of runway for initial flights or long waterway.|
|4. Landing gear drop checks - 25 cycles|
|5. Canopy latch mechanism and front canopy seal (perfect).|
6. Do NOT leave systems unfinished with the idea of finishing later.
|7. Deactivate mixer for test flying.|
These ideas are not all encompassing but should be included in your pre-testing flying preparations.
Next to follow was a great lunch of sandwiches, salads and cookes for dessert provided by George and Chad. Much hangar flying ensued. After lunch we moved on to discussions on flying the Seawind.
Jack had many, many recommendations on flying as he has seen what works and what doesn't. I will hit on the high points but the notes and discussion are too vast to cover here completely.
Takeoffs work well with 20 degrees of flap, rotating around 60 KIAS and correct back pressure when mains break ground and pivot point changes from main landing gear to wing center of lift. On landings a modified carrier approach at 70KIAS with constant rate of descent until in ground effect and then flare to land. Nothing to it!
Deep stalls are not recommended. That has been covered in our discussion board before. The Seawind will let you know when it is going to stall, the idea is to recover before it stalls by recognizing the signs. If you want to practice stalls all day long go buy a Piper Cub, heck you might was well practice spins while you're at it (in a Cub that is!). There was some discussion on attempting to spin the Seawind. I would ask, WHY? The Seawind is a traveling machine, not an aerobatic trainer.
Glide ratio - test your airplane to find optimum airspeed and resultant ratio. Many of the Seawinds Jack has flown vary greatly in glide ratio. Great advice! You will develop more confidence and make any engine out situation a no-brainer.
Review engine out procedures. You've got a very capable airframe with many landing options, an engine failure should be handled with minimal damage (water or off field landing, etc.), if any at all.
Ensure water rudder completely functional and easy to operate. Max prop speed 1000RPM in displacement taxi. Make multiple high-speed runs to check on handling, aileron authority and trim for takeoff. Make turns 30 to 40 degrees to each side for practice.
In the water, stop porpoising with back pressure only and then lower the nose to the sweet spot. With proper trim the aircraft should fly off the water at 60 to 65 KIAS. Flaps 20 recommended for normal water takeoff. At heavy gross weights is may take pumping onto the step and using a no flap step technique and then adding flaps after you get on the step.
Water landings are recommended at 20 degrees of flap also. Fly pattern at 80 KIAS. Just before touchdown at approx. 5 feet of altitude, hold nose off to touch at 70 KIAS. Do not make large pitch corrections in close.
When you bounce, always re-address the water in a nose high attitude. Too high a bounce - GO AROUND.
Stay in the sweet spot after landing until about 25 KIAS and then gently pull yoke back to the stop as you fall off the step. Finally water rudder down.
Jack Ardoyno contributed a great deal of knowledge very freely to our group and we are indebted to him for his generousity.
The day ended with another excellent meal hosted by Chad Fey's family at their lakeside home.
Day 3 will be reported when I receive information. Unfortunately I had to return to work and missed the tour of the Cirrus plant.
Overall the event was a huge success again. The week prior to the event Larry Sapp finished his water work with Jack Ardoyno and showed us some fine water work at the very convenient Sky Harbor Airport in Duluth, MN. Sky Harbor caters to seaplanes, landplanes and amphibs like no other airport I've seen before. They have an efficient system to routinely launch and recover straight float airplanes from their airport. You see as many floatplanes at tiedowns as you do land planes. It's quite an impressive sight. The airport was also very helpful in getting us a steeply discount rate on alternative lodging when one of the hotels that the attendees were staying at (yours truly included!) had a water main break and had to be vacated. It turned out to be a very minor inconvenience.
All in all, if your building, flying or hoping to be building or flying a Seawind you can't miss next years event. This location has been chosen as the standard for our Splash-In unless our members can find a better location and do the legwork to put it all together. George and Chad made it all look easy but a lot of planning went into making the Splash-In the incredible success it was, and that's two years in a row! What a great job!
A huge thank you goes out to Chad, George and their families for making this all possible.