Tony Irwin

To: Brent Carlson [& ISPA]

Sent: Thursday, November 21, 2002 3:02 AM

Subject: Re: News items. Tony's reply 21 Nov 2002

Hi Brent [& ISPA],

Enclosed a copy of my newsletter. I have added the odd bit. Do you mind if I do not follow up on the other points? I just have far too much to do to follow up on the pile - 2 ft 6" high - of mail I have to answer which has accumulated while I have been away. I will get you some items on the Builders' Centre before too long.



Late again with my newsletter, the ed' will be sacking me - lets hope he does then I can relax a bit come each month end!. Late this time because I have been wanting to tell you that we have got our second Seawind airborne from our Builders' Assistance Centre in Lithuania and what a saga it has been!

I came here five weeks ago now with the intention of staying for only two weeks to complete the flight testing schedule and check the owner out on his aircraft. Two days ago I managed to get her into the air - at last! Why so long, well for any builder who has put as many bells and whistles, avionics, reversing propeller, brand new engine etc in their own aircraft as this one, they may well appreciate the hassle and time involved.

I am not going to be too specific with trade names, but should anyone be contemplating the latest equipment, non SNA, you can install, especially avionics, read on and give me a call before you do think of going ahead. For you who have already had this experience have a laugh and say, "I could have told you so!" Stay with those round black things with white needles in front of you - I say.

This aircraft comprises nose wheel steering, a reversible prop', a brand spanking new engine and what I believe to be the most expensive of the latest EFIS systems. The actual installation of the latter delayed us by months getting the various parts - we are still waiting for the fuel pressure sender, even now! I came into the fray after the EFIS had been installed but yet to be set up. I feel we have to be experts on this system now, certainly here in Europe. With the mass of e-mail information, NOT IN THEIR MANUALS, that they had to give us, (but only after we had requested it), has increased the size of their pretty sales-type literature hiding under the names of 'Installation Manual' and 'Pilots Operating manual' by at least 45% in each volume. Our (amended) manuals are now that much wider than the original ones!! Yes, we have now got it to work, about 80% well, but only after all of the above information which it appeared that we had to drag out of them and which was given to us very reluctantly. It is amazing just what can be hidden from ones eyes inside a computer! It is the 'need to know' basis gone berserk.

Many of the problems started when we changed the units from U.S. to metric. A reasonable action one would assume when not living in the U.S. They have now told us that their unit change software is "Giving troubles" to quote them. That alone cost us days and days of work to rectify. The fuel calibrating system required a full loading of the tanks, de-fuelling and loading carefully up in increments of 10%. At the end of each decimal load, you clicked the key on the key board to register it to the EFIS. Sounds easy, but not so. The change of units had upset ALL the readings. When that was sorted out, a few days later, the key board registered two increments instead of one for several of the clicks! After yet more de-fuellings and fuellings we again e-mailed to the Manufacturers only to be told, "Yes we have noticed this is a problem with our software, the way to deal with it is ....................." Why, oh why are not the purchasers of such VERY expensive equipment told of this problems in the first place in the installation manuals? So another week went by!

Now, when ready to get airborne a second time and after the many usual little tweaks necessary to leap into the air again, I have found that the EFIS read-out, of the IAS, jumps very prettily and frequently from zero to 35 knots while the aircraft is still rock steady on the ground. I have no idea whether that is a random error or a zero error which I have to chance on finals! Do I approach at the higher figure, only to find I am 35 knots too slow in reality, or do I settle for the lower figure to find the shortish runway here is rapidly coming to an end before my very eyes before I have touched down? Thank goodness for the old standby black dial with the white finger! However which one do I really believe when I need it?

One of the other bits of fun and games on the first flight was the over speeding of the prop as the engine lost power each time, yes 3 times in all, before I could get back to the terra firma of base! Why did I stay up for 25 minutes with that situation, well frankly while trying to keep a bucking bronco airborne, navigation was not my first priority and I had lost my way back to base for a while. Why did I not put the airfield into the 'user airports' so I knew where to turn to get back home, you ask? Well this very expensive all singing and dancing EFIS is not capable of accepting user airports into its Navigation Display! This will be available next year, they tell us. No mention on their sales literature of this shortfall in the normal GPS capabilities which all GPS users have long since come to accept as being the norm. Nor did they tell us that feeding a VOR radial or an ILS into the Primary Flight Display is not yet (again) available!

The first two engine power losses were interesting but I got used to it on the third approach into some farmers field before I got the 'donc' to kick back into life again. It is a long time, in fact since Royal Air Force fighter pilot days, when I have looked up at power cables while in an aircraft in flight! In an attempt to get the engine to go again, before I arrived unceremoniously back to terra firma, I had not kept the levers in the optimum positions, (other things than such niceties on my mind), and so the engine RPM had raced away as the engine burst into life again.

Before you ask, "Did you do a complete run up check"? Yes, I did, just like Mike Bowes did before his engine unceremoniously and unexpectedly stopped on him. Very possibly much better so, as it was to be the first flight, not one after many flights where you begin to know the idiosyncrasies of one's aircraft. I did several run up checks, prior to this flight very, very carefully observing and analysing every engine parameter that our fancy EFIS could give us, and all were perfect. All were recorded in detail, on a form I had made out, all for prosperity and comparative assessment needs in the future. They showed every trend of the engine through many different stages of engine performance to be perfect. With the exception of the number 6 EGT, which had been unserviceable from receipt and we were living without that nicety - it read a constant of 2,600 degrees!. However the power check only show the engine situation at that moment, it can not prognosticate, and so away you go!

So why all the fun and games in the air, I think I had better leave that one out, as the possible implications could not be nice? Again, should anyone wish to contact me before you contemplate buying such equipment and certainly before 'leap into the wild blue yonder' with a similar set-up of new expensive goodies, I will be only too pleased to give you full details.

One element of this fancy EFIS is that you can play back ALL the parameters that the various parts of the system give you every 5 seconds for the previous five hours of engine operation. They are very revealing, and in this case even more so, and show the situation just as any self respecting court of enquiry would love to have to crucify pilots for their misdemeanors. They showed the loss of engine power, each time, the engine surge and over speed, (just within the max RPM permissible overspeed limits, thank God, so the engine and prop are OK), as it started again, the loss of height, the proximity to the ground, I was at three times, while still debating whether to arrive on a road wheels down or a field wheels up. The loss of CHT and EGT on the cylinders etc. it makes interesting reading!

After all of the above I firmly believe that this aircraft does come down slowly, I cannot verify the 10.9 glide ratio on that particular flight as I was 'kinda busy with other urgencies', but it felt even better than that, as I felt I had time to contemplate matters in the decision line, each time while busy trying to rekindle the flames in all the cylinders. Perhaps it was case of 'practice makes perfect', I do not know! Somehow there is a comforting feeling about the Seawind that does pacify one. It is the fact that the aircraft is so strong that personal injury would be very low, if the worse came to the worse and you have to put down inadvertently. You feel as though you have a protective cage around you. Something not felt on spam cans!

I have now discovered the hard way that you must not take for granted the assumption that is new is OK and could be relied upon. This time I proved that it was far from being the case and I will be even more suspicious of everything brand spanking new in future. Call me 'old fashioned but I do like the 'tried and tested'!

I have to say that the nose wheel steering is very useful and the reverser propeller is great, if having to be a little chary of tipping on one's tail when going backwards on the ground. The combination of the two has impressed folk in this part of the world where most of the aircraft there are antiques and would be better in the Smithsonian, even when compared to the normal aged Cessna one flies around in back home.

Roll on flight number two and if it is half as good as the first flight with the first Seawind we built here, it will be heaven!

Tony Irwin.

P.S. I have now flown the aircraft another time, for the two hours required to run in the new engine at 75%. Going round and round in small circles is not my idea of flying. My good old Garmin hand held - yes I carried it with me - looks like a spiders web of path design. The previous bugs are virtually eliminated and, although not very clearly defined yet, as I was limited to 5 kms round the field, the book figures for 75% cruise were well and truly there. That is going on the more pessimistic of the two IAS indications as well. We are now waiting for the EAU to come back to us, hopefully with ALL the snags rectified, and then back to the snows to continue flying. We are still waiting for the fuel pressure sender which should have been with us five months ago now! Also the promised 'exchange note' for the EAU has still to arrive before technically we are allowed to send it back to the manufacturers. Promises, promises!

Received by ISPA: November, 2002.

Brent [& ISPA],

Now with my new found - again - ability to access your pages, I have been fascinated with the 'history' pages etc.. Possibly you do not know but I have been concerned with the Seawind now for, I think it is, 20 years, before even Dick got interested! I have spent a LOT of time at Haliburton and know both the Creelman brothers VERY well, as I do their son Kirk Who in all reality, was responsible for the design and completion of the Seawind, just before Dick took it over, not Len, at that stage, as thought so by many, I believe. I know the original place where the first Seawind was built, (actually where Kirk now lives), and I have seen the original drawings made by Roger on the back of some plaster board panels. Sadly I believe these now have since disappeared. The very famous 'Victoria and Albert', museum here in London, wanted to have them for a major exhibit to show the result of a project from inception to completion. So far, and I think it now is too late, they were not released by Roger, as he them had fitness problems with his lovely wife, who is now in a nursing home with Alzheimer's disease. You are, I am sure, acquainted with the two Bond 007 fiascos, which make interesting, if sad, reading?

I believe that I could have the BIGGEST and most comprehensive set of Seawind newsletters dating well way back to the 80's. It is my understanding that the first professional test pilot was, (I believe), not Elton, but was a guy called Murray Morgan of Montreal. The first real assessment test flights took place at Uplands Airport, where I first saw the Seawind in all its 'primitive glory! I also believe that Dick Moore could now be dead. I was hugged by his ex-lady friend, whom I had not seen for years, at Sun 'n Fun this year who told me that Dick was seriously ill with cancer.

I have quite a lot of the original air to air video test shots of the aircraft when it was being flown in Florida.They are in the European PAL system. There are some good shots of the 'tufting' we put on it, to show air flow patterns. I remember well when I was above the Seawind, checking on the flow breakaway nearing the stall on the horizontal stabilizer, when to my consternation, I realised that I could well stall before the Seawind. Being only three to four feet above the Seawind I thought this not to be a good idea! We temporarily faired off the hull step to see the effect of the air break away behind the step, as one experiment. This showed the break away to be not much less than with the normal step, but which increased appreciably if the step was higher. This was made evident when the Allison turbine aircraft was much redesigned with a higher step. Even with a 50% increase of power it made the aircraft very little faster. It was thought that was the reason.

You can still see the 'finger prints' of Roger on a Seawind - ready to fly just now - in Ron Greeley's aircraft at Marathon, on the Keys. Roger finished it for Ron and there are several of the original design features encompassed therein. The hull and engine cowlings are the same as on the original aircraft. Sadly it has yet to fly, to prove Roger's ideas, one way or the other.

That's it for now. Hope this has given you a few thoughts. Did I send you a précis of the first flight this month of our second Seawind built in Lithuania? No photos yet, we decided to do the first flying still in white undercoat, so it looks a bit drab. When painted and upholstered, it should look great! I have now carried out another flight of two hours duration, which was somewhat better behaved than was the first flight! Not Seawind problems, I have to say, purely the problems of the equipment on board.

While on equipment, can you ask folk what sort of goodies they have put into their Seawinds? New engines, EFIS, avionics, reversible props, auto pilots etc. I would like to tony_snow_500.JPG (29951 bytes)know how they have gone on with the installation of these and also to find out how they have faired with them when installed. Nose wheel steering comments would be a good idea as well. A reverse prop and nose wheel steering are an interesting combination!

A few shots for you. All Seawinds do not have the pleasures of sun to enjoy, as you see in our Lithuanian picture.!

Keep up the good work, it makes fascinating reading.


Received by ISPA: Winter, 2001.

A letter from Tony Irwin

I promised that I would give you more details about the first flight of a Seawind completed at our European Builders' Centre here in Europe. For those you have finished and flown their own aircraft, you are free to stop reading at this point, for others and possibly the folk in the warmer climes of the world, it might be of interest to you.

Several days ago now we flew the first Seawind to be completed at the 'Builder's Assistance Centre' in Kaunas , Lithuania . Finishing the aircraft, as with all home build aircraft, took somewhat longer than we had anticipated, due in large to the usual reasons that befall all home-builds - plus several others. Our main difficulties were those that befall any first set-up of a company in a foreign country, the training curve - of course, plus translation, difficulty of obtaining parts from so far away, training in the 'black art' of Imperial measurement and American tooling etc. Add this to the final delays due to bad weather with crosswinds and iced, unswept runways not being conducive to the first flights of any aircraft, let alone a high performance light aircraft like the Seawind!

We chose not to paint her yet, she is only in a light grey undercoat finish.

This aircraft now flying, belongs to Bruce Beckwith, who had part built the aircraft earlier in America and had visited us several times to work on his aircraft in our factory throughout all the various technical requirements that make up the aircraft building process. Bruce thus meets the FAA/EAA requirements for home builds. This aircraft is basically very much a VFR aircraft with minimum equipment just now, but will be retro-fitted with the new - still unknown AFIS system built in Austria , the 'Brightline' system. This system will then be exhibited around Europe with the Seawind, the various CAAs permitting of course! It is hoped that with several nations being involved in the aircraft, it will facilitate its tours throughout Europe . Although on that account, we have received a lot of verbal and written support from several of the JAA countries, all of whom have been acquainted with the Seawind over many years. Briefly, on that score, there are definite signs that Austria is seeing the sanity of the American way of aviation life, with both home builds and amphibians, also Germany , at least the South East, Bavarian, part of the country. We are all still waiting for the JAA combined agreement on home builds which is yet to be announced.

During the rather intensive ground/ fast taxi trials before the first flight, I was amazed just how well it preformed in very bad conditions. At one stage the runway was a mass of quite deep ice ruts which gave a very rough taxi ride, but not a sign of any nose wheel judder throughout. My major problem was turning at the ends of the runway. With no purchase on the inside, braked wheel, I had to have someone push me round! This aircraft did not have the nose wheel steering which would have alleviated this problem, incidentally. Doing the engine run up I had to find a snow drift to give a little more friction to get up to the 1,700 RPM required for a mag check. Somewhat like checking the engine in the water, I thought, but without the area of manoeuvrability normally associated with water work.

The weather was so cold and inclement for initial flying, (a temperature about minus 20 ° C [minus 4 ° Fahrenheit], sometimes 6 inches [ 15 cms] of snow on packed ice or sometimes 3 inches [7.5 cms] of glass ice where you could see the runway markings below the ice), that the otherwise good heater could not cope and I found myself sitting on my hands to keep them warm after only five minutes of the first flight, no chasing the trim was necessary - she flew like a dream. The stability and in trim condition was such that I did not have to touch any of the three axis electric trimmers other than to later experiment with them. This included the gear and flap movement condition to a large extent. They were all in a neutral position on and after I had landed. The stall characteristics, although at this stage I have only taken them to the initial signs of the stall, were also very good indeed. A very slight judder in the clean condition and with a slightly more noticeable judder a few knots, before the actual break, in the flaps and wheels down condition. Steep turns, to over 60 degrees of bank at an indicated 100 MPH, were sound and steady, no sign of incipient stall judder.

As I write I have now flown over 6 absolutely trouble free hours in the aircraft, with several landings. I was surprised that it flew so well and without the snags usually encountered in the problematic first few flights of any aircraft. I described the first flight, in calm conditions, as being 'ethereal' to the guys on the ground upon my arrival back to a champagne and caviar mini-party - no ice needed here! Yes possibly a strange adjective for an aircraft, but it really was, it was out of this world! The large Plexiglas window gave a great view of the icy countryside below as she just floated around, ghost-like, in the air. The docility was akin to the good old Cessna-152 at slower speeds but with a real push to her when I opened up the throttle. Again, but who will believe this, out of 21,000 flight hours on over 90 different aircraft, I have to state quite categorically, it was one of the most electrifying, fascinating and memorable flights of my life. The future will consist of more finite analysis of the aircraft's flight envelope and performance.

To date, obviously, I have not taken her into water, the water in Lithuania now four foot thick of solid ice, being one reason, the cold being the other, but if she behaves as well as she has done to date, (and as many of the other Seawinds do), I anticipate no snags. This pleasure will come early next summer when we will visit the many lovely lakes and wide slow flowing rivers, with the riparian houses and castles many of whose owners have already extended an warm welcome to us. This will be the first amphibian aircraft seen in Lithuania , in living memory of anyone there. This same will apply to several other European countries as well, of course, as amphibian aircraft are a real rarity. Also there are several Members of the Lithuanian Parliament awaiting to have a ride when we can oblige. It is a very aviation minded country which is an added bonus and pleasure. The next Seawind, to be completed for summer next year, will be equipped to a Rolls Royce standard with the latest UPS Apollo radio and AFIS navigation system, the Sierra 2000 with the digital gyro and the Goodrich Storm scope, total value of all these bells and whistles in front of the pilot, will be approaching the $100,000 level alone. This will be worth seeing as the Seawind flying now is sparse in comparison until it flies back to the U.S.A. where much more work will be carried out on the bells and whistle aspect. Bruce is looking forward to seeing as much of Europe first, from the air, before he takes his aircraft back home.

Now, after this overly long initiation period with our first aircraft, we are all geared to go with other Seawinds, and even other aircraft should people so wish. All the past work, on the first aircraft, is fully computerised with detailed work schedules and parts requirement in place, all is in great detail on our up to date Auto CAD system. We have organised our workshop so that each part of the construction will be a simple task of allocating the correct hardware and parts to each task, this will include the more exact estimate of man hours that each item will take to complete. The future build time will be less than half of the first aircraft and one can assume will be even better than the first, if that could be so from the excellent flying qualities, rigging and finish of the first aircraft. The tail to wing tip, (well flap outboard edge as this is about the only positive point to measure from with an aircraft with so many curves), rigging check gave a difference of less than ¼" [3 mms] from left to right wing.

All the best everyone and a great happy, and successful new year in 2002.

Tony Irwin.