Note from JD: This post goes back to early 2012. For a variety of reasons, I was hesitant to post it until now.
Another note from JD: I posted my thoughts here on aircraft transitions.
I purchased my Vans RV-3B from a local builder. The plane had been flying for a couple years but, due to health issues (of the owner, not plane), had only flown 120 hours. I spent a couple of weeks getting completely familiar with the airplane. I spent a lot of time in the cockpit and taxiing. Finally, the big day arrived.
This is not a brand-new airplane but it is “new to me” so I was nervous!
The day started terrible. Cold, spitting snow, and 15 kts crosswind. By noon, it was a solid stratus overcast at about 3500′ AGL but had warmed up to 50-ish, and ZERO wind. How could I pass that up?!?!?
I idled til engine oil temp was 100 degrees and headed for the runway.
The takeoff roll was “interesting”. I believe I was dragging the right brake a bit and I attempted to lift her off from a three point attitude. That meant I was in the air at a slow airspeed. Subsequent departures were much better. Let the tail come up and build some speed and she will simply levitate into the air.
I spent 30 minutes or so learning to fly her. Turns, climbs, slow flight, various power settings, etc… She flew GREAT!! I then headed for a nearby airport with a larger runway than home.
The first landing was simply too good to be true. It was pure ecstasy – smooth and sweet. I stopped and taxi’d back to the runway using this time to collect my thoughts, settle my heart rate down, and visualize the next landing based on the experienc that I now had. The second and third landings were not nearly as good as the first but were reasonable. Things were going so well that I made the last landing a stop and go.
I then proceeded home (E98) and setup to land. On this first landing at home, I bounced it. I’m not one for saving bounced landings – particularly on short and narrow runways – so throttle forward and the mighty Lycoming pulled me out of my mess and I went around to try again. The second attempt was much better. In hindsight, I now understand that I was holding the plane off the ground far too long and ending up with a tail first landing. This forces the mains down (semi-hard) and the big, springy gear legs shoot you back into the air.
The whole airpark knew I was working towards my first flight so upon exiting the runway, I noticed a small crowd had gathered to watch the
accident skill and expertise. I gave the crowd the famous RV grin! One fellow taped the landing for me – it is not very good but is something.
This was plenty for the first day so I took her home for a cold drink and rub down!
Another note from JD: I’ve put a lot of landings on Daisy since I wrote the above. She is a true delight to fly and very predictable and managable on the ground. I typically do a wheel landing on paved and long runways and three-point her on short strips.