This last weekend was mostly about Skyview. I did do a few things on the plane, including messing with the prop pitch and running it up to full power several times. Let me tell you, that Viking engine with the three-bladed warp drive prop is a beast at full power. Can’t wait until I fly this thing the first time. I expect it’s just going to leap off the ground. It produces so much thrust, it’s almost downright scary having that thing running at full power tied down to something heavy (a big truck, in this case). Mighty impressive. I expect it could have moved my truck if I’d had it in neutral.
Anyway, most of the work this weekend (aside from adding some clamps and things, as seen above) was about Skyview. There were a bunch of options I’d never bothered to set or mess with, and some things (like Hobbs and Tach time) I’d never bothered to put on the main screen. I changed a bunch of the indicators, their size, and their placement to get a better and more consistent “flow” on the screen. As I was running the engine up to high power, I started realizing that the way I had my screen set up did not lead my eye immediately to potential problems (like high coolant temperature). It’s better now, but I still need to do some work here. Certainly the master caution light that’s supported by Skyview is fantastically useful for this, but I want to make sure that any problems stand out in the normal instrument scan, and not just rely on a red light coming on. I probably need to go read up on some human factors stuff to get this right. At any rate, it’s better now than it was before, even if it’s not yet perfect.
And in other good news, I got notice yesterday that my Dynon radio shipped from Aircraft Spruce in Atlanta. Why did I buy it from Aircraft Spruce when I live three miles from the factory (which has a will-call), you ask? Because the State of Washington has outrageously high sales tax (on the order of 10%), and if I buy it from out of state, I pay shipping instead of sales tax. And even FedEx overnight (which I didn’t use) is far cheaper than paying local taxes. Stupid and wasteful? Yes, very much so. And as an added benefit (?), it encourages WA residents to spend their money out-of-state instead of locally, which is just what we need to help our economy, right? The radio will have traveled all the way across the country and back by the time I receive it. But preferable to giving more of my hard-earned cash to the nincompoops in Olympia who will just squander it on something asinine as they attempt to tax us into prosperity.
There’s a lot of discussion about using converted auto engines for aircraft use as far as the pros and cons. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m comfortable with it, if done properly (and I’m comfortable with Viking having done it properly). That being said, I do see the point of some of the nay-sayers. I drove to Yakima and back earlier this week for work, and had a lot of time to think while in the truck. Here’s what I was thinking. My plane engine will burn something on the order of 5gph (slightly less, but close enough) at cruise speed. This from a four-cylinder engine of 2L displacement. Works out to roughly 2.5 gallons per hour per liter. My Chevy Tahoe (I actually drove my diesel pickup that day, not the Tahoe, but comparing gasoline and diesel adds complexity to the thought experiment) burns something on the order of 3gph at 60mph (again, rounded, but close enough). This from an eight-cylinder engine of 5.3L displacement. This works out to roughly 0.8 gallons per hour per liter. In other words, the airplane engine is working about three times harder at standard cruise than the truck engine is at it’s “standard cruise”. Given the exceptional engineering both Honda and Viking have put into the plane engine, I think I can live with those numbers, but it does make it easy to see why some people have concerns. For whatever it’s worth, this works out to nearly the same “gas mileage” (ie, miles per gallon) for the Tahoe and the airplane, given the difference in speed. Interesting…