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Topic-icon Flying an Apache

  • Eric Parks
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10 Jul 2021 22:46 #3085

Since getting the Apache flying I have wanted to test the cruise speed for max cruise. The book says about 6500' with 75% is going to give the max cruise speed. However, every time I tried to test there were clouds at that level or it was just too bumpy. So yesterday I had the perfect day to check it out. I had a buddy that was a 727 pilot go with me and we went out to check the Apache for best speed. We climbed up and I was beginning to think it wasn't climbing as fast I would expect. I set up cruise power and thought maybe an engine was running a little rough but nothing seemed wrong. Checking the speed I could see it was not giving me as much as I expected. However I still couldn't figure out what was wrong. After getting back I did my figures. I had taken speeds on the 4 cardinal headings and came up with an average ground speed of 156.5 mph. While not terrible it was not what I expected and I was pretty deflated. Driving home I was trying to understand what the issue was. I thought that if I was in my Airbus I would have thought the issue was my landing lights extended as they will "rumble" a bit and take a very slight performance hit. I don't have lights that extend, not even cowl flaps.

Then I realized what the problem was, the door was causing the drag! When we taxied out I had mentioned to my buddy that the door handle should come up further. He pulled it up but it didn't go up any more. I made sure the top latch was good and we went. While climbing I had see the top latch had let go so I again pulled it closed and it stayed shut. However, I later understood he had never gotten the main latch closed, just the "click" latch. So the door had been slightly "in trail" and caused the rumble and extra drag. Just a little but that was enough.

So back out today and I did some more tests on my own. This time I made sure the door was totally shut closed! Climb felt great and with the same test parameters (6500' @ full throttle-23" & 2400 rpm) I got 162.5 mph. This was more what I had expected. Then going to 2300 rpm it only dropped to 160.25 mph. I then climbed up and tried 8500' with full throttle-21" & 2300 and got an average of 156.75.

So for now I'm happy with the speed numbers I'm getting. I'll keep track of what I get at cruise when we go somewhere but for now I will claim a "top speed" of 140 KTAS. Or maybe 160 mph since it sounds faster!

Of course I have a few things planned for the future that may add a little more speed yet. So maybe I can get to 145 KTAS ;)

BTW, the book says I should get 175 mph as the top cruise speed. I don't know if ANY 150 hp Apache (including the test plane!) ever got that speed but mine is never going to! That is why I am doing these speed runs, so I can know what to expect from my antique Apache as it is now.

Gascolator drains are now fixed and don't leak any more. Door will shut and latch but we need to fix the lock for the handle. New battery and master relay have made starting the engines a totally new experience! The props are turning twice as fast as they were before. My mechanic said he also tightened up some loose connections. It made all the difference. I still plan on installing the copper Bogert cables this winter. The "new" throttle knobs are great. They look and feel much better!

No pics of the "speed runs" since they are pretty boring but I am including one of my nosewheel (super exciting!) since I I totally nailed pushing the plane into the hangar and getting the nosewheel into the alignment box. I use a golf cart to push it in and it has been a slow process for me to learn how to control it.

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Last edit: 10 Jul 2021 23:03 by Eric Parks.

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07 Jul 2021 02:13 #3081

Along with fixing the electrical issues my mechanic was able to make a very much wanted upgrade.. Aztec throttle, prop & mixture knobs. The old original knobs were orange with pilot sweat and oil and were small and slick to hold. The new knobs are much easier to use and of course are color coded and have different shapes. A fairly easy fix but one of my favorite upgrades!

I was also able to try out my new USB ports. I had my Garmin portable GPS Aera 660 and my GDL-50 both plugged in and they stayed fully charged all day and worked great. Another small upgrade!

We averaged about 174 mph going west bound at 8500' and averaged about 158 coming back at 9500'. So with full throttle at those altitudes and 2300 rpm we averaged 166 mph (144 KTAS) both ways. Yup, had a tailwind going WEST. Not bad for a comfortable cruise setting. I burned 16.4 gallons going over to Franklin (I had them top off the mains just to give them a little business). I find that pretty reasonable for flying a twin!

I am really enjoying the S-TEC 50 autopilot with the Garmin G5 displays. They both work so well and make flying much easier. One of my purchase requirement for my plane was to have an autopilot with altitude hold and I'm so glad I got that.

I am going to have to get better headsets! These are cheaper units and just a little too big and clunky. I'm already spoiled by my David Clark Pro headset I use for work so I guess that goes on the "to buy" list. The old headsets will be ok for rear seat pax!

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Last edit: 07 Jul 2021 02:27 by Eric Parks.

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07 Jul 2021 02:02 #3080

More pics from departing Franklin, NC.

You can see the runway in one picture as I circled in my climb out of the valley. Wife took these pics!

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07 Jul 2021 01:58 #3079

I finally got my first "fun" trip done in the Apache. By fun I mean a flight with no other purpose than than to go somewhere for the fun of it.

OK, true confession time. I had another trip planned, a LONG trip from Charlotte, NC to Dallas, TX. It was 3 legs to get there with about 6.5 hours air time. I had everything planned and filed for IFR. Got out to the airport and put all my bags and stuff in the plane and pulled it out of the hangar. Did my walk around and got in to start the engines and the entire electrical system died! Bummer! Found out I had a bad Master Relay. After 65 years it packed up right then (note: I actually found out later that the relay was made in JAN 1965 so it was "only" 56 years old!). I think all the engine runups with lots of cranking finally did it in. So that was the end of that trip.

Fast forward two weeks and a new relay (and brand new battery!) later and we have fixed several other electrical gremlins as well. The engines are cranking fast and starting easy. YEAH!

So Wifey and I flew to a little North Carolina town in the Western NC mountains called Franklin. They have a nice little airport, 1A5 (Macon County). We were treated GREAT. Very nice FBO and we took their courtesy car into town for a little restaurant and shopping time. Flying time was 1.0 going over and 1.1 coming back on the Hobbs meter from Shelby (KEHO). Fun first trip for the wife. She enjoyed her seating position much better in the Apache than she did in the Bonanza we rented a couple years ago. She can see better forward and liked getting in better as well as a more solid ride. So Wifey gives it a thumbs up!

Only glitch was the outside lock for the door handle didn't work properly. So we will dive into that. But everything else was great.

Here are a few pics from the trip.

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Last edit: 13 Jul 2021 01:40 by Eric Parks.

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15 Jun 2021 02:32 #3053

Today was a "work day" on the Apache but now work includes flying! Can you tell I'm excited? We took it out to check out the radios and make sure they are all working. I had not tried an ILS approach or double-checked how that all worked. I'm hoping to do a big (for me) trip next week so this is the final push to get ready in case I need to do IFR. I plan on only "lite IFR" but that can make a huge difference in getting a trip done. I took the plane to 8500' and had AVL approach control check the altitude reporting. Also checked out the autopilot a bit more and everything is looking good there. All good on that so we went to a local uncontrolled airport (KSPA) to shoot an quick ILS in visual conditions to make sure all that that all worked. It was a complete failure. I couldn't get the HSI to respond or work.

We went back to Shelby and started trouble-shooting by finding videos of how to set up the ILS with a Garmin 430 and G5. My friend suddenly gets off the phone and says he checked and the ILS we used at the little airport has been down for months. Oops! Didn't check any NOTAMS since we were just messing around VFR.

I quickly checked the status on another ILS at another uncontrolled airport a bit further away (KUZA). It was OK so off we went. It all worked as advertised and I was VERY happy to see it all working so well.

So at this point I have loaded an ILS approach and flown it and gotten proper indications on both the G5 PFD and HSI. On the way back to home base I let the autopilot track the GPS in NAV and that worked great too.

We are now planning on what other changes we should make to the panel. Cost is important at this point so I'm looking for good "bang for the buck" but also trying to make the panel more attractive as well as functional. We have some nice things planned that I will post as we get them done.

Last edit: 15 Jun 2021 02:36 by Eric Parks.

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05 Jun 2021 19:51 #3028

The Apache hadn't been washed since we got it as we had so much work to do it wasn't worth it. However, since it was initially in a "shade hangar" the first few months it had more than it's fair share of dust and bird droppings besides the greasy handprints. And of course bug guts all over the leading edges from recent flying!

I pulled the plane out of our hangar and used my golf cart tug to take it around to the "wash rack" by the larger hangars. Previous owner had obviously done a nice job of waxing it as the bug guts came off very easily (compared to my expectation). It still took a couple hours to wash, rinse and wipe it down. Suddenly a smaller plane makes more sense! :P

The underneath of the engines and behind the exhaust really needed attention but the plane looked great when I was done. Waxing will be another day!

I'm starting to get the hang of how to use the tug to put the plane back in the hangar. Getting it out easy, getting it back in, not so easy!

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Last edit: 05 Jun 2021 19:54 by Eric Parks.

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