Planes & Projects


Mike Wilson

Planes:  RV-4 (built, flying)

First Flight Story
by Randall Henderson

On Friday May 31 I got a call around 2:00 saying that Mike's plane was about ready for its first flight. Don Wentz and I arrived at his hangar about 3:00pm HAH! I should have known -- all the little last minute crap that still had to be done took four of us about 5 more hours to sort out. Mike was looking good when I arrived at his hangar, but by 8:00 he was pretty frazzled.

 

Where's the Seat?

Mike had professional test pilot Len Fox to do the first flight. Talk about a pro! Made us amateurs look like, well, amateurs! Len did a very careful weight and balance, went over the plane with a fine-tooth comb, did a couple of engine starts and runups with the cowl off discovering a loose plug wire in the process), and finally allowed us to button it up.

 
Pre-Start

Eventually he allowed as to how it was time to go. I was all ready to fly chase with Mike but Len said "No chase planes". I guess it's a mark of how professional he is -- he refused to allow any distractions from amateur tag-alongs. I was pretty dissappointed not to be able to take Mike up alongside to watch however. I suppose we will be able to do that sometime within the next few flights.
 

Taxi Time

The plane flew as expected -- just great. It was still quite warm out when he took off, and even though Mike's plane has a big engine, it doesn't have a C/S prop on there yet (has Don Wentz's Warnke prop) so climbout was only great, not spectacular.

We could see the plane up around 4000' the whole time Len was doing his checks, and he kept us informed on the radio. That guy spewed out more information about the plane in 25 minutes than I think most of us have after the first 10 hours testing our own planes!

 
First Flight!

It was fun watching Mike this whole time -- he was looking pretty stunned and a little numb.

 
When the plane landed, Mike ran back to greet Len, and grins and handshakes were exchanged all around.
 
Mike has not turned into a formation flying fanatic. He's developed a special fondness for flying the "slot" position when we do our four ship formations, so we've taken to calling him Diamond Dog.

This shot was taken by Cassie Lervold with Mike flying the slot in diamond formation over southern Washington with Randall Henderson lead, Randy Lervold #2, Don Wentz #3 and Mike with his son Ben #4 in the slot.