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Aviation Tip:

Use a handheld radio to get ATIS information and ask if your clearance is ready before start-up. This saves time, fuel, and frustration.

Professional Test Pilot Services

The Homebuilder

These are people who have the dedication and preserverance (qualities that I admit to lack!) to create and construct some of the most amazing aircraft. They spend countless hours researching and consulting with masters of the trade in the process of their journey. They pour their life savings into their dream only to devastate the outcome by not investing in someone experienced in dealing with malfunctions in flight. This can only end in damage to the aircraft, or worse yet, personal injury. I cannot imagine or understand why anyone would not take the utmost care in the final phase of their dream - the test flight. This is my speciality: assessing and evaluating the performance of your designs in the safest manner possible.

FAA Rules – Not Mine

Planes with a experimental engine or prop take 40 hours of testing; certified engines and props require 25 hours. This is the FAA's rule - not mine. And in support of that rule, I do find many things that happen up to 20 or 25 hours, but most problems are solved by the first 15.

The rules on the first phase are pretty clear: anyone can fly the first flights, but it has to be alone. Many people need to be checked out, for insurance or just for their own safety, but they cannot be in the plane that has not had the required number of hours flown on it. There are a few test pilots who will try to get around the rules and take the customer up with them, but when they have a flat tire - or worse - they'll be caught. Then, depending on the FAA at that time, they might get that plane grounded, re-inspected, pilot licence suspended, or who knows what will happen - we just know it is a violation.

If someone would get hurt during that flight when its supposed to be a solo flight, they better hope they don't have any money for the lawyers to get hold of.

The Safety of Your Aircraft Is My Main Concern

First flights are not just to burn fuel. Good test pilots are looking for many things, and I believe I notice things that the average builder might not see or hear. I am not going into this in detail, but there are procedures I do and specific things that I look for on the first flight, as well as the next several flights: looking for characteristics of flight, is the engine running properly, does the prop functioning correctly, etc.

I have shown up to do test flights many times when that the plane was just re-done. I ask, "What is the deal here - I thought it had never been flown?" The owners might say, "Well, I did fly it but had a accident or I had a problem when I was high-speed testing it and lost it."

If you built a tailwheel plane and are not really really proficient at tailwheel aircraft or one like the one you built - please wait to fly it until it's been test flown by a professional test pilot. If you want to see how the tail comes up and how it taxies, please wait for me and I will take you along on the ground run if you really want to.

When I do your test flights I will buy fuel anywhere you say or I will go to Airnav and buy it as cheap as possible in the flight area designated for that plane. Most planes that I test, the cost difference in of me doing your time compared to you doing it is only around $2,500 to $3,500 dollars. Generally, that is a small percentage of what you have invested in the aircraft and the chances of me damaging your plane is much slimmer that you flying your own.

To date, I have never damaged one that was my fault, but I have had a few that could have been a real disaster if I had not had a lot of experience. In most cases, when I show up, the planes are mostly ready to go. I have had a few that need a couple of things - usually simple fixes or electronic problems with the panels. I know the plane you built is a big part of your life and I not only worry about the aircraft itself, I also worry about my reputation. The most important thing to me is to take that plane up, make sure it is safe for me and you, return it in perfect shape, and see a big smile on your face. That gets me more work.

My Qualifications

I am the factory test pilot for CompAir. I was asked to test fly for the CompAir company first and that's how I started. The factory taught me, but since they did not have enough work for everyday, I also started doing it on my own.

After the Lancair factory test pilot back in 1992, he asked me to be an area test pilot for the Lancair factory, but I just never had the time.

For more information, click here to check my certifications and ratings.


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