Note: This is the old stuff.  This page is not being updated.  New pilot reports are on the Pilot reports page.

Vince Frazier's F-1H Rocket Crazy Horse flies!!!

10-8-04:  Some digital cameras have a delay while they focus.  Here's what you get when you take a photo of a Rocket fly-by when using such a camera.   DOH!

Ready to go!

Jim Truitt's RV-8A chase plane. John Crabtree also chased in his RV-6.

Smoking an RV-8A

Fighting the urge to do a few rolls.



  Tammy's happy!  She should be... it's really her airplane!  I'm just the builder/pilot.

   Vince and John give the traditional (for us anyway) post-flight double high fives.

After a successful first flight, it's important to drain a few adult beverages.   Several more met their doom at Hornville Tavern after dusk.

Did I shut everything off?

Crazy Horse flies!!!

10-08-04:  No, not crazy horse flies that you find in a barn yard,  not even Crazy Horse the notable P-51....  I'm talking about MY Crazy Horse Rocket.  It flies!  (Well, it's not quite a Mustang... but it's as close as I'll get unless I hit the lottery!)

About 6 weeks ago I realized that I was 99% done with the plane.   I began an insane schedule and long hours of work to finish up that last 1%.

Assuming that the plane was 99% complete 6 weeks ago, multiply the time I've spent since then by a factor of 100 to estimate the amount of time the other 99% took.  Exactly 1.22 gadzillion hours.    Hmmmm, simple math.  Who knew these things took so long?

BTW, I started this project in 1999.  The website soon followed.  Hoards of adoring fans came next (I wish).  Soon, I had people calling me for advice (What were they thinking???!).  But now.... I've finally flown one!!!  Now, I can pretend to be an expert and have real BS to back it up!  ;-)

My stupendous friend and fellow RV repeat offender, John Crabtree, has been helping all along.  We had put 0.6 hours on the engine previously while calibrating the GRT EFIS (very nice BTW) and EIS.  We had a few things to fix. One was an oil leak at the vernatherm base gasket which just needed to be tightened a bit more.  The other was to remove the two washers that I added to the oil pressure relief spring.  I had wanted to make sure that the newly overhauled engine had plenty of oil pressure.... it did!  110psi at 1200 rpm.  We all agreed that was probably a bit too high so out came the washers and the relief valve had the same number of washers that it had prior to the overhaul: none.

Ahh, I digress, here's the flight report:

John and I did the final checks this afternoon. Then we did a full power run-up for one minute.  The CHTs went up. Up to 405 on the highest cylinder.  Not good, but not too bad.  Oil temp took much longer to come up and didn't really get warm until after the flight began.

After the run-up, I had settled down a bit and decided to do one last quick taxi, brake check, watch the temps for any upward trend, etc.  The  temps had dropped a bit and there was a small crowd gathered around, including my wife.

I wasn't paying any attention to them.  None whatsoever.   John was ready in his RV-6 chaseplane.  Grant, Bud, and Gene were manning the rescue vehicle, a four-wheel drive Ford pickup filled with fire extinguishers, axes, shovels, etc.  Tammy (my wife) and Margie (John's wife) were doing whatever women do (worrying probably).  I don't know.  Like I said, I was busy.

I lined up on Hepler's 2400' turf runway 27 and started easing the black knob forward.  Everything sounded good, strong, smooth acceleration.... hmmmm, I wonder what would happen if I pushed the throttle the remaining 75% of the way????   I'll have to try that in the future because I was already flying by then.  Heck, I wasn't in any huge hurry to find out whether the torque would cause problems, so a nice smooth takeoff felt pretty good.  I suppose I used 800', maybe more before breaking ground.

It's right about then that the usual thought goes through my head: "Well, now we're off.  I'll worry about coming back down later."

Seeing as I had only used partial throttle to takeoff, I figured I'd better bump it up a bit.  YEEEEEEEEHAAAAAAA!!!!  It's like stomping the gas on my dad's 2002 Corvette.  Very smooth, and very powerful.   By now I was passing through 1000' and picking up speed rapidly.   I really don't have a clue as to climb rates, altitudes or speeds, because my eyes were glued to the EFIS engine page.  I was much more concerned
about the temps than the climb rate.  Man, I can tell you that the climb rate and airspeed were just fine and I didn't need a gauge to confirm it.

The oil temp and pressure were fine, fuel flow and pressure was good, CHT's were climbing.  I dropped the nose a bit more. I was somewhere around 1500 - 2000' (Who knows? I was busy).  The CHT's peaked just above 400.  The highest peaked at about 445... plenty hot, but they came back down PDQ.

I heard John making his radio calls as he was taking off after I cleared the area a bit.  Our plan was for him to stay on the ground until I was about a mile out.  Our emergency field, Interstate 64, is about 2 miles from the field, so I was past the point of turning around.  BTW, you bet I'd use that highway if needed!  It's lightly traveled and doesn't have a 20' deep ditch at the end of it like our runway does!  The other end of our runway has a 4' berm just across the road that runs perpendicular to it.  Yikes!

As I leveled off and picked up speed, I started feeling out the handling and double-checking the rest of the gauges.  Everything was in the green... although the oil pressure was lower than I wanted to see. I immediately cursed myself for taking out the washers.   I plan to reinstall one washer tomorrow.  (More on that at the end of this section)

By now, I had time to scroll through the EFIS screens and see how fast, how high, etc.  I was tooling along at 165mph and John was rapidly closing the gap.  John pulled in close to check for oil leaks, etc. Not seeing any, he whipped out his trusty digital camera and told me to just maintain straight and level for a minute.  I took a moment to wave at him, only to see a look of disgust on his face.  I knew immediately.... dead batteries in the digital camera.  DOH!

We were over the interstate between Poseyville and the Wabash river, temps were OK, so I told John it was time to do some stalls.  Les Featherston had warned me that the pitch feel would be quite heavy at slow speeds.  DAMN!  He was right.  The first power off (well pretty low power anyway), no flap stall took forever.  As I let the speed slowly bleed off from 90 to 80 to 70... I started thinking "Geez, I'm gonna pull a muscle in my arm doing this."  The pitch feel was that heavy! Yes, I had the trim all the way nose up!  (FWIW, it's an RV-4 tail with manual trim. I had nearly full fuel and nothing in the rear seat or baggage.)  Now, I know why you see Rockets at Oshkosh with huge, custom trim tabs.  (I later remedied this problem by adjusting the elevator trim to have more nose up throw than nose down.  This helped greatly.)

I took my other hand off of the throttle and continued pulling.  I don't recall the IAS at the break, somewhere around 70mph IIRC, but I do know that there wasn't much of a break, just a lot of turbulence slapping the stick around.

Temps were still OK, so I pulled on a notch of flaps (manual flaps, my design, work great, would NOT trade them for electric ever, never, no way, no how) and tried again.  Much the same.  A little more aggressive stick handling gave a small break somewhere around 66mph IAS.

Then full flaps.  Since the temps were OK, I switched on the flight instrument screen and observed 63mph IAS at the mild break.   No wing drop, just a small burp and pitch downward.

After the stall series, I noticed that the ground was somewhat closer than before.  John said he thought I dropped a thousand feet during the series.  Could be.  We were definitely sinking fast.  Hmmmm, a 1226# Rocket does sink a heckuva lot faster than the 1000# RV-6 I've been flying.

John and I turned 180 degrees and started back towards Hepler.  We were back up to 150 IAS or so, when I decided that I'd give her an acceleration check.  I gave the black knob a push forward to about 1/2 or maybe 2/3 of full.  Things got noisier.  My head got pushed back.  John started flying backwards.  It was awesome.

John and I began setting up our approach to the airport.  Everything was looking OK, handling was good, etc.  I decided that I'd let down for a practice approach down runway 9 at about 120 IAS.    Looking good, feeling rock solid, probably could have made a nice semi-downwind landing, but this was just for practice.  Or it might be a little tease for the crowd on the ground.... he, he, he.  As I passed the small crowd of upward turned faces, I pushed the power up and YEEEHAAAA!!! up we went.  The floor of the Evansville airspace is 1700' and Hepler sits right under the northwestern edge.  John always busts my chops when I encroach on their turf, so I had to put the nose back down and be a good boy.

A corkscrewing 360 to the left put me on a proper downwind for runway 27.  I started pulling levers and setting up for the real landing.  Man, rock solid is the only way to describe how she feels in the pattern.  I was getting about 85-90 on the approach and the LRI (Lift Reserve Indicator) was sliding slowly toward the red (stall) line.  I think I could have crossed my arm and legs and taken a nap.  Rock solid.  The crosswind that was making the windsock stand  out was barely noticeable.   I recalled that the mild chop I encountered earlier in the day when flying John's RV-6.  With the Rocket's heavier wing loading, it was gone.

As I crossed the threshold, pulled a little more power, and started a gentle flare, I was still getting that rock solid, smooth power feel. The wheels brushed the grass just as I gave the stick a healthy tug.  I expected a bounce and then a tailwheel touch, but got a slightly more nose down attitude instead and no bounce whatsoever.  I gave the stick another firm tug and got the most perfect wheel landing I have ever made.

Dang, now I'll be expecting that kind of smooth landing every time!

As I taxied back to the waiting crowd, I noticed for the first time that I was fairly drenched in sweat.  Hmmmm, and it was only 70 degrees out.

I pulled up onto the concrete pad next to the hangar.  I could tell that my wife was greatly relieved.  Me too.  Then we took some photos and popped some cold beers!  Woo hoo!!!

I do have some comments about the EIS/EFIS combo.  They really seem to work very well, but they have their quirks.  One reason that I wasn't able to monitor the airspeed, altitude, etc as much as I wanted was because the "Cruise oil pressure" warning was set too high and the EIS would not leave that display page.  That meant that I had to monitor the engine parameters on the EFIS screen.  Yeah, I know that the EIS and EFIS are supposed to do that for you... but I wanted to see the data with my own eyes.

Since the EIS was effectively locked on one page, it was actually somewhat of a distraction.  These bugs can be ironed out.  It behooves anyone using this system to really get the darned thing setup BEFORE

I also got a "Fuel flow too high" on the EFIS each time I put the noise lever forward.  Hmmmm, need to reset that number to a higher value.

So, first flight a success!!!   I can't wait to see how fast she'll go with full throttle... I never had more than about half throttle on this flight... no kidding!   Hmmmm, and it was showing 220 mph IAS at that!

Once again.... WOOOO HOOOOO!!!!

Many Thanks to John Crabtree, Les, Tom, Harry, Fred, Mark, John.... man, I could name a hundred guys but mostly Thanks go to my ever patient wife, Tammy.

Vince Frazier

Low oil pressure comments:  My cruise oil pressure was 50 psi at 200 degrees F oil temp and 2300 RPM.  This is too low.

My engine started life as an O-540-B2B5 with a fixed pitch prop.  During the overhaul, we added the goodies to make it an IO-540-C4B5.   Lycoming's overhaul manual and their parts manual show that there are 4 different oil pressure relief springs for these engines.  According to Sacramento Sky Ranch's website, when you switch from a fixed pitch to a CS prop, you need a different spring.  I called the Lycoming tech line (1-800-258-3279, press 1 for tech help) and the gent explained this all to me and said that the different spring would very likely cure my low cruise oil pressure (50psi) and get it up to 80psi where it should be.  That's good news.  However, it would be nice if seemingly trivial info like this were in the overhaul manuals!


FWIW, Here's some raw data for an engine with 2.6 hours SMOH. I don't recall if these numbers were 100% full throttle or not as I was varying power a bit.  Whatever, this is what I wrote down:

Full Rich, 2600 RPM, 23.5 MP, 6100' altitude, 73F OAT, Fuel Flow 22 gph (probably not accurate), Fuel pressure 28.0, oil pressure 99, oil temp 196, IAS 210 mph (no glfs or wheelpants)

EGT 1209, 1248, 1252, 1234, 1248,1211

CHT 311, 349, 327, 328, 339, 327

Raw data.... I don't claim any of it is or isn't accurate.... that's why there's a testing period assigned to these things!

Stalls with full flaps, power off 62mph IAS, no flaps about 67 IAS. Lots of sink, plenty of buffet, breaks straight ahead.

In 20/20 hindsight it would seem that I would have written more stuff down at various conditions.... well, all I can say is that there are plenty of distractions in the first few hours of a new plane! For example, the oil pressure, which was only 50 at cruise, is now 99(or more) at cruise. This was the result of changing the oil pressure relief spring per Lycoming's recommendation. Now, it's on the verge of being too high! ACK!

I can't wait to fly some more as soon as the wx clears a bit.


My visit to Les Featherston's Rebel's Bluff on July 5, 2004

My family dropped in on Les Featherston at Rebel's Bluff on July 5, 2004.  Les's Rocket is wearing a new paint job that is just plain eye-popping gorgeous.  The pictures don't do it justice.

Even though the weather was hotter than blazes, Les patiently gave everyone a ride.  My son's girlfriend, Emily Walter, got to ride in the old Aeronca Champ and the Rocket.  I asked her which one she liked best and she said "Oh wow, the Rocket was totally cool."  Praise like that is hard to beat!!!

Les let me wiggle the stick in the back seat and offered much good advice on flying techniques.  I am much indebted to Les for his guidance.  (Tom Martin and Harry Paine are also on this list!  Thanks to all of you great guys.)


A Report From My Wife, Tammy
(for women only)

Ladies, have you ever been working in your kitchen and you couldn't find what you were looking for?  Well, if your husband builds airplanes then it's probably out in his shop somewhere.  My husband has a penchant for kitchen utensils.  He claims that he always asks me first.  I guess it must be while I'm sleeping.

Vince started building  an RV-4 back in 1987.  Coincidentally, that is when I began to notice the strange disappearance of my kitchen utensils... such as my ice picks, both of which have been MIA ever since.  Then I caught him with my turkey baster.   Who knows what it was used for, but it was oily and smelly and I never want it back.

My electric carving knife gets more use making foam seat cushions than it ever does carving turkey.  I suppose he can keep that item too. 

Even my expensive Pampered Chef utensils are not safe, even though I strictly forbade him from touching them.  I found him with my fancy Pampered Chef dough roller, rolling out some fiberglass resin.  Lucky for him that the resin was between to layers of saran wrap and he didn't mess up my roller or I'd have messed him up.  'Nuf said on that one and he bought his own roller from Home Depot the next day.

Recently, I found my potpourri crock pot under the engine of the plane.   I almost didn't recognize it since he had covered it with tin foil.  There was a Dixie cup full of fiberglass resin warming up in it!!  YUCK.  I told him to get his own $#&*@  crock pot and leave my stuff alone!   I'll be glad when he gets this dang airplane done!  Tammy

Vince replies:  I'm glad she doesn't know the full extent of my thievery!  And because I'm so thoughtful, I always get her some new kitchen utensils for Christmas.  Yes, nothing says "Love" like new kitchen utensils.  They cost less than jewelry and last longer than flowers.  Am I a great husband or what?

John Cargill's Rocket

 Built by Tom Martin

Scott Seabourn's Rocket


6-1-04:  Another F-1 takes to the air this morning at 0800 PST. YEA BABY! to quote the father.

Scott Seabourn's beautiful rocket flew this morning for its first test flight. No huge problems, a few minors that will need tending too, but overall flew very nice. I flew chase in my Rocket and it looks like Scott has a fast Rocket, I would say we will be very evenly matched; no surprise there as we have nearly identical airframes with identically built engines and components.

Congrats Scott. I'll let you tell everyone how it flew.

Greg Nelson

Howard Rhode's Rocket

6-1-04: Greetings All

Jim Cash did the honors of first flight for #3 Thursday at 1:30PM CST. I asked Jim due to his background, airmanship, and time in Blackjack. It was a wise choice. He knows more in his little finger than I in my head. He is a class act as well. Charlie Calivas flew chase and provided adult technical supervision. Charlie has the second flying RV-6 with over 1500 hours on it now.

Here are the impressions:

Airframe - Left wing was wing heavy, the right aileron squeeze worked and now it is hands off. Vertical Stab was displaced to the left on purpose and it is perfect with ball centered at all times.

(Tom and Mark- in a ballasted rear seat condition with full fuel the airframe is good to 5 g's for over the tops. Incidence and sweep are spot on and strong as steel.) The airplane stalls with the initial break at 45 knots, we are limiting top end to 210 knots at this time. The airplane tracks arrow straight on the runway and showed gear shuffling decelerating through 30 knots only ONCE, otherwise nothing weird to report.

Avionics- Blue Mountain Efis one is coming around but initially it had many calibration issues. Greg Richter has a fine product, but it is intense to set up. Still working those but getting better.

Engine-(Aerosport) Leak free, strong, smooth. The one big issue is a rich condition with the Airflow injection servo. Engine shakes and barks at full rich high power. We did all the usual injector clean, plug check, idle circuit adjust lean. The two other options are rejet or send it back to Airflow for calibration. Timing on the left mag and coil phasing have not been dismissed as suspects either. The motor has improved big time on day 2 over day 1. Some quick numbers CHT is 397 to 405 on all cylinders during pattern work. Max oil temp in pattern is 210 at 88 F ambient. EGTs are 1250 to 1300 at high power. Need to bump up the governor to raise RPM from 2550 to 2700.

It seems the plenum has solved all the hot stuff that has bothered a couple of airplanes, so carry on with your work on those. Jim commented that the ambient noise is quite low in mine compared to his.........closed cell acoustical foam worked on the upholstery  panels. Cockpit temps were fine, I attribute that to the material on firewall and floor. I DIDN'T NACA duct the side, mine is underwing and rear of the plenum. It worked.


One fine airplane Mark, you can be proud of your product. If the EVO wing is nicer I can't imagine how it could be so! I have been flying garbage scows (MD11) for so long now I had forgotten what a powerful responsive airplane is like. It feels like the T-38, just doesn't roll at 720 degrees/second but God almighty that roll rate really scrambles your brain. I have no autopilot servos and Jim just loved the silky smooth control action (so do I).

I think all of us are building the correct airplane for sport aviation, Mark is selling a terrific kit. It is a trite phrase but keep at it. I remember when Bob Gross flew his and said that I was deep in a mess on something so I know how it is. It took me 6 years to build with significant life experiences tossed in and this by golly is one of them!

Happy Memorial Day,   Howard  Rhodes

Stu Smith's Rocket

Stu Smith says his Rocket now flying and has about 150 hours on it.  I put several pictures of Stu's plenum on the engine page also.  Looks great.  Stu had this to say:

Hey Vince:

We have not e-mailed in a while. I thought I would send you a couple pictures of the rocket now that construction is complete and life is returning to normal. I flew it in August and finished up all those little details, and paint, about a month ago. I'm quite pleased with the results and it flies great. I'm flying out of Compton airport, about 10 miles south east of Los Angeles International.

I had a beautiful RV 4 while finishing up the project, but ended up selling it because I knew I wouldn't want to fly anything other than the rocket.

Blue Skies - Stu Smith.


I did all the cooling stuff. And I still have cooling issues. First flights gave me 450 CHT (hottest cylinder) and 250 oil temp! Uuuggh!

Ramping the air up onto the top third of the front cylinders and blocking off a third of the oil cooler has given me 425 hottest CHT and 210 oil temp. Better, but a long way from what I was hoping for. I am going to continue to dink with the baffling and hope for incremental improvements in cooling. Otherwise, I have some kind of radio interference (it seems like something in my instrument system is giving off RFI???), and that's about it for bugs so far. Actually that's pretty good for a beast like this. I find myself in a turn most of the time to stay within sight of the airport, and the airplane handles very naturally.

(I mentioned to Stu that Mark had said that an smoother exit ramp on the cowl outlet had made a big difference in his cooling. Unfortunately, it didn't work for Stu.  Doh!)

The exit ramps made no noticeable difference in CHT temps.  I also added a flange at the rear of the bottom cowl to create a low pressure area, with no noticeable results.

Make sure your rudder pedal hardware clears the firewall kickout - my left rudder hung up on the kickout.   Stu

Bob Wahl's Rocket

First flight May 2004

Sadly, Bob passed away only a few months later.  His family is in my prayers.

Ken Sebok's Rocket

3-3-04:  Hey guys-  I wanted to let you all know that F-1 #71 took flight this morning for the first time! With lots (and I really mean lots) of help from Eric Henson and Bob Woolley, we finally completed this Rocket (ex-paint) and got the go from our DAR last week.

Bob flew the plane for its initial flight (his 17th first flight in RV/Rocket/Glasair-type planes) and reported that the plane flew perfectly (no airframe adjustments needed). Just a few small items requiring add'l focus, including high CHTs. I'll report more test data as we get collect it. The basics: 1,203 empty weight, std IO-540C4B5, MT 3 blade.

Regards,  Ken Sebok

Billy Water's Rocket

Another fine looking machine.  This one by Billy Waters

Randy Price's Rocket

Yet another... this one by Randy Price.

Les Featherston's Kittyhawk trip

As part of the Centennial of Flight celebration, Les Featherston had the honor of delivering the Missouri state flag to Kittyhawk, N.C.  The Mooney pilot, also from Missouri, accompanied Les. There's lots more details to this part of the story, but I'll just screw them up so I'll let Les send details later.

Les and his wonderful, patient, and supportive wife, Linda, stopped in at Hepler airport on their return trip to Missouri.  We had a great time.  Les gave me a ride (I've got to get my Rocket done!) and then gave my wife her first Rocket ride.  My wife, Tammy, is a bit claustrophobic and never did care much for my RV-4, largely due to the cramped rear seat.  But she sure liked the Rocket!  Whew! What a relief.  Maybe she'll fly with me after all!?  She said she was surprised at how roomy the rear cockpit is and mentioned the great visibility.

Les and Linda were treated to the finest Mount Vernon, IN has to offer (not much!).  We stopped in at the local Mexican restaurant for supper and had a few margaritas to quench our thirst.  More storytelling followed.  I think by the end of the evening we all had hoarse voices from talking and laughing.  Les's wife, Linda, didn't even complain about sleeping on a cot at our house.  Now, that's a GREAT wife.  Les and I are both blessed with superb wives.  We are lucky guys, for sure!

Les tells me that he is planning to have another fly-in at Rebel's Bluff airport next year.  I'm already looking forward to it!

Les Featherston's Rocket First Flight Report

 (Les's Rocket started life as a HRII but was finished using F-1 cowl and other fiberglass parts. Hmmmmmmm, that sounds familiar. Vince)

Wedding Announcement!

One cold night in November of 1996, a beautiful young lass from Plaines, Oregon, moved to Midland, Michigan. She took some room in the garage at the home of Mr. Kelly Neeley. Her name was Van’s RV-4 (kit number 4104). A short time, later she was joined by a rough-and-tumble rodeo cowboy from Bakersfield, California whose name was Harmon Rocket II (kit number 64). He admired her lithe figure and graceful movements. She was smitten by his strong good looks, and his powerful countenance.

They lived with Mr. Neeley, until 1998, when they moved to Bolivar, Missouri, where they became engaged and were counseled by Champion (race car driver) Larry Phillips. Mr. Phillips was a very good tutor, and they made a great deal of progress in their relationship.

On December 6th, 1999, they made a shorter move to reside with their wedding coordinator, Les Featherston, in Mt. Vernon, Missouri. Les had been a USAF fighter pilot (F-100, many, many years ago), and was soon to be retired from United Airlines (6/2001). The couple had many challenging days and nights of prenuptial counseling, but all agreed that they were a match made for Heaven.

At 6:23PM on Monday evening August 11th, the happy couple were joined to become “one” by the Reverend J. Neal Sowers, D.A.R., at a lovely T-hangar wedding on Johnson County Executive Airport, Olathe, Kansas.

The brides gown (PLANNED to be delivered later) will be a spectacular Pearlescent White, with a burgundy sash. Her maid-of-honor was Garmin 430 GPS/Comm, and she was attended by Dynon D-10, TruTrak 250AS Autopilot, Apollo SL-40 Comm, and Garmin 327 Transponder. The matron-of-honor was Vision Micro Systems 1000, and her flower girl was PS Engineering 1000 Stereo CD Intercom. The corsage was an ATD collision avoidance device.

The groom wore a silver tuxedo which showed off his very masculine form. His Best Man was Lycoming IO-540 C4B5 dynoed at 262HP. The grooms attendants were the Light Speed Engineering brothers Plasma II, and Plasma III (electronic ignition), Hartzell 80” CS Prop, and the miniscule “SkyTec” of lightweight starter fame. The ring bearers were B&C, the alternator boys.

The invitees on the very prestigious guest list (although not all could come) were none other than Richard Van Grunsven, and John Harmon, parents of the bride and groom; Mark Frederick, their Godfather; Mike Wonder, John Zidek, and chase pilot Walt Frazier. Many others need honorable mention, and I apologize if I have left anyone out; Mrs. Lynda Featherston who kept their relationship from floundering on several occasions; Vince Frazier, who constantly gave the couple encouragement; Honorary Chase Pilot Tom Martin; Harry Paine who headed the rehearsal program.

The excited couple left on their honeymoon the next morning at 8:56AM, lifting off on a journey they hope will be filled with many, many Knots, and many Happy Landings.

They will reside in a large hangar at Rebel’s Bluff Airport, (N37 06.1 and W93 52.2) near Mt. Vernon, Missouri, and would very much enjoy your visiting. They request that you plan to come after they finish a hectic 25 hour adjustment period. The happy couple asked me to share with you that they are expecting: At 7,500’ with 21.8”of M/P, and 2300 RPM they believe they will have 206 Knots. Thus they have chosen to call themselves N206KT.


Yes! The beast is alive. I flew the Rocket today. Wow, what a ride. I took off at Johnson Cty AP in Kansas City at 8:56AM and flew for about 15 minutes. The RPM was too high at full prop so we tuned it back to 2600. The exhaust pipe was chaffing the cowling and we installed a bit of .025 with pop rivets (God bless the man that invented those), and she was perfect. No roll tendency, no problems, just sling shot dragster into the atmosphere. (Real 3,500'/min) I flew it again for 30 minutes overhead, and then launched for Rebel's Bluff. 150 statute miles in 41 minutes----Oh Man! It has 21.8" of manifold pressure at 8500' and 2300 Rpm burns 12.2 gph at 205 knots. I think I have gone to Heaven! I cannot believe what a different airplane it is from my RV-4. Quite heavy in pitch (which is good for IFR) and very nice in roll. Very sensitive, but very friendly. I cannot believe I own such a fantastic machine.

No, she is not painted yet! Fuselage is sort of a camouflage colored primer. The wings and vertical tail are still aluminum. The worst color is the pukey greenish cowling and wing tips. The ram effect of the forward facing fuel injector gives an estimated 2" additional manifold pressure at 7,500.' It was a real "Rocket" ride. Oil temps are very good for an 87F day. About 213F. It flies straight as an arrow. Now it is time to commit to the paint scheme. Gotta go fly the other 23 hours off. LES

I flew my Harmon Rocket II, N206KT, for the first time on August 12th. What a ride! The taxi out is very intimidating with that rumble in front of your feet just shaking the beast gently.  I told myself that I have flown all this time up to now, and if and when there had been an emergency, I just handled it, so why was today going to be any different? The power comes in, and as Jackie Gleason said so well, "Away we go!" Things were happening so fast that if there had been a problem, I would not have been a reliable witness at the hearing, so I just hung on and enjoyed the ride. Airspeed comes in such big doses that it is hard to comprehend. I wanted about 110 knots indicated to climb, so I pulled the nose up and saw 110 and then 120, so I pulled again, and saw 130, then I REALLY PULLED and she was at 140 and climbing about 3,000ft/min on a 95F day. Everything went perfectly, and the chase RV-6 hovered around about 2,000 feet below me and 4 miles behind. No disrespect to the -6, but this baby really goes. Very, very light on the roll inputs, and very solid on the pitch feel. I couldn't believe all the years of work, and months of planning, and weeks of effort, and days of checking everything over and over was finally coming true in this moment. Kept it overhead the airport, just in case, and tried some slow flight and approach to stalls.

Then it was the "big" moment. Could I get this thing on the ground in one piece? And "piece" it was, of cake that is! She is so docile that you cannot believe it. I was so happy! Remember all the help you guys gave me on the "list" trying to come up with a name for the nose art? Well, it came to me as I taxied in, I am going to call my Rocket "Airgasm"! That's what it was, so that's the name. I have now flown  it 14 times, and even got a ferry permit to fly a short (in a Rocket it's short) cross country to Wichita, KS, and back, for some instrument adjustments.

This "Rocket" thing is the real deal. Thanks, John, for such a wonderful airplane. Les

12-07-03: Hi Vince, I read your post re-chutes, and moving the seat back.  I moved the rollover hoop back 1 1/2 inches and put a polyethylene bucket seat in place of Van's back board.  I flew it about 3 times for 30 minutes, and thought it was good.  But then I flew it 1:50 to Tuscaloosa, AL, to the paint shop (Razors Edge RV) and was blown away.  It was a trip I had flown several times in the RV-4, and the Rocket.  I couldn't believe how much more comfortable it was.  Blew me away.  There is about a 6 pound weight penalty, but for the comfort factor it was worth it.  And besides it is 6 lbs. I will use on every flight unlike my autopilot, or GNS-430.  But I digress, the 1 1/2 inch move back was fantastic.  It makes all the difference in the world.  I measured the "face distance" in the RV-4 and found 21 1/2", and the Rocket at 25."  So I used 1 1/2 of the 2 1/2" for me.  The back seater still has more room than the RV-4, and much better ankle/shin room because of the wrap around shape of the bucket seat.  The bucket is quite large, and much more comfortable than the Jon Johannson seats.  They were just too narrow (12") for my big A#%. 

 Tell everyone to take their airplanes to Razors Edge RV for painting in Tuscaloosa, AL.  Mike Taylor will do an excellent job.  He's on the Van's World Wide Air Force website.  Stay in touch, and tell everyone the Rebel's Bluff RV Fly-In is on May 1st.  See ya, Les

A Rocket built by Clarence McClean

The Rocket in the foreground was reportedly built by Clarence McClean.  Bob Gross is flying escort.

Harry Paine visits Carmi

Harry Paine had asked if I'd like to have a ride in his Rocket.  You bet I would!  Harry and Bob Pattee stopped in at Carmi on the way home from the East coast. 

It was a typical July day in the Midwest.  Temperature was about 99 and the humidity was 99% also.  IIRC, that gives a heat index of HELL.  The stiff breeze out of the southwest only served to make the TOLs more exciting.  After a brief BS session, Harry and I piled into the Rocket.  A few hundred feet later and we were airborne.  A couple minutes later, on the downwind leg of the pattern, and we were at 3500'.  Very nice indeed!

I've been lucky enough to snag a ride with Tom Martin a couple times.  The takeoff in Harry's plane confirmed what I'd seen before... smooth power and rapid acceleration.  The growl of that big six cylinder Lycoming up front rumbles up through your feet, past your butt, and rattles your big, toothy grin as you get pushed back into the seat by the acceleration.  It's hard to keep from yelling "Yeehah" into the mic.  The climbout is more of the same.  Your jaw is hanging open with awe..."Somebody built this in their garage?"  "Not possible! This is way too cool." protests your Cessna conditioned brain.  But it's true!  Is this a great country or what?!

We slowed down for a little slow flight.   Harry dropped the flaps and turned the stick over to me.  I didn't have any rudders in the back seat.  We did several stalls and when the left wing dropped it caused me to stomp on the right footwell out of habit.  We had the Rocket all over the sky, but I loved every minute of it.  The Rocket behaved much like my old RV-4, giving a little shudder before the break, dropping the left wing slightly, and recovering quickly.  Harry pointed out that we probably lost a bit more altitude than you might in an RV-4.  The heavier weight and smaller wing do have an effect.  However, jamming the noise lever forward positively puts an end to any altitude loss.  "This is so cool."

The big Lycoming was starting to need some cool air after 10 minutes of this, so Harry took over and let the speed build up... and up.... and up.  "Woo hoo! I have got to get one of these!"  I asked Harry how he handles a descent to pattern altitude.  I wanted to know if he planned a leisurely descent from miles out, to avoid overcooling the engine, while meticulously monitoring temps and RPMs, etc, etc.  His procedure was a little different from the fixed pitch RVs that I've grown accustomed to.  I'm not sure, but I think it went like this: Pull the prop and power back a bit, roll into a 90 degree left bank, and go screaming down toward the ground.  Once again, "Not possible! This is way too cool." protests my brain.

Soon we were on short final, skimming the steamy cornfields at the north end of runway 18.  As always a few blackbirds went whizzing by much too close for comfort.  Harry made a nice wheel landing into the quartering crosswind.  The springy titanium gear shrugged off the heat soaked runway expansion joint bumps easily.  We turned off at the intersection without any difficulties.  It was about now that I realized how hot it was getting under the greenhouse of a canopy.  "SO WHAT... this is too cool!"

Harry coasted up to the gas pumps for a load of blue juice.  Poor guy.  I don't think he's accustomed to the jungle humidity we have here.  He looked like a wet rag doll as he filled the tanks.  I offered again to drive over to one of the local choke and pukes, but Bob and Harry had another date.  They were headed to Les Featherston's for their overnight stop.  Lucky guys.  I'm sure Les took care of them and got them cooled and refreshed.

Hey Harry, thanks for stopping in!  I really enjoyed it.  Vince

Funny stories...

Rocket ride givers:

I give a lot of rides in my Harmon and over the years I have had a lot of interesting passengers and have heard some pretty outrageous things from the back seat, but last night's comment is worth sharing.

The passenger was a woman, a long time friend of my wife. She had never been in a small plane and when asked if she wanted a ride, she did not hesitate. During the take off roll, and up to about 2000 feet, she never stopped laughing and shouting; I knew this was going to be fun. We leveled off and she calmed down enough to look around and down, and she said all those things that people say in their first plane ride.

I give very gentle rides to timid passengers, it is not my intention to scare anyone from a second flight but on our way back to the airport we passed over a Cessna 172, he was about 1000 feet lower and going 90 degrees to our course. Without thinking, I had no choice, I dropped my right wing swooped down to blow past this guy. With the descent I was probably going well over 230mph, it was perfect evening with no bumps so there was no feeling of speed. That is until you pass someone who is going less than half your speed.

She was surprised that I would get close to another plane, and I was at least 500 feet from it when we went by it, and she asked, "what is wrong with that plane?!!" I replied "nothing, it is a training aircraft from a local flying school" and she replied, after a pause, "You mean they can teach you to fly backwards"!!!  Tom Martin

I too had a interesting passenger yesterday. We are having a small air fair at my local airport, APV, and have several CAF aircraft on display. An SNJ, Navy version of the AT-6, arrived a day early to give some promotional rides. One of the high rollers cancelled and my building partner Jack, or KABONG, as he likes to call himself got to take his place. I asked the pilot if he would mind if I flew a little formation with him to get a couple of pictures. Anyway, besides the pilot a lady crew chief came along and as a joke I asked her if she wanted to come along, she did. 

At first, she didn't believe that I could keep up with the SNJ. I let the SNJ get completely airborne before I took the runway. After my normal TO, at the end of the runway, the Rocket was already several hundred feet above the SNJ and about a 1/2 mile back. The Rocket quickly closed the gap and I was able to fly formation for a couple of minutes on the SNJ.

Once the photos were taken, we departed the formation and I decided to show her the plane. I did a couple of aileron rolls to check out her system (I don't try to get people sick) and she was doing nice. Next she asked to do a loop. So, I showed her one. Then she asked if she could do one. I said OK but that I would be guarding the stick to make sure things don't go wrong. Of course, she didn't pull hard enough at the start of the loop and we got a little slow at the top. At the top, the plane stalled and did that little shake it does under those conditions. I helped her recover and finished the loop. While this was happening, she said that both she and the plane had just had an **gasm.

She is a nurse, a pilot, a CAF member, not bad looking, and single. She is even thinking about getting an RV after the ride. Tom Gummo

Bob Gross's flight reports

This morning my passenger told me we were intercepted by an F-16. I never saw it. Here is a picture of him (Reed Somberg) pointing it out to me as I was taking a snapshot of his new Team Rocket hat.
Ok so a bit more serious now. The second pics are of the stuff I got this AM at WOT/2400 RPM 16.4 GPH. We had a headwind and Reed was buying the gas so away we went. Without doubt, fuel flow makes this thing go faster, just like the Lycoming chart shows. No free HP without lots of gas.
You can see us blundering through the RED Restricted areas on the map (they were cold). With two of us and 1/2 tank of gas the F1 was making 202 knots. You can see the oil cooler was working well (188 deg F) and cht (Cylinder 3) was 375. Pretty normal for high power cruise (about 73 percent) with engine leaned to best power.
Warmest Regards,   Bob Gross

6-18-03:  Flight test continues, 13 hours so far. No major problems other than a clogged injector at 8.5 hours.

I am gathering performance data. Other than high altitude cruise, it all looks pretty good. Last week I put in a 6 channel EGT instrument. I always said I'd never do it but....I was wrong. Probably will do the same with the CHT now.

CHT runs hottest leveling at 10500 feet at 120 knots at 420 deg. Cruise temps run around 170. Don't forget it is HOT here, about 35 deg F warmer than std. Temp runs at about 380 during climb at lower altitudes.

Oil runs hottest taxiing in hitting 210 deg. In flight it runs 170 at 55% cruise to 195 at 75% cruise.

I did see 220 once in the pattern doing Touch and Go's.

I noticed my exhaust pipes are banging on the crosstube between the lower engine mount pads. It seems the thrust from the down turned pipes is pushing the pipes upward and causing contact. I put some firesleeve on the tube for now and will watch to see what happens.

So far my regret list has the mentioned EGT and CHT gauges. rear rudder pedals will be redone, and I'll never paint one again.

MY "oh yeah baby that worked like a charm list"...

Air vent on center console. Perfect. It blows on my cajones and upward to keep me cool. Doesn't trip intercom squelch. At high cruise speeds, I can hear the air blast thru vent as I move the little butterfly valve. Glad I got this one right!

Heater vent on center console. Same as above. Don't know how it will work for rear pax in winter.

Insulating firewall. No heat blasts ever from between my feet. The sound from the engine is quite low as well. Floors don't get hot either. I used cheapo insulation from JC Whitney and glued thin carpeting on it to match the rest of the ship.

Fuel flow. Put in a JPI FS-450. Did one calibration step. Last fillip called for 38.0 gallons, the pump metered in 37.93 gallons. nothing's wrong with that!

I use two stock Bendix mags with "Shower of sparks" booster. Works fantastic. Starts easily when hot. no impulse couplings.

The little Skytec starter spins like mad powered by a $32 gel cell (#2 power cable).

The Suzuki alternator is working flawlessly.

I'm using the instruments from Vans. I took apart the EGT last night. To my amazement, they are very well made. So far they work as advertised, except the MAP reads a bit high. I'm going to try and adjust it.

Baffling and oil cooler. Seems to work fine. No complaints especially considering the warm WX here.

Interesting observations....

1. The canopy is WAY easier to lock now.

2. The Matco brakes work well. When new would hold 1500 rpm. Now hold at 1800 rpm. It's bizarre how the wheels toe out when holding the brakes at 1800 rpm!

3. All wheel shaking comes from brakes around 13 knots. Slowly decelerating thru 13 knots with no brakes means no shakes. If I brake hard for one second when I feel the shake then let go, I can get by with as little as 4 little shakes. This technique gets thru he shake speed quickly. Wood strips will come later.

4. Three point landings are awkward as tail won't stick down. Wheel landings are REAL nice. Gear tracks straight easily with either style landing. I set my gear to 1 deg toe in 3 point attitude with no fuel in ship, using grease plates under wheels. No regrets here.

5. My favorite approach speed 78 knots. All speed is lost in the big 50 foot flare. I do all landings power off, ( engine make a cool burbling sound at idle) still practicing for that elusive 18th engine failure (been 13 years since number 17).

6. It comes down nicely. My flaps only go to 36 degrees. It's PLENTY with idle power!

7. Neighbors say it cuts a nice line when flying by. I usually enter upwind at 210 knots to allow room on downwind to decelerate to flap speed. The prop/engine is reported to be quiet and smooth. They say it has a cool whistling sound as well.

8. Fuel load makes a big difference. At these FL warm temperatures, I see 2400 FPM during initial climb with full fuel. With half tanks, I see 3100 fpm. Really ear popping. I can takeoff, pull 25 deg up, 30 deg left bank, and roll wings level onto downwind at up to 1300-1800 feet.

9. Absolutely no aileron bump at full throw. It rolls quite fast BTW, causing the BMA efis to display Re-erect every time.

10. Ailerons are light as a feather at slow speeds. Get real heavy at high speed. It feels about right.

11. Bumpy air. I reset my yellow arc to 165 knots as it feels about right. Above this speed, turbulence hits pretty hard and fast. I can fell the tail jiggling in the rudder pedals at these speed. I assume its from the whole aft fuse twisting. Nothing to scare anyone, some airplanes do this especially where a big tail comes to a narrow point at the attach areas, leaving less torsional stiffness to hold things in place. Anyhow, I slow to below 165 knots in bumpy air. Gives a more solid feeling. Absolutely no fishtailing yaw in turbulence with the F1 tail.

12. Did a loop at 180 knots. Very BIG and slow. Took both hands to get 3 G. Elevator quite heavy. No worries about ever over G-ing this ship. It should be much lighter with a rear passenger. Did a loop at 165 knots. Lot easier, still real big and slow. Flies over the top nicely at 65 knots. Loops ok at 2.5 G as well. Nice to have all that power!

13. It takes two gallons to climb to 7500 feet.

14. I climb at 140 knots to give 1000 FPM at 25 squared. 120 knots gives 1700 FPM. 20 GPH.

15. Its still climbing over 1100 fpm as you reach 10500 feet @ 120 knots (highest CHT)

16. Cruise descent makes about 210 knots TAS at 800 FPM

17. Last flight, got 202 knots TRUE at 70% pwr/7500 feet. about 13.9 GPM. (WOT/2400 RPM)

18. The big Lyc is cooled by airspeed and lots of it. The faster you go, the cooler it runs. I ran at 500 feet WOT and the oil ran 175, cht 370 and airspeed bouncing around 210 knots.

19. Added one quart oil so far in 13 hours. The cylinders are new ECI classic steel units.

More later.  Warmest regards, Bob Gross

6-13-03: The F1 made 213 KTAS this AM at 500 feet full push, OAT 79 deg F.

6-6-03: Flew 2 hours this AM for a total of 4.4 so far. Sorry to keep bothering you the details, bu I figure it might be helpful someday. Ran at 10500 feet for an hour today. Speeds not quite what I was expecting, but is was 18 deg C OAT and I was more likely running at 1300 feet density altitude. The view and ride is nice at 10000 feet. Cruise descent at 500 FPM gives about 213 knots TAS.

Did a speed run at 8000 feet. Full throttle about 22" and 2400 rpm. This should be around 65 % pwr. Anyway, averaged 202 knots. I am happier yet.

Actually had some fun today. I stopped worrying a the CHT as it appears they run at 400 in a slow "ear popping" climb (its warm here...temp 29 deg C). 380 during 75% cruise and 350 at 10,000 feet leaned to 11.2 per hour. All good. Oil ran at 175 during cruise and 200 in the pattern. The cowl, baffles and oil cooler are doing a good job. Don't expect to need to modify the cowling etc. (knock on wooden head)

Did a couple touch an goes a the local airport. WHHEEEEE. It went like this...

Touchdown, throttle open, flaps up, yank (30 degrees up) and turn left (30 deg bank). Each one saw 3100 fpm at 100 KIAS steady, and rolled wings level on downwind at 1500 feet! I can't wait for cool WX!

Done 3 wheel landings now. This thing does fantastic wheel landings. It tracks very straight to my amazement.

Got the autopilot to couple to the GPS and track perfectly. Didn't work last time due to me leaving a jumper off the A/P connector. My pitch control module trims the wrong direction in the altitude hold mode. Should be an easy software fix. Next flight Will be to adjust the rigging and calibrate the fuel flow computer.

Like General Jim said, it really is "a kick in the pants to fly" and worth every frustration to reach this stage. Don't give up, keep at it, doing at least one small task EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I am prototyping an alternate air inlet for the F1. Should have it available next month. It'll be easy to retrofit, taking about 30 minutes to install/overnight for sealant to cure. It's a spring loaded door setup. No cables!

More details later. Warmest regards,  Bob Gross

6-3-03: Well this morning at 0700 I pushed the throttle to the wall with my neighbor Tony Klopp passing over in an RV-8 to fly chase. It accelerates quickly reaching flying speed within a few seconds. Raising the nose to about 25 deg starts the ears popping as I eased the Rocket into a left climbing turn to prepare for a quick landing should the need arise. I leveled at 3000 feet and reduced to power to keep the CHT under control. Accelerating was the ticket and blowing air on them slowly started to cool things off. As the F1 accelerated to 150 knots, the temp came down to 425 deg and stayed there. The oil which had stabilized at 195 deg began to come down and settled at 180 deg.

I kept the F1 in a lazy left turn over the airport while the RV-8 hopelessly turns inside of me trying to get close enough for an inspection. Finally I had  to slow to 100 knots so he could take a look. Everything was fine. At this power setting, each time I looked at the GPS speed it was around 172 knots. More speed checking in the future. I did a stall series to validate the airspeed indicator at low speeds and it seemed right on.

The stall is very sharp with no warning, breaking straight ahead. During this slow flight, the CHTs fell and the oil temp rose quickly to 200 deg F. After this, I accelerated to cruise speed again, played with the toys a bit, engaged the Navaid and put it a left turn and it held perfectly. briefly engaged it into GPS ground track hold which it did. The moving map computer was moving perfectly, but didn't get a chance to play any  mp3 tunes this flight. I did a 2 G turn to check the BMA EFIS G meter with was working normally with the newly upgraded firmware. 

All in all, it was so uneventful, that I actually enjoyed it, and a looking forward to the next in a couple days. I am following the EAA's flight test plan, which was provided to me from the EAA flight adviser. This program was required by the Insurance company (Falcon) to get this bird insured. BTW, they lowered my rate to $2580 which I was told is the lowest rate one can get on an F1 ($80K hull).   

Here is what I observed:
Altitude Sea Level.

OAT 27 deg C

Rate of climb at Vy (87 KIAS) about 2500 fpm

Takeoff weight with 28 gallons fuel 1668 lbs.

max cht at top of climb 3000 feet 475 deg F yikes!

CHT during 75%cruise 435 deg F.

max oil temp 200 during stalls.

max oil temp at 75% power 180 deg F.
EGT 1200 deg F.

max oil temp during climb 195 deg F.

Stall flaps down 48 KIAS

Stall clean 52KIAS

Speed at 20" 2100 rpm 151 KIAS.

Speed at 24" 2400 rpm  171 KIAS

It flew smooth and straight other than the slightest roll to the right about 1 deg per second. Yaw was straight at cruise speeds ( I set the VS LE with no offset) Pitch trim was normal and the elev/stab was nearly faired (slightly TE low), no adjustment needed. Landing was easy and it tracked straight, doing a little wobble decelerating thru 15 knots. Getting off the brakes stopped the shake. All in all no squawks other than the wing trim. So the oil cooler is working well. I hope the CHTs come down as the engine breaks in.   

You know, after letting this magnificent event sink in thru the day, I forgot to mention it flies. Well, The ailerons are light as a feather, with dizzying speed. The rudder is stiff, but effective, and the elevators feel real firm, yet responsive like a P-51. Flying it fast gives that great feeling where just a tiny pitch change results in a high vertical speed.

I had the opportunity to fly an RV-8 last night to get warmed up. It flies very much like an '8 except for the following: Obviously the power seemingly gives 10 times more acceleration (whoosh), the ailerons feel the same only faster, the rudder is the same, the elevator is solidly heavier (in a good way), and the thing requires every bit of up elevator to get the tailwheel to stick to the ground during landing. I imagine it does beautiful wheel landings.  I took my headset off in the '8 and sampled the deafening racket. I did the same in the F1 and noticed it was WAY quieter, not much more than my Cherokee. The soundproofing really helps along with the fuselage side panels.

That's it for now. Next flight should be on Wed if tomorrows inspection goes ok.  Bob Gross

John Wach's Rocket


11-24-03: John Wach's Rocket.  127JW has a aerosport power engine with his suggested modifications of pistons, flow cylinders, aerobatic conversion, 1/2 lightspeed plasma 3, Airflow Performance fuel injections, MT prop and chrome (that doesn't help but it looks better). Plane is set up for IFR with a Garmin stack. I'll attach a couple of picture to this. That RV6 is the other plane that I built 4 years ago. All are welcome to stop by the Aurora airport and see it. I'll be stuck here for another 25 hours. As far as the heat, I used two heat muffs set up in series which seems right now to really put out the heat if needed. All Engine temps seems to be operating very low considering the application, but the day was 50 degrees so I'm sure that helped a lot. If anyone would like to get a hold of me my phone number is 847-259-4570 evenings. That's all I can think of.  John Wach

Jim Frey's Rocket

5-23-03: Jim Frey's Rocket.  No info, but it looks nice too.

Tom Martin's third Rocket flies

5-11-03: Tom's third Rocket!  Hey Tom, quit showing off.  Those of us who are still trying to finish our first Rocket are getting mad!  :-)  Vince

5-11-03:  F1 guys         I have a few more flights on the plane now, 8.0 hours total time.  I like the three blade Hartzell, it is smooth and quieter than my two blade.  On take off I feel that this prop pulls better than my two blade, this surprised me but this is the exact same prop that Bruce Bohannan uses, and he has tested a few. The only disadvantage that I can see over the two blade is the extra cost and the added weight.  The MT is lighter but a few more bucks; where does it end!     The Nav-aid that I installed is a beautiful thing, today I had to fiddle with the batteries in my GPS; flip on the wing leveler and change the batteries.  In my other plane this would have been a heads down, up, down, up kind of a job.     

At 180 indicated the control surfaces feel very much like the HRII, at 200 indicated the elevator is heavier in pitch and it does load up increasingly with speed.  This is not a bad thing, the HRII is probably a little too light in pitch.  In discussions with Kevin Horton he has given me some stick force parameters to check, and I will do this on both planes.  The elevator has more surface area than my RV8 tail on the HRII and my trailing edges on the F1 come to a point rather than the joggle.  The extra weight of the Hartzell on the front may also affect elevator feel.  It is much, much more solid though when it comes to holding altitude.  Also I do notice the extra elevator on final, this is a good thing as my flares can use all the help that I can get!     

I stalled the plane today, it indicated around 65mph clean.  A normal RV type stall.  I also rolled it for the first time today, yehaaa.  There is no little bump in the ailerons that you feel in the van's wing when you push the ailerons a bit, another pleasant surprise.    

The gear leg dampeners continue to do their job and I can see no apparent wear on the tires so far.  I have tightened up the big nuts on the top of the gear legs a couple of times. They should seat before too long.    

When I landed a friend pointed out one of my tail wheel chains needed attention.  The little spring clip had spread open.  It was my intention to install the Jantzi Steering Link like the one on my other plane but I had not yet done so.  I have just placed my order with Terry.    

And yes I have the two inch exhaust.  Mark tells me that it attracts women.  Unfortunately that has not yet been my experience although men seem to like the sound.  Perhaps Mark has a special edition.   Tom

A few details from Tom about the first flight:

Ok a few more details.  The plane is rock solid, a different feel than the HRII, not better, not worse, just different somehow.  It is similar in roll but a bit heavier in pitch.  I put this down to the larger elevator.  The electric elevator trim seems well matched to the elevator and the plane is easier to trim straight and level than my HRII with the manual trim.  I like the feel of the elevators. 

The three blade prop is quite similar to the two blade at 24 squared but smoother at the lower RPMs where I normally cruise.  It is a bit different seeing that three blade spin to a stop when you shut it down, and I am always hitting my head on the damn blades! (dumb canuck) 

I could not feel any shake or vibration in the gear at all. At this point I have not yet had an observer follow when I taxi to check it out for movement.  I appears that the wood dampeners that I added are doing their job. 

The plane needed to have a light wing tweaked and it looks like I need a rudder tab, but other than that it fly's straight. I do not have any speed #s at this time, nor will I until later in the test period.  It is sufficient to say that I now have both the first and second fastest planes in my area! not bad for a farmer eh?  Tom Martin

3-3-03: Here is a picture of my new plane #58 and Wes Kings' #54 in the shop on a cold winter day. Tom Martin

Tom Martin's first Rocket,
the  Oshkosh Award Winner

tommartinsHRII.jpg (117155 bytes)

"After I had flown many delightful hours in my RV4 I started to think of things that I would change if I was to build another one. A wider fuselage with more leg room for the passenger was a must and it would have to carry more baggage. My RV4 was fast, as fast as many, but when you get used to the speed you always want more so, of course, this new dream plane would have to have a larger engine. Above all the plane would not give up any of the flying qualities that made the RV4 a joy to fly.

It was then that I read an article about the Harmon Rocket. I could not believe that John had read my mind! The plans and parts were ordered and 17 months later I was in the air. The plane is pretty much stock and the flight numbers are exactly as John Harmon said they would be.

I have since sold the plane and am in the final stages of another Harmon Rocket. My last plane took me to Florida twice, Oshkosh three times, New York, New Orleans, Austin, Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, Montreal, Toronto and to too many small airports to mention. The power and range have opened up a whole new realm of flight for me and I can hardly wait to get my next bird in the air."  Tom Martin

Tom Martin's second Rocket

 B17 and rocket1.JPG (40922 bytes)    B17 and rocket2.JPG (56848 bytes)

Now owned by Dave Lind as of 4-20-05
The Memphis Belle, a B-17 WWII bomber is at a local airport for a wing AD.  This is the aircraft that the movie of the same name featured.  I took the opportunity to have Wes King (#54) to take some pictures of my rocket in front of the airplane.  Tom Martin

tom martins new HRII.jpg (112106 bytes) gfik_320.jpg (18286 bytes) gfik_320_2.jpg (18309 bytes) CGIFK.jpg (39296 bytes)

On my way to the paint shop I did some speed runs yesterday. I am going to do the same runs again after paint to see if there will be any difference.  All runs were done at a pressure altitude of 8000 feet, 2.1C. The maximum manifold pressure I could get was 21.8" at all rpm settings. This with the ram door open. Someone with charts could tell me but I am guessing that at this MP that 2500 rpm would be 75% power. All speeds were calculated using a GPS formula involving three speeds and three tracks. The results were pretty consistant

2500 rpm 200.5 knots 231 mph

2400 rpm 197 knots 227 mph

2300 rpm 195.2 knots 225 mph

2100 rpm 189.6 knots 218 mph

I only leaned at 2300 and 2100 rpm with fuel flows of 13 gph and 11.1 gph.  190 knots on eleven gallons is pretty cool!!!

Tom Martin

Here are some real world numbers for you to play with. This is the kind of Sunday morning flying that I do. I left St.Thomas, CYQS, climbed to 7500 feet, flew to Midland, CYEE 125.7 nm, left there and flew to Brampton CNC3, 55.4 nm, and returned to CYQS, 80.3 nm. The last two flights were at 4500 feet. Cruise settings were 23 inches and 2100 rpm. Cruise climbs are at 23 squared. Total time was 1.7 hours.  At 7500 feet I was indicating ground speeds of 180 knots in calm winds.  Fuel burns were 10.5 gph rich of peak. However when you take the traffic patterns and three take offs and landings into account the average speed dropped to 153 knots and the average fuel burn climbed to 12.4 gph. There is no time to do accurate leaning on 50 knot legs so burns are a bit higher, and average speeds take a kick when you include circuit time but that is what actually happens and should be taken into account when planning cross country flights in these planes. If your trips are over two hours in length plan for 180 knots and eleven gallons, if you are short hauling it, doing half hour flights, then 160 knots and 12.5 gallons. If you use these numbers for flight planning from wheels up to wheels down you will seldom be far off the mark in terms of time en route and you will be on the safe side of your fuel calculations. Tom Martin

Copied from Tom's "For Sale" ad on Ebay, 2-7-03: This new aircraft has only 165 hours since new. If you desire an aircraft that will blow the socks off all the spam cans at your airport this is the bird. People leave the coffee shop and come and look at the plane every place it goes. Red line speed is 270mph, and the 75% speed at 8000 feet is 230 mph. 500 to 600 nm cross country treks are possible in three hours with reserve. There is lots of storage room with a limit of 100 lbs, depending on passenger weight. The engine is a stock IO-540C4B5 Lycoming that was overhauled at a certified shop and has flow balanced brand new Lycoming cylinders. It bench tested 270hp. The empty weight is less than 1200 lbs, you do the math, 1200 lbs, 270hp, hmmmmm. The propeller is a new Hartzell and has a polished aluminum factory spinner. I built the plane, it is my third project. The first was a RV4, and the second another Harmon Rocket II. That plane won a workmanship award a Oshkosh 99 and the plane that I am selling is every bit as nice with some added features. Features like improved storage lockers, leather seats, full lighting, rear rudder pedals, and complete engine instrumentation with a VM1000 installed. The radios are new, SL40 Apollo com, 327 Garmin transponder, PS501 intercom, Garmin 295 color moving map and the standard flight instruments. There is no vacuum system installed but the panel is cut to accept flight gyros if required. This aircraft must sell as I have built another one and it will be ready for flight this spring.
This aircraft is 10 inside and out. The base color is a 2000 BMW metal flake silver, trimmed with a beautiful blue and black highlights. The paint is immaculate. The registration letters are decals and are easily removed. The transfer of registry from Canada to the US is well documented.

3-03-04: Well I finally got rid of enough snow to enable me to get off the grass strip today and test the MT prop. I like it, I like it a lot. As many of you know I had a two blade Hartzell on this HRII before and a three blade Hartzell on the F1. With the two blade there was this annoying “thump” in the airplane, enough that my lower instrument panel used to vibrate and passengers could see my wing tips move. This is now gone! The prop spools up faster and when you push the throttle forward the plane accelerates noticeably faster than with the two blade. Also the plane is much quieter; I noticed this, as did a friend on the ground. It feels like a turbine, the way is speeds up and sounds.

With low ceilings and no wheel pants I have no idea regarding any changes in top speed. I would gladly give up some top speed to achieve the smoothness that I feel with this prop. I was very happy with the three blade Hartzell; it was not quite as smooth but pulled at least as well as this MT. The main disadvantage with the three blade Hartzell is the added weight. This is still acceptable on the F1 but not on my HRII, due to the aft location of the main wheels on the HRII. This particular MT prop is the aerobatic model and it is kind of cool how it starts. The blades fail in the coarse position and until you have enough oil pressure to cycle the prop they stay that way, sort of lugging the engine for a few seconds until you see/feel the blade angle change. Then it smoothes right out, way cool….

If someone was working on a fixed budget when building a new Rocket I would recommend cutting corners on the panel and going with the MT.  Tom Martin

Tom Gummo's HRII

4-12-03:  I bugged Tom Gummo, AKA "Gummibear," for a few pics of what he describes as the "World's Slowest Rocket."  Ha Ha!  He's funny.  I'm flying a Stinson at 100 knots and he's complaining about a Rocket that only goes more than twice as fast!! 

Tom tells me that he has a stock 250 HP 540 powering his plane.  He says he can't stand to quit flying it long enough to paint it.  The pictures show it prior to its  first flight. It now has fairings but still is not painted - Gas or Paint?  Tom says "Gas wins every time."

Test pilot (to make the insurance company happy), Jim, is in the Rocket with happy builder (because it's finished!), Tom standing in front of the plane.  Tom's friend, John Starn, AKA "Kabong," helped Tom buck rivets and bend tin, but I don't have a picture of him.


Dennis Hackbarth's HRII

4-12-03:  I finally got a few pics of Dennis's Rocket while at Greencastle, IN last Saturday. This was one of the first Rockets that I ever saw.  IIRC, it was in front of Mark Frederick's tent at Oshkosh several years ago.  It made me go ga-ga for one of these machines.  I knew I had to have one.  What a beautiful paint scheme.

Fred Weaver's HRII

Update 3-7-03:  It flies!

2-28-03:  The Rocket  is simply a joy to fly. Plenty of power. The plane flies so nice and straight. Almost no trim required in lateral/roll... Visibility out of the Rocket is unbelievable. I feel like a F16 pilot. Take off and landing are very straight forward and just like RV4. No problems with shimmy at all (yet).   Rockets are winners!  Here is what I can say for sure..... You are going to be very happy with it.

I have been reading your upholstery stuff and at this point, I'm pretty sure I will be doing my own thing. There is a local gal that wants to help select colors and I'm all for it.

I've also learned a lot about engines.  I'm sure a person can build up an economical 540 that will work just fine. However, my experience with PowerSport Engines/Bart LeBlond is just so good. My cylinders are so identical across the spectrum. I am so happy with those guys, I would recommend them in a heartbeat.

Keep on building.  Weav

Update 2-19-03:  Electronic ignition and number six CHT fine, the problem was oil on the lower spark plugs. Now the Lycoming 540 runs great, smooth all the way to full power. Rpm drop on magneto 150, rpm drop on electronic ignition 30. No leaks of any kind and a really fun airplane to fly, RV grin ++.

2-19-03:  It flies! Fred flew his Rocket this morning 2-19-03 at 8:am PST for a little over an hour. The Rocket flew great. Needs a little work on the electronic ignition, runs rough at full power. CHT on number six (next to the oil cooler) was running hot and oil temps went hot during slow flight. Fred reports that it flies great and is a tight flying airplane with only a little right rudder needed.    Luc

2-11-03: Just some pics to show you where we are at this morning.  Engine run and prop cycle after lunch. Inspection Thursday. Flying Friday.

Sure looks homely without the pants on. Really looks good with the cowl and the pants.  It weighs 1168 pounds.  580 on the left main, 567 on the right main and 21 on the tailwheel.  Talk to you later, Fred Weaver

2-12-03:  Ok guys.... N686X is almost ready to fly. Today I need to tidy up some wiring and fire up the radios, bolt in the seat belts (front seat only), calibrate the fuel gauges, and find something like a seat to sit on. The engine ran fine and prop cycled good also. The airplane weighs 1168 pounds and has an IO-540 D4A5 for power. Good oil pressure throughout the rpm range.

  3-23-04:  Here's a few pics from Fred Weaver's recent flight.  I'm so jealous.  Vince


Jim Cash's F-1 Rocket next to Chuck McCurry's new F-1


Guys, for those thinking of using the new TruTrak wing leveler, you can see the 21/4'' head on this panel.  Also, on the left is Van's deluxe throttle quadrant which I like better than Mark's expensive one.  On the right is the EXP Bus II that we have been talking about.  Jim


Bobby Hester's F-1 Rocket

Here's a few pics of Bobby Hester's Rocket sent to me.  Looks great.

Bob Marshall's F-1 Rocket

I don't have any info on Bob's plane, just a couple pics shamelessly ripped from the Matronics site.  Sure looks nice!

Brian McMullan's HRII

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As you can see the finishing touches are still required, hopefully soon. 

My first project was a non-flying Mustang II, purchased in 1982. Fixed and flown for 14 years, then totally rebuilt in 1994.  It was an Oshkosh 1995 award winner and Hamilton Grand Champion.  Gord Baxter, an avid RVer, said "Now what?" and the Mustang was sold and a Rocket started Oct. 31, 1996.  

The Rocket project was built in a single car garage in Guelph and assembled in a friends hangar,  Garry Wolf CYKF, and now is in the same hangar as Terry Jantzi.  Thanks also to Tom Martin, who forged the way with his first red Rocket.   Tom helped by answering many questions and allowing me to take tons of pics.  Mark Frederick's sliding canopy was used.

First flight was April 13, 2000, EXCITING, right wing heavy.... a little tab fixed that.  And thanks to John Harmon, who I suspect is just getting his sanity back.   Sure, I made a few mistakes.   I just made it right and chalked it up to the experience of my first building project.  The next one will be easier, right?  

When stripes and paint are finished I will send more pics.  
Brian Mc Mullan  Retired living on Roblin Lake  Ameliasburgh Ontario Canada KOK1AO

Jim Cash's F-1 Rocket

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Greg, I am leaving for Texas for about three weeks, but upon return I will try and duplicate your conditions. I takeoff here at 3000' MSL and it will be somewhat colder, so there will be some differences. Overall, your numbers sound exactly the same as mine. I do run two mags as opposed to the electronic ignitions. Otherwise, our engines should be the same. On the dyno my engine showed a bit less than 300 HP.

A couple of numbers that I recall on my last trip to Texas look like this: (10.5K' and OAT around 50 degrees)

18''MP/2200 RPM/9.7 GPH----185 KTS TAS

19''MP/2200RPM/10.7 GPH----195 KTS TAS

21'' MP/2300 RPM/11.7 GPH---208 KTS TAS

The fuel flow goes up quickly with RPM increase and with marginal increase in airspeed. I was mainly interested here with economy cruise settings. As you will note on future cross countries, it doesn't take much to get the airplane past 180 KTS. But, it takes fuel to go fast. My response to someone who recently asked how fast the F-1 would go was, "depends on who is paying for the gas."

On a cold day (40 F) and 4500' at 25 square I will indicate around 235 MPH. That varies a bunch. On a real cold day that will go up between 240 and 250MPH IAS. On a hot day in Texas that will go down to 225 IAS. At sea level in Texas on a cool day, it hauls ass--- close to 250 MPH indicated and an initial climb rate of almost 4000FPM(on the pull it actually will exceed that)---that rate decreases fairly quickly as you climb though.

I have a couple of friends up here that love Glasair 3s and want to compare them with the Rocket. You guys will get that if you haven't already. Here is my answer. First, I don't like retractable gear in these small light aircraft. I flew real retracts that cost upward to $50M for 30 years and had too many problems with them. The good part was that Uncle Sam paid the bill when we could not get them down. I do really like carbon composite F-16 type aircraft, but not fiberglass airframes---had lots of boats and don't like the hairline cracks. I have also experienced several lightning strikes, and you wouldn't want one of those in a Glasair. I hear all kind of high numbers from these guys, but they are burning 16-18 GPH. There is not that much difference if we are willing to burn that much fuel. How-some-ever, here is the biggee---one of these friends just did the weight-and-balance on his new Glasair 2---1450 pounds with a 180 HP engine. Can't wait to fly some formation with this cat.

Of course its all in fun, but Van describes it best. If he wanted to break speed records he would certainly have designed a different wing. This airplane is designed to do everything very well, but nothing "better than all the rest"---sounds like the old F-4 Fighter (Big Ugly), huh, Greg. The stall is reasonable and the max speed is reasonable giving a very respectable ratio of over 4 to 1. You won't outrun a Glasair 3, but you might out climb him---and you are all metal.

See, I can even bore you guys. It gets interesting when an RV-8 type walks up to the Black Airplane singing the 8s praises. Mark has witnessed my uncontrolled response to that. The best one is simply, "Let's go fly."  Jim Cash

A little story from Jim for a few belly laughs:

F-1 Rocket’s TP Mission

My name is Cash.  Jim Cash.  I am a pilot.  An F-1 Pilot.  The names in this story have been changed to protect---.  I can't remember, but they were changed to protect something.  Give me a break.  I'm 63 years old. 

The mission (and I chose to accept it) was planned with one purpose in mind.  That single-minded purpose was to attack the Ball Bearing Factory located at Muleshoe, Montana, the most heavily defended city in Montana.  This factory is known to produce parts for the assembly of the rollover prone, gas-guzzling vehicle we call "The SUV".  You know, the one Bill O'Reilly talks about excessively every night on “The Factor".  We have high hopes that a single, high-angle, dive bomb pass, delivering numerous rolls of high-grade toilet paper (TP) will slow the production of this massively destructive vehicle.  This is my story.  You, the readers, have no choice.  I will take you on this mission of massive mercy. 

In our opinion the only vehicle capable of successfully penetrating the Muleshoe defense is the new, state-of-the-art, Team Rocket, F-1.  I'm a Pilot, an F-1 Pilot, and I know.  Let me be clear about this. Details describing the reasons for selecting the F-1 will be made available later in this Operations Order. 

Takeoff is early, immediately following an afternoon nap, on Tuesday.  The enemy will never expect an afternoon attack on Tuesday---in mid afternoon.

 A showmanship takeoff is executed from Glacier Airport.  The gathered crowd witnesses a rotation to 40-degrees nose high during takeoff, which yields a 5000+ feet per minute (FPM) rate of climb.  Just before the F-1 goes into deep stall, the nose is rapidly lowered.  Maybe 3000 FPM would have been better.  A rapid climb to 10K’ above ground level (AGL) ensues, and economy cruise is set at 190 knots and 10.5 gallons per hour (GPH).  The F-1 will go faster, but speed to the target area is not a factor.  Survival is paramount on this mission.  With 116 F-1s under construction, only 14 are currently flying.  It's a National Treasure, and we must bring it home safely.

 Five miles from the target area, we begin our descent at 250 MPH indicated airspeed.  The max speed of the F-1 is calculated to be 275 MPH, but we want to hold some in reserve, just in case.   We descend to 300' AGL, and maintain 250MPH, looking feverishly for the pop point, but, cripes, where are my glasses.  There it is.  It’s a point 1/2 mile from the Ball Bearings.  We are over it, I start the pull, up, up, 2000' and 60 MPH, pull the nose down, down, 45-degrees nose low,  put the pipper well below the Ball Bearings, tracking, tracking, ready-ready, PICKLE, TP awaaaay.  Now, pull, 2-3-4"G", jink right, jink left, Oh the dreaded ground fire! Marlon was right---"The Horror, The Horror".  Speed,  we need more speed, let the big dog bark (IO-540/300Hp/10-1 pistons).  We must exit the target area before anyone reads the writing on my nose (BLACKJACK/the first F-1 to fly), and see the Blazing Black color of the afternoon fighter (Solid glossy black and proud of it).  We are going to make it.  Yes, we are out of the five mile, heavy defended target zone, we are going home!!!

 The US Air Force has its Weapons School, the Navy its TOP Gun, and Mark Frederick has his TP GUN. 

Now a controlled climb at 2500 FPM back to cruise altitude is begun.  Entering the traffic pattern at 100 MPH this machine feels light and agile, just like my RV-4 and RV-6, yet the power, Oh the POWER!  On final at 90 MPH  I feel good.  I know that I am 30 MPH above the nearest stall, and the machine is stable.  Touchdown is pretty smooth for a 63 year old.  A little dribble, but that is normal.

  We taxi in knowing full well that the SUV industry is alive and well (cripes, I own two of them), and the good people of Muleshoe were not only entertained by the Black Phantom, but they also appear to be throwing away all those old Sears/Roebuck catalogs in favor of some new, white, softer paper product that fell from the sky on Tuesday afternoon (after a long nap).  It is well known that from that day forward the life style and standard of living showed major improvement in Muleshoe.  The people smiled more, the divorce rate declined---well, that's another story.

Greg Nelson's F-1 Rocket First Flight Report

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5/19/03:  I made the switch this weekend from my Hartzell 2 blade to the MT 3 blade and have performed some initial performance comparisons. I have accurately and repeatably documented my 2 blades performance at 10,000 feet, full throttle and 2100 RPM leaned 50 rich of peak. What I had at 10K was MP 21.3 WOT, 2100 RPM, 11.7 GPH , and 204-205 knots.

With the 3 blade MT I now have MP 21.3 WOT, 2100 RPM, 11.7 GPH, and 200-201knots. I think I can confidently say the MT is slower in cruise by about 3-5 knots.  Also acceleration on takeoff, while still breathtaking, is not as strong as before. This is just a subjective comment done by feel. Climb rate seems about the same, but who knows, I just know it still puts the RV-8s to shame. Deceleration actually seems better with the MT, possibly because it is flattening out more. I like deceleration as much I like to go fast.

Now for the really good news. I'll just sum it up with two words, VERY SMOOTH. Its like a different airplane, I think I put an electric motor on the front. It is smooth across the power band, exactly what I was looking for.

The MT 3 blade spinner is approximately 3/16 closer to the cowl than the 2 blade spinner, but thankfully I set my spinner gape at about 3/8 to the 2 blade spinner, so my gap is now about half what it was but it looks real good, maybe even better. The new MT spinner complements the lines of the aircraft nicely, very similar to the Hartzell spinner in shape. This was a bolt off, bolt on mode, very simple.

Thanks Mark for making it all possible.   Greg Nelson N144X

12-2001: I've been one busy guy, but not too busy to get the first flight off on my new Rocket.  I had some initial trouble during taxi testing with wheel shimmy. More to follow on that issue, but I was able to "cover it up" by running only 25 PSI in the tires. What exactly is causing the shimmy has not been determined yet and I'm keeping Mark apprised of what I'm doing. By the way after the first taxi test with shimmy, I found the upper nut on the gear legs loose, both sides. I think it is very important to check the nuts often at first as things are still moving and settling in.  In the mean time, it was time to fly, so with 25 PSI to damp out the shimmy I made ready for the first flight on December 30, 2001.

John Harmon was there in the morning to see the flight, but weather was not cooperative until later in the day, and John had other things to do, but it was very nice of him to come up. 

Turbo Ted Rutherford, with his HRII provided chase for the first flight. I launched Ted first, had him go to 1500 over the field, then did my run up checks and took the runway. The engine had never been run up to full power, so initial power application was very slow, as I did not know what the governor would do. The plane accelerated rapidly, I got the tail up, still pushing the throttle up, and bam, I'm airborne and accelerating rapidly. Nose up and still pushing the throttle up, I finally reach full throttle, the governor is adjusted perfectly from the factory (This is the nice little unit that Mark is selling) giving me 2710 RPM. I climbed at full throttle and RPM for a couple thousand feet, circling up over the field and much to my relief all the gauges are in the green and the engine is making good power. Turbo tries to catch up, even with his altitude advantage and cut off, he has trouble gaining on me. I pull the RPM back to 2500, then 2400, then 2300 and then Turbo reports he is gaining. We climb side be side for a bit, No leaks out the bottom, no problems to report. We compare full throttle manifold pressure, and I was exactly one inch higher, so that air scoop works good, and Ted has a filter bypass on his Rocket for direct ram air. The engine ran very smooth, and cooling was not a problem on this first flight. I saw cyl 5 and 6 running the hottest, Max for the flight was 410, most of the time in the climb I saw about 380, and they came right down to 330 or so at more normal power settings and speeds. Oil cooling might be a bit too cool, never really hitting 180, usually seeing 160-170. I have the new Posi tech cooler, so it seems to have done the trick. (Cyl cooling on subsequent flights are even better, about 375-380 in climb, and 320-330 with some speed. I have not really played with leaning the engine yet, but on one brief test the cyl temps did come up with leaning.)

The airspeed indicator failed about this time, and so I had Ted lead me for a couple stalls and then into the pattern for the landing.  I now have 4 flights and 2 hours flight time, all of that dedicated to basic airframe and systems testing. Everything is working as I would expect, except for a bad airspeed indicator, that took the first three flight to figure out. That resulted in three no airspeed landings!! Not the sort a thing you need with a "new to you" airplane, but the Rocket handled it with ease. There is adequate stall warning, both with and without flaps, and the aircraft is very longitudinally stable (airspeed stable) at final approach speeds. I was able to trim hands off all the way to approach speed (I have a stock RV-4 tail and trim.) I set yaw trim at high speed and did not touch it for landing and it was centered after the flight. I offset my vertical LE, just a smidgeon to the left, just to make sure it wasn't to the right. That appears to have worked.

I have an aircraft that is just slightly right wing heavy, but it will be easily fixed with the squeezing of the trailing edge game.

Overall the flight characteristics can be summarized with very light and responsive ailerons (every bit as good as the T-38 I fly), coupled with a very light and sensitive rudder. Pitch forces are a bit on the heavy side, with fairly high stick force per G, compared with the other axis.  This makes for a very pleasant flying aircraft that will put up with ham fisted pilots quite well.

With the airspeed indicator failing every time I hit 140KIAS I do not have any good numbers for speed, and I have not done any performance testing yet anyway. I did see over 205 KIAS at 6,500 and about 230 knots on the GPS, on the fourth flight with a good airspeed indicator, but that is very preliminary. I also saw close to 4000 FPM on initial climb (solo, half fuel load) so there is no question that the performance is going to be as advertised or better.

That pesky little thing known as a job is getting in the way of more flights, but it does pay the bills. I'll keep the list posted once I have more. In the mean time keep building, it is so, so worth it.  Do something on it every day, anything.

Thank you John and thank you Mark for designing an outstanding aircraft.

Greg Nelson (X-Ray)  F-1 #8

Martin Heisler's HRII

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I built a Rocket, s/n #30, slow build.  I built mine in 10 months.  It was probably the lowest h.p. one built yet.  I used a 0-540 , 235 hp , low compression pistons , for auto fuel use.  

The project went fast as I worked on it almost every day, all day.  I also had experience building other aircraft for myself and for others.   It was still about 2000 hours to build from a basic RV and Harmon kits.  I used an O-540 with a  carb and had to modify the bottom cowl to fit.  I would use the injection in the future , the cowl lines are much cleaner.   With the 235 hp I cruised a couple thousand miles to Alabama with ground speeds on the GPS showing between 195-202 kts , in calm conditions at 6-10,000 ft .

This was a great plane and I wish I had it back.  I may build another and if I do I will buy some used RV kits from others and Harmons parts.  I would like to use a flat spring gear like the Cessna type instead , if possible.  I would also use the flip over canopy , enlarge the fuel tanks as well.  Here are a few picsof mine.   I sold it quite a few years ago to a guy in Alabama . I flew it down to him from Canada.  Martin Heisler

Harry Paine's HRII

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After six long years working full time in five different states, moving out of a house we had lived in for 15 years and still married, N266HP flew.  Thanks to Jim Coelo in N77RF who flew chase and to Oscar Grassle observer. No smoke, no fire, and no missing parts!!!  Controls were excellent, however, it was left wing heavy so I have some tweaking to do.  It was 95 F at 3,000! Very rare for the California coast. My temp on CHT averaged about 400 and stabilized.  However, oil temp shot up to 240 so I cut the flight a little short.   Jim's oil temp was 225 so it wasn't just my airplane running hot.  Empty wt 1228 lbs IFR & night equipped.  I walked away from the landing and I can still use the airplane again so that's a Darn Good Landing!!!!!   Harry

The last photo shows Oscar Grassle, Jim Coehlo and Harry Paine.

Here is one picture collage I did from Gulkana, Alaska. The two guys in front of the damn good airplane, DGA-15 Howard, are my son (tall blond guy) and Lynn Ellis, owner of Ellis air service who gave us a flight seeing ride in the Howard over Wrangell national park. It was spectacular!        Harry

The short version: Totals 33 Hrs 350 gals of fuel 5 qts oil approx 6300 miles fantastic trip fantastic airplane and would do it again!

The long version:  266hp trip to Alaska.

Having wanted to fly to Alaska for the last ten years I finally decided to do it! I thought it would be cool to fly with other people so I advertised on the rocket list and some other places and some guys were ready to go, but they all bailed on me so I decided to go on my own. I asked my 25yr old son Matt to go with me and he said "sure pops." We set the date to leave on August 23rd and return on Sept 1st or 2nd. It would be mainly a sightseeing & hiking trip & maybe some fishing. No camping because there is absolutely no room for any gear if you fly with two people.

To fly to Alaska is not like flying to Oshkosh. In order to legally fly there you are supposed to carry enough food & water for two weeks, survival gear that includes a flare gun, knives, hatchet, fishing gear, medical kit for two people, Big rifles, etc. etc. Yeah right!!! Plus about 15lbs of flight gear. Hmm I have Harmon rocket not Cessna 210 truck! It also cost $50.00 for the privilege of carrying a gun in Canada. Quick weight & balance & space available says it ain't gonna happen. I called my friend up in Alaska and asked him what I really needed to have and that's what I did minus the gun. All said & weighed I had about 85lbs of baggage dispersed in every nook I could find in the airplane. Fortunately my 6'1' son only weights in at 160 and I am 170 so we were okay weight & balance wise but at the big line of maximum aft a cg. (I would come to appreciate this more later!)

In preparation to this trip I made a shakedown run to Bryce Canyon, and Grand Canyon. There were some problems with my Navaid wing leveler so I sent it back to them and they fixed it and sent it right back. I was curious to see what kind of a fuel burn I would have at low power settings and what type of airspeed to expect. I flew most of the 4hrs at 9500-10500 ASL at 20"MP 2200 RPM averaging between 11.5- 12.3 GPH at 170-175 knots which would give me about 3.5hrs flying time. That's about 1 hr longer than my butt can stand in one sitting, my son seconds that! Using these numbers I started to plan the trip loosely using 2 -2.7 hour legs.

Day One

Took off from French Valley Airport Ca F70 11:30 A.M.. Arrived in San Luis Obispo to pickup son at 12:45, made nice landing. Put son & his baggage in and took off for Grants Pass Ore. cruised @ 10,500 nice flight till Oregon border then lots of smoke just like a bad day in LA basin only blue in color. First time I have flown up there and never saw Mt Shasta 14,000ft.. Last I heard the Biscuit fire & others had burned approx 500,000 acres! Got beat up bad over the siskiyous and made three landings at Grants Pass. Hmm airplane really lands different at max gross and aft CG. Filled up with 29 gallons of $2.20 gas after flying 454 nm 2.7 hrs. No place to eat so we get the proverbial vending machine food and blast off to Lynden Washington. Lynden is small Dutch town with a small 2500 ft runway and 50' trees at one end. I make one good landing and called our host for a ride into town. We stayed at a very nice bed & breakfast and eat a huge meal at Dutch Mothers. I am pooped after flying 6 hours so we just hang out at the B&B and go to bed.

Day Two

Lynden is four miles from the Canadian Border so once you take off you are in the pattern of Abbotsford where you check into customs. We made a long 3 minute trip to Abbotsford and landed there about 10:30am. Customs man was very curt and abrupt with no smiles but allowed us to proceed after a brief interrogation about what when how where and how much time we were going to spend in his country. Departed about 11:00am for Prince George after filing mandatory flight plan. Flew up Frazier river canyon about 8500 beautiful areas till you pass 100 mile house then it gets kind of flat. Arrive in Prince George about 2.5 hrs later and make one landing sort of. My rear seater is starting to grade my landings.

From Prince George you have three routes available to get up to Alaska. One is called the Cassair closer to the coast and subject to more storm track type weather and was low clouds & rain. Two is called the TRENCH 400 miles of nothing down a narrow valley with no fuel stops. I'm not ready for that yet so It was never a consideration. Three is the Alaskan Hiway by way of Ft Nelson. Weather is reported to be good on this one so its number 3. We blast off about 2:30. Rear seater is making noises about no food, we didn't refuel at the restaurant and had vending food? Instead. We arrive in Ft Nelson around 5:00 get reprimanded by tower guy who said I didn't call five miles out, which I did. I'm getting old & crotchety so when we landed I gave him a piece of my mind about his lack of traffic and failure to reply on my first call 20 miles out.

He backed of a little bit and said he didn't hear me. Rear seater is talking to gas man who says yeah there is some extra food in the refrigerator in the pilots lounge Matt disappears into pilots lounge comes back about ten minutes later with smile & crumbs on face. Gassed up rocket and co-pilot and headed for Whitehorse Yukon. Took off 5:15PM it was about 90 F and clear blue but that would change. We took an airway out of Ft nelson that leads to Watson lake but does not follow the highway for about 150 miles I didn't think much about this till I noticed two things one being there was absolutely no civilization below us at all. Having suffered engine failures in other aircraft this was not a good feeling. Number two is ceiling keeps getting lower and mountains are being obscured. I tell Matt we are altering course to fly over the hiway we overfly the Laird river and I look at the chart and notice name of rapids below us is " Rapids of the Drowned" HMMM. Maybe another reason to get back over the Hiway!

Ceiling is still lowering and light rain is now falling we are right over the highway flying between mountain passes when ceiling stops lowering about 1500 AGL. As we get close to Watson lake it starts pouring hard. This is the first real test of rain in the airplane. ( it hasn't rained in southern California for about 9 months) Matt complained about water on his neck and I see water coming in through right hand front corner of canopy where it is real hard to seal. I stuff rag in spot and water stops coming in. It stops raining hard and just rains lightly for about 100 more miles as we follow the winding Alcan making our trip longer, but more relaxed. I told Matt the hiway was my friend in case of a problem. One bush pilot told me when flying a cub with big tanks for six hours he had to pee right now so he landed on the highway watered some tress and took off again! .

We arrive in Whitehorse Yukon 8:00PM still very light out, sunset isn't till about 9:00 pm. I open the canopy and a cold 50 F breeze hits me in the face! Wow 30 F difference in 2.5 hours. Everything is closed except the tower and he recommends motel across the street which has caf rear seater smiles. I haven't eaten since morning in Washington but am not too hungry just pretty darn pooped out. Flew about 7 hrs 1300 miles today and was a little tense on last leg so I rest for a while before dinner and have a beer.

Day Three Four Five

Plan on flying to Alaska Sunday morning and staying up there for a few days. Go over to nav Canada office that has complete weather information and it doesn't look good at all. I gas the plane up and the guy says where are you staying? I said across the street and he says why don't you stay at our pilots hotel? Its cheaper! The room is fine for us and I can see 266HP from the window so it works out great. We check out of the fancy motel & into the pilots roost. I call my friend Lynn Ellis who owns a flight service in Gulkana AK and he says its raining and don't bother coming today. While taking to the flight briefer he says hey why don't you rent a car and drive to Skagway Alaska, it a beautiful drive and has lots of lakes & rivers. Hmmm I'll get to Alaska if I have to fly or drive.

We rent the car and have a great time. Skagway has lots of little tourist type shops, and fishing boat charters if you want. There is also a narrow gauge railway that runs during the summer. We drive back that night and plan on going to Alaska next day. Monday morning is scattered to broken with multiple layers and Lynn says its VFR we can see blue sky so we take off hoping that Northway Ak our customs point of entry will be VFR. On the way up we decided to make a detour to flight see Kashkawulsh glacier, it is one of the largest in Canada and can only be seen from the air unless you hike in a long ways. I call flight service and tell them my intentions and he say fine and we fly over an awesome sight where two glacier collide together. After a 20 minute side trip we head back to our original course contact FSS on 126.7and find out that Northway is still reporting 500 broken and 5 miles. I didn't want to deal with that type of weather so we Land at Beaver Creek Canada, a nice gravel strip and I make a nice soft field landing. They actually have a little tower there and the lady was real friendly and let us know about when the weather in Northway went VFR. After about 1 hr delay we continue up to Alaska! Land at Northway about 1:30 check into custom pay $25.00 for ?? and fill up with gas @ $2.95/gal yikes!

We blast off for Gulkana about 45 minutes away and again make some low level cloud pass detours but arrive in Gulkana about 2:15 but hey we crossed a time change so its now 1:15 Alaska time. Cool because Lynn cannot meet with us till 2:00 PM when his paying flight seeing tour is done. Lynn returns from his flight seeing tour and comes over and shake hands and asks if were ready for a ride in his pride and joy a "1943 Damn Good Airplane -15 " otherwise known as a Howard DGA-15 N681CF Ser. # 909 E/W 2767 Lbs. Gross Weight 4500 Lbs. Total fuel 118 Gal. Useful Load with full fuel 1025 lbs. It is a beautiful restoration that he has for a while be doesn't fly as much as he would like. I had once considered buying one of these beautiful airplanes before I built the rocket and there were five people in the Paine House. So I asked to get a ride in one once we got up there and I was to give him a rocket ride. He has the Howard all set to go and he does a preflight and we get in and it like climbing into a big tall airplane. He talks a lot about the big PW985 up front and the proper care and feeding of one and says you really don't want to get moving until all the temps are in the green. Those of us who whine about the lack of visibility in our rockets in three point don't have a clue about what bad visibility is. In the Howard you have a real good view of the instrument panel and out the side window which is a cool roll down hand crank affair. Taxing out we made S turns all the way. Runup looks good and we take the runway and 450 horses wake up and the runway becomes visible as the tail comes up and we are on our way up about 1000 fpm at 130 mph pretty good for a 3900lb airplane made in 1943! At this power setting were burning about 35 gph but Lynn backs off on the power and we do a cruise climb about 800 fpm and 120 at around 25gph at 1900RPM!

These old engine run high MP and low rpm and its pretty quiet inside. Once in the air visibility is good over the nose and sideways. We fly towards Wrangel-Elias National Park and have a blast in the Howard it just sort of lumbers along and for a 3900lb airplane is fairly responsive. It has one peculiar quirk being when you start a turn it doesn't stop turning with neutral aileron it will just keep on rolling over.... Instead of neutralizing a turn with aileron you pull back on the yoke! Lynn said the reason for this peculiar behavior is the Howard has no dihedral in the wing. Benny Howard did this for one reason to go faster!

We fly over some beautiful mountains and glaciers. Down in the valley the colors are starting to turn because it is considered fall now in Alaska. Lynn points out that Mt Wrangel is an active volcano and you can actually see some steam rising from it. He said the park service doesn't allow mining in the park anymore and that was his main source of income for along time flying miners in & out of otherwise unreachable areas. On the way back out over some of the mountains at about 500 ft AGL he shows us what he calls the locals answer to the park service it is a piece of solid rock about 100 ft high about 20ft in dia and arranged in such a way that it looks like a perfect one finger salute! The locals call it "The Finger." We drop down even lower and look for caribou or moose. After looking in the spots Lynn usually sees game and seeing none he remarked that the park service has over protected the predators and they have depleted the game. Once out of the mountains he hands the controls over to me and I play around a little bit and realize this is big airplane cruising along at around 140 -150 mph and 1800 rpm was great.

We head back to Gulkana and I give the controls back to him and he says that the Howard is tricky to land and no two landings are alike and I said" yea the rocket when loaded up is the same way." Of course he does a squeaker. Unfortunately he has another paying customer at 4:00 and it is now 3:45 so he can't take a rocket ride. The weather is supposed to go IFR with rain & low clouds tonight and stay that way for three days. We say our good byes and Lynn says now that I know the way up here bring your buddies with you next time. We tank up and blast off around 4:30 and head back the way we came land 2.5 hrs later at Whitehorse at 8:00 PM local. Matt had wanted to take a shortcut over the mountains thru the glaciers but a guy did that about a year ago in an Piper Arrow and they never have seen him again.

We would have had to fly VFR on top and that is illegal in Canada. You have to file IFR if you want to fly on top of clouds, We check in with customs again and then check tomorrow's forecast and the lady says that systems we were running from is coming in with rain off & on all day. we decide to not go to Dawson Creek an just tour downtown Whitehorse and maybe do some fishing. Next day is cloudy and rainy and we take our time going downtown. Fishing doesn't sound to good as only two salmon were counted in the fish ladder the day before and we can't find a place to rent any gear. (we didn't take any because of the space limitations) That Night we see the Frantic Follies a vaudeville act that is very well know up north of the 60 parallel. We had a good laugh and went to bed that night ready to say good bye to Alaska and the Yukon. The weather lady has told us Wednesday would be a good day to get out of dodge.

Day Six

We get up early next morning and its kind of ugly but four other planes all have same Idea. Two are piper cub with huge tanks under their belly so they can fly about 8 hrs! One is a Cessna 172 and one is a Cessna 182 and one is a Harmon rocket. I meet with all the pilots and we agree on a common frequency to talk on and all agree to take the TRENCH back down toward Prince George. Weather lady gives us a good pilot report from the trench except for a 20kt headwind so we blast off for Watson lake. We land to refuel airplane and copilot (I finally realize they both need refueling after 2.5hs between stops.) We taxi to gas pit and the guy say's sorry you can't get any gas! I Says What? He says well you can get gas if you hand over the keys you forgot to turn in at the motel!! All of us did that! I guess we were in such aa hurry to leave we forgot about the keys.

We get gassed up and I put in some way points in the GPS that aren't on the map but are on a nice handout about the trench that Flight Service gave us. Turns out there are quite a few strips to land at if you do have a problem but they are rough. I lead the pack first and cruise at 5500 agl at 20" and 2200 we show 150kt gs ugh ! I do quick calculation and tell Matt we aren't gonna make Prince George because the headwind is 25-30 knots plus it is beating us up fairly good but I turn on the Nav Aid and it handles the turbulence really good. I talk to Bill in the Cessna 172 for about hr and then I get out of range but everyone seems to have enough gas to make Mackenzie BC a town on the Williston lake that will knock off about 100 miles. It take about 21/2 hours to make Mackenzie and it was flying over some of the most remote territory of the whole trip. But hey we saved about 150 miles and got to sweat bullets about fuel but when I landed in we only took 29 gals so hey I hand another hour easy but darn it seemed like forever on that leg. We ask the FBO who has the most reasonable motel and that's where we went. We refueled our tired bodies and went back to the motel and their was Bill !! He had made it down just fine and was pooped too.

Williston Lake is about 200 miles long with no boats in it, but thats another story.

You may have noticed I haven't said anything about the bugs. That because there were none that bugged us. I got my first mosquito bite of the trip in McKenzie and more in Golden. But I was pleasantly surprised never having to break out the 100% DEET that was bought just for this trip.

Day 7,8,9

Up early but not bright as there is some ground fog and then multilayered clouds up to 20,000. We get all packed up and wait Bill is still in bed and we think of doing the same thing but after an hour it burns off to about 500 broken and I see some blue sky over the runway so we blast off about 9:30 am and head down the Trench again to Golden BC a small town outside of Banff national park. Its about two hours 400 miles right down the center of the Canadian Rockies with breathtaking views. The trench on this portion is narrower with a more dramatic valley bottom to mountaintop with glaciers, waterfalls, cascades, flowing into a verdant green river & mountain lake valleys. It is impossible to fly straight to Golden withou making some detours and get some closer looks at these sights. It is really a flight seeing paradise and makes you appreciate God's handiwork.. Unfortunately the pictures don't do the sights justice.

We arrive in Golden BC about 12:00 and I can't believe I have to take off my jacket first time in 6 days. It's a beautiful sunny day and we are antsy to go to the national parks. I refuel the airplane and there is no card swipe for the credit card, there is just a book to put your name in and card number, Wow what a concept. There was a phone number to call after you fill up and I did so. A pleasant guy by the name of Greg Swanson shows up and comment on what a beautiful plane I'm flying. He made instant Points!

We started talking about planes and it turns out he has had a piper cub and now flys cessna 172XP with 195HP. I asked him where we could stay in town and he says why not at my motel! (Big Bend Hotel) It's the cheapest in town! Wow twist my arm. I wasn't able to get a car rental reservation ahead of time but I thot it wouldn't be a problem... wrong no cars in town at all. I asked Greg if he knew on anyone who would rent a car he said no. Then I got a little desperate and ask if he has a courtesy car or something he might rent us himself. He thinks for a minute and says you might be able to rent my daughters car that I just got for her. It's a stick shift and she hasn't learned how to drive it yet. Greg gets on the phone asks here if its okay she said sure so we Greg scores a hat trick with us gas, lodging and transportation. He also has one of the local watering holes and restaurant!

If you have never seen the Canadian Rockies they are strikingly beautiful and are a must see if you like mountains, hiking, animals, fishing etc. etc. We spent the next two days sightseeing, and hiking. The Road to Jasper National Park from Lake Louise is about 120 miles and about 2.5 hrs if you don't make any stops. We never made it in a whole day there are too many kodak picture moments. Saturday morning is another gorgeous sunny day and I have promised to give Greg a rocket ride! Matt does some shopping in town and Greg gives me a sight seeing tour of Jasper park and many glaciers some of which he has landed on. Hmm they look kinda different upside down! He had a big smile on his face when we got back and said Wow! What a plane! I couldn't agree more. We load up, say good bye and head back to the states.

We spend the night in John Day Ore and then one refueling stop for airplane and passengers in Auburn, Ca , then Drop off Matt in San Luis Obispo and head Back to French Valley, Cal. Totals 33 Hrs 350 gals of fuel 5 qts oil approx 6300 miles fantastic trip fantastic airplane and would do it again in a heartbeat!   Harry Paine 266HP

Jim Coehlo's HRII

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Luc Hermange sent in these pictures showing how life is at "Sierra Skypark" in the northwestern corner of the Fresno area.  The Rocket belongs to Jim Coehlo in Fresno.  These guys have a Tri Tip BBQ every 2nd Saturday of EVERY month...   Lucky dogs!

Many thanks to Fred Weaver and Luc Hermange for providing the pictures above.  That's Fred's Tailwind in the center photo above.

Dallas Benham's Rocket II

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First flight was on April 27, 2000.   Dallas flies out of a 1300' grass strip on his turkey farm.  Here's more details straight from Dallas....boy, am I envious.

"Flew for about an hour last Thursday. Took off from my home strip after 3 or 4 trips up and down the runway to "get the feel of the plane". Flew to Shawnee Field and did some slow flight, flaps down, etc before landing. Landed, visited with some friends who came up from Evansville for the occasion. Took off second time flew around a bit and landed again. Ate lunch, visited, and returned to airport around 5 that evening. Flew back into my 1300' strip without the use of brakes and only used 800' of runway. I now know what a "cat shot" feels like from a carrier. The acceleration cannot be described, it must be EXPERIENCED!

The plane was signed off for flight back in February, but work commitments, weather, and other things  delayed the flight until last week. I know this is a general report and I don't want to give specific details about top speed, cruise speed, roc, etc, until I have several more hours in the plane. Suffice to say, it is satisfactory as is, but there is a lot more potential.

Also, RV-4's and 6's won't be able to keep up NOW!"   Dallas Benham

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I should have dated those photos. I had the Rocket completely assembled in the shop (30'x 50') where it was built. The aircraft was complete in every respect except fuel. Another builder said I could get the plane out without disassembling it. WRONG! Even though the door is 12' wide, there was no way it would come out, so I removed the right wing, constructed a dolly affair so I could roll the plane side ways and that is what you see in the photos. That is the REST OF THE STORY!  Dallas Benham

Tom Utterbach's Rocket Report

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"I did some speed trials a couple weeks ago before I went to S&F to see if the new "speed tips" really do anything. I have a 235HP-540. I ran at 7500' full push, leaned to 450, and 2400 turns. The test was redone after changing to the new tips, at exactly the same settings and doing them four directions, by the GPS, recording the speeds, adding them together, dividing by 4, then converting to mph. Results were: old Van tips=219.625 mph. After the change to the new "speed tips" =218.25.

As far as flying the Rocket, I find it a little heavy on the elevators, light on the ailerons, and an absolute, pure, unadulterated, kick butt joy. I had teething problems on the 6:00 tires but the aircraft is a sheer delight to fly, land, and own. Can't think of anything I would trade it for. When you like to show off it really fills the bill."   Tom Utterbach

I've been bugging Tom for more info.  I've seen him take off several times.  I can tell you that his HRII accelerates like, well, like a rocket!  It also climbs like you can't believe. Considering that Tom is a big guy (tall, not wide) and he's flying behind a 235 hp 540... Wow!  What must some of the higher HP Rockets be like?! 

When we were at Tom Martin's fly-in I noticed that Tom had installed vortex generators on his wings.  I asked him about them and he said he was disappointed with them.  Tom said he couldn't see much difference with them.   He has subsequently removed them from his wings.

Terry Jantzi has a full report on his experience with VGs on the Van's Air Force Ontario Wing website 

Vince Frazier

Mark Frederick's Rocket Report

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I asked for HRII spin characteristics and received this response from Mark.  Of course, Mark has additional info on his site. 

"Won't spin when solo. Does about 1.5 turns, and flies out. This with the -4 elevators -- I'd say the ships with the -8 empennage will not get that far. Too nose heavy!!  No testing done with any ballast to this date -- more than likely will do a whole program with the F1.

Now, one fella retro-fitted his HR with my root fairings, and said the stall was a lot 'tamer'. The spin-tested ship had these fairings too -- might have something to do with the lack of a developed spin...?"   Mark   Frederick

I had the opportunity to visit Mark Frederick at Team Rocket's World Headquarters on Monday, 2/12/01. My wife was in San Antonio for a class that week and rather than sit in the hotel waiting for her to return, I took a little road trip up to Taylor, Texas. Yeehah.

Now, let me point out that I am building a Harmon Rocket II, not an F-1. Nonetheless, Mark Frederick was very helpful with all of my questions and I had a great day. Mark, although he was very busy on the phone, took time to help me wade through all of my blueprints, which I brought with me, and point out areas where I might run into problems. The advice alone was worth the entire Texas trip... including the boring day my wife and I spent in the rain at the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio.

In addition to the good advice, I was able to pick up a few items that I will need for the HRII construction at a very reasonable price. All in all, the day cost me a tank of gas and a tasty bar-BBQ lunch for the four of us down at the local food joint. An incredible value!

Marcus and Dianne were busy making cowlings, sorting parts, and answering questions over the phone. Quite a busy place. Their shop was very neat and orderly. And considering that they were busier that a cat covering up %^$#, that is quite an accomplishment.  My jokes about visiting the "Team Rocket's World Headquarters" got to be a standing joke with everyone.  <grin> He he... World Headquarters..... visit Taylor, Texas sometime and you'll understand the joke.   It's what most of us would call "rural".   I was able to inspect several of the F-1 quickbuilds that were being readied for shipment. They look pretty darned good.  If I had more money and less inclination to put myself through the "joys" of building, I would definitely be building the F-1 QB.  This comment in NO WAY is meant to slam John's kit, so please don't get your shorts in a wad.   Everyone has to decide what is best for their situation.

The only downside to the day was that unfortunately the weather was crappy and we couldn't go flying. Dang!! Maybe next time.  Vince Frazier

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Doug Rozendaal had this to say about Mark Frederick's Rocket after his ride at Oshkosh:

I was at Oshkosh a sittin' under the wing of the Redtail Mustang, (the other one, not Kermits) mindin' my own business, when Mark Fredrick comes a saunterin' outta the crowd as only a Texan can do..... he points at me and curls his finger back directin' me to come with him. I was parked at the AeroShell Square, aka the West Ramp for us old timers, and we walked out infront of the "pronouncers" stand there was this Rocket sittin' there. He tells me to get up front and I told him I would be happy in back. He said, "Why, can't ya start it?" I did as I was told and climbed up front......

That SOB is gonna have me dreamin' about ditchin' the Panther and buyin' a Damn Rocket forever!!! I hate you Mark Fredrick! ;-)  On a serious note, WHAT A MACHINE!!!!!  I have flown the Extra 300 and for all but the hardcores acro types, I would have but one question, Why buy an Extra?

The Rocket goes like a scalded cat with turpentine under it's tail! It rolls quite a bit faster than the -4 and It has better aileron centering than -4. It does retain the rumble in the ailerons that the -4 has at full deflection, and there is just a touch of aerodynamic "slop" at center that I have never seen in an RV, it is not objectionable, and I mention it only because it is about the only thing besides AWESOME performance that is different than the RV's that I have flown.

The ceiling was too low to do a loop or a Cuban. It would take some room, lotsa room to go over the top! I did find a hole and pulled to the vertical, with 25/25 It felt like it was accelerating uphill, it wasn't, but it sure doesn't slow down as fast as the -4. I was pressing the ceiling and tried to kick it over early without pulling the power and it unhooked, very clean. I centered the controls and it hitched up instantly, got the nose pointed at the ground and we were going downhill in a big hurry! I would love to have had some more room to work with and wring it out. I did 4 and 8 point rolls and it stops on the points quicker than the Panther.

The airplane retains all the good manners of the -4 but you need to be ready to push on the right pedal when you lean on the noise lever. Mark says the F1's have a bigger rudder, I did not track as true as I would have liked on the take off. (my fault, not the airplane) It was instantly going 100 and I hauled it back and it just climbed up like a homesick angel, and accelerated while it was doing it!!! I was swimming in all the room up front and the huge instrument panel would hold enough instruments to blow most IFR budgets.

The airplane lands like a dream. The visibility is not as good as the -4, but much better than the back seat of the Extra. The gear legs have a different feel than the ones from Van's but it rolls straight on the ground and anyone current in a RV would have no trouble landing it. Flying the Rocket was a big highlight in an action packed week for me.

Thank you Mark Fredrick... I will still hate you when I am laying awake nights trying to figure out what I have to sell to buy a Rocket. Now I really wanna Rocket!  Tailwinds, Doug Rozendaal

2-27-03: Mark is building a new F-1 for himself.  Here's a sneak peak at his Russian winter camo paint scheme.  Mark said he is using flat paint so he can touch up all of the airshow and flyin scuffs more easily. 

As of April 2003, Mark has flown the new plane to Sun n Fun.  Check the Team Rocket site for more pics.

Rob Mokry's HRII and comments on his modified wing design

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"The wing...It is a new design for the RV series with fuel tanks of 52 gallon capacity. Essentially It moves the thickest section from 13% chord rearward to 36% chord, producing a much gentler sloping nose and center rib. This keeps the flow attached much further aft.  Doug Stenger, a buddy of mine had the profile plotted on mylar templates and ribs hydro-formed. The pitching moment is "predicted" to remain somewhat constant so as to have little effect on the stab incidence but I suspect some "rigging" will be in order to truly wring it out. Any way my buddy is anxiously waiting for N540RM to fly so he can tout the benefits of his wing and market it to all RV series...I can't stand the pressure :-)" Rob Mokry

4/20/01 "We are well underway into the testing regime and are extremely pleased with what we are seeing. We should be releasing the results with in a month or so."  Rob Mokry

Rob had some difficulties with his inspection... you'll have to get the details from him as they are too gory and horrifying to put on this web page where young children and innocent maidens might see them.   Rob also mentioned that he had some problems with engine heat melting his throttle and mixture cables.  I hate when that happens.   I believe Rob's HRII is the 65th to take to the air.  Vince Frazier

1/15/2006: Rob reports that he has almost 300 hours flown in the Rocket.

I have heard several passengers comment on their first hop in a Rocket II.  Here are a few comments:

"Now know what a "cat shot" feels like from a carrier."

"I went to Bakersfield last weekend...  John came walking up to me and said "hey, you haven’t flown in one of these yet have you?..." I got the ride of my life !"

"The acceleration cannot be described, it must be experienced."

"The airplane blasted (as in really blasted) straight down the runway for only a few seconds before we were off the ground."

"I have never been pushed back into the seat like this in any airplane; takeoff was a quick roll, tail up for just a few seconds, and a departure angle something steeper than 45° climbing over 4,000 ft/min."

"Simply awesome." 

"The plane handles extremely well."

"While we were cruising around showing about 190 mph (224 mph TAS) Mark commented that side-by-side tests with another airplane showed his airspeed indicator to be reading quite low at cruise but he flight plans 190 knots (218 mph) and 11 gph."

"We did a red-line pass down the runway (just under 300 indicated) and pulled up to vertical, flopped over on our back at the top and entered the downwind landing pattern. Taxiing back, the pilot goosed the throttle, and the airplane literally leapt off the ground."

New pilot reports are on the Pilot reports page.

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Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.

Psalms 63:7 

Last updated: 03/09/10

CAUTION:  This web site is not a publication of, nor approved by, Harmon LLC, Team Rocket, Van's Aircraft or any other person or entity listed herein, except me.  Be advised that I am a blithering idiot with neither brains nor money and my advice is not to be trusted.  So there.  You have been warned!  Vince