How we got to where we are, Part V

The first start was both good and bad.  It was good that almost everything worked as it should.  With the exception of the electrical system, all the hydraulic pressures and engine temperatures were normal, but the electrical system as not.  Cory Duffield spent hours in the manuals and schematics to trouble shoot the problem, but found nothing obvious.

With Art Nalls in the cockpit of his FA2 Sea Harrier, the engine is successfully started for the first time in the US. As the engine shuts down, the work crew breaks into a series of hugging and "high fives." Leonardtown, MD 2006
             With Art Nalls Leonardtown, MD 2006

He began re-seating cannon plugs and eventually found one that was not fully seated.  When the engine was restarted, everything was normal and there were NO warning caution lights, despite numerous panels that were not installed.  It was actually far better than we had hoped, at this point.

So with another visit from the fuel truck, we started the Pegasus and began running through the system checks – – nose wheel steering, flaps, ailerons, rudder, brakes, etc, etc.

When I lowered the nozzles, the crew checked over the whole airplane for reaction control system (RCS) leaks.  This is how we control the airplane in the hover and at low airspeed. After about 20 seconds, someone noted that the asphalt under the airplane was suddenly very shinny, so I was directed to move the nozzles aft IMMEDIATELY!!  We narrowly averted a huge problem, by damaging the airport asphalt.  Lesson learned to NOT do that again!  So far, so good, so the ground crew gave me clearance to taxi…

Even with no radios at this point, I taxied to the single runway at St. Mary’s.  With no other airplanes in the pattern, I took the runway and began a series of engine acceleration checks. We check the engine acceleration times between 27% and 55% RPM before each takeoff.

With Art Nalls in the cockpit of his FA2 Sea Harrier, the aircraft taxies for the first time in the US. Nalls took the aircraft down to the main runway for a series of acceleration tests on the engine before taxing back to his hanger where he was mobbed by crew and onlookers. Leonardtown, MD 2006

First Taxi checks Leonardtown, MD 2006

With this version of the Harrier, we have a hydro-mechanical fuel control.  That means the fuel control has various chambers and valves to meter fuel in the correct proportions to produce the desired performance, in this case normal idle and normal acceleration times from idle to 55% RPM.

Without the canopy installed, I did not go beyond 55% RPM.  There is a risk of the engine ingesting anything loose from the cockpit, including anything loose on me personally, plus the brakes will not hold the airplane beyond 55%.  Those top-end accel checks would have to wait until we completely installed all the missing panels.

With Art Nalls in the cockpit of his FA2 Sea Harrier, the aircraft taxies for the first time in the US. Nalls took the aircraft down to the main runway for a series of acceleration tests on the engine before taxing back to his hanger where he was mobbed by crew and onlookers. Leonardtown, MD 2006

First Taxi checks Leonardtown, MD 2006

Harrier

So on the active runway, with the nozzles, steering, and hydraulics all checking perfectly normal, I set the power at 55% and let the brakes go.  The acceleration was tremendous, even at only mid-throttle RPM!

 

taxies forto the main runway for a series of acceleration tests on the engine before taxing back to his hanger where he was mobbed by crew and onlookers. Leonardtown, MD 2006

Taxiing back from the runway, first taxi checks

 

I can’t tell you how much I wanted to be able to accelerate to full power, but that would have to wait for another day, with the canopy installed and all the panels installed.  We have many more checks to do before we were ready for that.

With Art Nalls in the cockpit of his FA2 Sea Harrier, the engine is successfully started for the first time in the US. As the engine shuts down, the work crew breaks into a series of hugging and "high fives." Leonardtown, MD 2006

Hugging and “High Fives”
                 Leonardtown, MD 2006

 

 

 

 

 

But we could start to see that this was NOT a fantasy project.  We knew that we were not all that far from being able to actually fly this aircraft.

 

 

All we needed was keep moving in that direction, one step at a time…

 

Updated: September 24, 2015 — 4:09 pm
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