Builder’s anxiety

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gpetty

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I was recently involved in the building of a Zigolo ultralight, and I am the sole pilot for now. The thing flies very nicely, but I would enjoy flying it more if I didn’t have constant anxiety over whether it will hold together in the air. Did I really swage that bracing cable inside the wing correctly, and how would I know if it began to slip? What about that elevator cable attachment inside the covered vertical stabilizer? I’ll admit that I breathe a bit of a sigh of relief when I get above about 400’, where the BRS is most likely to be effective.
Just wondering how much of this is rational vs irrational, and either way, whether others have experienced this and found ways to (rationally) put it out of their mind.
 

BJC

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I was recently involved in the building of a Zigolo ultralight, and I am the sole pilot for now. The thing flies very nicely, but I would enjoy flying it more if I didn’t have constant anxiety over whether it will hold together in the air. Did I really swage that bracing cable inside the wing correctly, and how would I know if it began to slip? What about that elevator cable attachment inside the covered vertical stabilizer? I’ll admit that I breathe a bit of a sigh of relief when I get above about 400’, where the BRS is most likely to be effective.
Just wondering how much of this is rational vs irrational, and either way, whether others have experienced this and found ways to (rationally) put it out of their mind.
Totally rational from my perspective. There are go/no go gages for swaged fittings. They should be used. Get an EAA Technical Counselor to look at your airplane. If a TC is not available, get a few experienced homebuilders to look at it.

Do you have access to the internal areas via inspection holes?


BJC
 

Daleandee

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There will always be trepidation when flying an aircraft (should be anyways) as even new parts can fail. Certainly flying a newly built airplane brings an extra dose of concern and caution. What BJC & Toolbuilder have mentioned should be a foundation to help relieve your concerns.

If you have documentation of the build process i.e. logs, pictures, videos, it it sometimes helpful to review the process and talk with the people used in the build to confirm that it was done correctly. Many things can be monitored after the build and others that are hidden cannot be. Using a bore-scope camera you may get a look inside areas that you can't normally see. Checking the degree of throw on the controls & flying surfaces to see that they remain in spec can also be done.

My first annual on my airplane was quite intense as I was looking to find signs of any "gotchas" that were lurking. True enough I found a couple of things that needed to be addressed. Nothing found would have brought the plane down but over time would have caused little problems that could have escalated into larger ones.

I once took a young man flying with me. He told me later that the scariest part of the flight was seeing me preflight the airplane like I was going to find something wrong. I told him I was trying to and was happy to report that I found no reason why we could not fly it that day. Give great diligence to preflights and pay close attention to handling.

Enjoy the ride!

Dale
N319WF
 

Monty

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For me, new engine anxiety is the worst. If it's gonna fail, it will do so in the first 100 hrs or so. After that I don't worry too much. But every single burble, tick and squeak causes sphincter spasm for that first 100 hrs.
 
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don january

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I have to say that every time I glue a joint or finish an area that will never be seen by my eyes again gives me anxiety and I think that is a important part of flight. Learning to fly in a J3 I always got the jitters coming in for landing because of the so many changes in air current near ground affect. I once tried to convince myself that building my own plane would solve the anxiety problem but who was I trying to kid. I guess all we can do is try and control the risk factor.
 

Spezioman

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All normal reactions that mostly go away with experience but should be kept in the back of your mind and not forgotten.

I've owned several E-AB but when I built my first and did first inspection as a repairman, it was then I realized I was really on my own. OTOH we are actually on our own every time we shove the throttle forward.

My 2 worst alone feeling were after my first solo take off as I realized I had to get back down by myself. Almost as bad was after first take off in my new Pitts S1C knowing I had to land the darn thing.......


Jack
 

tralika

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For me, new engine anxiety is the worst. If it's gonna fail, it will do so in the first 100 hrs or so. After that I don't worry too much. But every single burble, tick and squeak causes sphincter spasm for that first 100 hrs.
Is anyone aware of any statistical data to support the likelihood of an engine failure during the first 100hrs? I also hear that an engine failure is most likely to occur during the first power change after takeoff. I can find nothing to support that either. I'm not trying to pick a fight. If there is data out there I'd like to know.
 

D Hillberg

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very low low low earth orbit
usually the 1st 3 hours .
#1 fuel interruption either a clogged filter (fod in the lines especially the plastic fantastics) not adjusted proper or it burns fuel faster then advertised.
#2 electrical not up to the job, bad timing or schedule / sparky not sparking
#3 what's this extra hardware?
#4 pilot fudges on the performance tests and becomes a test pilot on his real "emergency"

But the real killer is "I built the stupid thing I'll have no trouble flying it, Hold my beer"
 

Little Scrapper

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There's nothing easy about doing something completely out of your comfort zone and something less than 1/10 of 1% of the population would do. Anxiety in small doses are healthy, it keeps us safe.
 
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choppergirl

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Pfft I have zero anxiety teaching myself to fly in the Volmer. Where my anxiety is, is that the Poorboy will be finished first, in which case I'll try to fly that first. And that is one fast, tricky bird with short wings, high stall speed, and a tail boom low to the ground. Looks like you almost have to land it flat and fast with no flare or you're going to whack that tail wheel on a landing. Not what I signed up for, for a first airplane. I don't want to auger in being a jet pilot. So I guess I better make it a point to finish the Volmer first.

Engine quitting? I just assume that's going to happen at any time, all the time with the junk I'm flying. You do just like you do in a motorcycle/car... you pick out a safe place to land where the cops won't hassle you or write you a ticket, and coast to a stop. Jam the nose down, and land it like a glider. If you can't land the plane you're flying dead stick like a glider, and it be absolutely no big deal to you, just another day in the office, you probably have no business stepping beside a control yoke or stick and flying. Just my 2 cents.

If someone approaches you to help as if you got a problem, just wave them off and tell them you pulled over / landed to take a cell phone call / answer a text message. Fiddle with your phone and send that photo message to your best friend that says "guess where I am?" As soon as the public do gooder is gone, fix the problem, and fly or trailer that puppy out of there.
 

wsimpso1

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Is anyone aware of any statistical data to support the likelihood of an engine failure during the first 100hrs? I also hear that an engine failure is most likely to occur during the first power change after takeoff. I can find nothing to support that either. I'm not trying to pick a fight. If there is data out there I'd like to know.
I do not know about first 100 hours, but right after major maintenance has been well documented as the time to be wary of any work on an airplane.

Look up Waddington Effect. C.H. Waddington figured out that the most likely time for any failures in RAF B-24's was right after maintenance. Under his guidance, the RAF achieved big improvements in mission capability and reductions in failures by doing major maintenance on a longer timeline, going to "replace on condition" wherever possible and doing other work on more appropriate basis. It was not widely published as it was a war secret.

Then look up Stanley Nowlan and Howard Heap, working for United Airlines rediscovered the same thing in the 1960's. IIRC, this too was kept quiet for a while as a trade secret.

Mike Busch has written about this in his Manifesto. Good reading. While he did not cite the articles, they show up right away when you search on the names.

Maintenance (in the military and airline) has come to be viewed as a necessary evil, like surgery, instead of a good thing, like exercise and a good diet. Reliability and safety has gone up as a result. It has taken forever to trickle down into our little airplanes, even though we all know that the most dangerous flights we do are the return-to-service flight following things like cylinder renewals, carb work, or accessory case teardowns.

Billski
 

Little Scrapper

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I do not know about first 100 hours, but right after major maintenance has been well documented as the time to be wary of any work on an airplane.

Look up Waddington Effect. C.H. Waddington figured out that the most likely time for any failures in RAF B-24's was right after maintenance. Under his guidance, the RAF achieved big improvements in mission capability and reductions in failures by doing major maintenance on a longer timeline, going to "replace on condition" wherever possible and doing other work on more appropriate basis. It was not widely published as it was a war secret.

Then look up Stanley Nowlan and Howard Heap, working for United Airlines rediscovered the same thing in the 1960's. IIRC, this too was kept quiet for a while as a trade secret.

Mike Busch has written about this in his Manifesto. Good reading. While he did not cite the articles, they show up right away when you search on the names.

Maintenance (in the military and airline) has come to be viewed as a necessary evil, like surgery, instead of a good thing, like exercise and a good diet. Reliability and safety has gone up as a result. It has taken forever to trickle down into our little airplanes, even though we all know that the most dangerous flights we do are the return-to-service flight following things like cylinder renewals, carb work, or accessory case teardowns.

Billski
Well written.

So what would the proper protocol be after say, carb work? Given what you read about this what would be the different approaches?
 

TFF

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You should turn the tables on the thoughts. When you see a cable swedge say” I did that not some random person. I know that one is good. “ No aircraft is perfect.

I do lots of maintenance flights. Lots have to do with rigging changes, And there are times where stuff crosses the mind for a second. This is what I have to do and it has to do with pilots vs mechanics. Pilots never question maintenance once the preflight is over. They only think of flying. Mechanics have to learn to quit thinking of maintenance and fly the **** thing. I was with a friend ferrying two helicopters . I was flying the first one and he was trailing. About 20 min in he stopped talking on the radio. I did not think anything of it; I could see him back there. I land at the fuel stop and go to the pumps. While I’m hot fueling he walks up and said he lost his electric. It was getting dark so we’re were going to have to stop and fix it the next morning. Because I am the mechanic, all I can think of is what is wrong and how am I going to fix it with no tools. I get in my aircraft with the wrong frame of mind. I moved out of the way so he could fuel and I had the mixture leaned for the idle on the ground. I over temped the turbo by 500 degrees. We whine if we get 50 degrees under the redline. I slap the mixture in. Now I have two potential problems all because not in the right frame of mind. All ended ok, but the takeaway for me was. If flying think like a pilot. If maintaining think like a mechanic. Don’t let the thoughts cross. If you have a problem in flight think it out like a pilot; don’t think of fixing like a mechanic.

Certified aircraft have a Differences Report to document how they are different from perfect. An airliner size plane has three or four old style phone books size binders with every scratch or nick or bigger problem that they oked. Once painted and primered they are gone to the eye so no checking.
 

Toobuilder

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This thread has drifted into generalities, but much of what brings us down is very specific and preventable. In the OP, he mentioned cable swages... Standard aircraft fabrication guidelines show "go/no go" gauges, slippage indicators, and load testing of the completed cable assembly. If this was done, then there's one less thing to worry about. If NOT done, then there is a legitimate question concerning the airworthiness of the aircraft.

So to the OP- were the cables fabricated and tested properly before installation?
 

Monty

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Is anyone aware of any statistical data to support the likelihood of an engine failure during the first 100hrs? I also hear that an engine failure is most likely to occur during the first power change after takeoff. I can find nothing to support that either. I'm not trying to pick a fight. If there is data out there I'd like to know.
See: bathtub curve. It's a well known failure pattern that applies to most things mechanical. Infant mortality due to improper materials, defects, or assembly problems all show up in the first few hours of operation. Once you get through this period the likelihood of failure decreases to a relatively constant minimum rate. Then probability of failure starts to creep up again near TBO due to wear and tear.
 

Monty

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Well written.

So what would the proper protocol be after say, carb work? Given what you read about this what would be the different approaches?
Test it out on the ground first. Do several run-ups. Then take off with all the runway in front of you. Climb at VY...get up fast and stay in close. Do a few T&Gs...Land...Check for leaks and if all looks good, proceed. Check again when you do your next pre-flight. I always double check the things I've recently worked on to make sure there are no leaks, squeaks, or squawks.
 

Little Scrapper

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I was reading a report on a fatality the other day. Sonerai, one of my favorite airplanes.

It's amazing how many people just take off and "hope for the best".
 
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