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EAA Experimenter

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From the Editor

By Patrick Panzera, EAA 555743

Pat Panzera
Pat with grandson Andrew

The first issue of Experimenter was met with overwhelming positivity. More than 90 percent of the comments left by readers were incredibly encouraging, and the number of subscribers thus far has surpassed 22,000. But there’s no backslapping going on here; we have more work to do. Although we certainly seem to have hit a homerun, I still want to make it better, mostly because you deserve it, but also because we can. But we need your help. We need your contributions; we want to read about your homebuilt aircraft or project and include it in future issues of this electronic newsletter. So at a minimum, send me an e-mail, pitching your idea, or just sent the article and we’ll do the rest. My e-mail address is ppanzera@eaa.org.

Many of you who partook in the reader survey in the last issue left some poignant remarks, several of which I’d like to address. The survey was confidential; I have no idea who wrote what; with that, please don’t feel singled out if I use your comment.

One reoccurring complaint was that there wasn’t enough content. Certainly reader contributions would go a long way toward increasing the number of articles in each issue.

“A little too much biographical info on the staff, but I presume that is just a characteristic of the first issue.”

Some people were not too happy that the first issue was filled with three biographies and were concerned that this is how future issues would be. The short answer is that there will be one reoccurring feature each issue where one EAA staff member will be introduced. There will not be any reason for Paul Poberezny, Joe Norris, or me to ever publish our bios again; this was just a way to introduce the key players to a new audience.

“It was a little disappointing that the article on the FLYING SQUIRREL was about an uncompleted project that was already multi-years in progress.”

In every issue of EAA Sport Aviation and EAA Sport Pilot we read about completed aircraft. Since Experimenter is about building and builders, we felt it proper to showcase projects under construction, under the title, “What our members are building.” I personally love to visit builders who are still in the construction stage of their project, and this is a way to do the same thing “virtually.” Of course, the feature articles will be about flying aircraft, but count on seeing projects under construction, too. Also, don’t look for a lot of detail in this feature. It’s meant to be a down and dirty glimpse, not a full fledge article. The full details will come when the aircraft is completed.

“I like it, but I hope this will not replace the magazine. There are some of us in the world who like & learn more from paper copy.”

Consider Experimenter a supplement to the print publications, not a replacement. But the popularity of Experimenter could influence editorial content in future issues of the magazines.

“…the lack of ultralight material which I thought was the reason for adding this to the line up.”

There is no effort being made to include or exclude ultralight information from this electronic newsletter. If it’s homebuilt, it meets the criteria. I will admit, however, that I need help with ultralight information. Send my way, whatever you might have.

“…the grounding composite airplane article. If the author was an electrical engineer or had some credentials to back up the article it would be better. It was completely wrong and dangerous. All articles that relate to safety should have the qualifications of the author stated. This said by a Principal Electrical engineer, that holds 12 patents and has been flying a composite airplane for 24 years... me.”

It would have been far better if the person who left this comment would have sent a direct e-mail to me. That way we could open a dialog and find out what exactly was his concern. At this point, the author stands behind his words.

“It needs to be more of a grassroots publication. Show more homemade airplanes, create a show and tell section.”

 I’m not sure what is meant by a “show and tell section,” but we certainly plan to keep it very grass roots. Unfortunately, there is no common definition of “grassroots” to be found. Some say it has to have an open cockpit, flying wires, and spoked wheels to be “grassroots” where others would find it “grassroots” to build a full composite IFR platform if they used their own hands, ingenuity, and creativity to pull it off. Others think that only Part 103 is “grassroots.” But we can probably all agree that gluing or riveting together a fast-build kit, per the plans, and hiring out the engine, painting, and upholstering is not in the definition, so be assured that you won’t be finding any of that here.

“While I enjoy reading about the guys who can spend half their retirement on an RV instrument panel, the “how to” articles are really what’s needed. One thing that might be considered is a “builders input” column. I can offer a plans set to construct a Nicopress tool that will do everything the ‘store bought’ tool will do, while costing only about a tenth of the price.”

We would absolutely love to get tips and hints from our readers. That’s how this member helping member thing works. EAA doesn’t have all the answers, but we can certainly be the repository of your great ideas. We plan to include at least one “how to” article in every issue, and quite frankly, we need that info to come from the readers. So feel free to send any and all submissions directly to me for consideration and inclusion. My e-mail address is ppanzera@eaa.org.

“There should be a way to leave a comment, or have a discussion about the article! In the case of the static dissipation article for composite aircraft, I (think I) solved this problem in a fairly unique way. There should be a way to discuss or blog re. the article, so good ideas have a forum to germinate!”

This is in the works.

And there were just too many pleas for more auto conversion information to list them all. Suffice it to say that we will include at least one auto conversion article in each issue. But to get a jump on it, I’d like to invite you to join the fine folks at CONTACT! Magazine during their annual “Alternative Engine Round-up” at the Jean airport, Jean NV on March 28, 2009. This free event is as grassroots as they come.

The following are comments answering the question about what you’d like to see in future issues and are spot-on with the direction we are headed:

  • General tip articles
  • Hands on, how to do
  • Experimental aircraft articles and light aircraft
  • Alternate engines and the people that are trying the different avenues
  • My suggestion is that articles provide a lot of detail
  • Composite building techniques
  • Beginner, intermediate, and advanced topics would be a nice way to break things down Turbine engines in homebuilts
  • Do-it-yourself electronic projects for the homebuilder
  • Far out things. Innovations that push the envelope even though it isn’t useable yet!!
  • Helicopters and rotorcraft
  • General all-around articles about all aspects of building an airplane
  • Reports on kit aircraft
  • Technical data on the numerous engines available
  • Volkswagen type 1 engine info: rebuilds & inspection
  • Engine types, hp, cruise rpm, weight, starter? Alternator?
  • Conversion and installation of rotary engines for use in aircraft
  • Landing gear design and construction
  • Small engine articles and information (100 hp and under). Especially any four strokes
  • More nuts and bolts stuff
  • More pictures of homebuilts. Please!
  • Calculations loads & stress
  • Continuation of technical articles
  • Any and everything associated with homebuilding!
  • Condition inspections on experimental aircraft
  • I would like to see more affordable projects shown
  • Homebuilding on a budget
  • Ultralight and homebuilt construction/restoration
  • Mini bio’s of average guys building planes
  • Possibly performance specs on various aircraft
  • Fuel systems and fittings
  • O-200 Continental engine rebuild
  • Certification, reg’s, etc.
  • How to finish the last 10% of the last 90% of the last 90%
  • How to calibrate instruments
  • Some of the “older” articles that are still state of the art
  • Tips on fabric covering; metal work
  • Topics on how to deal with fuel (E-10) and how to make aircraft more efficient
  • Unusual powerplants
  • Electric conversion
  • Anything leading edge
  • Building fuel tanks
  • Canopy installs and working with plexiglass
  • More info on LSA building
  • 1/2 VW engine inf
  • Pitfalls
  • Articles on where and when non-aircraft grade materials can be used in the homebuilt plane
  • Keeping it cheap
  • Cost saving hints and new technology
  • Not only talk of how to build airplanes but also what needs to be done after the build
  • Flight testing, any certifications, flight time requirements, and maintenance
  • Selecting a project
  • Links to information about the type of aircraft pictured.
  • How to build moulds
  • Homebuilt electronics like autopilots, flat panel displays
  • More “Tony Bingelis type” articles on real homebuilding techniques
  • More of the how to build and less about where to buy
  • Water cooled engines; Diesel.
  • Engine harmonics, vibration analysis
  • Basics like antenna placement, basic wiring
  • Cover prop to tail
  • A series on aircraft painting
  • Articles on how to figure lift coefficients
  • How to figure the proper angle of incidence, how to know which airfoil to use for your design. In short the basics of how to design an aircraft
  • The nuts and bolts of how to take the drawing of your dream ship and turn it into a basic plan
  • Wood and fabric planes
  • Just more articles from people that are actually experimenting with aircraft
  • Not just following the herd down the same old path with a different paint job!
  • Tools, tips, and techniques of construction used by and/or made by builders
  • Speed/efficiency modification hints
  • Wingtips and leading edge variations discussion. e.g.: which is better?
  • Making seat backs and cushions
  • Forming and drilling windshields and canopies
  • Non STC engines
  • Older, but still available plans built plans
  • Characterizing and optimizing aircraft after construction
  • Preparing a new aircraft for flight
  • Not rehashes but stories of guys who are actually doing it now
  • Performance optimization of flying aircraft

This list covers about one-fifth of all the comments submitted thus far and is a good representation of all the answers so hopefully you now have the idea that we are all probably on the same page.

I seriously look forward to seeing this through.

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