Never flying wheels again!

We have an AirCam that we finished in May 2017. We put the completed plane on amphibious floats because we are both seaplane pilots hoping to fly for the only seaplane airline in the US.

In Sebring FL

The AirCam came with wheels but we bought already completed floats and flew our FAA required hours as a seaplane based at Fresno-Chandler Airport (KFCH). We flew N289WT to Oshkosh,WI that year then to Missouri. I stayed in MO to complete the 100 hr Inspections (really it was because of the eclipse-my Mom’s house was in the path of totality); Steve had business to take care of in Alaska and CA.

We decided we’d fly home the southern route and since there’s not much water-“let’s go back on wheels!” The switch was made; we didn’t fly back to CA but stayed in MO then back to Oshkosh as a wheeled home built.

The problem is that we have jobs now. All our maintenance is done in 4 day sprints because we only get a 6 day break each month. There’s a day of travel on each end, then a frenzy of work until the next month. I completed most of the conditional inspection during my 6 days in September; Steve then got the wheels off and floats assembled and on during his 6 days. Each month we’d tackle what was left on the list but the whole time we are WORKING on the plane and NOT FLYING the plane.

It’s killing us.

This week we are so close…


This one fitting took 3 days to attach. I noticed a kink in the line just above the connection-a failure in the gear UP line waiting to happen. The gear slot is about 4″ wide; the wrench gets about 1/12 turn to loosen or tighten. The hydraulic line has a nut, ferrel, insert combo that has to get perfectly aligned in order to get a no leak connection AND it’s all done by touch. In order to reach the fitting, I can’t see the fitting.

We got that connected today.

Then we had to bleed the system and do drop checks. Next we had to work bubbles out of the brake system. It was ok so we finally got to pull the plane out of the hangar to start the engines!

The brakes won’t hold at wide open throttle (WOT); one engine was perfect at 5550 rpm the other was 80 rpm too high; both idled too high for floats. This means I have to cut off all the safety wire on the high rpm engine, re-pitch the props, run up to check WOT rpm until it’s right. That can be an hour or days. When it’s right, I torque all the bolts one more time, install safety wire and run up one more time. Then start adjusting the idle down. I also still need to continue with bleeding all the bubbles out of the brake system…

Once the plane is finally ready, Steve will take her for a test flight and we will finally be able to enjoy her again!

Since most of our maintenance delays were a result of the hydraulic lines in both the gear and floats, we will NEVER go back to wheels.

But just in case, I’m painting them so they look good. 😉

Author: Sailing Always

Sailor, pilot, wife, mom, live aboard, traveler

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