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Test Flying an Airplane - Part 2

It Flew!

Faith, Hope and Charity

After building my first Mustang II I vowed "I'll never build a second airplane." Much as it was a rewarding and fulfilling activity, it was a very complex project. Not technically complex, but demanding in every other way.

C-GFRH is the second Mustang II I've built from scratch. The first Mustang II, C-FFRH, took me four years to build. So the second one was sure to take less time. (Pictures)

Ha!

Twelve years later, having given up several times on ever finishing it, having moved the airplane to four different locations during its construction, and having been forced to travel an hour to the hangar to slave on it for the final three year period, the miracle happened - 1028 pounds of rivets, bolts and metal sprang to life the instant it lept off the ground.

To build an airplane is an act of faith. I spent time, money, and a good part of myself to climb up and away from this runway. And there was never a guarantee that I would be able to finish it nor that eventually it would fly well. Often I would have to convince myself that I really wanted this, to stick to it.

I worked endless hours, sometimes in very difficult physical, personal or financial conditions to see the project through. I hoped that I would be rewarded with an airplane that would permit me to fulfill my dream of flight - my own wings.

But you need friends. Never does one do this alone. Fellow enthusists helped me transform the hardware into my wings. Family and friends appeared at crucial times giving me a boost to rekindle the fire. I was fortunate to have Margaret, my enduring wife, and an aviation oriented family, friends like Claude Michaud of Aerotaxi and John Scholefield of Montreal Flying Club who charitably provided building space, and technical whizzes like Neil Goldberg who took over some specialized tasks such as ensuring all the electrons in the wiring knew where to go.

I fully appreciate that builders who do not receive this kind of moral and practical support never finish their project. I doubt it is ever for technical reasons that projects remain unfinished. One really has to rearrange one's life to suit this complex project, and perhaps that is the most difficult aspect of building. Every builder must have unique stories to tell of his building experience.

Nothing, however, will give a builder a greater sense of accomplishment than to see his hopes of building a flying machine fulfilled. I was on a high for a week after it flew.

The rush of adrenalin was caused by a planned successful low altitude flight down the runway at St. Hubert. The airplane seemed to handle normally, and I was tempted to add more power to go for a full flight. A previous pact with myself to practice a landing first before roaring away on a full flight forced me to cut the power and to land on the remaining runway. Done. Now on a second blast down the runway my Mustang raced skyward at 2000 fpm, and was feeling very sure of itself. I reigned it in at 2000 rpm where it loped along easily at an indicated 132 mph. I let my mount show me how it was behaved. It handled much as my first Mustang II did - a positive delight to fly. I could have cruised along longer but thought it better to get down to earth to peek inside the cowl. The landing after a 40 minute flight was uneventful, save my supreme feeling of accomplishment.

Although I did what I said I would never do after building my first airplane, I am extremely proud of having completed and flown my second airplane, and am profoundly thankful to all those who helped me attain my goal.

But,you ask, will I build a third airplane? "I will never build a third airplane."

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Frank Hofmann
Copyright © 2003