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flyvulcan

Lightning Bug first flight

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Milton King’s Lightning Bug flew for the first time a few weeks ago at Murray Bridge Airfield.  Ted King took it aloft for the flight which lasted around 20 minutes.  Other than some oil cooling issues for the Jabiru 3300, the aircraft flew well.  Speed was kept to a maximum of 150kias straight and level.

 

Since then, the aircraft has been flown 3 more times.  The speed envelope has been expanded out to 175kias straight and level with plenty of power still left in the engine.  The IFA Ivoprop Magnum is not the right prop for the aircraft and has not yet been taken off the low pitch stop.  Climb is at 2400 rpm (so way down on power due to the too highly pitched prop) giving 1500fpm.  With the right prop allowing the engine to turn faster, rate of climb should be much improved.  Top end straight and level will also be much faster than 175 knots.

 

We are looking forward to seeing what this Lightning Bug can ultimately give in the way of performance.

 

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That is an impressive little aeroplane.    Wasn't there a big version of that little Lightning some years ago?

 

 

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The big brother and precursor to the Lightning Bug was the White Lightning, a 220 knot 4 seater.  They were both designed by Nick Jones, an F1 racer pilot who died just last year.  Nick certainly designed a couple of Aircraft that provided tremendous performance on small hp.

 

The White Lightning shown below belonged to Will Mathews (now owned by his wife after he died a few years ago) and raced at Reno managing 277mph from memory.  The aircraft is for sale if anyone wants a bargain high speed aircraft.

 

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It was a sad day for me yesterday as I took the wreck of Lightning Bug#1 to the tip. It had a forced landing during the Sun100 air race in Florida in the early '90s. It had been running faster (around 220 knots) than the Glasairs etc that were in the race when it had an engine failure. The pilot, Johny Murphy (whom I bought my kit plus the wreck from) deadsticked it into a paddock but hit a cow with the left wing and wrote the aircraft, plus the cow off but he got out ok.

 

I have photographed everything that I could from the wreck and taken off all salvageable parts. It's been sitting against the ceiling in my garage for the last 8 years but has now gone to that big hangar in the sky.

 

Here are the last few photos of it:

 

IMG_20180909_105615.jpg.945c73ca86ec0cc480965d85546d0cf9.jpg

 

IMG_20180909_110839.jpg.f86879724a1637f711b3c556c467e850.jpg

 

IMG_20180909_112005.jpg.5b71bd6d2d450b1d49ef3f28b41cf9d5.jpg

 

And then, off to the tip it went....

 

On the good news front, the flight envelope of EMK has been expanded out to 185kias. The prop is clearly still not the right prop for the engine/airframe and options will be considered. Also, the nosewheel fairing has not yet been refitted so there's probably a bit more speed to come. I'll keep you posted.

 

 

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The Lightning Bug flew again on Sunday.  The aim of the flight was to determine the effect of reducing the pitch of the newly fitted Bolly blades by 1 degree difference from the flight that was made the week before.  Here are the results.

 

@Sea level, 27degc, QNH 1015

 

Max. static rpm 2600

 

@2,500’pa, SAT 22degc, QNH 1015

 

MAP 29”, RPM 3100, kcas 185, ktas 194

MAP ??”, RPM 3140, kcas 190, ktas 199

 

Max. CHT 320 (limit for max. continuous is 358 so well under limit)

 

Oil temps still hovering at the upper limit so this still needs to be addressed.

 

So with painting, fitment of nosewheel fairing and a general tidy up, with the blades set as-is, we anticipate a 3000rpm, 185-190ktas cruise.  A more economical 2800rpm cruise should yield around 180ktas.

 

At the bottom end of the speed range, bearing in mind that the ASI has not been calibrated for low speeds, stall speeds were as follows:

 

Clean - 70kias

First notch of flap (T/O flap 20 degrees) - 63kias

 

Stall symptoms and behavior were conventional.

 

Might this be the fastest Jabiru 3300 around?

 

 

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The latest flight last weekend after some fuel system work to fix fuel level indications and to sort out the tank transfer system gave the following results with the nosewheel pant reinstalled:

 

Straight and level, full throttle - 195kias/194kcas/201ktas, 3100 rpm from the Jab3300

 

With a smooth paint job to replace the rough primer coat, there should be a few more knots to wring out of the airframe.

 

Amazing aircraft! Time to get it back into production!

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