Pietenpol Future Hopeful

Discussion area for builders of Pietenpol aircraft, both beginners and experienced folks. Share ideas, ask questions and help build the Pietenpol community.
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luispdelgado
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Joined: Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:29 pm

Pietenpol Future Hopeful

Post by luispdelgado » Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:35 pm

Hi folks,

I have a few questions. Former Navy F-18 pilot with tons of hours flying T-34's and all sorts of single engine hours. I am fascinated by the Piet. It seems like the perfect airplane for me but have to get some practical questions answered before I can seriously pursue this dream. Hoping you experts can help.

1) In the taildragger world, which I will be completely new to, how difficult is this airplane to land?
2) Besides two passengers who weigh about 145 and 170lbs, is there room for any small backpacks for personal gear?
3) I would need this airplane to be able to climb to 2-2,500' to get around my airspace with the above payload. Is that a practical goal for a Piet?
4) I live in the southern California environment so unfortunately solidly in the class B veil no matter where I go. Is there a realistic way to have a nav/com setup in the plane?

Thanks folks. This airplane for some reason really strikes at my soul, but I have to make sure it can knock out the basics for me and my spouse.

Forever grateful for your answers,
Luis D.

ELB
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Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2017 3:06 pm

Re: Pietenpol Future Hopeful

Post by ELB » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:40 am

Having only built 30 wing spars so far, my project is proceeding forward only with the intent of proving that 1) a plane can be built at home, 2) wood construction is alive and well, and 3) the piet will demonstrate that it can fly. My research leads me to believe the Pietenpol is of limited range and payload. Adding an electrical system ( for engine starter) now opens up the problem of requiring transponder equipment with Mode C (altitude reporting) capability when operating within 30 nm of Class B airspace. I don't want to go against the Piet builders moto of "keep it light". I understand that 300 fpm climb is about average for an average day using a standard airplane engine. Looking at many photos on the "interweb" of builders sitting in their cockpits and looking at the 2 Piets that are in my neighborhood (Reading, PA area), it appears the only storage space available for anything is between the control stick and your belt buckle. Some builders have attempted to add storage behind the rear headrest for small tool kits. Hope this adds some focus and good luck. ELB.

tom kreiner
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Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2017 9:49 am

Re: Pietenpol Future Hopeful

Post by tom kreiner » Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:28 pm

Luis,

Welcome to a very neat and eclectic group of folks, all involved with the Pietenpol!

There are a number of items that I can address, but for some, you'll need an experienced CFI (Jack Phillips, please chime in) who also flies a Piet.

Answers per your item numbers:

1) I can't answer as I have little taildragger experience... Many others will chime in, I'm sure...

2) If you build with a header tank, rather than a wing tank, you will have quite a bit of storage in the wing center section available. There are pics at the West Coast Piet site that will show you this. A header tank holding 15 or 16 gal. will provide an endurance of around 2.0 to 3.0 hours.

3) Your goal of 2,000 to 2,500 is very realistic, and rate of climb will depend on which engine you choose to use.

4) Most Current Piet builders have at least a handheld Nav/Com... In my case, living in Houston w ClassB, I'll be adding a full electrical system, along with transponder, and nav/com. (Jack Phillips has one of the nicer installations of both in his Piet, if I remember correctly.) While an electrical system is not required by the FAR's, having one requires the use of the transponder... and ultimately ADSB In AND Out. Flying with just a battery and a Nav/Com is often done, as the transponder requirement is eliminated.

When next summer comes around, be sure to attend the Pietenpol / Hatz fly-in held the weekend prior to AirVenture each year. While you're in Brodhead you'll be able to catch a ride in a Piet. BTW - Brodhead is NOT to be missed by anyone serious about owning a Piet. When you're 100 feet over the fields, you can smell the corn tassels...

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taildrags
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Re: Pietenpol Future Hopeful

Post by taildrags » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:20 pm

Luis; where in the SoCal area are you located? The first weekend in June every year, there is a West Coast Piet fly-in that is held down near Hollister, at Frazier Lake Airpark. Santa Cruz/Monterey area. If you're still thinking about the Air Camper next year, head over there to see some Piets in person and maybe get a ride.

I'll chime in on your four points too. My airplane has a 16 gal. nose tank and a Continental A75 engine on it.

1) I've flown perhaps half my total hours in tailwheel aircraft, so my response to "how difficult is this plane to land" is relative. Compared to aircraft that land at higher speeds, the Piet is easy because you touch down at maybe 35-45 MPH so you don't have a lot of rolling to do before you're taxiing. It doesn't try to swap ends as quickly as some do and it provides fairly good visibility ahead, so those are pluses. If you are able to fly it off of grass or sod, it's a real pussycat. Just think about how many military and civilian pilots have learned to fly in tailwheel aircraft over the history of aviation and you'll realize that it's just another skill to learn and the benefit is that you'll learn what your feet and the rudder pedals are really for! It will make you a better pilot.

2) I have flown my airplane with a very similar pilot/passenger load as you describe. There is not a lot of room for backpacks and such, but I often tuck a tote in the seat next to me, with my radio battery, a bottle of water, and sometimes a wheel chock. It fits, but it's snug. The idea of using the wing centersection is much, much better! My airplane doesn't have anything up there... maybe I should think about installing a baggage well up there.

3) I cruise my airplane at the altitude you mention... 2-2,500'. If I lived in flat land, I'd probably never take it higher than that. I sometimes take it higher when I need to get over a ridge or want to get a better view of the countryside, but getting to 4,500-5,000 takes a while, it's usually pretty chilly up there, and I don't feel as comfortable up there as I do down lower. The airplane can certainly do it but you have to be patient to get there, especially if you don't have at least 65 HP available.

4) I operate without a radio whenever possible, but I'm based out of a tower-controlled field so I have an Icom handheld just to get me in and out of the airspace. Several builders have installed radios in the underside of the wing centersection where the pilot can get to them and they are tucked up out of the way, and that makes a very clean installation. If you don't have a shortage of funds, you can go with compact radios like the Becker COM and XPDR that each fits in a single round hole. You'll need power though ;o) I use a gel-cell UPS battery to power my handheld; it provides 7.5 amp-hr, which goes a LONG way with a small radio like mine, but I have no idea what a COM and a squawking XPDR will draw. Of course you can go with a full electrical system, but then you'll need all the stuff that Tom mentions.

luispdelgado
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Joined: Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:29 pm

Re: Pietenpol Future Hopeful

Post by luispdelgado » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:55 pm

Gentlemen,

Thank so much for the responses. I really appreciate it. Just a couple of questions I have after what you said:

1) As I understand it, the header tank is somewhere in the fuselage behind the engine is that correct? That would free up the regular fuel tank in the center of the wing for storage?

2) So if the airplane does not have an electrical system, it can fly in the mode C veil without a transponder? I should probably know that, but was not aware.

My wife and I are excited to go to the West Coast and/or Hatz fly in to see the Pietenpols. Thanks for all the other information!

Regards,
Luis Delgado

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taildrags
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Re: Pietenpol Future Hopeful

Post by taildrags » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:06 pm

Luis; I'll attempt to answer your questions, but I don't profess to be an authority on either subject.

1) A header tank would be in exactly the location that you describe, yes. That's where the tank is on my airplane. If you're sitting in the front cockpit, the tank is directly in front of you behind what amounts to the instrument panel, the filler neck for the tank is sticking up straight ahead in your view, and the tank outlet and shutoff valve are between your feet, right at the firewall. That leaves the space in the wing centersection, between the spars, available for a baggage compartment.

2) No, it is not permitted for any aircraft without a Mode C transponder to enter Class Alpha, Bravo, or Charlie airspace without special permission. What you may be confusing this with is the exception for aircraft that were originally certificated without an engine-driven electrical system to operate in Class Delta airspace without a transponder. There are a few other exemptions, such as for tower-controlled airports that are within the veil but under the bottom of the over-lying more restrictive layer of airspace, or certain other airspace that contains visual corridors. Don't count on flying your non-transponder Air Camper into SFO or LAX though ;o)

alexb
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Location: MN

Re: Pietenpol Future Hopeful

Post by alexb » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:20 pm

Just wanted to chime in here as a CFI on the transponder question. Let's talk about airspace first.

Class Alpha is never going to be a concern in a pietenpol (18,000MSL+). Bravo and Charlie are, however, possibilities. It's true that you need a transponder to enter Class B airspace, however, it is possible to fly underneath the B (in what's called the Mode C veil) without a transponder IF the airplane was originally certificated without an engine-driven electrical system and has not since been certified with an engine-driven electrical system.

The same is true for class C, in that you can fly underneath the class C airspace without a transponder, but to enter you would need one. You also need a transponder to operate above 10,000MSL, with an exception for an aircraft operating above 10,000MSL but BELOW 2,500 AGL.

Class D never requires a transponder, unless it's a satellite airport underneath a mode C veil. All that is needed to enter and operate in class D airspace is two way radio communication.

You are correct in that if you build and get your airplane certified without an engine driven electrical system (you could install a wind driven generator and still qualify for the exemption), then you would still be allowed to operate inside the Mode C veil provided you remained below the class B airspace.

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taildrags
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Re: Pietenpol Future Hopeful

Post by taildrags » Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:14 pm

Alexb:

Thank you for the CFI's perspective (clarification)! I just can't imagine trying to traverse (or underfly) Class B airspace after reading the list of U.S. airports that are in Class B. I have flown light single-engine aircraft into several airports in Class C airspace, but never into Class B. My flights into Class C were in C-150 and 172 aircraft, not all that much faster than an Air Camper, but with full avionics and inside a cockpit. I wouldn't try it in an Air Camper.

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