To quote Howard Hughes in the movie The Rocketeer… ”The son of a b**** will fly!”
The stars finally aligned with the weather (and schedules) in western Nevada on the morning of April 8th, and the Dye/Hose eXenos took to the air for its first and second flights from Dayton Valley Airpark. Paul Dye flew both flights using the EAA Test Card #2 (suitably modified for an electric powerplant) and found the airplane to fly fine, with only a slightly heavy left wing and a stall speed right on the book value of 38 knots. The electric power system devised by Gabe DeVault worked flawlessly and Paul was able to manage temperatures of the motor, controller and battery to complete all the flight test objectives on the card. While the motor warms up quickly during takeoff and initial climb, the temperature are easily managed while maintaining a respectable positive rate of climb to pattern altitude.
The Xenos airframe (almost seven years in the building) performed admirably—as expected. While the long aluminum wings do flex enough to see a little oil canning on the upper surface in turns, they do what they are designed to do and generate gobs (a technical aeronautical term) of lift. Handling qualities are fine—in fact, the first thing that comes to mind is “it flies just like an airplane!” The landings were accomplished using half spoilers on final and a power-on approach but it should fly just fine in full glider mode when we get to that point in the test program.
Co-builder Louise Hose served as test conductor on the ground, making sure that all of the logistics were taken care of so that Paul could concentrate on flying. This included ground communications on a busy Saturday morning at the airpark where the first nice weather in months had a number of neighbors saddling up to go fly but all gave way to watch the long-term project (which many had helped with along the way) take to the air. She also handed out photo assignments to neighbors who wanted to be directly involved, and collected stills and video from long-time helpers Laura Starkey and Barry Wingate. She’ll be taking her turn in the cockpit as Phase I testing continues.
The eXenos is fairly unique in the homebuilding world, as not that many Xenos airframes have been built , and this is only the second one to fly with DeVault’s electric motor system. Sonex LLC has supported this project with a custom motor mount and technical support, as did MGL avionics, whose EFIS and radio grace the panel.
While nowhere near as sprightly in handling as the typical Sonex or RV, the eXenos goes where you want it to go and was stable in all axes. The airplane will use the EAA Test Flight Manual program through Phase I, and will soon have the appropriate Ops Limits allowing it to be signed out of Phase I when all task-based flight testing is complete.