Seattle has a very temperate clime...
temperatures almost never get above 100 degrees F, and almost
never drop below 0 F.
Until this year, the record for the number days per year above
90 degrees was *three*.
This year is different. We're up to about seven.
Today was one of them...about 95 degrees, absolutely beautiful
day to fly an open cockpit airplane. I took Moonraker up,
flew around for about 40 minutes, then came back and
landed. As I rolled out, I decided I wanted more.
But the fuel was a tad low, so I pulled up to the pumps to get
After a bit, I fired up and taxied out to the runway.
Start pre-takeoff checks....
Hmmmm. The ailerons are sticking. They'd go to the
right just fine, then come to neutral and lock. A bit more
pressure and it'd clear....
But, shoot, somethings wrong. I taxied back to the hangar
and shut down. After pulling out my ear plugs, I wiggled
the stick back and forth. There was a distinct "Thud" when
the stick went left of neutral, synchronized with the
sticking. Following my ears, it seemed to be coming from
the aileron itself.
I climbed out and took a closer look. The inboard aft edge
of the aileron was striking the end corner of the aileron notch
in the wing. I could work things by hand, and actually feel the
surfaces rub across each other.
No other sign of issues...no buckled ribs, no wrinkled fabric.
The only thing I could think of was the heat, and the fact that
the airplane sat out in it, stationary, for about 30 minutes.
I pushed it back into the hangar. Five minutes later, the
interference was gone, and there was a gap about the thickness
of a business card where the pieces had been striking, before.
The lesson here? Don't build your airplane with really
tight clearances for the ailerons. This plane has been
flying for over 30 years, I've been flying it for nearly 20, and
this is the first time this has happened. I'm going to
shave some material off the edge of the aileron, but there's no
reason for it to be this close to start with. Give
yourself some room, folks....