Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Best, Funnest Cockpit I Have Seen

I have a Facebook page called RV Nation that allows all of us experimental nuts to talk about RV's and Harmon Rockets, and share pictures and ideas on how to build them better, safer, and most importantly, cooler. One day when I was surfing the net and chatting with one of my RV friends, Ian Hoyt, online, the thread of conversation settled on one RV8 that we had both seen recently, either in person or on the net. The RV8 had so many features and cool ideas, it has driven me to show all that follow this blog those ideas as well. So get ready to drop your jaw, and if you so choose to duplicate the efforts of the builder, get ready to drop a few bills as well. But the fame and fortune that will soon follow will be more than enough for your efforts.....well maybe not the fortune part.

The RV8 at hand had been built and developed over a long period of time, and in that development, had taken on an identity of its own. The name that was given to it, or that it had earned, was "Smokey". The proud owner and creator of this amazing craft is Don McNamara. I emailed Don and asked him all about his RV8 and all its cool features, and he was more than happy to talk about it a bit and share how he came about developing such a unique plane.

"Smokey" sports a military paint scheme, that of the Jolly Rogers F14 to be exact. But the rest of the features of this plane is all Air Force. (The Navy always seem to have better paint schemes for some reason, but that's about where it all ends usually....haha.) Gooo Air Force. But, I digress.

So, let's get back to the RV8, shall we? The interior of this plane is where all the fun is. For that I am going to give the honors to Don, in his own words, as he described his plane to me via email.

"While the paint scheme of "Smokey" is that of an F-14 Tomcat squadron, it's impossible to find cockpit parts from Tomcats because we sold them to the Iranians, and we don't want them to have spares.  However, we sold F-16s to our allies, so parts are more plentiful.  I picked up parts over the years at Oshkosh and on eBay, and more recently from an online F-16 simulator site.  The ICP, for example -- which stands for Integrated Control Panel -- is front and center in the F-16 panel and directs what the pilot sees on the HUD, as well as other things.  Mine slides over my Garmin 496 for static display.

The simulated HUD is directly above that.  The black rectangular things on either side of the HUD are indexers, again from an F-16.  The left one gives angle of attack (AOA) info and the right one is for in-flight refueling and nosewheel steering indication, neither of which I need.  The mirrors are standard military stock, and the stick grip and throttle control are F-16.  From the stick I can start the engine, trim the plane, communicate on the radio and disconnect the autopilot. 

The ejection seat handles I just made out of wood and painted for static display at Oshkosh.  I had started making an ACES II ejection seat out of aluminum, but gave up.  I may someday resurrect the project."

WOW! That is quite a plane, and quite an imagination to create, or should I say re-create, the cockpit of an F-16 into that of an RV8. Don is now sporting the "ultimate weekend warrior" plane per se, and I'd say that it looks down right awesome. I wonder if he has some other secret armaments in there that he hasn't told us about? Hmmm, maybe. I liked the ideas so much, in fact, that I want to implement some of these ideas in my own plane, a Harmon Rocket, when it is completed. I hope that I have the creativity and craftsmanship as does Don when I do.

Well, this particular blog entry was meant to be a lasting tribute to Don and his beautiful RV8 "Smokey". I hope that I have done the creator and plane justice, as his craftsmanship simply has been a work of art and his RV8 is just gorgeous. Great Job Don!

-- Buzz
RV Nation

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