SA012 to 015 – Chris van Hoof

Article by Chris van Hoof – 26 July 2008

This article is not about setting a record, but rather about the satisfaction of testing the actual service ceiling of my particular Amateur Built Aircraft a Cozy Mark IV ZU-CZZ.

Some data to get you going:
The current World Record for a Canard Type aircraft was set by Jim Price at 35,027′ and is held in the C1a class. For my Cozy, due to its weight, C1b: 500 Kg < 1000 Kg. See: SAPFA and FAI websites for the various weight categories.

How to go about this sort of event?

Long Johns, Ski Suit and two pair of socks, Oxygen mask, Oxygen clip-on thingy on your neck, maps & paperwork on the spare seat, cloth at the ready for frosting or condensation, newspaper to stuff around your legs etc 🙂

We actually have to do a climb test in each Amateur built plane to establish the actual service ceiling of the plane. Any excuse finding out what it really is!

Cozy Mark IV ZU-CZZSo organise the local FAI people thru’ SAPFA (Power Flying Association), who lent me loggers and advised on paperwork. SACAA kindly extended my test range. And the flight was therefore by special (and ever so kind) permission of our ATNS thru CAMU (Central Air Management Unit).

How to get to that point:
It is also my opinion that people really want to help each other and everyone wants to be part of something not done before.

How did it feel?
Except cold … the plane is amazingly stable at all times.

What else happened:
OK, so we started the day on the net looking at winds aloft – download and printout, also check Weight & Balance.

25,800 saw the Alternator light come on, air is an insulator. End of Alternator!

The mechanical vacuum pump did its very best, but there was so little air that the instruments started falling over every once in awhile, so you quickly learned to keep the Mk 1 Eyeball outside. There the world looked quite different, sort of edge of space like, pretty really.

Where was the end?
From thereon it was rather uneventful to get to 28,000’+, the waiting for approval to go further got to me – it was cold and I was starting to shake.

Having said this, it got to be a struggle in a sense. Measuring your Ox saturation means, you take the glove off, get the pendant to clip on your finger, wait just a sec or so, see the numbers. Put that glove back on. Now check the Ox flow on the bottle, simple, but you do that over your left shoulder. Eyes back outside, check attitude, altitude, direction on GPS, check mixture. Mixture is so fine that you think of touching the lever and it wants to cut. An exaggeration really, it cuts right out, just like that. Talking is an effort in itself, remove mask, then say your stuff and immediately put that mouthpiece back. You only forget once! It’s simply difficult to believe that you can breathe nothing at all. Eye popping, nothing!

So while they took their time to allow me higher, I had a change of heart and decided to call it a day.

Back on the ground and out the plane at about 2:53 local … it still took me till 5:00 pm to warm up and the ear sorted itself out after a good nights sleep.

Would I do it again?.
Probably, if something changed on my plane that would make the exercise worthwhile, like tuned exhaust pipes, maybe get some more education and more expensive equipment. All told, yes, it was fun to do.

Numbers you ask?
Empty 1195,7 lb
Gross 1666,0
Fuel 154 liters (about 40 US gal) – about 35 to 40 litres left in the RH tank, fumes only in the LH.
Me: 209 Lb
Ballast 33 Lb
Oxygen & other stuff 40Lb
CG at take off 100,30
CG at landing 100,00