So, after several years of dinking around with the Rans S-17, I got the chance to get into a Flightstar IISL fairly cheaply, so I took it. It's a 2 seater that falls under the light sport plane limitations. It had a Rotax 503 air cooled engine, and flies nice and slowly, without any tricky handling quirks (that I've found).

Don was selling it because he's an instructor, and it struggles to get in the air with 2 large people due to the smallish engine. He flies from the higher Cameron Park airport. It'd be fine with a 582, but I don't need the extra power. Don flew it to Lincoln, and then Vince ferried it over to Freedom Field and converted it using the parts from the Rans. We've had problems with the compass, stator, radio and VSI, but it's flying now :o)

The instrument panel has been a bit of a trial. This was it when I bought the plane - quite a mishmash of instruments. An interesting thing is that the tachometer is wildly inaccurate, so there was a digital one mounted at head height.

The first step was to tidy the thing up. With Vince's help I installed a VSI, got a new digital tachometer (the wires on the one that was on the plane when I bought it were too short) and installed an intercom - the radio has some sort of intercom that the original builder, Don and then Vince were unable to get working in a normal manner.

The latest incarnation was a totally new panel. I bought a Grand Rapids EIS system that Vince had picked up from a broken plane, and that replaced the CHT, EGT, VSI and voltmeter. It could do the altimeter and tachometer too, but the display isn't big enough to show everything at once. One of the nice things is that it has a large red light that flashes when there's a problem, so you don't need to monitor everything all the time. I had a trial installing it, and then getting everything to work properly (I ended up replacing all the probes), but it looks like it'll be a winner. I haven't redone the labels for everything, so these are temporary, and this was before I got the 12V accessory sockets installed and the labels tidied up. The rev counter was going mad above ~5400rpm, and the first suggestion (a 10K ohm resistor) stopped it working entirely. The next suggestion, running from the regulator, worked fine once I'd run the wires correctly to avoid causing interference with the radio. The regulator stops drawing power when the battery is fully charged, but running with the strobes on solves that, as its capacitor is always drawing power. I ended up swapping to a Tympanium regulator that solved the problem entirely.

In late 2012, I was just doing circuits with Vic (I like circuits, as it means I get to do all the exciting taking off and landing bit every few minutes) when we had a problem with the engine - it just bogged as we were taking off. I did a very low, tight circuit and landed again. On taking the exhaust off, this is what I saw in the cylinder. I thought it was a partial seizure, as that's what it felt like to me.As the engine was at 400 hours, I decided it was time for a new crank, and we figured it was also time for new pistons seeing as everything was already apart. Every moving part of the engine was replaced. Once it was in pieces, Vince could see that the problem was one of the crank seals was leaking, so I wasn't getting all the fuel into one cylinder. The black mark on the barrel isn't a hole as I'd feared, but where the piston ring gap meant that the carbon from the poor burn hadn't been cleared off the cylinder wall. That's a relief :o)

Having had a few problems with partial seizures with the free air 503, I got a fan cooled 503 from Danny. I finally got these figured out when I repitched the prop, as the CHT was high, but the EGT was low (meaning the engine was working too hard). I could then get it to ~6400rpm on climb out, where before it had topped out at ~6000rpm (the red line's at 6800rpm). The trouble is that the fan cooling robs a few hp from the engine.

As it's been getting hotter, I was finding the density altitude (of ~3,000' on a really hot day) a problem for climbing out, especially 2-up. I finally broke down and found a good deal on a 582, and got that installed and all set up. In the middle of summer, I could now hit about 1,000'/minute on climbout, and had no appreciable increase in fuel consumption (as I'm climbing for less time). It fixed the only thing I wasn't happy about with the thing.

After passing my gyroplane test, I managed to get a Magni M-16, so this went to Marysville.