Well... maiden flight was today.
I got the cowl painted and stripped, though I am going to have to sand the black and redo it. I was impatient and the black wasn't dry enough when I put down the clear coat. The clear spider webbed something nasty on top of the black. Still, it looks nice enough in the photos. Fueling and starting was uneventful. With my wife working the video camera, I taxied out and took off....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcRnkf4jUyk
The video cuts where it does because a couple of seconds later, my wife lost track of the plane. I was having a terrible time filming as well. The sun was directly overhead and the glare on the screen made it nearly impossible to track a plane at any distance. About 10 seconds after the end of the video, the engine died.
I learned several good things during the flight. #1) Don't take off with your rates set for 3D, especially on maiden. #2) Trim is a bit off, especially on the elevator. If you watch the video carefully, you can see that it starts to climb a bit before hitting flying airspeed. I didn't have time to play with the trim before the dead stick, but I am fairly certain it was not tail heavy, mainly due to what was learned in... #3) The plane has a very nice glide. Seagull lists this as a .60-1.00 two stroke sized airframe with a wing loading in the 24.5-27oz/ft^2 range. I have a 26cc gas engine on it and a wing loading of 35 oz/ft^2. If you read the message boards, most folks these days would freak and claim it was way to heavy and would never fly. However, it glides wonderfully. When the motor died, I was in a gentle climb, getting read to start trimming the plane. Nose down to gain some airspeed and head back toward the runway. I had to fight the bad elevator trim to keep the nose down, but of than that, it was very manageable. I was about 200 yards out and at maybe 100ft. Not enough to make it to the runway and make to turn to land so I had to ditch in the cow pasture that surrounds out field. Unfortunately it is not the most smooth surface and a rather large clump of dirt ruined what would otherwise have been a most excellent landing. The gear grabbed and was ripped out and managed to flip the plane over on its back too. Luckily, the gear block came out clean and the only damage to the rest of the plane was to the top of the rudder which was crushed a bit. I didn't even break the prop.
I haven't figured out what killed the engine yet. I checked over the plane when I got it back to the pits and everything was connected and functioning as it should. Right now, I suspect heat. I had run the motor for 20-30 minutes, testing it at the house, but that was without the cowl. I suspect that the airflow into the cowl wasn't going where it was needed and so not cooling to motor or ignition. I'm re-gluing the gear this evening and may take some time tomorrow to test the motor.
Not the best possible outcome, but still reasonable successful. If nothing else, I now know for sure that even in a dead stick condition it will be a manageable airframe despite it's weight.