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KC - Harmon Rocket II

Builder:
Kevin Cameron
Location:
San Jose, CA - USA
Aircraft:
Harmon - Rocket II
Engine:
??? -
Prop:
???
Total Build Time:
126 Hours

Welcome to the web log documenting my Harmon Rocket II build.

For those that don't know, a Harmon Rocket II is a popular homebuilt experimental aircraft based on the (even more popular) Van's RV-4. The major differences are a 6 cylinder engine (instead of 4), a shorter wing, more fuel capacity, a larger passenger cabin, and a fastback rear fuselage.
Harmon Rocket Home Page
RV-4 Home Page

My current flying RV-4 (N493DB) is powerful and nimble. It's a joy to fly but sometimes I find myself wishing for more. It'd be fun to have even more climb rate and cross-country speed. The cockpit is a bit cramped on long flights. These issues are addressed nicely by the HRII. Also, my RV-4 was complete and flying when I bought it. Even though I've taken a lot of it apart and have customized more to my liking, I still miss feeling the pride of having built an airplane myself.

I'm not sure exactly how my Rocket will be equipped. I'll stick to the plans as far as the basic airframe goes. For instance, I don't plan to try and engineer any additional aerodynamic improvements.

If I can afford it, I'll put a 350+ hp engine in it. It should be possible to build a reliable engine with the same footprint as the standard 250HP IO-540-C4B5 while shaving off 15 or more pounds.

A three-bladed prop may be required for the high power engine and I'd prefer it anyway just for aesthetic reasons. I'm hoping to find a composite prop which weighs about the same as the standard two-bladed aluminum version.

Choosing the avionics will be complicated. There are many vendors and the offerings change weekly. I spent a fair bit of time looking at avionics websites then decided to not worry too much about until about a year before first flight. There's no telling what new electronic wonders will be available by then. I can't completely ignore it until then, though. For instance, I'll presumably be starting the wing build in a couple of months and I'll need to plan for whatever antennas and other stuff that will be installed in the wingtips.

The paint scheme is even more uncertain. I've gotten ideas from some beautiful rockets and RVs but it's difficult to decide whether to do something really high-concept like a mural or maybe geometric, flames, flags, checkerboards, or whatever. I certainly don't want to just copy a scheme from another plane. For now the plan is to paint it after I get it flying so I've got some time.

Though I did some planning and preparation beforehand, I'll arbitrarily define the project start date as that of the first log entry: October 26, 2011. My goal is for first flight to occur two years after that so October 26, 2013. A stretch goal would be 1.5 years or April 26, 2013. That seems quite soon to me looking forward but some have built these planes in 1/3 the time.


Recent Activity
 Date Hours Work Log Summary Details
 01-19-2012
2.0
Mounted HS Frame On Jig
Details
     

 01-18-2012
4.0
Jig Phase 2 (for Horizontal Stabilizer)
Details
       

 01-18-2012
2.0
Finished HS Frame Drilling
Details
       

 01-17-2012
6.0
Drilled Most Of HS Front Spar Frame Holes
Details
       

 01-16-2012
5.0
Started HS Spar Frame Assembly
Details
       

 01-16-2012
2.0
Made HS Rear Spar Jig Mounts
Details
       

 01-14-2012
4.0
HS Front Spar Doubler
Details
       

 01-10-2012
8.0
HS Rib Fluting
Details
     

 01-05-2012
3.0
Starting HS Front Spar
Details
       

 01-03-2012
3.0
Assembled HS Rear Spar
Details
       










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