First and foremost, as many of you know it is not a small undertaking to start building your own aircraft and we are always excited to watch our customers, after all the work and time they dedicated to their aircraft get its wings in the air. It makes us happy to know that they chose a Viking engine to help them get there.
One of our customer, Patrick Hoyt graciously took the time to answer some of our questions and in turn thought we would share them with all of you.
Patrick has been flying about 12 years, he typically flies with his wife when flying cross-country, but there is a lot of solo flying as well and he has been an EAA member since he was a kid, but only within the last handful of years was he able to really participate in aviation the way he wanted. It took him 7 years to go from his first introductory flying lesson until he had built his own airplane (and engine) and took it up into the air with his own hands. Patrick is just now getting to experience the Viking engine with around 5 hours thus far, and we will definitely be following up in the future – so many others have established success with Viking and we are excited to see Patrick putting some hours on his engine.
When we asked Patrick why he chose Viking he simply responded:
“I chose Viking after unexpectedly finding myself in need of an engine for my Zodiac airframe (which I had previously flown for about 180 hours). I had built my previous engine myself, and I was perfectly willing to build another one; however, I was concerned about long lead-times for some specialized parts. It's fine to slowly accumulate parts during the years that you're building an airplane, but it's quite another thing to have your completed airplane "down" while waiting for custom parts to trickle in. Even though my airplane was already set up "firewall forward" for my previous engine, I was concerned that I would be unlikely to get the airplane flying again anytime soon (I even considered selling the airframe as a 'firewall-back' project). The Viking offered the advantage that I was able to get everything I needed all at once.
Even with the Viking's advantages, it was still a very difficult decision for me. I really agonized over it as I had built up a lot of loyalty around the other engine over the years, and I still have an interest in building another one someday. People are starting to ask me if the Viking 130 is a better engine, and that's a really tough question, because each builder has their own mission, and different engines will have their own advantages that are pertinent to their pilot's particular mission. I think it would do builders a disservice to make a blanket statement that one particular engine is better or worse than another. People should realize that the mission may change as time passes. In my case, part of my original mission 10 years ago was to build an engine myself, so I went with the type of engine that made most sense for me at that time, and I'm happy I did that. Years later, my mission became "get my airplane back in the air in a reasonable amount of time, and with a stronger engine", so the Viking 130 became the logical choice, and I'm happy I did that, too. The answers for some questions depend not only on who you ask, but when you ask them...”
Does the Viking engine have more power?
“Yes, it does. I'm still getting the prop dialed in, but my Zodiac has already seen an increase of 38mph on the top end, over what I was previously getting, and that's with no aerodynamic changes beyond a different cowl, a different prop, and the addition of a large radiator under the fuselage. Same airplane. Same airspeed indicator. Same pitot-static system. Takeoffs are shorter, with more brisk acceleration. I would not have thought that much of an increase to be possible, and if somebody had told me that the aircraft would see that level of a performance increase, I simply would not have believed them. This speed is close to Vne, and is for Phase One testing only, in the interest of demonstrating the possibility of safe operation above normal flight speeds - it is not a speed that I would otherwise fly at, nor would I want to encourage others to do that.
We asked Patrick about his most memorable flight, and a couple came to mind.
” Several flights stand out as memorable. Of course everyone remembers their first Solo (mine was in a Piper Warrior). Another highlight was when I took my Zodiac up on its first flight. A big one was my first landing at Oshkosh, during AirVenture a few years ago (and they did an aerial photo-shoot and put my airplane on the cover of the January 2015 issue of Experimenter). Another one was when I lost an engine after takeoff, but was able to make it to the runway and land ok (right after that happened I had the great pleasure to shake the hand of the flight instructor with whom I'd practiced emergency landings a few days prior).
Patrick doesn’t have a huge background in aviation, like so many of us, he became interested as a child and was able to later in life bring that passion to fruition. Patrick explain,
“We didn't see airplanes very often where I grew up (in rural north-western Wisconsin). Whenever an airplane flew over, we would run out of the house to go look. I always wanted to be a pilot, and I built a lot of model airplanes as a kid. Along the way I've also noticed that "airplane people" tend to be really good people. Indeed, I would say that "airplanes" are just a small part of "aviation". The biggest part of aviation is all the wonderful and interesting people that you meet.”