During the flight back from Oshkosh, my buddy and I hit some massive clear-air turbulence west of Salt Lake City. We slammed our heads on the canopy and then the plane pitched up nearly 45º. It was a little hard to tell how much of the diversion from level flight was caused by the turbulence vs. my instinctual response of pulling on the stick when we hit the initial negative-G, but we ended up reading a peak of 6.1 on the G meter. Fortunately, we were low on gas since we were near the end of our leg, so we only weighed about 1,670 lbs.
A quick call to Van’s technical support confirmed what I was already assuming: these planes are strong and I’m unlikely to have damaged anything. They asked me to remove the wing-root fairings and empennage fairing and look for any wrinkled metal. Assuming none was found, fly on!
I pulled both wing-root fairings (unfortunately stripping two phillips screws in the process), and gave everything a thorough inspection. Everything looked a perfect as the last time I have the fairings off, so I buttoned everything back up. The structure here is really beefy, so I really wasn’t expecting to find anything in this area.
While the tail is certainly quite strong, is needs to be quite light. That necessitates using much thinner structure back here. While I wasn’t too worried about the wing roots, I was a little more concerned about the tail. I spent extra time here just to be safe, but like the wings, everything here looked perfect.
I buttoned everything back up and took off for a formation flight with a couple of buddies. These really are amazing aircraft, and it’s good to have reassurance of just how strong they really are!