Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Wings Of Freedom
A brief review, some reminiscence and a broad-stroke celebration of Light-Sport Aircraft
Finally, let's not overlook the FAA Part 103 Ultralight Vehicle category, the original freedom wings. The sector celebrates its official 30th anniversary this year. Ultralights are great for those not in a rush to get anywhere and don't mind—or even prefer—that patented bugs-in-teeth, no-regulation flight away from airspace and populated areas. Many new, ready-to-fly ultralights like the Breese or Quicksilver (which delivered more than 14,000 aircraft all by itself!), starting as low as $10,000, remove all rationale for saying you can't afford to fly!
A Global Phenomenon
FAA recently indulged in a surprising prediction. Consulting its general-aviation crystal ball, the regulatory body projected that over the next 20 years, only LSA and jets/turboprops would enjoy market growth! One driving factor in that anticipated growth is the growing international acceptance of light-sport-style aircraft.
U.S. and overseas makers alike are seeing their global market expand. Australia and Brazil already accept the ASTM standard. Top-selling LSA maker Flight Design earned a type certificate in China—the first of many companies that hope to tap that sleeping giant of private aviation. Until recently, only military and airline flights were permitted there.
Tips From A Veteran
• Always reposition LSA by pushing down on the tail and rotating around the two mains to save wear and tear on the gear and save dragging out that tow bar!
• On takeoff, avoid liftoff below 40 knots and expect best Vy of 70 knots for most LSA.
• Rotax engine tips: 100LL fuel (the Rotax 912 burns auto fuel, too) requires a minimum 5,000 rpm cruise in the Rotax to disperse the lead to the engine; 4000 rpm is a typical descent setting. The 912 gearbox likes power descents and a minimum 1800 rpm idle.
• General landing speeds: Approach—60 knots. Over the fence—55 knots Touchdown—45 knots.
• Fly LSA onto the runway rather than using the traditional GA full-stall technique until you've got at least 10 hours of experience in the type. Why? LSA are lighter (MTOW or Max Takeoff Weight: 1,320 pounds) and more vulnerable to crosswinds and gusts at near-stall speeds.
• Even with experience, use the fly-it-on technique for crosswind landings.
• Touch down on the main wheels first, then lower the nose gently as speed dissipates.
• Don't land in a crab.
• Always land on the centerline, don't turn off the runway until below 15 knots, and never apply brakes in a turn.
• "Good landings are a result of good approaches," Mancuso says.
• Always aim to land in the first 500 feet of the runway.
• Slips on approach with excessive altitude are always more effective if you mush (nose high/slower speed) first.
• Approach should be stabilized at 200 feet AGL. Don't slip, mush or add flaps below 200 feet. If you're not stabilized by 100 feet, go around! Forcing a landing is asking for trouble.
• "Top Gun pilots," says Mancuso, "always check the CHT gauge (cylinder head temp) on climbout, keep the temps below 230 C, and reduce power on climbout if needed...most 912-powered LSA have plenty of climb rate to spare.
• "Top Gun pilots land exactly on the centerline, always on the mains, and they use plenty of rudder and aileron to assure no side drift at touchdown.
• "Top Gun pilots fly with their CFI on a windy crosswind day at least once per year."
• 75% cruise comes at around 5,200 rpm and burns 5.3 gallons per hour.
• Shutting down: Set throttle to idle, then turn off magnetos one at a time rather than both in one motion.
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