Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kiss & Bristell

Friendly, refined, beefy for rough-field training, yet a cruiser’s delight

The Impossible Turn
Air Boss Rathmell and I pull approach and departure stalls: non-events both, with no unusual traits and plenty of burble to signify the approach of stall. Slow flight is a breeze and easy to control with rudder alone; no doubt wing dihedral helps here.

I ask Air Boss to help me quantify the "impossible turn" as popularized by Barry Schiff. Climbing at 62 knots (best L/D, remember?), we chop throttle and simulate turning back to the airport.

I clock altitude lost over several trials for a 180-degree turn: best is just 150 feet. For a full 270, we average around 300 feet. Double that for insurance and, all other factors equal, you could feel confident you can readily make it back to the field. Dear reader, note this: I by no means make this a recommendation. All pilots should practice this maneuver at altitude and arrive at their own minimums, and be prepared to overrule them even so if conditions (crosswind, turbulence, etc.) aren't to their liking in an emergency.

Touchdowns are nominal: I managed a smoothie on my third try in light bumps and a touch of crosswind—and I hadn't flown anything at all in weeks. The overall handling of the Bristell inspires confidence, plain and simple. It's lively and fun to fly.

I'll let Lou Mancuso have the last word since his flight school has taught on several models of LSA for years now, and he knows the turf as well as anybody: "I'm excited...because the in my opinion the finest light-sport plane to come on the market." But don't take his word for it: Check it out for yourself at a local dealer or the next big air show...I'd guess you'll then agree it's one of the top S-LSA, period.

Tricycle Gear

In a previous pilot report [Cubcrafters Carbon Cub, April 2012], I talked about taildraggers and their ground-handling dynamics, such as an inherent appetite for swapping nose for tail after landing. What some pilots who have never flown "conventional gear" (taildragger) airplanes may not realize is there's a deliberate rationale for the tricycle configuration. It has to do with landings, or more specifically, with removing that ground-looping tendency inherent in tailwheeled airplanes.

Visualize this demonstration: Take any two-wheeled piece of rolling luggage and pull it along behind you (center of gravity in front of main wheels). It tracks straight. Push it ahead of you (CG behind main wheels), and lots of luck keeping it going straight!

In taildraggers, the CG wants to push the airplane out of alignment, like a golf club balanced on its handle end. Get the shaft out of vertical alignment with gravity—the same as not keeping directional stability—and it's increasingly harder to balance the club. Reach the point of no return, and it's ground-loop time.

In trikes, the CG is pulled back into alignment by the tendency for the wheels behind the CG to track straight with the direction of travel. Trikes also are hard to nose over, but easy to do in a taildragger if you get on the brakes too hard or even hit a large divot or big bump after landing. Tricycle aircraft like the Bristell also handle more easily, of course, thanks to steerable nosewheels, and they have better forward visibility since they sit more or less level.

Labels: LSAs


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