Plane & Pilot
Friday, April 4, 2014

The Handsome, All-Terrain Bush Plane

Pick your “feet” for snow, water or land: You get them all with this rugged LSA

With the 100 hp Rotax 912 warmed up and ready to go, Labor demonstrates a STOL takeoff, holding the more-than-ample brakes until full power, then letting her go. We're off in just a few seconds and perhaps 250 feet—quite nice for a 1,100 feet MSL field elevation and near-gross weight.

Climbout at a cruise climb of 70 mph—all readouts on the panel are in mph—is in the mid-to-high 700 fpm. The Sport sees better than 1,000 fpm at best climb speed.

Forward view over the cowl is excellent. Headroom (I'm 5 feet 11 inches) feels like about four inches. An optional overhead skylight is available.

Visibility is good left, forward and right. My forehead is a foot back from the leading edge. Eye level to the side is slightly above the bottom of the wing; a slight duck of the head brings the bottom wing surface into view. A bulge blister in the Plexiglas doors gives good down/back visibility.

General air work reveals the Sport's stable, forgiving personality. Stalls are essentially non-events: lower the nose, power on or off, and you're flying again.

Handling with that Y-handle proves a bit challenging. I never quite finesse my turns in the few minutes we fly. Still, I can accomplish some decent Dutch rolls. It shouldn't take but an hour or two to dial it in—every airplane in time teaches us the right touch anyway.

A smallish tendency toward adverse yaw in banks touches up readily, thanks to the big, effective rudder. Roll pressures are fairly light and nicely responsive. Overall handling is solid, dynamic stability is ever-present: It's a good, friendly airplane through and through.

Landing feels like riding the train into the station: It's on rails. The stable descent finishes with predictable feedback during round-out and flare, with an easy, gentle touchdown and no funny business.

Labor does flybys for my camera and demonstrates the Sport's short-field chops. When we're done, I bid adieu to northern Vermont, satisfied that I've found an affordable S-LSA that's ideal for pilots who dream of versatile land/snow/water backcountry flying.

And for you cold-winter pilots who might wonder, this bush baby's cabin heater works just fine!


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