Monday, October 1, 2007
Flying Patty Wagstaff’s “girly” Extra 300S
|There I sat as the consequence of a misunderstanding, watching the ground drop away at a satisfyingly rapid rate. I anticipated a high nose attitude, but still underestimated and had to keep pulling back on the stick—even while setting the throttle and prop to “25 squared” out of concern for the noise-sensitive airport neighbors. I tried to hold 90 knots and reached the end of the 5,000-foot-long runway passing through 1,100 AGL. And the plane wasn’t even trying!|
More positive G maneuvers followed; loops, rolls, barrels, modified half-Cubans and reverse half-Cubans, and wingovers (90 and 180 degrees of bank) just kept flowing. The power remained between 20 and 24 inches and the prop at 2,400 rpm; still the airplane gained altitude. A full-deflection aileron roll was next flown in an effort to track the roll rate. After four or five linked rolls, I couldn’t trust my mental timing, but the roll rate was easily 300 to 360 degrees per second. Even with partial power and the heavy fuel load, we were soon at 5,000 feet.
ATC called us out as traffic to another aircraft. I held an orbit at first, then settled on a straight course roughly east-bound. I still couldn’t find the traffic, and the other airplane didn’t see me either. (Two-dimensional thinking wasn’t working.) Full power, pitch up for a climb and the Extra went from 5,000 to 6,000 feet in well under a minute. Just then, we spotted each other with more than adequate clearance.
After a few more maneuvers, it was time to head back for landing. Power was back to 16 to 17 inches for the descent and the traffic pattern. Upon reaching the abeam point on the downwind, the throttle came back even further, and a descending turn began. Between modulating the power and manipulating the turn, we arrived over the numbers and flared to the landing attitude. There was lots of control authority in all three axes. Some ratcheting showed in pitch and, to a lesser extent, in yaw—my problem, not the plane’s. But the touchdown was anticlimactic, just as in the Extras and Sukhois I’ve flown before. Aircraft in this class all seem to have great ground manners.
I did two more landings, and found that with the throttle at idle, the plane came down as steeply as the S2A—maybe more so. (There’s massive drag in that prop.) The nose was higher than the Pitts’ landing attitude, but without the top wing, there was the illusion of better visibility. The crosswind drifted us right of center, but that was again my fault and not the airplane’s.
Lots of information in only 42 minutes!