Plane & Pilot
Monday, September 8, 2008

Feel-Good Flyer

Ever met someone you instantly liked? The MD3 Rider is one friendly yet

Powered by a 100 hp Rotax 912 ULS, the MD3 Rider is a responsive LSA that can climb at 1,200 fpm and cruise at 113 knots.
We do the run-up, then select 15 degrees of flaps for takeoff. The panel-mounted electric-flap lever setup is easy to reach and designed well. Flap settings 1, 2 and 3 are set by detent notches; corresponding values are 15, 30 or 38 degrees, respectively. In with the throttle on the 100 hp Rotax 912 ULS, and the Rider accelerates rather smartly off the runway at around 50 knots. Now I know why Gutman calls it a "little rocket ship."

Flaps up brings little noticeable change in pitch trim—very nice—and soon we're climbing to 2,500 feet with a handsome value of 1,200 fpm at 60 knots. And that's on a mid-80s, humid day in Florida with two pilots possessing a combined weight of more than 320 pounds—and full fuel! In fact, the lightweight, sturdy construction and empty weight of just under 655 pounds deliver a useful load of 612 pounds, 456 pounds with full fuel. To quote Darth Vader: "Impressive. Most impressive."

A No-Drama Queen
The Rider is a natural as a trainer, as stalls both dirty and clean demonstrate. The airplane just doesn't want to break in the stall, preferring to mush along in a nose-high attitude.

Powering back below 70 knots and selecting flap 1 (15 degrees), I again notice the minimal pitch change—a welcome characteristic for takeoffs and landings. Down and dirty at flap 3 (38 degrees) at 4,300 rpm on the 100 horse Rotax, airspeed slows to around 50 knots. Stick pressure remains firm, but not bicep-curl oppressive. A little electric trim (quick-acting and smooth, a nice feature) helps out. Rudder and ailerons remain responsive as the nose rises to around 18 degrees.

Okay, you can stall now, I think. I wait...and wait. Zippo. The stick is hauled back against the seat, between my legs, and power's at idle, but it never breaks. Centering up with rudder, the Rider happily drones along, nose well above the horizon, at 38 knots. Descent rate is about 500 fpm.

"You could contact the ground in this attitude," Gutman opines. "It would be a hard impact, but you'd certainly survive it." He then forces the break by chopping power and pulling the stick back more quickly. Even then, the airplane wants to hang by its schnozzola. With a last tug aft on the stick, the Rider demonstrates that it's indeed a conventional airplane. A slight burble, then a gentle drop of the nose is about all the histrionics we get.

Labels: LSAsSpecs


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