Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lovely And Lively

The G-700S is resurrected as the AT-4, but still friendly as ever

To conform to the lower stall speed requirement of the LSA spec, Aero increased the wingspan and wing area, modified the airfoil and added winglets and a larger elevator. As with many LSA, the AT-4 is built overseas, shipped in component parts, then assembled, rigged and test-flown in America.

Greg Trzaska handles those duties as well as providing expert liaison with the factory for an owner's needs, from replacement parts to troubleshooting to requesting an LOA (Letter of Authorization, see sidebar) for maintenance, mods or upgrades such as oil heaters or a special instrument panel. The responsive company even custom-cuts holes in instrument panels to customer wishes. Since he speaks Polish fluently, Trzaska is a natural to bridge the gap.

Veteran pilots appreciate airplanes built with tried-and-true general aviation (GA) techniques. The AT-4 is a quality entry in that vein: The all-metal airframe features a semi-stressed skin, with fairings and cowlings of carbon/kevlar composites. GA-standard anodizing and hardware cadmium plating throughout ensure lifelong corrosion protection, and the airframe is built using solid rivets.

The robust spring steel landing gear was chosen to deflect the slings and arrows of outrageous student flying and rough-turf grass strip ops common to club and flight schools in Europe.

All three wheels have attractive streamline fairings that augment the clean, stylish looks. The mains have dual brake calipers for brake redundancy. If the pilot brake system fails, the right-seater can save the day.

The nosewheel, full castering, is well set up and works like a treat with differential braking (when gingerly applied!) through the rudder toe pedals. I pulled a surprisingly tight 180-degree turn effortlessly on the narrow taxiway at Northampton—it truly turns on a dime. Taxiing with differential braking takes very little time to get comfy with, and just a couple seconds after adding power, that big, bird- feathers-like swept tail gives you rudder control, anyway. But, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

You Can Go Home Again
I enjoyed flying the Gobosh version with Dave Graham. He had described its handling characteristics as "lively," and that was right on. But, after those years away from its comfortable cockpit, I wondered: Would my initial impressions, 30-some LSA demos later, hold up? Would it still feel as comfortable, responsive and forgiving?

To find out, Mike Kuehlmuss, a German-born airframe and power plant mechanic (A&P) and certificated, chief flight instructor (CFI) for Northampton Aeronautics, took on the demo for me in Greg Trzaska's lovely new AT-4.

Labels: LSAs


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