Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Jabiru J230: Heart Of Gold
Beauty and solid, easy-flying handling in one package
|What draws a person to an airplane? For some it’s raw performance—faster/higher/farther; for others, it’s enthusiastic raves from fellow pilots. But for most of us, it’s an intangible moment of “smittenness” with the sheer visual appeal of a new flying machine. How great, then, when the object of your latest affection turns out to not only have eye-catching beauty, but a heart of gold as well.|
What draws a person to an airplane? For some it’s raw performance—
faster/higher/farther; for others, it’s enthusiastic raves from fellow pilots. But for most of us, it’s an intangible moment of “smittenness” with the sheer visual appeal of a new flying machine. How great, then, when the object of your latest affection turns out to not only have eye-catching beauty, but a heart of gold as well.
At a recent Sun ’n Fun, I hopped out of an LSA after a photo flight. Across the grassy strip of South Lakeland Airport, the streamlined-yet-robust lines of a high-winger caught my eye. “Hmm. Slick-looking ship. What is it?” I asked a nearby pilot.
|The U.S.–built, Australian-designed Jabiru J230 is a high-wing airplane that’s powered by a 120 hp, six-cylinder Jabiru 3300 engine.|
“One of those Aussie planes, I think,” he replied. And indeed it was. Mates and Sheilas, meet the Jabiru J230-SP, a U.S.–built, Australian-designed S-LSA. A closer look revealed smooth, composite-contoured construction, three doors and a generously roomy (nearly 45-inch-wide) cockpit. The interior was lovely: optional leather seats and dual EFIS instrument panel. Center-mounted stick. Dual throttles. Electric flaps. Hydraulic brakes. An air-cooled, 120 hp, four-stroke, six-cylinder, 3,300 cc Jabiru opposed engine. And a high-aspect wing with vertical winglets. What’s not to like? First Date
Thanks to Dave Jalanti of Jabiru Power Solutions (www.jabirups.com
), the Northeast Jabiru distributor, I recently took the pleasure of the J230’s company at my local, upstate New York flying field, a lovely 4,000-foot grass strip known as Kline Kill. With local CFI Clifford Allen riding herd in the right seat, we taxied onto the mowed green field on a calm summer morning. Allen coached me through the takeoff: “Pull it off at about 50 knots, keep her level in ground effect until 65, then pitch for a 75-knot climb out.”
Takeoff was a breeze. Once upstairs, with no flaps and 65 knots indicated, I saw climb rates of 1,000 fpm and more, though the spec is for 700 fpm with full load. We were full-up with two 175-pound people on board and plenty of fuel (“useable” load is 520 pounds). Only five minutes into the flight, I’d answered the first question I always ask an airplane I’ve just met: How does it feel? It felt right. The J230 handles easily, with excellent feedback. It’s smooth, easy to fly and feels...solid.
The secret to its flight personality is no secret at all. For Allen, it comes down to just two words: “dynamic stability.” Allen’s devoted many years to teaching people how to fly in conventional aircraft, so he knows whereof he speaks when he says, “If you displace it, what does the airplane do? If you pull back into a climb, does it seek out and return to its trimmed attitude and airspeed? That’s what you’d expect to see in a Cessna. And that’s what this airplane does.”
He adds that he has flown several different LSA, but dynamic stability hasn’t been a common trait among many of them. “It’s important that, when a student is distracted, the airplane will take care of itself. Students shouldn’t be able to easily stumble into uncomfortable situations, such as stalls or sudden buildups of speed.” Allen considers the J230’s dynamic stability as “at the level of an FAA-certificated airplane. That’s what I like about it. I can fly it all day long and never work at it.”
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