Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Game Changer


Why air-show star Rob Holland is expecting big things from the new MX Aircraft MXS-RH


Air-show pilot Gary Ward was nice enough to stop by with his MX2 for a comparison of the different feature changes of the MXS-RH, as well as fly the camera ship for the air-to-air photo shoot. Above, the changes in the vertical fin and tail area are shown to advantage with the shorter vertical stab and lengthened rudder horn.

From The MXS To MXS-RH

MX constructs its aircraft out of Toray carbon-fiber parts that are aerospace certified and used on everything from Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner to today’s cutting-edge military aircraft. This material allows for a practically seamless fit without using any exterior moldings or fasteners, creating a very slick airframe, capable of straight and level speeds in excess of 250 mph.

The company offers two basic designs to build from: the two-seat MX2 and the single-place MXS, similar to the version flown in the Red Bull Air Race. “The wing and aileron design of the MX have always been its strong point with owners,” explains Meyer. “With a +14/-14 G rating and one of the fastest roll rates (almost 500 degrees per second) of any aerobatic plane in its class, the real potential we felt was in the tail.”

Holland, who has the perspective of having been a “biplane guy” for most of his aerobatic career, chimes in: “Tumbles are a large part of my air show and are very popular with the crowds. While the MX2 does a great job allowing me to do true nose-to-tail outside maneuvers, I still felt there was room for improvement.”

With a 45-degree incline for the seat, it takes a minute to get used to the position, but just like with the F-16, the incline is better for G-force tolerance. MX Aircraft leaves the choice of instrumentation wide open for the customer, and Rob Holland selected the Dynon SkyView as the main presentation source for engine and attitude feedback. The seat is custom molded to your posture, and you even can have an autopilot installed.
The latest iteration of the MXS is the MXS-RH, and it’s no coincidence that those are Holland’s initials. When Holland was still flying the Ultimate 20-300 biplane, Meyer invited him to test-fly the MX prototype to get his opinion on the design. “I wasn’t too excited about the idea, but Chris was such a down-to-earth, nice guy, that I decided to give it a whirl. I had flown and instructed in monoplane aerobatic aircraft before, and they never really interested me that much, so I wasn’t expecting any great thrill. When airborne and moving the controls for the first time, I thought, ‘this is pretty nice,’ but I didn’t let myself get too excited about it, as I am a ‘biplane guy.’ But the more I flew it, the more excited I became, and in competition, I could see the judges really seemed to respond to the aircraft. I was hooked!”

Holland’s experience with the Ultimate biplane influenced some of the changes on the new MXS-RH. “We replaced the rounded rudder on the Ultimate with a pointed version at the bottom, so we would have additional area in the prop wash where the rudder is most effective. Not only did this give increased rudder authority for maneuvers, the aircraft also seemed to present itself straighter in the air to the judges, an important quality when it comes to competition flying. I always wanted to try the same changes to the MXS, knowing it had to make a difference, and it did! At 100 mph, pushing the rudder with full swing, the RH yawed almost 90 degrees with not much pressure at all! I was laughing to myself, thinking of all of the new possibilities in maneuvers with just this one change.”

In addition to the rudder dimensions being different, MX changed the rudder shape from a concave foil to a more standard wing shape. The vertical stabilizer was shortened by two inches, and the rudder horn was lengthened vertically by two inches, taking a lot of pressure off of the pedals. In fact, Holland claims the RH is about three times as light on the controls as the stock MXS.

Other areas of improvement are the horizontal stabilizer and elevator. The stock MXS has a one-degree angle of incidence in the horizontal stab, just like the MX2. However, while the negative and positive pitch characteristics of the MX2 were good, the stock MXS being eight inches shorter felt heavy in the negative or push of the elevator. So for the new MXS-RH, the horizontal incidence was brought to zero, a slight change that made the push-and-pull pressure equal and light. MX Aircraft also changed the shape of the elevator, increasing the cord by four inches at the root, which in Holland’s words, “made the elevator come alive with authority,” and again, he says it’s almost three times as effective as his MX2!

Other changes included a seat recline of 45 degrees from the 37 decreed by Red Bull Air Race rules, and a new cowling that incorporates speed and cooling modifications learned from Red Bull, as well. The canopy redesign also is a speed mod tweaked for more visibility in the MXS-RH over the Red Bull version.



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