Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pipistrel Virus: Triple Your Pleasure


Soar, tour, train: With this baby, you do it all!


Maybe she dressed kinda funny. Maybe he kept to himself. She was a little eccentric, joined after-school clubs and was an A student. He was a loner; didn't play football or run track, wasn't the flashiest guy on campus, didn't drive a cool car. Then one day, walking down the hall or hurrying across the quad to class, this person you barely knew swam into your field of view, something shifted inside you, and your world lit up in a new and mysterious way.

That describes my sudden affection for the Pipistrel Virus. I had seen it around and planned to eventually report on it or one of its graceful siblings: The Slovenian company produces an intriguing family of capable and even exotic aircraft. But until that Oshkosh AirVenture day when I drove out to quaint Brennand Airport, I hadn't caught the Virus bug. Then I flew it. Game on.

The Virus (pronounced "Vee-roos") sports an aerodynamically slippery bullet-with-a-T-tail-stinger look. It's very comfortable for extended, economical, long-range motor touring. And its long, elegant wings support excellent soaring performance, too (24:1 glide ratio, around 200 fpm sink rate). Virus pilots get 800 miles or so range in a cabin that's roomy and well-upholstered enough to prevent distressed posteriors. It's an excellent trainer, too, and thus brings a hybridized value to light-sport flying that few LSA can offer.

Alright, we might as well get it out of our system: English-speaking pipples tend to wrinkle up their noses at the unusual name "Virus." "Pipistrel" comes from the company's beginnings in 1987 when it manufactured powered delta-winged trikes, reminding the locals of bats. So yes, Virus and Sinus (another Pipistrel motorglider) might seem to suggest the company sells sick flying rodents or bats with post-nasal drip. Ba-dah-bing! Okay, joke's over. Just use a Slovenian accent—"Vee-roos" and "See-noos"—and all sounds kosher.

Dave White, a big, super-friendly CFI, and partner/fearless leader Rand Vollmer, retired Army Col., West Point classmate of CIA Dir. David Petraeus and...founder/majordomo of San Antonio Light Sport Aircraft (SALSA—catchy, eh?), ran a clinic at Brennand on how to do a bang-up job giving demo rides for prospective customers. Every day it was flyable, the SALSA and Pipistrel clan were at Brennand, boring happy holes in the sky all day long with the Virus.





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