Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Prius With Wings

Two-fisted thermal grabber, fuel-sipping cruiser and trainer—in one airplane!

And get this: at the economy cruise setting of 4,400 rpm, fuel burn is—wait for it—2.4 gph. That works out to around 45 miles per gallon. Yep, that's working.

Autopilot is an available option, but Sinus is easy enough to keep on track even in the bumps, due to a responsive control feel that firms up nicely at higher speed, yet lightens agreeably at slower speeds. Slower speeds as in...thermalling.

Let's Kill That Engine!
That's right: It's crankin' and bankin' time. At Vollmer's invitation (I call him "Colonel" sometimes—he's a retired Army veteran of Iraq War II), we try my hand at making those big motorglider wings grab thermals.

Just below cloud base, around 4,000 feet, the ever-smiling Vollmer talked me through the simple engine shutdown sequence. One push on the big knob at panel central feathered the prop, we slowed to best sink rate speed, (48.6 knots) and went hunting. Left wing bumps up: lift! Bank hard left, vario starts beeping. One turn, two, then fell out. Try again, maybe under that cloud over there, says Vollmer. Best glide speed is 51.3 knots, so I just bank that way. Sure enough, there's spotty but steady lift there.

First soaring impression of the Sinus: What a sweetheart! Second impression: I could go a long way and stay up a reeeeally long time on a good soarable day in this airplane.

This happy, comfortable feeling came after just a few turns in light, choppy little thermals. The most "up" air the compact digital Brauniger ALPHA-MFD vario sang about was about 400 fpm, and for just a few seconds at that. Not a great soaring day, but clearly a very capable soaring machine. By the way, the Brauniger also displays ALT, ASI, VSI and engine function—very nice device.

Labels: LSAsPiston Singles


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