Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Prius With Wings
Two-fisted thermal grabber, fuel-sipping cruiser and trainer—in one airplane!
I managed to cop half an hour and gain hundreds of feet more than once, extending the power-off portion of our flight by half an hour in late-afternoon mild conditions. And remember, this was my first flight in the airplane. Most of my soaring experience is in hang gliders, not conventional aircraft. That should tell you what an easy-soaring sweetheart Sinus is.
The Sinus is by no means a touchy, overly sensitive thoroughbred. It handles beautifully with a measured control feel, and well suited for teaching students who want to learn both powered and soaring flight. Even with those long wings, it's not inclined to fall off left or right at the stall. No sharp nose breaks either, just a mushing nose-high attitude like many LSA exhibit. The stall warning burble is subtle but noticeable, control forces get a bit mushier of course, but for a 49-foot span, there's good roll authority even near stall, such as near landing.
Speaking of landings, I tested the bird's robust laminated composite gear more than once when I flared late and bounced. The Sinus in that regard absorbs the bumps as agreeably as the Alpha Trainer and Virus: very sturdy, very forgiving.
Longer wings require increased vigilance in crosswinds, but the Sinus rolls with surprisingly little adverse yaw, so you don't need much rudder. It feels less "wingy," too, than some LSA I've flown with 15-feet less span! Pipistrel's book says 45-to-45-degree roll time is 4.2 seconds. The company tends to be conservative in its performance specs, a trait of integrity. I did it easily in under three seconds, fine for banking smartly into a thermal that's just lifted a wing to let you know its there.
The airplane climbs well behind those 80 horses. Lift off at MTOW is under 300 feet: 50-foot obstacles are cleared in less than 500 feet. Ground handling is easy, thanks to the steerable nosewheel and effective toe brakes. Rudder pedal distance adjusts easily by a pull handle.
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