Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Prius With Wings
Two-fisted thermal grabber, fuel-sipping cruiser and trainer—in one airplane!
The company claims pilots up to 6'4" can comfortably fit the 43'6"-wide Sinus cockpit. Indeed they can, although the composite wing spar carry-through sits in front of a tall pilot's forehead and should be considered a potential head banger in a forward crash. I'm 5'11" and settling back in the seat, the spar isn't objectionable. Taller pilots slouch down into what's affectionately called "The Ivo," after tall, rangy Pipistrel CEO Ivo Boscarol's predilection for filling the cockpit in chaise lounge-style kickback mode.
Essential for big-span, high-efficiency wings is some form of lift killer—spoilers or air brakes—to control glide slope and avoid "ground effecting" the entire length of a runway. Sinus uses highly effective wing top air brakes that degrade sink rate to more than 1,000 fpm.
For landing, the drill is one all soaring pilots learn: roll out onto final, go to idle, ease in airbrakes, pitch to hold 60 knots, then 55 over the fence, and use the air brakes like a throttle to degrade or extend glide slope to touchdown. Once you get the hang of it, it's a breeze.
First soaring impression of the Sinus: What a sweetheart! Second impression: I could go a long way and stay up a really long time on a good soarable day in this airplane. This happy, comfortable feeling came after just a few turns in light, choppy thermals.Soaring. Econo-cruising. Training. For those of us (my hand raised) interested in learning to fly an airplane that takes you long-distance cruising in comfort while accommodating your desire to skyhook the invisible energy of the air with engine off, at a price ($125,000 equipped) that's doable for a small group of pilot-owners or a soaring/touring club, get to know all three persona of the Pipistrel Sinus. It's quite an airplane.
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