Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Lively Bird

Highly refined, impeccably built and what a delight to turn loose on the sky

The Rans S-7LS Courier, newly reworked for 2012 by its brainy, creative, airplane-loving designer Randy Schlitter, has been around for a number of years. As such, the classic taildragger enjoys a loyal following of owners who typically fly it for pure fun, whether around the local patch or in and out of some downright hair-raising backcountry turf.

Just a few minutes into an hour flight in the Courier recently with company pilot (and gal-next-door-type) Jana Morenz, it was slam-dunk obvious this is another super-refined Schlitter masterpiece.

First, this is a pilot's airplane. In Schlitter's ouevre, that means, first and foremost, impeccable handling, top-quality fit and finish, suitable performance for its type and affordable pricing. The Courier is a rear-wheeled bird, thus heir to a good STOL performance that pays homage to the great tandem-seat, fabric-covered club that includes the Piper Cub and Super Cub, Aeronca Champ and Taylorcraft, as well as the popular modern LSA versions from American Legend and Cub Crafters.

Schlitter heads up one of the most successful all-American aircraft companies ever. Over nearly 30 years, the prolific designer has produced roughly 5,000 airplanes—kits and ready-to-fly alike—that have from the beginning epitomized ingenuity, economy, form and function.

The S-7LS Courier is a handsome taildragger with clean, modern lines that serves up even more than meets the eye. More in this case triggers starts with a 70-degree roll rate and lighter stick forces than any other taildragger you're likely to find (other than a Pitts!). Courier is one lively bird.

Roll rates are so light and quick. And there's a balanced, clean feel in all three axes that makes you really want to turn it loose on the sky. It's nimble, sporty and plain fun to fly.

The handling comes by virtue of an update to the 2012 model: an aero servo aileron linkage system that delivers a pushrod-solid feel, though it's a traditional cable setup. (Rudder is also cable linked, while pitch is through a push-pull tube.)

In my too-brief flight with adorably pink-capped, pony-tailed Jana Morenz, I didn't achieve the deft coordination I know would come with a bit of practice—it's a spunky bird. Yet the S-7 is also so reassuring in its handling that I shot a good landing my first try without too much coaching in the nuances, and found it very easy to three-point on the grass—and this when I hadn't flown in a couple of months. Friendly bird.

I flew from the rear seat, with Ms. Morenz handling flaps from the front, even though the airplane is rated as solo from the front seat. I like apples-to-apples comparisons to the 1946 Piper Cub I'm used to flying.

Labels: LSAsPilot Reports


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