Tuesday, February 11, 2014
A Retro Comeback LSA
Thierry Zibi’s new S-LSA embraces pseudo-military design
Flaps are electrically continuous, 35 degrees worth, with a nifty indicator on the right subpanel. Four steam gauges provide backup to the Dynon; VSI, altimeter, ASI and turn and bank, right to left. Fuel selector is on the right floorboard to advise of up to 11 gallons a side, but Zibi wisely sticks the tanks every time he flies so he'll know exactly how much 100LL is on board. The airplane burns 4.5 gallons an hour at 75% power, and you can plan trips of four hours with a reasonable reserve.
Today, we're out to explore the SAM's flight envelope, nothing exotic, just steep turns, stalls power on and off and some landings at nearby Parker Airport, a few miles west of Fort Worth. My first takeoff in the SAM is perhaps strangely reminiscent of a much larger, more powerful airplane.
Designer Zibi configured the fuselage with a two-degree negative angle of attack, so it's necessary to perform a positive rotation rather than wait for the wing to gain lift and rotate by itself. Leave the stick forward on the ground above about 50 knots, and the wing will actually begin to create a downforce.
This is a characteristic of several twins, most notably, the Aerostar. Fail to rotate the wing to a slight-up angle, and the Aerostar will happily drive right off the end of the runway.
We were vectored to the west out of the Meacham control zone to keep us away from inbound AOPA Summit traffic. We chose a small uncontrolled strip 20 miles west of Fort Worth for our landings.
On the way out, I elected to try some stalls and miscellaneous maneuvers. Zibi assured me the test pilot he hired to do the shakedown flights tried everything he could think of to induce a spin and couldn't get into anything more exotic than a hobby-horse-bucking side slip, similar to a Cherokee's reaction at the bottom of the envelope. I tried stalls, power on and off with no flaps and full flaps, and my maneuvers tended to corroborate the test pilot's conclusions. No matter what I did, I couldn't get the SAM mad at me.
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