Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Way Ready For Prime Time

Amphibian dreams vs. reality: here’s a classy amphib in full production

Rofé has flown his SeaMax from his bay- side dock in Great Neck, N.Y., all over the Northeast, down to Florida and to Oshkosh. "I love the way it handles; the plane goes anywhere."

But before he deemed it ready for prime time in the U.S., he worked with designer Rosario to create the M-22 model (which won best S-LSA at Sebring this year). Upgrades include a longer 33' 6" wingspan with new winglets. The current metal, fabric-covered wing design will be all-composite in the near future.

Other changes included stabilizer fins on the outboard horizontal stab for yaw damping; comfortable, adjustable Recaro seats; leather interior including panel and dash cover; a parking brake; tie-down rings; a mooring ball ring in the nose; and nonskid tape for the toe brakes and rudder pedals.

Rofé also convinced the warm-climate-seduced Brazilian designer to install cabin heat for year-round flying, canopy defrosting and other traits essential to cold-climate owners. The system, which taps heat from the Rotax engine coolant, only adds three pounds. Other options:
• all-glass panel (Dynon SkyView and Garmin 696 GPS)
• micro video system with both a tail-mounted camera for viewing the engine in flight and an infrared unit for the bilge
• folding wings
• ballistic airframe parachute
• tinted canopy

The Go-Anywhere Bird
The fabulous utility of amphibs was brought back to me during our demo flight over Long Island. As we winged east over the Hamptons, playground of the über-rich, he waxes happily over how cool it is to walk down from his house, climb aboard and launch right from his own dock. The SeaMax operates from land, sea, grass and snow. It's a real hoot to drive around like a speedboat on the water, too, and gets airborne in short order.

Handling in the air is light and easy. It's a rudder ship for sure: You want to put in some foot entering a turn, but the big, aesthetically beautiful rudder is highly effective. Blocking the pedals with light pressure in the bumps helps minimize yaw.

Rofé likes the center stick because he can put his iPad (or lunch) on his lap during long flights. I flew from the right seat and found roll pressures, even left-handed, to be light and response quick. Throttle lever on each side panel is nice, too, like a Piper Cub. The pitch response balances nicely with roll forces. The electric pitch-trim button mounts on the stick, and it's well damped, not super touchy like you find on some LSA.

Labels: LSAs


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