Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Searey LSX: SkyBoat Extraordinaire
Wings, webbed feet and wheels add up to the ultimate hybrid bird
The SeaRey's hull was designed to handle a decent-sized wave, but retain the ability to minimize drag and get off the water quickly. Above, the SeaRey LSX transforms from seaplane to land plane as it pulls out of a Florida lake onto the ramp.
They should put a photo of the SeaRey in the dictionary under "fun." I love its control feedback: It really talks to you. The feel isn't overly light or twitchy. As Richter notes, you have to tell it what you want, but when you do, it complies smoothly and firmly, and with consistent, confidence-inspiring predictability and a harmonized feel between pitch and roll. A bit of rudder helps going into turns. Pulling some more stalls, the big moveable flipper back there makes keeping the nose centered easy.
Its easy-to-fly exuberance, and the pure fun factor of flying a boat with wings, are two main reasons why the SeaRey is a big success by any airplane maker's standards. More than 550 kits have been produced over the last 15 years, and are actively flown worldwide. SeaRey owner/pilots are a devoted, fun-loving bunch. There's even a Splash and Dash social website and regular gatherings, events and XC gaggle flights short and long.
The SeaRey LSX has evolved to its current refined state over the years as an experimental amateur-built aircraft. Progressive Aerodyne is currently meeting the ongoing demand by producing nearly four kits per month. The small, three-generation family company also is cranking and banking on S-LSA certification. The U.S. distributor is SportairUSA.
Richter tells me the rigorous testing and documentation required for ASTM certification is being wrangled by an independent engineering firm with strong aerospace credentials. "We're making sure we're squeaky clean throughout the whole process; I want everything right if we ever have an FAA audit."
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