Tuesday, January 1, 2008
SIAI-Marchetti SF.260: Bellisimo In Tre Dimensioni
Yeah, it’s Italian, and if you’re thinking “flying Ferrari or Lamborghini,” you’re ABSOLUTELY right
At only 2,430 pounds gross (in the utility category), the SF.260 enjoys a power loading of a mere 9.3 pounds per horsepower, and while its enthusiasm on takeoff may not rival a Ferrari's, it will still knock your hat in the creek. The book spec for climb at sea level is 1,770 fpm. Even if that's a little optimistic, the real number is still impressive. It's better than virtually any other production single, some with turbocharging and as much as 90 more horsepower. A few aerobatic singles and high-powered piston twins can beat the Marchetti in initial vertical speed, but not many.
Dual center sticks offer pilots exceptional control. Handling is excellent; rolls are smooth and spins can be instantly recovered. A Plexiglas sliding canopy provides pilots with excellent visibility.
Cruise with the short wings and clean drag profile is excellent—175 to 180 knots. Remember, that's with only 260 hp on the nose. That's about as quick as the current generation of normally aspirated hot rods, the Cirrus SR22, Columbia 350 and Mooney Ovation3. More than coincidentally, all those models employ 310 hp and 17 gph to achieve their speed.
Where the Marchetti shines brightest is in its handling qualities. At the risk of overstatement (hard to avoid on a Marchetti), the SF.260 probably has the best handling of anything even remotely close to its class. The Frise ailerons impart a right-now roll rate, pitch response is light and control harmony is suitably aerobatic. Casual acro is only a fingertip away, provided you've left the tip tanks empty and limited takeoff weight to 2,205 pounds. Rolls are so smooth that even a magazine writer can accomplish them without practice, and loops require little touch across the top, provided you pull to 3.5 G's or more on the entry. The Marchetti performs easy, confident spins with instant recovery by simply easing off the back pressure and applying opposite aileron.
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