Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Big Picture

Fighter’s-eye view, born trainer and a sport-flying funship

And, as with a Czech L-39 Albatros jet trainer, the rear seat rises several inches above the front seat. That affords an excellent view from the back, too, another plus unknown to those of us who have enjoyed typical American tandems like Mr. Piper's Cub or the Decathlon. Here, the rear-seater (think instructor) is able to see what the front-seater (think student) is doing with little neck craning. It's not as expansive a view as from the front, but there's no "in-the-cave" feeling back there. It has generous rear side windows that add excellent down and back viewing, too.

Go Ahead: Get Pushy
Back to that distinguishing feature of the Sky Arrow: its pusher configuration. There's no whirring prop to look through, for one: Nothing interferes with that splendid view. The 100 hp Rotax 912 lives inside the super-clean engine cowling mounted as the top of the trailing edge.

In flight, the deck and nose are around 15 to 20 degrees below the horizon, so you feel like you're way out in front of the airplane...and you are. "First-timers tend to climb at about 350 fpm when they think they're flying straight and level," says Mike Hansen. "They're used to a big GA-style panel blocking their forward view."

Enough Top Gun daydreaming: Let 's do some air work. First and foremost, Sky Arrow handles beautifully. Its control feel is crisp, quick, responsive and light—not twitchy, but always fast, solid and suh-weet, thanks to the control tube linkage. Flick your wrist left or right, and you're rolling. I did some cranking and banking just for the fun of it.

Control forces between stick and rudder pedals are nicely balanced. And, although the bird is agile, it's plenty forgiving for a student pilot, and plenty sporty for experienced pilots, too. You can even steer it around pretty well with rudder only.

A caveat for all skill levels: You do need to use rudder. This is no feet-on-floor spam can. If you're even slightly out of whack, the airplane lets you know with added wind noise. There's a touch—not a lot—of adverse yaw rolling into turns. You do want to lead with the inside foot, and you'll get that clear feedback when you don't. That's great for flight training and sharpening veteran skills alike.

Maybe it's the narrower fuselage compared to the side-by-side two-seaters I usually fly, but it seemed I could feel yaw more easily. I tend to have a heavy right foot (decades of gas pedal pushing?), and every time I heard that windier, "draggy" sound, I knew to lighten up on the pedals. Like the stick forces, the rudder pedals bring a quick and snappy response. I was overdoing it until I imagine I was petting a panther: gingerly, brother, gingerly.

Labels: LSAsPilot Reports


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