Tuesday, August 11, 2009
First-Class Glass: Sting S3
Amazing cockpit visibility, tough, nimble, fast: What’s not to like?
The roomy 44-inch-wide cockpit can comfortably seat two beneath the one-piece canopy.
Back to the fun stuff: flying. Well, let’s taxi first.
At idle, the S3 moves along at a fast walk, so you don’t need to jockey the throttle, then stomp the brakes. The steerable nosewheel makes it easy to stay on track.
Climbing out at 60 knots gives a thrill-ride deck angle, and you’ll see 1,000 fpm or more. Rudder control is right there almost as soon as you get moving. Demonstrated crosswind capability is cited at 17 knots, though I didn’t get to verify that on my calm-air flight.
Touch up the speed to 70, suck up flaps and climb out. Then trim up to cruise and enjoy the clean aerodynamics: cruise at 75% (or around 5,000 rpm) is an excellent 116 knots.
The airplane stalls straight ahead and requires nothing more than relaxing the stick or adding the slightest touch of power to keep it hanging on the prop or recovering flight.
Landing procedure is typical for the type: Approach to pattern altitude at 75 knots, drop the split flaps at 70, pitch to 60 knots and set up a standard descent around 500 fpm. Over the fence at 50, flaps to full, flare just above the runway and let it settle. Sweet.
In summary, the airplane is stable yet responsive. Control pressures aren’t too light, but are rather firm and crisply effective. You can get aggressive roll rates without twanging a bicep tendon, and pitch is well balanced to roll.
In more sensual terms, it wraps up something like this: During our sunset flight over Florida, Bill Canino points out a little house far below.
“Look at that house, and imagine the people inside,” he implores. “They may never ever see a view like this in their entire lifetime.”
That makes me think, reveling in the ease and ballet-like grace of one falling leaf after another, smiling in the glorious fire glow of clouds and sundown sky that wheel and flow around that wonderful big clear canopy, that when I’m flying, I’m flying for those people down there, too.
I wish they, and everybody, could be up here with me now, enjoying life sweet as a dream in a Sting S3.
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