Tuesday, March 10, 2009
LSA Flight Report: Cruiser In School Clothing
Mix all-aluminum construction, deep aviation manufacturing background and the desire to build a robust training aircraft, and what have you got? Eaglet!
The truly wonderful thing about events like the recent Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo is that you have the fun, and the scheduling challenges, of flying many different types of aircraft at one sitting. “Sitting” is a key word. I came to regard it as an aviation smorgasbord—for my tush. Of course, such an avian feast feeds other visceral, spiritual and intellectual appetites too, but sitting comfort in an airplane is also important, yes? You betcha.
Take the Tecnam P92 Eaglet. Peering into its well-appointed cockpit, I commented to my hosts, U.S. distributors Lynne and Michael Birmingham (www.tecnamaircraft.com), on the nicely upholstered, thick-cushion seat.
A couple of LSA I had previously flown at the show left me wishing for thicker seat padding, while Eaglet’s seat proved manifest: firm but pliant, supportive without over-cushiness. In a word, reassuring.
I’m setting you up a bit here: The seat critique serves as metaphor for how I felt about the airplane after an hour’s flight introduction. I would indeed sit in this airplane any day of the week, feed in power, lift away from the tarmac and feel equally at home shooting T and Gs or ranging out on a five-hour cross-country flight. The Eaglet is an airplane you feel at home in the minute you match buns to bucket.
It’s ideally suited for flight training—think LSA comes to Cessna Town. But its roomy (46 inches wide), comfortable cabin and good, solid cruise speed (114 knots at 75%) mean you also can visit your aging hippie Aunt Skyflower up in the hill country. And the view en route? Fabulous. The overhead, Citabria-like windscreen extension lets you look ahead during high-bank turns, important for a high-winger. And since, for most pilots, eyes are below the wing bottom, side, down and back views through the large door windows are most appreciated.
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