Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Sling 2: The Soul Of A Fighter
The new Sling LSA from South Africa has the world on a string
A sliding bubble canopy on the Sling LSA offers excellent visibility when airborne. The cockpit features center control sticks and an MGL avionics system with two EFIS displays.
To that end, Liknaitzky tells me that Blyth and his engineers spent an extra year perfecting the handling qualities of the airplane. These guys are either airplane geeks or true geniuses to spend that kind of sweat and money getting the feel just right, but they've succeeded masterfully. The direct-linkage ailerons contribute to the positive feel of the controls, while small winglets provide longitudinal stability and better control in turbulence.
There, above the sparkling-blue Pacific Ocean, the second of the Sling's ample charms became evident: its visibility. First, the "cool factor" of a sliding bubble canopy just can't be beat. It's what we all imagined as kids when we played "airplane," and no door, hatch or window will ever come close to the cachet of a sliding canopy. The Sling's canopy brings to mind the Grumman Tiger of old, albeit with modern design and performance. The view from under the clear bubble is breathtaking, though it gets hot quickly under a direct sun, which California is famous for. Liknaitzky said a type of curtain was being considered for production aircraft. It definitely needs it.
Another of the Sling's big draws is its lack of thirst. At cruise, the Sling sips fuel at 4.5 gph, so with 38.6 usable gallons of fuel on board, seven hours' flying time and 800 nm is realistic, if your bladder can hold out that long. Its useful load of 524 pounds means you can carry 293 pounds of people and baggage on a full fuel load or play with different configurations of fuel and payload to meet your mission.
In April of last year, the Sling team presented their "5577" project. The brilliant scheme had a team of five men and five women build a Sling from a kit in seven days, then fly it to Poland from South Africa in seven days to deliver it to its new owner. The idea was to prove to the world that relatively inexperienced people could put this aircraft together in an unheard-of short time. The project was a huge success, drawing fans to the Aircraft Factory website to watch the build progress and subsequent odyssey to Poland.
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