Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Full-Metal Funship

There’s a reason the RV-12, and all Van’s Aircraft designs, sell like hotcakes

All the knobs and levers are well-placed.
Van's is considering offering a "bare bones" S-LSA at $105,000, but the final decision is still under evaluation.

Toys In The Panel
The handsomely appointed instrument deck is tidy and well-laid out. Dynon's mainstay SkyView 10-inch EFIS display commands the left side. And a brand-new Garmin GTR 200 Comm radio, just announced, is the first to offer this cool feature to the experimental and LSA community: a two-place auto-squelch stereo intercom, with "3D" audio for discerning between active/monitored frequencies and the passenger. The LED display is easy to see in daylight.

Robust black rocker switchers for ignition, master, trim, lights, avionics and autopilot are appealing, functional and well-placed. My only knock is the spring-loaded push-pull throttle. It has a knurled friction lock that I left too loose once. I took my hand away and the internal spring sucked the throttle home to full power—not a welcome trait, say, on final glide to landing. Lock says you do quickly adapt to it, but the company is investigating a vernier, which I hope they implement.

It's All In The Wrist
Fumble fingers aside, the enduring joy of this airplane is how beautifully and joyfully it handles on the ground and in the air.

Steering is by differential toe brakes and castering nosewheel: You can turn the RV on a dime. Not all LSA handle as adroitly with this type of setup, but the toe brake bars have enough real estate that your toes feel solid on them, and the hydraulic brakes are highly effective.

Per Mitch Lock's instructions, on our first takeoff, I kept the nosewheel a bit light until 60 knots, then let the RV lift off by itself. A flick of the wrist is all it takes to keep wings level, and I quickly realized I was holding hands with a sweetheart.

Running through stalls demonstrated how well the fat wing hangs onto the air. And if you keep it straight with a bit of rudder, it won't drop off on a wing. Under power, the RV-12 won't really break unless you work at it: It just burbles along nicely on the stall.

Rolling left and right was a kick, just for the fun of it. Handling is so crisp and solid. I snapped a 45-degree bank then let the stick go: It held the bank angle without effort. "That stability was designed in," says Lock. "Put it anywhere, and it wants to stay there."

Labels: LSAs

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