The expansive gray concrete of Oshkosh’s runway 27 drops away. Golden early-morning sun throws long shadows ahead of us, the sky is clear and blue with picture-perfect white puffball clouds, and before we’re 500 feet AGL, I’m smiling large.
Really now: What better way to start your day than in a Remos GX?
The GXNXT is the newest iteration of my favorite-handling LSA, the GX. The airframe and flight characteristics are the same: It’s the cockpit that’s gotten an updo.
My host is Ryan Hernandez, the easygoing CFI down South who’s wrangling demo duties for Remos, on behalf of Tommy Lee’s Adventure Flight Aviation out of Springdale, Ark.
Hernandez has a few hundred hours in the GX. He also wears a Wichita Tin hat by teaching in Cessna 172s and 182s, doing contract flying in twins and pulling right-seat duty in a Citation Jet. That diverse GA background prompts me to ask what he likes most about the GX.
“Its handling characteristics,” he answers, and that’s no surprise to me. “It’s just great for training. I always recommend this airplane to my new students, over a Cessna 152 or 172, because you can go right from light-sport training to the private and the instrument rating, at a more affordable cost.”
He tells me Tommy Lee rents the GX for $95 per hour. Even older Cessnas can rent for more than that. Factor in the lower fuel burn of the industry-stalwart 100 hp Rotax 912S engine, and you’ve got a winner for flight-school operations.
The Plane NeXT Door
We head north to nearby Brennand Airport, a lovely flying-community strip far from the madding Oshkosh air-traffic crowd. Crossing over the strip to enter a left pattern, I’m remembering why I was so impressed the first time I flew the GX 18 months ago: It’s as friendly and familiar as the girl next door. I’ve yet to fly a more enjoyable LSA. The steerable nosewheel and pushrod ailerons and elevator make for a smooth, no-slop control feel. No matter how rusty you may be, the airplane makes you feel like an ace again. What a sweetheart.
The GXNXT is forgiving and stable, and requires little rudder to initiate coordinated turns. The bird has a wonderfully crisp, balanced, sports-car-like (but not overly sensitive) responsiveness whether you move the stick around subtly or briskly.
The Remos NXTGX flown for this article was equipped with dual Dynon SkyView glass panels, a Garmin 696 GPS unit and SL30 Nav/Com, a PS Engineering PM8000BT audio panel, and matching leather seats and carpet.
Ryan Hernandez demonstrates his confidence in the airplane by letting me pretty much do everything on our flight, including landing at Brennand a mere 10 minutes after departing Oshkosh. That may not sound like such a big deal until I tell you that the strip at that pretty little flying field is only 20 feet wide...and looks like 10 on short final!
Yet here I am in the slot, relaxed as a just-fed hound dog sleeping in summer shade, though I haven’t flown anything in weeks. Remos has made it a breeze to line up on that thin asphalt ribbon, as if I had a hundred hours in type.
Hernandez calls out nominal speeds and sets the flaps at 15 degrees, then 30, making it even easier. Such a tough job I’ve got.
He affirms my 65 mph approach speed is about right, (the Dynon SkyView EFIS is set up for mph). I rotate, we settle, I’m easing back on the nice leather-covered stick to flare when a quick, slight rumble of wheels on tarmac tells me we’re planted and rolling.
The steel-tube gear absorbed that slightly fast touchdown without complaint or tendency to divert from the straight and narrow...so nice. I keep the nose lined up well enough on that skinny strip; nosewheel steering is plenty responsive but damped sufficiently that, in a couple of seconds, I’ve figured out the right amount of pedal pressure. Soopah!
The only control challenge I find is the push-forward hand brake on the center console. It’s very effective, but counterintuitive for me: I learned to pull back for braking in the LSA in which I got my sport license. A couple false pulls, and I get squared away with that.
So What’s GXNXT?
Each pilot has a singular top priority with any airplane. Mine is simple: How does it feel in flight? That’s why I’ve emphasized the wonderful handling of the GX, and please excuse my personal indulgence. The new model is indeed the same airplane aerodynamically as the GX Aviator II model that I flew before, but hey, who doesn’t enjoy rambling on about their favorite thing?
The GXNXT is an important step forward though, even if it (merely) sports the same superb aerodynamics, thanks to the efforts of those clever Remos designers and engineers, who have been listening to customer squawks and making changes.
The most immediately visceral update is the redesigned instrument panel. They’ve lopped off 1.5 inches from the top and one inch from the bottom. That may not sound like much, but the effect is tangible and agreeable: Forward visibility and leg room are much enhanced. Combine that with good side-, rear- and overhead-window real estate, and you’ve got excellent all-around visibility, especially for a high winger.
The Aviator II model sported a Dynon D100 and D-120-based panel. The NXT goes full tilt with the seven-inch Dynon SkyView. It’s a perfect choice: The SkyView is rapidly becoming everybody’s must-have, can-do-everything glass avionics platform.
The version I flew upped the ante further with dual SkyViews, Garmin’s lovely 696 GPS and SL30 Nav/Com, a PS Engineering PM8000BT audio panel, backup battery, matching leather seats and carpet, and interior pads. The result: one Star Wars-y panel to go with a gorgeously comfy, functional cockpit.
Pilots over six feet will find they have to bend forward a bit to look out spanwise below the top of the door frame. I’m 5'11", and I had plenty of headroom and eye room. One welcome feature: Looking through the large top window in turns adds a real traffic-spotting sense of security.
You can fly the Remos with the doors off. It’s one of Ryan Hernandez’s favorite ways to beat the hot Arkansas summer and improves the visibility picture even more.
Four knobs, previously placed on the center console—carb heat, choke, cabin heat and air vent—now adorn the left and right segments of the three-section panel. The result? A narrower between-seat console...with even more leg room. Factor in the comfortable, beautifully made leather upholstery (with good lumbar support, a feature lacking in some LSA), and you end up with elegance, form and function in the catbird seat.
The four-point safety belts prevent “submarining,” or sliding forward under the belts in a sudden deceleration. Also new are dark-tinted visors and air vents in the upper-left and -right corners of the cabin.
The Complete Package
There are many excellent LSA on the market. Remos aims to carve out a place in the top tier, and it deserves to be there. The German company has endured some management changes during the economic meltdown and feels like a leaner, meaner company now, with less of a big-splash marketing presence.
As of now, more than 120 Remos models are flying in the United States, with even more overseas. And its worldwide network of dealers, Service Centers and Pilot Centers is steadily growing.
Remos Pilot Centers feature the Gleim three-screen pilot simulator I like so much that allows students to practice flight lessons, rain or shine, without requiring an instructor to always be present.
The Remos GXNXT is a fabulous update, and, as such, is priced in the upper tier of leading S-LSA. Base price at current dollar/Euro exchange rates is around $142,000. If you can summon that tariff, look no further for an airplane that can carry a bigger useful load than many LSA, for several hundred miles, and all the while keep a big smile on your face.
Angling In On AOA
|Dynon’s trendsetting SkyView EFIS panel has so many features already, it’s hard to keep up. Still, its angle-of-attack (AOA) indicator is one of the most vital for enhancing flight safety.
Angle of attack is a more accurate and useful indicator of the near-stall regime, once you get used to referring to it, than any other readout. Why? Because it constantly measures, in real time, the angle between the wing chord and the oncoming air the wing is flying through.
Knowing AOA also is useful for nailing approach-to-landing speed. Navy pilots use AOA almost exclusively for carrier landings to stay within the tiny, precise performance profile required to plant it on the deck every time.
Dynon’s AOA/Pitot Probe measures both angle of attack and airspeed for not only SkyView but also several of its other EFIS displays. The special probe has two pressure ports, one for airspeed, the other to measure critical angle of attack. Each port has a separate air line to the instrument; calibration is made after installation for the precise critical AOA value for a specific aircraft.
The display you see here is integrated into the EFIS screen. When the indicator moves into the red zone at top, you’re at the stall. Yellow marks the near-stall caution zone, and green means you’re safe. An audio alarm also can be connected, and customized to pilot preference.