Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Light-Sport Chronicles: The “Stork” Flies Again

Come fly this head-turning replica of a unique, notorious German warbird

Back to our demo: We level off and Flescher cranks up the flaps. Yep, I said crank: The Storch is faithful to the original, with an upper-left chain loop and car-window-like handle to set flaps. "The Germans kept it simple," says Flescher. It's cool to crank that chain, I gotta say.

Flescher cites a typical cruise of 75 mph at 5,400. "Max rpm is around 6,000." Looking out through all that angular glass is a treat on this beautiful clear Florida morning. Because of the overhead LE notch and skylight, you hardly notice the wing. Pulling turns up to a 45-degree bank requires very little rudder and just a bit of top aileron to discourage overbanking.

Stalls? Nah. More like a persistent mush. At full power, the airplane hangs on its prop at about a 30-degree nose-high angle. We never get a break. For slow flight, I hold right rudder at 26 mph indicated and 5,400 rpm, then baby it down to just over 20 mph indicated! I ask Flescher for our true airspeed. "With the wind, GPS shows 12 knots over the ground! True airspeed is probably around 30 mph. You can crank in a little more flaps, but we're right at the stall."

Criquet's Storch proves to be docile, comfortable and easy to fly. It's big and floaty, befitting its draggy airframe, gear and big, lifty wing. For descent, "Just chop power," says Tom. He cranks in 10-degree flaps, and we finish the 500-foot AGL Sebring LSA pattern at 55 mph. Once we're pitched right on final, he adjusts throttle to hold correct glideslope—just as I do in a J3 Cub. Rotating to flare with just a smidge of power, the three-pointer is so smooth, I hear the tire screech before I feel the ground roll. Sweet.

The airplane is like a celebrity. Even the tower asks, "Hey, is that the same size as the original?"

Later, I check out a test-flight video on the Criquet website. The pilot flies the entire length of runway at 20 feet—with one flap fully deployed, and the other fully retracted! Impressive!

Dennis Carley doesn't expect to sell tons of Storches, although the airplane I flew was bought right after Sebring. "And we have never been more busy than in the last few months. I have six planes under construction." So, who knows how popular it might become?

The Storch can come live with you as an S-LSA, a 100-hour assembly E-LSA kit or a 1,000-hour, 51%, amateur-built kit. The Colombian company is also developing a tricycle trainer version called Tangara. Targeted retail: $60,000. If Criquet can pull that off, they'll scoop the entire flight-training market.

Meanwhile, give yourself a treat and check out the spectacular Criquet Storch at an air show or dealer. There's nothing quite like it in all of LSA.


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