attention has been devoted to drag reduction. The lower
bib cowling is clean around the engine, with the
exception of the required engine cooling port. The gear
legs are flush with the bottom of the fuselage, and the
legs themselves are clean and strong. The wheel
fairings look extremely well designed, and since you
don?t stand on the gear leg to get in, the pants should
stay unblemished too.
wing means that you step up onto the wing from the rear
and then have an easy step down into the cockpit. The
first thing you notice inside are the plush, black
leather appointments, much like a luxury automobile.
There are 2 map pockets on each side, and a large glove
box on the panel. A stretched cockpit provides ample
leg and headroom for a 6?2? pilot. The center console
which houses the flap, airbrake, and trim levers is very
ergonomic, allowing easy access to these controls from
both seats, and will allow an instructor to correct
airbrake settings on final approach without excessive
arm motions. These controls are far enough forward that
the arm and elbow area is padded and comfortable. There
are separate levers for the spoilers and flaps so that
they can be used independently. Just forward of the
console on the floor is the tow release lever. The
throttle, choke, and switches are positioned normally on
the panel. Rear windows provide a good view to the
tail, and will help the Phoenix tow pilot when giving
tows to his friends.
the 100hp Rotax is straightforward. Throttle at idle,
half choke if the engine is cold, no choke if the engine
is warm. The Rotax cranks up immediately, as usual.
With the forward hinged canopy, there are no worries
about starting and taxiing with it open.
securing the canopy, we advanced the throttle to full,
and executed a no flap takeoff on the beautiful grass
runway. We were off the ground in about 400 feet, even
though the runway needed to be mowed, and climbed at
60kts, achieving 1200fpm with two of us and half fuel.
We climbed about 3000 feet, and then leveled off for
cruise flight. 5000rpm resulted in a speed of 105kts.
Slowing to 60kts, a few dutch rolls confirmed a very
nice roll rate. We shut down the engine and feathered
the prop and using 0 degrees of flap we climbed at
400fpm. During the climb we intentionally slowed to the
stall buffet and still had good aileron authority.
for the next cloud about 4 miles away. Cruising at
60kts, the sink rate on the vario showed around 200fpm.
When we hit the thermal, we again did not use the flaps
initially. The climb rate was good, but when we dropped
the flaps to 10 degrees the plane could be slowed down
about 4kts with the same bank angle. The climb rate
increased as expected, and the roll authority remained
good. The two positive flap settings, 5 and 10 degrees,
create more lift than drag, and are for improving
soaring performance, not landing drag. However, with a
lower stall speed with flaps, the touchdown speed is
less, which would be useful during rough field
engine running again, we performed a full stall series
with flaps up and down, and spoilers up and down, wings
level and during turns, which all resulted in stable
mushing stalls with no tendencies to spin.
the pattern with a bunch of other aircraft, including a
tow plane busy hauling gliders aloft, we entered
downwind, and flew the approach without flaps. Full
spoilers were applied just before ground effect, and
then we kept the plane flying until it touched down on
three wheels. Full power, and we were off again in
short order. The second landing was with full flaps (10
degrees). The approach angle was a little steeper, but
not much. The Phoenix lands very nice without flaps,
you could even call it autoland. Just pull back in the
flare, and it lands three point. No special timing is
required. But with flaps, the flare angle of attack is
not a three point position, so it takes some special
timing to pull it off. A full spoiler approach with a
slip is going to result in a higher sink rate than the
flaps would produce anyway. Once the wheels are on the
ground, the steerable tailwheel prevents the wind from
messing with you. There is about 40 pounds of downforce
on the tailwheel, so there won?t be any crosswind issues
in any kind of wind anyone would want to be flying in.
To change wingtips, a door is opened on the underside of
the wing, exposing the wingtip spar pin. The pin handle
nestles in a cage which requires the correct placement
of the pin, or the door will not close. You simply
rotate the handle down and pull it out. The extended
wingtip slides straight out of the wing, and the short
wingtip is inserted and the pin replaced. It takes
about a minute to remove both wingtips, and another
minute to install the short tips.
It is striking how much the appearance of the Phoenix
transforms with the change of the tips. It is like
looking at two different aircraft! Nothing changes in
the way the Phoenix is flown with the short tips. All
of the controls operate in exactly the same way. But
the 36' span Phoenix flies like an aerobatic pylon
racer! The top speed at 5500rpm increases to 118kts,
and the cruise speed at 5000rpm is 111kts.
There are a lot of things to like about this new
aircraft. It looks awesome just sitting on the ground.
The climb performance in thermals is wonderful, and the
glide is sufficient to provide for some long cross
country flights (and you will always get back home). It
is comfortable and strong, and the ballistic parachute
system provides great peace of mind, especially for
passengers. With the aerodynamics of the Phoenix
motorglider, the cruise performance is better than any
of the LSA airplanes on the market. The long wings make
it jump off the runway in less than 300 feet. The
service ceiling is yet to be determined, but it is
definitely over 20,000?. This plane is capable of not
only crossing mountain ranges, but continents and oceans
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