Day one: My first experimental plane.The sales rep from Glasair talked me into a demo flight in a Sportsman. Nick met me at Regal where we did a walk around and pre-flight of the plane, we also briefed on proper speeds: Best angle of climb (Vx), Best rate of climb (Vy), and Best glide (Vbg). We strapped in together, and I taxied the plane out. I had never flown a kit-built or experimental plane before, so I was pretty attentive to how it handled.
|This is the diesel Sportsman|
The plane was equipped with a 210 HP Lycoming IO-390 engine, and it weighs less than a typical four seat plane, so the takeoff roll was brief and we popped up into the sky without eating a lot of runway. The climb was brisk, right around 1,000 feet per minute.
We leveled off, and did some light yankin' 'n' bankin', steep turns, and a couple stalls. The plane is well behaved with few surprises. The only thing of note is the firmness of the controls. The stick took more force than I would have expected from a light plane. I also thought the stick was installed a bit too low and would have been more comfortable if it were maybe three to six inches higher. The plane also has a large effective rudder. I am guessing this is a benefit when it is configured as a tail-wheel.
I greased the plane onto the runway at Bremerton and parked next to a gaggle of VariEze planes. Their owners had all joined up at Arlington, and flown here for dinner. I had a good visit with Nick, and found him to be an engaging man with deep passions for his family and and aviation. Made me wish I had more time in my life to spend with people like him. The food was standard airport food. I will certainly be back.
After dinner we reversed the route back to Paine Field where I bounced the plane onto the runway, erasing the illusion of competence created by my earlier landing.
Over all I think I could have read the manual, hopped in this plane, and flown it away SAFELY with no additional training. It is just that well behaved and familiar. Good plane.
Day two: The Apprentice becomes The Master.
|Eric is PIC|
I had a nice flight looking out the window and enjoying the views. We flew across the stern of one of the Navy’s aircraft carriers on our way over. What a massive beast!
After lunch we strolled through the Port Townsend Aero Museum to admire their collection of classic general aviation airplanes.
On the trip back, the airspace a Paine was crowded. The controller first cleared us one direction, then amended our clearance for a second direction, and then lined us up too close to a landing airplane, only to send back into the sky for a second try.
Our third attempt to land was successful. Eric is a very safe pilot.
Day Three: Formation with one slow and one fast plane.Up early in the morning I was standing next to my plane briefing with two other pilots and two photographers for a photo flight. Earlier we had looked at some example photos the pilots liked as models for what we were going for. Lining up Mt Rainier, downtown Seattle, and the Space Needle would necessitate us orbiting over Ballard. The flight was particularly challenging because we had to find a speed slow enough for one plane to keep up, and fast enough to the other to maintain lift. We settled in at 90 kts.
|James Polivka -- Pilot's Eye Photography|
We were back on the ground by 9:AM. I am a fortunate man.