Archive for November, 2009

Checkout: Lightly loaded

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

When transitioning from a 172 or a Cherokee to an LSA, you’ll soon learn that what works to plant your heavier aircraft will need some tweaking. This is what I’m finding out with the Remos. Proper rudder usage is important–well, yes, that’s true of any aircraft–as is making sure you hit your approach speed (65 knots)  and keep it there. Senior Editor Alton Marsh has noticed that the analog airspeed indicator on the right side (or co-pilot side) is a handy way to check your airspeed if you are new to glass panel displays, and there’s even a yellow diamond on the AI to remind you.

Like the Tecnam Eaglet I flew earlier this year, the Remos has two throttles–one on the left side, one on the central quadrant. I’m finding that I use the right (or central?) throttle when applying power for takeoffs, because that seems natural and it’s what I’m used to. In cruise flight, I may use the left one to adjust power. Remos pilots, feel free to jump in and tell me your tips for these kinds of ops.

Cowling ON! (Update: Cowling OFF!)

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Good news from Remos about my belief that the cowling had to come off for every preflight to inspect carburetor and exhaust springs. They absorb the vibration of engine startup and shutdown. We can leave the cowling on during preflight! The springs will be inspected during regular maintenance. (But now we know how to do it.)

A lot of you have commented on our oil and now we have the official word from Remos. Use Aeroshell Sport Plus 4, and so we shall.

UPDATE: Now that I’ve done a mea culpa for saying preflights require a cowling removal, I’ve reread the checklist. There are things on there that can only be done by removing the cowling. We’re back to becoming cowling removal experts.

Creating a scene at the airport

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

One of our staff members at AOPA saw Senior Editor Dave Hirschman completing his final takeoff during his checkout ride and asked if we were doing a high-performance demonstration. Not at all. The Remos climbs at 65 to 70 knots. Keep that speed and you’ll climb very steeply. Dave and I were climbing at a spectacular 900 feet per minute. That’s a routine takeoff.

Need aircraft oil? There’s always Wal Mart!

Friday, November 20th, 2009

The picture of how light sport aircraft reduce the cost of flying is coming into view. I just purchased brake fluid for the AOPA Remos (it’s OURS until you cruelly win it away from us) from Walmart for $2.67. It takes DOT4, auto brake fluid. You’re not even allowed to use aircraft brake fluid. You can do a lot of maintenance on the aircraft yourself with factory training. The sport pilot rating, if you choose to go that way, knocks a minimum of $2,500 off the cost of becoming a pilot compared to the private pilot certificate.

UPDATE: Looks like we will be switching to Aeroshell Sport Plus 4 on the next oil change.

Out by Bonanza, back by Remos

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

UA Naval Academy (Large)Yesterday’s trek to pick up the 2010 Fun To Fly Remos was an exercise in extremes. Senior Editor Al Marsh and I traveled to W29 in Stevensville, Maryland, in a Bonanza, and came back by Remos. The 1972 Bonanza A36 got us from FDK to W29 in something less than 30 minutes.  (Editor at Large Tom Horne flew the Bonanza, which belongs to Editor in Chief Tom Haines.) The Remos brought us back to Frederick in just under an hour. We burned fewer than five gallons of fuel, compared with about 10 gallons in the Bonanza.

At 2,000 feet and 140 knots in the Bo, we barely had time to take notice of a crisp, clear fall afternoon before we were in the pattern at W29. Coming back at 1,500 and a more sedate 106 knots, Marsh and I saw plenty of photo ops, and he put his camera to good use, as you see here. Container shipFarm

It’s all in the mission, and whatever aircraft fits your needs, as it has always been. The Bo is a solid performer; not only is it a dependable chariot to destinations near and far, it’s also a sturdy photo platform for staff photographers Mike Fizer and Chris Rose. For a lower-and-slower jaunt on a sunny afternoon, however, the Remos is the winner.

Flying the Van’s RV-12

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Did you know Van’s Aircraft sells an RV LSA kit? Neither did I, until very recently.

Mitch Lock, the East Coast demo pilot for Van’s, brought an RV-12 to KFDK today. “It flies like an RV!” their Web site exclaims. Well, never having flown an RV (I know, what have I been missing?), I can’t speak to that.

It sure looks like an RV–that is to say, sleek and trim. This one’s a tricycle-gear configuration, but it has the canopy and “fighter-like sportiness” of its more powerful brothers and sisters in the Van’s family. The wings can be removed so that it can be stored easily in a hangar.

During my all-too-brief flight (Mitch was giving demos to a slew of people), I enjoyed the view out of the canopy. And while I’m probably never going to build my own airplane (purely for safety reasons; I like to say I’ll never fly anything I built myself), sporty little designs like these–Van’s says it takes about 800 to 900 hours of building time, and the kit comes with everything but “fluids and paint”–make me daydream about the possibilities.

Great Day Above the Bay

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

The Remos is at Chesapeake Sport Pilot, Bay Bridge Airport, across the Chesapeake Bay from Annapolis. The school is an approved Rotax repair station and an official Tecnam repair center.  So they know light sport aircraft like the Remos.  Took 1.1 hours, chocks to chocks, from Frederick, MD., AOPA headquarters. Jamie at Chesapeake Sport Pilot was able to use the maintenance manual that comes on a CD with every Remos. We also need the new-aircraft inspection and an oil change. There are 25.3 hours on YOUR Remos. We are already starting to hear from pilots about this being an aircraft they can afford to keep after they win it. Chesapeake Sport Pilot just opened a beautiful new office and hangar building–still smells new. I came home with a genuine CSP shirt. Beautiful day to fly above the bay. I arrived over Annapolis at 1,500 feet and then climbed to 2,800 feet to cross the five-mile-wide bay where there were maybe 100 sail boats and sail/power boats, and one huge empty cargo ship riding high out of the water.

An AOPA member, Charlii (he spells it with a double “i”) Miller, and Mac Brinckman, drove me all the way back to Frederick just as a favor. Thanks, Charlii. The two are students at Chesapeake Sport Pilot, with Charlie headed for a private certificate and Mac working on a sport pilot certificate. Charlie owns Environmental Consulting Services, Inc., in Delaware and Mac works there. They operate six or eight boats on the bay.  I added one more story to the “adventures of Charlii and Mac,” as Mac said. Another very happy fellow  at CSP passed his sport pilot six-hour checkride today. I know there is concern about the declining number of general aviation pilots, but these guys don’t seem to be aware of it. They’re too busy becoming pilots.

Meet our new baby

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Now that my colleague Al Marsh has hit the ground running to tell you all about our new Sweepstakes aircraft, let me get a word in edgewise. Welcome to our blog, and thanks for reading. We’re going to do our best to keep you apprised of everything that’s going to happen this year with the 2010 Fun To Fly Remos. Yes, it’s a brand-new aircraft, but we’re still going to be tricking it out with some new cool options, and we’re going to take it around and show it off before we have to hand over the keys to the winner at next year’s AOPA Summit in Long Beach. So you’ll have the right seat on those reports. Plus, we’ll be blogging on all things LSA and sport pilot (SkyCatcher, anybody?). So stay tuned, send us your comments, and enjoy the ride.

Cowling Experts

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

To check springs in the engine or add coolant requires the removal of the top cowling in a Remos, and I predict the AOPA Remos pilots are going to get good at it. The springs connect to the carburetor to dampen the vibration of stopping and starting.   I just bought a dowl rod to tap them with. Every new Remos comes with a nifty screwdriver designed just for cowling fasteners.

 UPDATE: Remos says the cowling removal prior to preflight is unnecessary.

Shopping for Oil

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

I went to the AutoZone today to get oil for the Remos. Weird experience. NAPA told me I was making a mistake by putting motorcycle oil in an airplane, and so I took my business to AutoZone instead. Sears is a Valvolene dealer but refused to order it. We’ll run 100LL in the airplane. Earlier in this space we mentioned that there are discussions on whether ethanol in mogas can dissolve the epoxy in carbon fiber. The company has also discussed the issue and is determining whether ethanol can cause such a problem.

UPDATE: We’re going to use Aeroshell Sport Plus 4 in the future.