Levitating LSA

December 28, 2009 by Jill W. Tallman

Today’s entry is from guest blogger Alyssa J. Miller, an instrument-rated private pilot currently working on the commercial rating. Alyssa is an editor for AOPA’s electronic publications.–Jill Tallman

Any aircraft with a max gross weight of 1,320 pounds and a 100-horsepower engine is going to jump off the ground, but the handling characteristics of and sight picture from the Remos make you feel almost as if you are levitating on takeoff.

Imagine riding upward on a Ferris wheel (sans the carnival music) or lifting off in a helicopter. Now, combine the two for a sense of takeoff in a Remos.

I recently had the opportunity to fly AOPA’s 2010 Sweepstakes Fun to Fly Remos with AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh and go through a standard checkout—takeoff, slow flight, stalls, steep turns, no-flap landing, and full-flap landing.

The aircraft’s smaller cowling and large windows in the door provide excellent forward and downward visibility, allowing the pilot to see much more runway on takeoff than in a Cessna 172. And with a rotation speed of just 30 to 40 mph (yes, mph, not knots) and a climb rate of 1,000 fpm, it seems as if it’s just floating off the ground.

Slow flight, stalls, and steep turns are seemingly effortless in the aircraft—you really don’t need to use trim at all (this from a weakling who uses trim a lot). The Remos is much more sensitive to control inputs than a Cessna 172, requiring a light grip on the control stick and small, gentle inputs.

The Remos is equipped with 40 degrees of flaps, so its final approach path is steep with full flaps. It’s not much different than the approach angle for a Cessna 170 or 172 with 40 degrees of flaps, but, again, the smaller cowling lets you see a lot more ground than you would in a larger aircraft.

Touchdown. Well, it’s not like the conclusion of a Ferris wheel ride or landing in a helicopter. It’s smoother. The aircraft is light, and it wants to fly, so touchdown is very graceful—even when you bounce. The wind, although blowing straight down the runway, had started to pick up by the end of my flight. On the last landing, I bounced a little. But, it felt as if I had touched down just enough for the wheels to kiss the runway, then briefly lift off again before returning to the ground. An onlooker later told me that the bounce looked very benign (I wasn’t too pleased with the landing). I’ve had my share of bounced landings in plenty of aircraft, and none of them felt as smooth as this one. So, in this case, I’d chalk the gracefulness up to the airplane, not the pilot.

After logging 1.4 hours in the aircraft, I must say that I agree wholeheartedly with AOPA Pilot Associate Editor Jill Tallman, this year’s sweepstakes manager—this Remos certainly lives up to its “Fun to Fly” theme.

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6 Responses to “Levitating LSA”

  1. John Ramos Says:

    Thanks for the great review of the Remos! As someone who works for a Remos dealer, fun flying is something we always point out first about the aircraft. Your assessment goes right in line with my experiences flying the plane. It gets off the ground so quick that, from a bystander’s perspective I can’t tell if it’s just flying over the pattern or if it just took-off! Thanks again. Best regards and Happy New Year.

    John Ramos

  2. Jason Ihde Says:

    I did my Sport Pilot cert in a Remos G3 in august 08. I am now an Instrument rated Private working towards Commercial.

    I also agree that the Remos G3 (affectionately known as “The Heavy” at the airport I trained at) loves to fly. So much so, that I found during my training in that plane that it was particularly difficult to learn to land in. This was probably mostly due to my inexperience during my training. However I found that after I got a handle on landing in the Remos, landing other aircraft was an absolute cinch.

    I found that the G3 was particularly unforgiving to poor crosswind correction and lack of right rudder on flare. This is probably entirely due to her extremely low weight and wing loading. With all that surface area on those high wings, it is no wonder she bounces around with the slightest breeze.

    I believe the difficulties I experienced in “The Heavy” made me a stronger pilot since I learned through direct effect, the necessity of a good, stable approach and proper handling of crosswinds.

    My only real complaint about the Remos is actually about myself: I never got around to flying her with the doors off. Flying them with the doors off has to be the single coolest aspect of the G3/GX. In the Texas summer, it might be the only way to survive long periods of time in the plane!

  3. John Says:

    In response to Jason,

    I own a Remos GX and it has a glide ratio of 10:1. My understanding is that the G3 has a glide ratio of about 16:1 I think and larger wing surface area making it a real floater. The downside to the G3 is buffeting in turbulence and harder to land in any crosswind. The new GX is a totally different animal. The GX was developed mainly to fit the American style pilot to help mitigate some of the issues that Jason refers to. It penetrates turbulence well and lands as well as any 1320 lb. gross weight airplane on the market. Any corrections to my observations are welcome.

  4. Chris Says:

    How would such a “Levitating LSA” perform at a 7000+ft MSL airport in the high country? (at 80F with a 200lb pilot) – Thanks.

  5. Jason Ihde Says:

    Chris,

    I can’t say for sure because I do not have the numbers in front of me, but I think you would still get about 500fpm out of the G3 in 7000ft density alt. In Dallas during the summer we had several days of 3000+ft density altitude and still could get almost 1000fpm at a few lbs below MTOW with an airspeed around 75. Note that thing is airborne at something like 45mph.

    Note that I’m talking about the G3 specifically, not the GX. If the GX has a higher wing loading as John says, I would expect that would have some affect on the high altitude performance of the bird.

  6. david davis Says:

    It’s a good thing that landings are mostly soft. As an owner of two GXs, I tell you that there are problems with Remos and the warranty on the landing gear cross-beam. The original (before upgrade) failed structurally. Remos said it was pilot abuse. Then they replaced their supplier, sent a new one, but were niggardly with replacement costs.

    Their attitude was Wall Street all the way.

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