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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Flying Miss SP-ACY

After a couple of cancellations due to the typical Dutch summer weather (either too much wind, or rain, or even thunderstorms), last wednesday I finally got to fly around the "polder" with Erwin in his AT-3, SP-ACY.
As usual, I arrived a bit early at Zelf Vliegen in Lelystad, where we had agreed to meet at 4PM. But after one cup of coffee, Erwin arrived already, so no problemo! First a bit of a chat, because we had never met in real life, only through Airwork, faceook, and text messages. On top of that, it had started to rain a bit, so we decided to sit this one out.

Once it was dry again, Erwin pulled the SP-ACY from the hangar, and did the walk around. Beautiful sight, such a new plane, up close. So now the big moment was there: climb in, and start up. My right shoulder touched the body at the canopy base, but that did not bother me at all during the entire flight. The SP-ACY canope is a modified one, to provide more headroom (hence the registration number). Headroom was indeed not even close to being a problem. The thin seat cushions were surprisingly comfortable. Also, the fact that the seat back is pretty low, has never been a problem. Ovrall a comfortable seating :)

I had already gone over the checklist some 5 times before this day, so I could well follow the start-up sequence. Pretty simple, actually, once you know where to find which switch. In contrast to the C172 of last week, the AT-3 does not have nose wheel steering. Ground stearing is done by differential breaking. The big rudder plane will do something for you, but that requires a certain amount of prop wind... It took a while for the oilt temperature to come into the green, so plenty of time to go through the pre-take-off checklist.And then, after a thorough lookout: take -off!

Wind was pretty much head-on, for runway 05. It took only a small portion of the runway to become airborne, despite a take-off weight that must have been close to MTOW (2ppl, some "luggage", plus 3/4 of fuel). First, we did a best angle of climb, then a best rate of climb. Leveling off, speed climbed to 100 KIAS. A good tg on the stick, and suddenly we climbed at 2500 fpm. That's something you feel vey well :) Nice! At 2500 ft we were still well below the slowly thickening clouds, which produced some light rain every now and then. That did not influence the stability in any noticable way. With proper trimming, one could let go of the sticke, and nothing would happen. Like a warm knife through butter!

Time for turns ...
Because of the relatively low inertia in roll direction, the AT-3 can be put "on one ear" very easily. After a few regular turns, Erwin demonstrated what's all possible and allowed with this plane. Impressive! That comes close to aerobatics :) What accelerations; sweet!

Even though I did not fly the plane myself, I did "feel along" with the stick and peddals. The AT-3 wants to be flown intensively. Lots of "stickNrudder", so to say. Continuously working to fly co-ordinated turns. That's what makes this one a fun plane to fly, and a good teacher.
The AT-3 is definately a candidate for a share. But I am going to hold off on making a decision until I at least have also flown in a DA-20. I already had an appointment for that during my recent holidays, but that got cncelled, because the plane was still in maintenance that day. I will have to wait at least until October, before there will be another opportunity. Ah well, Rome wasn't built in one day...

I also would like to take an Aquila A210 for a spin, because that one is also on my candidate list. But since KLM Aeroclub are not done purchasing theirs, I will have to look and see if there's another way of making that happen

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