I finally got to fly an RV12 yesterday, one built by a fellow EAA member. It was a flight review for him, and I got maybe 10 minutes of stick time and a couple of landings at our home base of Copperhill, TN (1A3).
I had asked about anything to look out for on the landings - more on that later. (That thread can be found here: http://www.vansairforce.com/communit...d.php?t=153887
Overall impression is that this is one nice little package. I’ll list some pros and cons I see after this very brief initiation, though the cons are mainly things I would need to adjust to, not inherent flaws.
1) Very nicely balanced controls. Not too heavy, not too light, just right, and very responsive.
2) Great visibility - as good as my Sky Arrow in all respects except straight down - and that’s rarely a factor except in aerial photography.
3) Very comfortable and well-positioned seats.
4) Very clean aerodynamically, resulting in what appears to be very good performance overall.
1) The flaps did not seem very effective.
2) Slipping did not seem very effective.
3) Pretty sure I’d want steam backup gauges - an altimeter and airspeed at the very least, and maybe a backup attitude indicator as well. If that one SkyView screen ever went blank, you’d be left with virtually no flight instruments at all.
4) From the right seat it was very hard to see the “ball” on the SkyView. Were it my plane I think I’d install an inclinometer somewhere high in the center of the panel, though admittedly the left-seat pilot could easily make due with what’s already in front of him on the SkyView.
A lot of the cons I see that way only based on what I’m used to. For the last 10 years and 500 hours I’ve flown my Sky Arrow almost exclusively and have gotten quite used to its flight characteristics. With no wheel pants, wing struts and the engine sitting up above the fuselage, It has a LOT of drag. Not great for performance, but it allows a lot of latitude in various flight regimes: It’s slow to build up speed, and with full flaps and a slip it comes down like the proverbial freight elevator.
The RV12, not so much. It was way too easy for me or my friend to build up speed inadvertently, and I would have to get used to the much flatter approach that its better glide performance provides. But clearly something one would get used to over time.
Now, about the landing…
Folks were right - nothing unusual there that I saw. My friend wanted to focus on his landings, which he thought might be too fast, and they were. On the plus side, the initial ones he showed me were quite smooth, and for his limited hours he showed a very good feel for the plane. Problem was, he was at about 70kts on final and carried maybe 65kts into ground effect, and then touched down way faster than I would have liked - full flaps and safely main wheels first but with a lot of extra energy. When I had him continuing to hold the plane off it resulted in a LOT of float if we tried to hold off for a nice 40kt touch down. I had him decrease his speed in increments of about 5kts, finally arriving at a final approach speed of about 55kts. I think that’s about what I would use for a normal approach - its just over 1.3 Vso. At that speed after rounding out he had no more than about 10 kts to dissipate and he managed a couple of very nice landings with the stall warning sounding just as the mains touched down. Now that he has that image in his mind, I think he’ll be able to safely practice it solo.
He also successfully completed a “dead stick” simulated emergency landing on the first half of the runway - a skill I think every pilot should have and to practice regularly but one that many (literally) fall short on.
Someone mentioned the nosewheel tending to drop, but I did not observe that. In fact, power off on my landings, it was easy to hold the nose up throughout the touch and go. His landings were all power off and the nose came down very gently as the speed dissipated, though admittedly he may have been gently lowering it rather that letting it drop. Not sure if its just some planes and/or some loadings that have that issue, but again, I did not see it.
Oh, and kudos to Vans for producing such solid little aircraft in kit form, and to my friend for having the skill, perseverance and attention to detail to take it to completion.
Anyway, I’ve been intrigued by the RV12 since I first heard it was being marketed as a “factory-built” S-LSA. Nothing in yesterday’s flight would dissuade me from keeping it high on my list of Sky Arrow replacements - it’s a sweet little bird, and I’m looking forward to more stick time in it.