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  #1  
Old 10-15-2017, 03:04 PM
Fast Eddie B Fast Eddie B is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Mineral Bluff, GA
Posts: 43
Default RV12 First Impressions

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.

Pros:

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.

Cons:

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.
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  #2  
Old 10-15-2017, 04:13 PM
Phantom30's Avatar
Phantom30 Phantom30 is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Coeur d'Alene, ID/Casa Grande, AZ
Posts: 566
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast Eddie B View Post
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.

Pros:

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.

Cons:

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.
Glad you enjoyed your ride...interesting your comments on having to fly a much flatter approach. So far the two IP I've flown with have made comment how steep my approaches have been (I don't like to dottle over residential areas) at low altitudes...and I normally touch down not to far from landing threshold. I like to be tight in to runway on downwind; start decent abeam #s, with a 180 turn to finial (a nice helicopter approach) which I've found the -12 handles nicely.

Would love to have you checkride with me...
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  #3  
Old 10-15-2017, 04:32 PM
RFSchaller RFSchaller is offline
 
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Location: Phoenix, AZ
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Ed,

I find it interesting that you didn’t think it slips effectively. I have salvaged many a high and hot approach in mine by slipping. My technique is to slip until below glide path and then level off to bleed speed and intercept the path as opposed to holding the slip all the way down.

Rich
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  #4  
Old 10-15-2017, 05:31 PM
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Piper J3 Piper J3 is offline
 
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Posts: 714
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I'm in agreement that both flaps and slip are near non-events. Flaps do lower stall speed but don't alter approach angle very much. Slip should decrease altitude without increase in airspeed. The 12 seems to enjoy flying in forward slip without scrubbing off much altitude.

I come from flying a Cub where forward slip dropped you like a rock and blew your hat off if the door was open...
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  #5  
Old 10-15-2017, 06:50 PM
mturnerb mturnerb is offline
 
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I've got 65 hrs in RV-12 and found it to be a great "slipper" - and didn't see anything unusual about the descent angle. Airspeed is critical.
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  #6  
Old 10-15-2017, 08:09 PM
Fast Eddie B Fast Eddie B is offline
 
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Location: Mineral Bluff, GA
Posts: 43
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Thanks for the feedback so far.

Bear in mind this was just first impressions, with maybe 10 minutes or so on the controls. Truth be told, I don’t think I tried a “foot-to-the-floor” maximum effort slip. It was just that partial slips that would have had a noticeable effect in my Sky Arrow seemed to have minimal effect in the RV12. And where I could lower the nose a bit in the slip in the Sky Arrow with little or no effect on airspeed, in the RV12 the airspeed seemed to almost instantly jump 10kts - from 60 to 70kts - with the nose lowered very modestly in the slip. Which is not surprising with a really clean airframe.

But I plan on more time playing with the plane and will report any reconsiderations that come from more familiarity with it.
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  #7  
Old 10-15-2017, 10:08 PM
greghughespdx greghughespdx is offline
 
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Location: Hillsboro, OR
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What Turner said: Airspeed is critical in terms of how a slip and the extended flaperons behave. You really have to slow it down and keep it there, else you're gonna be floating for sure.

Like you noticed, it likes to fly and it's a pretty slippery airplane! If you're landing or approaching at 60kts, you're probably too fast by the way. IAS varies a little from one plane to another of course, but FWIW in the -12 I fly I'm on approach at ~58kts and it won't land until it's slowed to well under 50kts indicated. I also find that the technique Rich uses - drop slightly below glide path, then level off to bleed some speed and hold it there - works well for me.
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Last edited by greghughespdx : 10-15-2017 at 10:13 PM.
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  #8  
Old 10-15-2017, 10:25 PM
luddite42 luddite42 is offline
 
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Location: USA
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Ha Eddie - I was waiting for the responses to your slip comment. But you are absolutely right if you're accustomed to aircraft that slip much more effectively. It's all relative. They are 'effective' in the -12, just nowhere near as 'effective' as in many other aircraft types. About the only aircraft less slip effective are Rutan pushers. Those who have only ever slipped Cessnas and their RV-12 have a different idea about slip 'effectiveness' than those who have flown tube and fabric taildraggers and bipes. RVs just don't have much drag to exploit, and they are rudder limited, relatively speaking...see above. And the -12 has even less rudder than the traditional RVs. Flame suit on.
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  #9  
Old 10-15-2017, 11:30 PM
rvbuilder2002 rvbuilder2002 is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luddite42 View Post
Ha Eddie - I was waiting for the responses to your slip comment. But you are absolutely right if you're accustomed to aircraft that slip much more effectively. It's all relative. They are 'effective' in the -12, just nowhere near as 'effective' as in many other aircraft types. About the only aircraft less slip effective are Rutan pushers. Those who have only ever slipped Cessnas and their RV-12 have a different idea about slip 'effectiveness' than those who have flown tube and fabric taildraggers and bipes. RVs just don't have much drag to exploit, and they are rudder limited, relatively speaking...see above. And the -12 has even less rudder than the traditional RVs. Flame suit on.
Flame suit not needed.
The lesser performance in a slip has little to do with design or that anything about the design is inferior.
What is required is to consider what makes a slip maneuver effective?
It is the drag induced by positioning the airframe broad side to the relative wind.
As already discussed, the RV-12 is a rather clean airframe. The fuselage doesn't have a lot of unneeded cross section area. That means there is not a lot of area to present to the relative wind for inducing additional drag.
The RV-12 already has a pretty good sized rudder, but it has been tested in the passed with an even larger one. It produced not noticeable difference in full rudder slip rate of decent.

The key to increasing the decent rate is decreasing the airspeed.
The key to having slips as effective as possible is doing them at the same reduced airspeed. If slips are being done at 65 kts or higher, they wont have much effect.
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  #10  
Old 10-16-2017, 09:18 AM
Mich48041 Mich48041 is offline
 
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Another advantage of slowing the airplane to lose altitude for landing is that the airplane is exposed to a headwind for a longer time. That gives more time to descend.
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