Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Southern Comfort don't come in a bottle....

Aiken, South Carolina (KAIK). Beautiful day in the south with a temperature of around 15 degrees Celsius with a light it. This is my favourite time to visit the south because in 3 more months the heat and humidity makes me very happy to leave. Lately I have been fantasizing about having my own plane. By fantasize I mean the odds of me owning my own airplane are just as good as NASA calling me up to fly the shuttle. Speaking of that I did send in a request for an application and it is simply amazing how thick that package is and the fact there is more then 5 spots to list your degrees :) I always wanted to be an Astronaut until I realized well, so does everyone else and all I wanted to get out of it was the view so I settled for 400,000 feet less and still get a marvelous corner office in the sky. Back to airplanes... I wanted an airplane that had some real performance to offer and wasn't 4 million dollars. The plane shown above is not the one I want (nor could I fit in) but it is designed by the same person (Lance Neibauer). The plane I want is a 4 seater Lancair IV-P Turbo Prop. It only comes as a kit airplane but I emailed Lancair and professionally built with the turbine engine and avionics is 650,000 American. That seems pricey but the numbers for this airplane are simply amazing. It can cruise at up to FL250, cruise at 330 Knots, fly for 1100 miles and climb at 4000 feet a minute. It has optional mods for icing certification so it basically can give you an extra mile a minute burning less fuel bringing you and a few friends or family members anywhere on either coast with one fuel stop. I opted for professionally built as I wouldn't want to fly a kite that I built let alone strap my butt to a 330 Knot airplane I put together. Get 6 people to go in on the deal for 150 hours a year each and its only 110,000 dollars ! (so now I just have to come up with the other 109, 980 bucks and I am in!)

I never thought a Cessna 182 would look huge but next to this little rocket it sure does. This model is a Lancair 320 I think but I am not too sure. I don't know the design differences but it looks newerish but I know it is not a IV.

Small but mighty looking. The little landing gear look so cute, it's pretty hefty looking gear compared to the Lancair IV-P Turbine. That's the only thing I don't like about the Lancair IV is the dinky landing gear, so I have decided I need a Piper Cub on Tundra tires for my off strip experiences. I don't know how strong the IV's landing gear is even though it looks very weak. I saw the C208 Caravan's landing gear faring off one day in the hangar and was amazed that I was landing an 8000 pound airplane on a metal tube with tires !

This shot is more for scale. The chalks are as wide as the passenger cabin :) well maybe put end on end. But if it's speed you want then you can't have lazy boy style seating.

When standing beside this airplane the top of the canopy is at waist height. If I owned it I would have to convert it to a comfortable one seater with an extra fuel tank. How cool would it be to commute in something like this !

I am standing behind taking the rear profile of the bird. I just above the vertical stab now so it's highest point is about 5.5 feet or so high.

I had made a post earlier in the year from Aiken. There was a Stearman giving rides and today I leapt ahead a generation and there was a pair of T6 Texan's giving rides for 200 bucks for 30 minutes. If I wasn't waiting for my passengers to show up I would have been all over it. As I walked out of the FBO I looked up to see this Texan spinning down to circuit height joining the downwind and landing to grab his next passenger. It was the coolest thing ever to see and not sure what the legalities of it are in the US but I still don't think the FAA would think it was 100 percent safe.

The next "victim" hopes in for a ride of a lifetime. There was quite a crowd of people waiting to go and also just to see the old airplanes. They also were on hand to watch my embarrassing landing as I let the airplane float forever till it had just had enough and dropped the last foot to meet the runway with a errrrrrrr errrrrrr. It's funny when you have a crappy landing like that cause I spent the whole time on the ground thinking, holy crap that really sucked and all those people saw ! When I first started flying it was all about trying to grease it on and impress the Captain and you would try and save a landing at all cost. This time I wanted to get off at the first taxiway and in the words of one Captain, if you can't make it soft make it short...


Pat Pohler said...

Lancairs are beautiful, clean airplanes. There's a guy in our flying club currently building one, we were all sitting around talking and I remarked:

"I've talked to alot of people who feel kind of nervous riding in an airplane some guy just built himself. Like they'd feel safer knowing if the guy had an engineering degree from MIT or something."

To which he replied, "I do have an engineering degree from MIT!"

Oops :P

Millz said...

I have a goal to one day build a Lancair Super-ES - basically a Columbia 350. Nice airplanes!

Flyin Dutchman said...

Pat: Too funny, basically if you have a strong will to live I am sure building your own airplane is a very safe process.

Another reason for the pro-build kit is that I don't have the patience to wait 5 years to finish it :)

Millz: They are a great planes, I just went to Oshkosh and saw one of the first Lancair I think 200 series and it's so slick. I wanna make it back for AirVenture so I can go and see other options and maybe an interim plane that is more realistically in my range (paper airplane is about all I can afford :).

Cheers !