Author Topic: Cessna, Give Way to Experimental Jet  (Read 3647 times)

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Offline Bill James

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Cessna, Give Way to Experimental Jet
« on: June 13, 2011, 07:42:32 PM »
Had I been writing a flight report on the venerable VariEze, part of it would have gone something like this:
At the busy airport the VariEze garnered a lot of attention from transients, ferry pilots, and locals alike.
Almost reverently, the line boy voiced the secret code, “Can I have a ride?” He had been hustling around helping me saddle up, with just the right level of knowledge and enthusiasm for the Eze brand. And his eyes had that telling glow. He had earned the magic words, “Hop in.”
Talking through the takeoff indications we accelerated to 160 mph indicated. I mentioned that at this point over the end of the runway we had enough energy to circle back and land on the runway without power if needed. We lofted into a gentle climb to the west and I told the tower we would be back in about ten minutes.
Trimmed and climbing out at 180 mph I announced, “You have the airplane” and raised my hands for him to see that I wasn’t on the controls.  He jostled the airplane a bit and then quickly settled down. For the rest of the flight I could hear him reacting in excitement, surprise, and appreciation at the responsiveness of the controls and the minimal input needed to maneuver gracefully.
After a minute of getting used to the plane we tried some turns, first without rudders, then with. He established a 30 degree bank to the right, and then turned left to a 30 left degree bank to the other side. I told him that with no rudder input the airplane would hesitate in the middle of the turn, and it did.
I stated that the VariEze is a rudder airplane, but successfully resisted giving him the whole bale of hay background and history on the early flights and how the first two VariEzes were flown around happily with no ailerons, using elevons on the canard, and rudder. Or how they loaded a wing to 18 Gs… and there was that picture with eleven people standing on a canard….

Instead, we continued on with the rest of our story on VariEze turns, this time with rudder.
Wings level, I instructed him to bank right to 30 degrees, mentioning that I would now be assisting with a little rudder. He nudged the stick to the right and I gently put in an inch of rudder for a second and gently released it. The plane zipped to 30 degrees right! As expected he lit up the intercom with almost gleeful noises. Fun. We held that right bank a few seconds.  Then I talked him through the left bank back to the other side and said go.  Again my gentle one-inch left rudder input lasted only a second or two. Without hesitation we arrived at the left 30 degree bank, almost instantly. Again, excited noises on the intercom. Like many things, you have to be there doing it to appreciate it.
Then, I had him hold the sidestick neutral, while I made the turns using rudders only. With my hands up and visible we banked to the right, then to the left, and back to level, using rudders only.

Next I took control of the plane and did several wingovers, describing as we lofted over the top that in addition to what he was experiencing now, how the green and blue and bronze surrounds you and reflects in the canopy so beautifully while doing these on my sunset runs.
Next, slow fight. I gradually reduced power to about 1400 rpm while he held the wings level and the nose slightly up. I called out the decreasing airspeeds as he slowed down, and backed him up on the sidestick. With the nose up high at about 80 indicated we were flying level with the stick full aft. I asked him to go ahead and try to pull the nose up further and “stall” the airplane. He said the stick was already full back. I said that, to my reasoning, we were not at a stall, but rather the canard was at maximum lift.  Big difference. I reduced the power a little more and we gently descended. Then I added power and we climbed like a scalded elevator. All with the stick full aft.

We nosed over and banked back toward the airport. Once we were in level cruise I announced that we would do one more little historic demo for him, where he would hold the stick/ailerons neutral while I put in right rudder for a couple of seconds. The plane went nose low and rolled rapidly toward vertical. I recovered the plane before reaching aerobatic angles but it was obvious that we would have soon been diving straight down. I mentioned the sage advice: the first step of any emergency – Fly the Airplane.

Returning to drop him off, the GIB had been silent for a moment. He said, “I can tell you fly this airplane a lot. And that you really enjoy it.” I thought “Bingo!” but remained silent, letting him have the last word. I thought about how “gently efficient” is a very good term to describe the pilotage of those around me that have evolved over time into seasoned VariEze drivers. And how “elegantly efficient” is a good description of the VariEze.

I thought we were past the last of the excitement for the flight but during the approach the GIB seemed to enjoy the talk through the landing philosophy and aero braking rollout as much as anything. I mentioned that with the nose-high rollouts I used the brakes sparingly and that the pads had not needed to be replaced for the past several annuals.
I realized that during all this I had regressed a little from my “serious pilot” mindset and was having as much fun as he was.

After rollout and exiting the runway we were taxiing on Alpha, back to the other end to drop him off. I don’t know if the tower guys may have been able to see us when we were playing out west, but they were in a good mood and giving us special handling. Again, I thought we were past the best part of the flight…  
As we taxied north, a Caravan had landed and was exiting mid-runway angled in conflict with us. The tower controller said, “Cessna, hold short of Alpha and give way to the Experimental Jet…”  
Ha! We both about lost it. I looked in the mirror and the GIB was hollering and pumping his fists in the air. We both felt like we had been kinda flying a jet and the Tower's subliminal comment fit right in and confirmed the feeling. Great fun.

I think the kid and I kinda bonded.

Design Revolution or Dead End?  
Again, Ha.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 10:00:32 PM by Bill James »
Bill James, Fort Worth VariEze N95BJ
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Offline flyingwaldo

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Re: Cessna, Give Way to Experimental Jet
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2011, 08:34:04 PM »

Glad to see this Bill, knew it was going to be good.
Thank you.

Offline LongEZDaveA

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Re: Cessna, Give Way to Experimental Jet
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2011, 08:44:39 PM »
Great story Bill!  I'm quite sure I've never had the tower hold up a jet for me.

I like making converts, not that the line boy necessarily needed converting.  It's great when you find people that are curious, but skeptical.  They think it sounds too good to be true, so something's got to be wrong with the design somewhere.  After they're up for a while the satisfaction and approval come through the intercom as you mention.  It's fun.
Dave Adams, Long EZ N83DT (Race 83) Villa Ridge, MO