Originally published June 1993
I was privileged to fly the maiden flight of Larry Wright's Lancair 360 on June 9th, 1993. This would be an interesting flight for several reasons. First, I had never flown a Lancair of any type before. Second, Larry's engine had a brand new chrome overhaul which precluded extensive taxi testing or long engine runs on the ground. This, coupled with brakes that could not hold above 2000 RPM meant that when I firewalled it at takeoff for flight 1 it would be the first time the engine was at full power and the first time the prop governor had actually governed the maximum propeller RPM. So there were a few more ounces of food in the huge bite I had to take at the beginning of the flight. That is the trouble with first flights...it's kind of hard to build up to it. You have to bite it off all at once. At any rate, I was very cautious when I pushed it up for takeoff. Having a very good chase pilot (Doug Shane) was helpful, and the Lancair actually flew pretty well. The only major problem was a relatively hot engine (CHT's in the mid 400's initially) but the temps gradually decreased as the sortie progressed. Handling qualities were average. The aircraft is quite responsive in roll with miniscule deflections and forces required. Rudder is extremely powerful. At the flight CG, only about 80% of the aft stick force was trimmable at 135 KIAS with the gear down. Pitch was responsive but larger deflections are required for a given rate. There is a pronounced pitch down with the first 10° of flaps. PA was fine and the flare picture was easy to judge because of the excellent visibility.
Larry did a great job building his Lancair. He included an on-board Halon fire bottle that was plumbed to the engine compartment and paid close attention to details on switch labeling, pitot-statics, and rigging. The result was a textbook first flight that should be the precursor to a great flying experience. And honest, the wet spot in the pilot's seat was there before I got in!! Related articles:
Lancair 360 First Flight - June 1993
A Look at Lancair 360 Handling Qualities - November 1993
President's Column - December 1993 - Neico's semi-official non-response to the handling qualities issue
Big-Tail Lancair 360 Update - September 1995
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Revised -- 22 February 1997