Maintenance Day

The new wing has inspired me.  After Mike and I split up from the morning launch, I stopped at Ace Hardware and purchased a impact socket that fits the oil drain plug.  I went home and changed the oil and filter on the Generac.
It’s been 20 months and lots of hours….. Shame on me and Bravo to Terry for putting together such a reliable and simple aircraft.  And then…. Because I was feeling so virtuous, I re-positioned my seat so that I sat up straighter.  A couple of hard landings have bent the frame so that the main spar geometry is more like a trike buggy.  I haven’t worried about it much.  It tilts the prop a little forward which keeps the wash out of the wing but it also laid me back which sometimes stressed my chest muscles.  Anyway, it’s more comfortable now and while the hang straps are a little to forward…. It’s an improvement.

APCO LIFT EZ flight 805 806

The first flight was at Placida in 5mph breeze.

EZ Launch and better climb.  Probably because the density of altitude was much better than the first few flights.  I did see a post on the Big List where Dan Dimov has been flying a lift for about a year and mostly at sea level.  He mentioned he was not pleased with the climb when flying at 5500+ ASL.   It’s climb will be less, of course, but thats true with any wing.  It’s possible that the thrust of his motor had as much to do with change in climb as the wing.  Anyway he has moved onto faster more sporty wings
It would really be interesting to have him fly the EZ and comment on any difference he noticed with the latest generation of the lift.
The manual recommends that you fly straight for a time to gain altitude and speed before beginning a turn.  That could be a problem when the LZ is small and you have to circle the field.  Perhaps, that would be the time to apply the tip steering?  After 5 launches, 4 required some brake to take off  and only one (where I had a paved runway) was I able to get enough speed to launch without any brake pressure.  At negative trim the wing will not launch but it is acceptable to go “all closed” after .  I have not yet flown the wing with the trimmers “all closed”, but it will be interesting to see how much it slows down the wing and how it handles.  APCO states the speed range is three times faster at full reflex with speed bar than with trims all in.

The LIFT EZ features an innovative riser design allowing to slow down the glider to minimum speed without risking getting caught in deep stall.

The manual states, “in powered flight the Lift EZ behaves more like an airplane than a Paraglider, and it is a good idea to regard it as such.  LIFT EZ in a steep climb does not stay behind as much as a conventional glider.  The SRS prevents or delays a possible stall”.  So… Perhaps a little brake pressure is needed to get max climb.
I flew for awhile in neutral and discovered that a little more brake pressure made a lot of difference in handling shifty air…. No surprise there!….. I was just being too timid  with a new wing.  In fact, the latest generation of magnetic toggle keeper is so strong that I was startled when  the brake came off the keeper.  I thought I was applying minimal pressure to the wing but was just pulling against the keeper.  When it let go I felt the brakes go slack it surprised me.  Next time I’m going to experiment with using the brakes with increasingly open trim.  The question is… At what point of trim is it necessary to switch from brakes to wing tip steering?  APCO states that at full reflex, the brake input will require much more force and increase the possibility of collapse.  I’m guessing somewhere around 1/3 to 1/2 reflex will be the shift to tip steer.  They also mention flying with both brakes and tip steer which should be interesting.
APCO has designed the tip steer to form a wind scoop / drag parachute that produces drag without lift.  They claim it will make for agile and efficient turns with less input pressure and also cause more stable tips.  I might have to increase the length of the tip steer.  Next time I’m up, I’ll watch for the little pooch where the stabilo pulls the material together.
The second launch was that evening  at the intersection of Veterans Hwy and Peachtree.  The winds picked up as the sun was going down and we were forced into quick laps around the field.  I landed after about 20 minutes when I noticed the air starting to get gusty.  The landing was one for my memory book.  I was returning to the SW corner of the field downwind at 50 mph and decending  at 750 fpm.  As I approached the LZ I started turning into the wind and was on final for only a second or two before touching down.  Mike was saying to himself, “that’s going to hurt”, but it felt correct and in control to me.  I was in neutral and will try it next time with the trimmers fully closed.
After landing, Mike Otten showed up.  It was too windy to fly so we kited.  Mike tried out my wing and I had a good opportunity to see it in flight.
Nice looking wing.

APCO Lift EZ … First Flights 802 to 804

The LIFT EZ is APCO‘s latest generation of reflex wings designed as an “all round” wing for beginner or experienced pilots.  Mine arrived fresh from the factory via Terry Lutke who declined to demo the wing even though he had my blessing.  Terry claims that he wants me to have the honor of the first flight and that’s very nice of him…. But….I think he just didn’t want to take the chance blending it.  To that I say….ah Heck… It’s going to be up close and personal with Elizabeth sooner or later.   CHICKEN!!

The first thing I noticed was the fabric was lighter than my previous wings and it has been chemically treated giving it a slicker feel.  APCO claims it will increase lifespan by reducing UV damage and abrasion.  They also claim zero porosity over the life of the glider.  This wing is the large model measuring 29.2 m and 25 m projected area.  It’s rated to 407 lbs. all up, so we are right at the top of the placard.  The Brasiliera color scheme I selected is Red Yellow and Green, it is vibrant and totally out of character with the Falcon… But… I like it.  

The trimmer range is several inches longer than I’m used to and the hatch marks span both positive and negative trim.   It’s been suggested that the negative trim would be helpful when adjusting for crosswind flying or possibly anti torque.  It’s unknown territory for me.  I’ve requested info from APCO and would like to start a discussion of trim and characteristics on Facebook.   Hopefully I’ll be able to do an intelligent report on glider behavior with this wing. 
The manual says it is safe to fly at any setting, so I assume it is ok to fly with the trim fully closed.
I don’t know what to expect because it kites like a power mattress with trims fully closed.
Stay Tuned….

There are several safety features.  The SRS Stall Recovery System is a clever riser design that allow the A and the C and D risers to slide in opposing directions.  If the wing were ever to go into a parachutal stall the load would shift elevating the C and D risers and pulling the A riser down, accelerating the wing back into a flight.  Since I tend to fly like an old lady, I’ve never experienced  a  parachutal stall.There is also a series of valves at the top of the leading edge.  When the wing is in reflex and the Angle of Attack is lowered these HIT valves open up increasing internal pressure.  This feature really becomes important when using the speed system.  The tip steering is also a little different.  Instead of just pulling down the stabilo line the WSS Wind Scoop System cups the wing tips, creating drag without lift.  

For the first flights, I set the trim to neutral, the take offs and landing were clean and uneventful.  Climb is good in neutral but goes down fast in reflex.  At one point I was climbing at 250 fpm but the average seems to be around 175 fpm, descent was around 500 fpm.  Turning with the tip steering is smooth and requires minimum pull.  I did notice that we were losing altitude in turns and I’m going to experiment with different thrust to figure out what makes for a flat turn.  Turning against the torque is discouraged and when it’s also against the wind, the wing resists greatly.  It reminds me of the way the power play swing used to react.
Both days there was building wind and it was hard to judge the speed but I don’t think it’s any faster than I was with the Eden III, probably 30 mph.  I might think about the speed system

There were a few annoyances….
Its hard to see the scale marks on the trim tabs, and when closed, the loose webbing can get in the way.  These things are probably no big deal and after 10 flights I won’t even notice but right now, they  complicate the flight.
But I Really liked….
The new magnets, they really grab the toggles.
The Flexon Battons that shap the cell openings.
The butt holes to keep my wing clean.  🙂

Overall it’s a nice wing.  The flight characteristics are predictable and benign but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s clearly suitable for a beginner and I think the huge speed range possible with this wing will keep me interested for awhile.