Transition Training in the RV-10
Part of my preparation for an uneventful first flight is the
process of Transition Training in the RV-10. To give perspective
to the process, going in to the training I had approximately 460 hours
of time, in a few various planes: C-150(2)/C-172/C-177/C-182RG, Piper
Cherokee 140/160(Warrior), Beech Sundowner & Sierra, Citabria, and
even 2 flights in RV-10's and one in an RV-6. Of the various
certified models, I think the Sierra best approximates the RV-10 in
general flying feel, but none of them adequately match the control feel
and performance of the RV-10. The Sierra was where I got my
Complex signoff, and the 182RG was my High Performance Complex.
Let me tell you, the 182RG is basically the exact opposite of the
RV-10. In addition, none of these planes will give you quite the
powerful kick in the butt as you push in that throttle and start down
the runway. The words "Rocket", "Raped Ape", and "Bat out of
Hell" come to mind when you shove in the go lever. Oh, and by the
way, with the recent SB on the rudder hinge, I was "stuck" flying the
"underpowered" and "sluggish" N220RV with it's measly 210HP
Continental. I say this tongue in cheek because it has PLENTY of
go to impress any pilot, and I can only imagine how much more there
will be with the 50 HP extra that my plane will have. In my Taxi
tests I was assured that mine will perform at least as well.
The one thing that will be a small departure from flying my own RV-10
is the instrument Panel. N220RV has one or two things missing
from it that my panel has. (As in, that Yugo is a bit different
than that Lexus at the dealership) I've actually not flown in
such a sparsely equipped plane before, even when you factor in my
Cessna 150 time.
Scott Schmidt gave a great write-up of his RV-10 flying time a couple
weeks ago, so I was slightly prepared for the experience. During
takeoff the procedure is one notch of flaps (the "fake" one to get it
down to zero from the Reflex position), then squeeze in the throttle
over a few seconds. As soon as you get full throttle, you're
ready to ease the stick back slightly just enough to get the nosewheel
off the ground. In less than 10 seconds you'll be climbing like,
well, those phrases listed above. The rudder effectiveness is
enough to stay centered from about the time you get 3/4" throttle in,
and you've moved only a few feet at that point. Power back to a
reduced power climb if you have no reason to hit the flight levels in
seconds, and you're instantly outperforming most of the single-engine
certified G.A. planes.
On downwind you'll power back to about 14" and 2350RPM and ease it back
to about 90-100 Kts. Abeam the threshold you have to work hard by
pulling the power all the way off to get the speed down below the
approx. 90Kt flap speed to give it the first "real" notch of flaps.
(The reflex position is designed for cruise). This speed,
by the way, is pretty darn close to your approach speed, which makes it
kind of a pain. After you have the flaps down, and the prop
forward, you can bring that RPM back up to about 1900 and you're coming
down at about 500fpm, which is not how it looks out the window.
Trust me that this baby has good sink when you are powered down a
bit with flaps down. Rounding to base or final you throw in your
last notch of flaps and you really feel the brakes come on, and the
sink rate increases dramatically. Keep the approach going at
about 75Kts or so. You get too slow and you drop too fast, but do
keep in more speed in rough air.
A note about trim. The Ray Allen trim servos will work very well
for trimming your plane out during takeoff and descent. On my
flights, I had John C. in the back seat as ballast. All landings
were a breeze, and we required some nose-down trim on takeoff. On
landing we were fairly neutral to slightly nose-up trim. The Ray
Allen servos in their standard config, are much quicker and more
sensitive than I expected after moving them around for testing.
You can only tap them in cruise, and even that can be a little
much. I'm going to fly a while and then decide if it needs speed
control or not. My first impression is that it would be nice, but
is not "necessary".
As Scott also mentioned, you fly this thing nose down all the way to
the threshold. It does not take long to get it to flare, and it
wants to be pretty low before the flare. As you reach the ground,
you simply level it out, and as speed bleeds off you increase that
angle to keep the nosewheel off the ground, keeping it off throughout
the rollout until you're almost stopped. In a Go-around, be ready
to retract flaps after putting in full power, because they take a long
time to come up.
I was initially nervous with the free castering nosewheel, but I have
found that in both my taxi testing and the transition training that it
is a complete non-issue. It works very well, and I could not ask
We performed both power-on and power-off stalls, with some power-on
departure stalls while turning. Even in 220RV, I found that it
has so much power that you have an extreme ability to get very nose
high in the stall, and it has the power to keep you from having much of
any stall break. It's going to be a sinking mush, but still nose
high unless you push the stick forward. It's probably one of the
easiest planes to fly out of a stall, although the Cherokee's and
Sundowners were both real easy too. The difference is the -10 is
much easier to feel the stall coming on. Also, slow flight is a
non-issue either. It handles fine in slow flight. The
annoying thing is that in 220RV, the stall warning switch activated a
little often, well before the stall would actually occur. It's
good warning, so basically in the -10 the only excuse for a stall would
be if you get complacent because you ignore that buzzer because it
cries wolf too often.
Cruise was great, and I know I was crusing at 175+ Mph at times, but I
honestly didn't care about what performance I got, as I knew it
wouldn't compare to the IO-540 models exactly, which is what I have.
Turbulence and Crosswinds
I can give you one big tip on something NOT to do. Well, here's
the story and you'll get the tip. Day 2 had us out on a windy
day. Many airports were reporting 30-35Kts, although Scappoose
(sp?) was calm. This was a good opportunity to go looking for
trouble, so we headed out to more windy airports. I found that
crosswinds in the -10 are interesting as any plane, where you have to
be ready for any gust or change, but basically they are also the same
as in any other plane. Nothing special. It does, however,
have great rudder and aileron effectiveness, so we had no trouble
landing in winds that were 45 degrees off centerline at 25Kts.
Sure, the ride sucked, but the landings were do-able if you have
good crosswind skills in general. I do absolutely not think that
if you're a newly certified pilot that you should go out in the
conditions I did on day 2 though. The RV-10 in general is a
handful for a new pilot, and the more power the harder it gets.
Sure, it can be flown and landed easily, but you probably can't
jump in with 40 hours in a C-172 and just fly the -10 comfortably
without probably much more than the 5 hours of traininig that I had to
take for insurance. (AIG required 5 dual / 10 solo)
So, what not to do... Well, I was on my way back to home base
after the crosswind workout. Portland, being in the
hills/mountains, and being windy, was fairly turbulent to the extreme
that I wouldn't take my family on anything but a couple minutes of what
we went through to this point. Then I made the fatal mistake.
I asked Mike, "So compared to the turbulence we've been in today,
how much more would you allow yourself to fly in with this airframe?"
You know, you always wonder those things... Well, Mike didn't get
his chance to answer, because maybe 5-10 seconds at most later, we
crossed a ridgeline and a turbulent updraft hit us like we smashed a
car off the highway through a ditch. I got shot out of my seat
and into the canopy very hard, smashing the headset off my head.
In the back, a camera went from rear seats into the tail, and a
briefcase in the tail came up and nailed John in the head. I
think Mike also took a small hit to the head from the canopy, but I'm
not sure. Wth my headset off, the noise changed drastically and
with the sound change it sounded to me like some major part like the
rear bulkhead must have opened up. Nope, all was fine, but it was
just the lack of headset. Looking at the panel, the G-meter
showed we had a nice +3 and -2 combination hit. Let me tell you,
I know airframes take much more than that, but I really don't think
people should/would. Sure, we had some bounces all day, but
nothing even close to what this one was. The nice part was, I now
know that when my wings jiggle a little, and we hit some good bumps,
it's still going to keep flying. What did I learn? Quit asking
stupid questions about turbulence!
I did my transition training with Mike Seager in Oregon. (503-429-1562)
He has lots of
experience in RV's. I found him very friendly to fly with, and
very professional. I'd highly recommend him, but you really
should plan ahead and book early. He gets pretty much full in the
summer months, and has to turn many away. Also, when I got my
insurance quotes from NationAir, AIG required 5 hours, but Global
required 10, and Global had specified Mike and no other (which will
probably change as other Transition trainers get RV-10's flying).
It's obviously a very small market for Transition Training.
You should find sometime in spring 2006 that Alex De Dominicis
is ready to start training also. He's currently flying off the
insurance required time before he can train in his plane. Refer
to http://www.rvtraining.com/ for more info. Try to get your training early and you should really plan
ahead....even if it means getting the time in now, but not flying for a
year. You can always go back to the factory or find another RV-10
for a quick ride to get re-familiar, but you want to guarantee you have
the insurance required time, and the experience Mike will provide.
Mike definitely was a friendly pilot to fly with, because he
never actually clobbered me when I did things that we just didn't see
eye-to-eye on, like how my feet were most comfortable on the rudder
pedals. (I personally feel the pedals would feel nicer if they
were 1" lower.) I believe though that through all of the things
you're going to learn, you should at least attempt to do things the way
Mike teaches you. Pilots develop their own comfortable procedures
and sometimes habits, both good and bad, but you owe it to yourself to
bow to the experience of someone like Mike and make an attempt to try
everything their way for the duration of your training.
Price? Expect too pay about $775 combined for the plane and the
instructor for transition training, depending on your time elapsed.
I know I don't like to have to come up with that kind of money
for what may seem like a non-essential, but it's worth it. For
what it's worth, my first landing was one of my best during the trip,
so it's not necessarily going to make you feel like you're learning
something, but give it some time and remember that you'll always take
home some kind of valuable experience when you fly with a good pilot.
Here's some photos of the trip. Transition training couldn't be
done in a better place...mountains for both scenery, and flight
variability. Lots of airports in the area, and TONS of RV guys.
If you go out that way for training, do post to the Matronics
list and let people know. There are many members who monitor the
list, and they'll love to meet up with you while you're there.