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Just wanted to drop you a line. Unfortunately, Rob's 20-300S is not finished (almost, though). However, Rob is in Sweden as we speak, flying the Finish 10-300S for the Team USA. He reports that the airplane has fantastic flying qualities. The roll rate is about 400 deg/sec. The controls are well harmonized. The low-speed handling (due to the flaperons) is great. Rob reports that the time in the vertical line is outstanding (especially considering that the the prop is reduced to only 2500 RPM for noise consideration).
He reports that this particular airplane is capable of performing 7 vertical rolls and still hammering off the top. The airfoils "Bite" into the wind quickly, similar to the high-lift, laminar airfoils in the Giles, Extra etc. He was also able to perform a torque-roll without rolling due to the full-span ailerons -- very impressive. As you know, Rob and I have spent 2+ years researching these airplanes. Due to the fact that the company is gone, and there is only one 300 example flying has made it tough to find accurate info.
There is also a lot of BS out there regarding how the airplane flew. I've talked to everyone from Steve Wolf, Robert Armstrong, Clint McHenry, the gentleman who crashed Serial #2 300S, and many more. I even managed to track down Joann Osterud (who bought Gordon's prototype) in order to get to the bottom of this. A lot of people reported that the 10-300S was a bit of a sled -- not a good performer. Rob and I both think that the negative comments come from 2 sources. First, many of these people with whom I spoke seem to want to compare the airplane to a Pitts -- IT'S NOT A PITTS.
You need to evaluate the airplane for its basic handling, and performance qualities, and not compare it to any other machine. Secondly, I think that some of negative comments came from people that were mediocre pilots. Rob and I have 11,000 hours in over 200 airplanes between us. I am an airline pilot, and Rob owns and operates his own aerobatic school, & flies airshows. We were both aviation majors with strong flight dynamics and aerodynamics backgrounds. Although we both still have a lot to learn, I believe that our knowledge,& experience base is solid enough for honestly evaluating this airplane.
I spoke with Joann for 2 hours. She reported that she had all kinds of problems with the airplane. She reported that she experience aileron reversal, and that the horizontal tail would depart (stop flying) during certain maneuvers. She also reported that the airplane would only cruise at 140 mph, and only perform 1 & 1/2 vertical rolls. This didn't make sense to me since I knew that Gordon flew the very same plane with much success. Clint McHenry also flew the airplane, in fact he convinced Joann to buy it. Clint reported that it flew well. The only explanation that I think of was that when Joann had the airplane reassembled, the rigging was all screwed up. Steve Wolf told me that he remembers seeing the airplane when Joann owned it, and that the leading edges of both top & bottom wings seemed to be pointing toward each other. This would lead me to believe that her airplane was flying straight & level with a much larger AOA than normal. This would explain why the cruise speed was so low for such a clean & powerful machine. Of course when she went to pull vertical, she was already loaded up w/ too much induced drag, hence 1 1/2 vertical rolls. She also added vortex generators to the tail and the wings to try to correct this problem. As far as I know, the Finish 10-300S is the same as Joann's, except for the Kevlar skin. I do know from Dan Ulrich that the plans for the 10-300S were actually drawn after the 3 planes were built, so each one might be a little different. I know on Rob's 20-300S, Gordon changed the position of the wings & pilot. The seat is slightly more aft. I look forward to flying the 20-300S soon to see how it flies. All research seems to indicate it will fly even better that the 10-300S. This should put a lot of the myths to bed. Rob will send you a report when he returns.
- Gordon, you did it right!!!
- - Brian Beaudry