Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Type rating in a Tomark SD4 Viper!

I am on holiday at the moment in Whanganui. The main reason is for a family visit, but while here, I have been quite keen to learn to fly Wanganui Aero Club's [or click here] Tomark SD-4 Viper, ZK-EAW. The Viper is a Light Sport Aircraft [LSA] and as such it's a wee bit lighter than other aircraft I have flown with a MAUW of only 600Kgs.

The aircraft is powered by a 100Hp Rotax 912 and gets along quite nicely at about 100 knots and a miserly 18.5 litres of mogas 91 per hour! The twin Dynon displays are pretty cool - easy to use although taking a bit to get used to for a crusty old PPL like me :-) - with combinations of PFD, Engines instruments and a nav/ map display available, and pretty much everything but the radio handled through it! It is also significantly less expensive to run [less fuel, cheaper fuel, likely less maintenance] that a 40 year old PA38 [and flies at least as well as a Tomahawk!]. Stall warning is the buffet - no sirens or warning lights here, but basic and power on stalls appeared easy enough to handle. It glides well at a comfortable 65 knots.

The aircraft is easy enough to fly, with just a few obvious differences from the heavier GA aircraft I am used to:

  1. Being lighter, there is not much inertia. You really do need to watch limitations [such as flap speed - only 76 knots] and engine RPM a little more closely [although it will get easier with time]. It's easy to reach a limit if you're not paying attention.
  2. The flaps are not painted on like some GA aircraft [ok, I am NOT thinking of the C172 right now!]. For the FLWOP I put the flap in too early. We made the paddock [and yes, we landed in it] but I could have left them up for longer. With the glide approach onto NZWU, I thought I was too high, but with a bit of flap we made it easily onto the runway. The EFATO was easy to handle.
  3. Procedures are a bit different, especially with the two displays containing everything, so a checklist helps. Temps need to be right before taxi and runups but this only takes a couple of minutes. Rotax engine RPMs are a little different [about double] a Lycoming, so something to look out for.
  4. Speaking of the engine, it's a Rotax 912. It needs to be "burped" on the first flight of the day. Obviously a guy designed this engine ["burping" ha ha ha. Sorry ladies, maybe it's a guy thing] :-). To be fair though, it is more of a gurgling noise...
  5. For it's weight, it flies well in wind. First flight we had gusts up to around 20 knots and it handled them fine. It does handle turbulence better two-up though. I certainly noticed the reduction in weight on my solo circuits - a little more bouncy, but nothing disconcerting.
  6. No mixture. That's right, it is automatic.
  7. No toe brakes. There's a single lever below and behind the throttle and it works well.
Apart from all that, it's fun to fly!

If you haven't done a rating in something this light, or if you're interested in what an LSA might have to offer, definitely try this out! If you're one of those pilots who things that the smaller the easier, then you might be surprised what you'll learn in this machine compared to that Cessna or Piper you're flying right now. I'm sure the team at Wanganui AC would be very happy to help you out and I'm also sure that you'll enjoy the experience!


Nicks BIGSKY Aviation said...

Nice job Rodney.

Awesome to try something new eh.

Andrew said...

Hi Rodney

Thanks for an interesting post. Getting a type rating in an LSA sounds like a fun thing to do.

Quite a few aero clubs seem to be introducing LSAs to supplement (or in some cases replace) their current fleets to give a more modern flying experience at a cheaper price. I see Wanganui AC also has a Tomahawk, described on its website as its "heritage trainer".


Rodney said...

Thanks Nick, Andrew.

It was certainly interesting getting a rating in something a bit different... I'd recommend that to anyone, just for the skills increase.

It will certainly be interesting things head LSA-wise in the next year or two. I'm picking a reduction in the numbers of manufacturers, with the good ones remaining and being a very very viable option in many cases.

Just my 5 cents worth!