There are exciting times coming at Sharper Edge. We have decided to build a homebuilt aircraft and have selected the RANS S-20 Raven.
A couple of weeks ago (the end of September) the Sharper Edge team made a trip down to Hays, Kansas to go on a factory tour with Randy Schlitter, owner of RANS Aircraft. We were very impressed with the clean, organized layout of the factory and as a result are very confident in the fact that we will be receiving high quality components when we order the kit.
The highlight of the visit was when Randy took both Warwick and myself in turns for a demo flight in the Raven. Here is a short video of our flights.
What a joy! The aircraft has wonderful handling qualities and control harmony, and even the ground handling is very docile for a tail wheel aircraft. This particular demonstration aircraft had big off field tires – they looked to be about 30″ tires with only about 7 psi. That should have given me a clue as to what sort of performance to expect from the aircraft, as the big tires, slow take-off and landing speeds and excellent handling make this the perfect aeroplane for exploring off airport operations.
After a very short taxi to the runway which sits behind the RANS factory, we took off (short, very short take-off run!) with an initial climb of about 1,000 fpm. After a few maneuvers to get a feel for the aircraft, including slow flight and stalls which were very docile, Randy demonstrated the off airport capabilities.
A field with some tire tracks and a short hill was selected, and Randy made a very short landing with the big tires soaking up any bumps in the tire tracks. Take-off was by the “pop-up” method to minimize ground roll. That is full throttle, tail up as soon as you can, then when you reach 35 mph IAS yank on full flaps and briskly rotate to the three point attitude. The aircraft simply levitates off the ground at the minimum speed possible, with the shortest ground roll used. What a delight!
From what I heard, Warwick had a very similar flight and was equally impressed with the aircraft.
Between the big bush tires and the short field performance our imaginations were able to run loose with all the interesting places we could visit with this aircraft that we just couldn’t get to with our usual aircraft.
We can’t wait to get started building so that we can fly this wonderful aircraft, however we still have to finish off the updates to all the books for 2015, and complete the multi engine book before we can seriously consider building anything. Stand by for updates on this exciting project next year once we have bought the kit and are able to start construction. There’s also a pretty good chance that we might even produce a book or two about our experience building the Raven, and the off airport adventures in British Columbia and other interesting places.