STOL in an RV?

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STOL in an RV?

Postby Doctorivan » Thu Jun 08, 2017 9:09 am

Vans talks about the STOL performance of their aircraft. I have (or will have soon, that is) a 1200 foot grass runway with no obstructions either end (but no over run either), at 1000 feet elevation. I am considering building the RV-9A. I am a newer pilot with 120 hours in an old Cessna 172, which I land and take off consistently in 1500 ft. Is this reasonable?

My wife and I are neither large or tall, so I don't think I can justify the additional costs of the RV-14. I could also still consider the RV-7A, but I have no experience in aerobatics, so I don't even know if I'd like it - and I tend to be a conservative pilot.

What are the experiences of others on short grass runways?

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Re: STOL in an RV?

Postby paulie » Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:46 pm

Sure, constant speed prop and a 200 hp 360. It's a rocket.

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Re: STOL in an RV?

Postby bruceh » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:37 pm

I've never landed on grass. Not enough rain in SoCal to keep anything green past winter.
That being said, the RV-9A is usually up and climbing in well less than 1000'. Put 10 degrees of flaps down and it will practically pop off the ground. You'll have to be quick to retract the flaps, since flap speed is 78 knots. I normally don't use or need any flaps on takeoff. On the threshold, full throttle, stick all the way back, count to 3 and the nose wheel is off the ground at around 30 knots. The airplane lifts off at 65 knots and will be 1000' off the ground by the time you are turning downwind leg.

Landings can be done under 1000' also, but you really have to manage your speed and sink rate. At idle ~1000 RPM, with full 30 degrees of flaps and airspeed of 60 knots, you will be coming down at a steeper glide slope than the VASI lights are normally set. I find that going with around 1200 RPM (I have a fixed pitch prop) lessens the sink rate nicely. If you approach landings at 65 knots or more, you will float quite a bit down the runway. I try not to brake very hard at my home field, since I have 5000' of runway to slow down. I keep the nose wheel off the ground as I decelerate and it will finally drop at around 30 knots (depending on CG).

I'm coming up on 400 hours in my RV-9A and you will find that you are just starting to get comfortable with the takeoff and landing performance limits after several hundred hours of flying. I would highly suggest that you do your initial flying from a longer runway until you can start nailing the landings everytime. I still have my little surprises during landings, but the RV's will spare you any drama if you stay within the parameters of airspeed, vertical speed and crosswinds. Today's landing was a challenging one. Gusty winds, 90 degree direct crosswind with the wind socks moving everywhere in the gusts. Trying to keep the airspeed steady on final was impossible. I was going from 58 to 70 knots. I came in a little higher airspeed, wing low into the crosswind and rudder to keep us over the centerline. Floated a bit, then got dropped by the wind gusting. Made it no problem, but a bit higher on the stress level than the usual easy landings. I would not have wanted to try to make that in under 1500'. More like 2000-2500'. Know your limits and always keep to them, but over time your limits will expand as your skills increase.
Bruce Hill
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