Tuesday, August 09, 2005

You can never go home

The Tampico hadn't been flown for a month, and I really hate to let it sit that long. I decided to take it over to MadCo and gas it up.

Weird. It felt like going from a Miata to an SUV. I'm so used to sitting down low in the cockpit and stretching to see over the cowl that sitting up high and having unrestricted forward visibility on the ground was almost luxurious. Engine start felt much different too. The engine is further forward and there is a layer of sound reducing material in the Tampico, whereas with the RV-6 there's nothing between me and the engine but a couple of slices of bare aluminum. It's a completely different feeling. I always thought the Tampico vibrated a lot, but after 20 hours in the RV it felt like sitting on a couch. I've become so accustomed to the noises and movements of the RV that the Tamico felt completely foreign.

The other big difference was after takeoff. With the RV, once the nose comes up during the takeoff roll that's pretty much the last you see of it. Even in climb, it stays out of your way so you can see over it. The Tampico is the opposite. Once you rotate on takeoff, forward visibility is blocked by that big nose until you reach cruise altitude.

The Tamipco, while heavier, has a lower wing loading (weight supported in flight per square foot of wing). This makes it more susceptible to thermal up and down drafts. The RV treats turbulence like sharp speedbumps, while the Tampico gets blown around by them. That makes the Tampico a bit harder to control on a hot summer afternoon, especially considering that its controls are far less responsive than the RVs.

The final thing I noticed was that on final to land, I ended up too high with the engine at idle, thinking I might have to actually slip it down. What happened is that I'm now used to the RV, which drops like a brick at idle throttle and full flaps. In the RV, I carry a relatively high amount of power right into the flare. In the Tampico, it takes far less throttle, and forgetting that caused me to end up way too high on final.

It's a darn nice plane, though. For a store bought.

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