Wind Tunnel

I loved the article on Trikes [December 2016] and would like to add that gyroplanes are also weight shift controlled and have the same problem with tucking in at negative angles of attack. I have never heard of a discussion regarding if they also suffer control reversal.

By the way, if you don’t think that gyroplanes are weight-shift aircraft, think how much resistance to change there is for a gyroscope that is 40 feet long, weighs over 100 pounds, and is spinning at over 300 rpm. When force is applied to the control stick, the frame moves and then the rotor follows.

—John Hunt

Steve Wittman

Amy Laboda’s excellent article on the life of Steve Wittman [“Just Call Him Mr. Pylon,” January 2017] reminded me of something that happened to me years ago at the Reno Air Races.

Back when the original Nemesis was dominating the Formula One world, I walked to the pit hangar to see if I could get a closer look at it. I found it completely uncowled and, fascinated, bent over the rope in front of it to stick my nose into the engine compartment to get a closer look. Suddenly, I became aware of another head with its nose deep in the engine installation, just inches to my left. Curious, I turned and looked, and instantly realized it was Steve Wittman!

We both smiled and nodded at each other, then continued looking over Nemesis. After a short while, his wife Paula walked up behind us and said, “There you are! I have been looking all over for you. You are supposed to be at a dinner in town tonight, and we’re going to be late!” He stood up and smiled, and she took him by the arm and led him off to a waiting car.

It made me realize that, just like me, he would probably rather be turning a wrench or flying an airplane than attending a dinner, and I greatly appreciated this small encounter with one so accomplished.

—Dan Allen

Merlin PSA

The Merlin PSA [October 2016] is a delightful little aircraft—a thoroughly modern Baby Ace. Shame about the old technology of the Rotax 582 motor though, when both the Rotax and OMC divisions of Bombardier have for years been producing highly successful, direct injection 2-strokes for snowmobile and outboard use that handily outperform their 4-stroke competitors. High power-to-weight ratio, high continuous power output, reliable, flexible, extremely fuel efficient, and meeting all the emissions targets. With outputs of the outboards ranging from 15 to 200 hp, they could be the basis of a wonderful range of light aircraft engines. Unfortunately, I am sure we will never see them, as I suspect the last thing Rotax wants to hear about is anything that might compete with the highly profitable near monopoly their 4-stroke 912 engines have on the present LSA market.

—George King

The good news for those interested in the Merlin is that the American distributor is investigating a variety of potential powerplants that builders will be able to use for the airplane—including an electric option. The future will tell if these are successful, but we do encourage the experimentation.—Ed.

Write to [email protected].


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