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Tip-Up vs. Sliding Canopy by Martin Sutter   
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You are ready to make the plunge and order that RV7 or RV9 kit. Now you have to make some choices on the options. One of them is tip-up canopy or slider. Maybe you are passionate about one or the other but before you mark down your option take a moment and consider more than just the obvious. Here are the pros and cons from someone who has built and flown both versions.  

Difficulty of construction: Notice I said difficulty, not ease because the canopy is one of the harder components to build. The basic frame for the slider is made from welded steel tubing and comes as a complete unit in the kit. The tip-up is made from aluminum components that have to be riveted together by the builder. That means more labor from you but gives you the opportunity to build the frame to precisely match your fuselage. The slider frame may or may not fit your fuselage precisely due to minor variances in fuselage shape along the canopy interface and small distortions that occur during welding of the steel tubing. To get this frame to fit it will have to be bent and tweaked and in some cases you might even have to cut and re-weld a tube or two to get that perfect fit, depending on the level of perfection you are striving for. One thing you must remember is that all the fitting has to be done before drilling the canopy bubble to the frame or the holes will no longer match and that is a certain invitation to a cracked bubble during installation.  

Visibility: On that one the tip-up wins hands down, at least looking forward. However if you worry about bogies at your six, the slider offers an advantage there. 

Ease of entry and exit: The tip-up opens up a longer area from front to back for you to get inside. On taildraggers the advantage is even more pronounced, yet the tilt of the fuselage causes the top of the wind shield of the tip-up to protrude in your chest (and the open canopy behind you is not the appropriate place to support your out of shape rump). In this case the sturdy roll bar of the tip-up is a much better support for you.  

Sturdiness in daily use: Definite advantage to the slider. The biggest draw back of the tip-up is it's vulnerability while it is open. Since it sticks up like a big sail, quick harm can come from a strong gust of wind or an inconsiderate fellow pilot with a strong prop blast. Installing gas struts and reinforcing the forward frame with a composite lay-up can make the tip-up sturdier but not to the point where it can take the wind blasts and rough handling the slider can tolerate.  

Ventilation on the ground: If you like to hang your elbow out the side and let the wind blow thru your hair while taxiing on a hot day, the slider will not disappoint you. The tip-up can be raised in the back by a few inches to allow for a nice air flow while taxiing but it is more like having the windows in your car down by a few inches than like riding in a convertible as is the case with the slider. 

Canopy seal: The slider is harder to seal against drafts in flight. A certain amount of air flow is difficult to keep from coming thru the gap between the canopy skirt and the fuselage sides and turtle deck. This air is especially noticeable in the winter time. Since the tilt-up drops down on the fuselage rather than sliding along it, gaskets can easily provide a draft free environment. The tip-up requires very careful fitting in the front to eliminate water leaks along the hinge line. Sliders tend to leak water around the rear skirt in flight.  

So which one do I have?  I won't tell in order not to bias your choice.  Look at all the above points and decide which ones are most important to you and then make your decision.

Martin Sutter RV-6 N868CM


Addition comment from Mel Asberry:
Subject: Tip-up vs. Slider

Martin did a very good job of presenting the facts on the two optional canopies.  However, he left out one VERY important one. The fact that access to the back of the instrument panel is MUCH better with the tip-up.  With the slider, working behind the panel is not much fun. In addition, with a pull of the jettison handle the tip-up can be completely removed giving even more access and easier work on the canopy itself.

Tailwinds,
Mel Asberry RV-6 N168TX (Tip-up :-)