Oh my gosh! Is it possible for there to be an RV out there that shatters my expectations for performance and enchantment? I mean, I regularly fly two delightful RVs…..my -6 (Mikey) and Paul’s -8 (Valkyrie) and I’m admittedly spoiled by their charms. I love flying them. Mikey is wonderfully light and precise on the controls. The centerline, fighter-pilot feel in the pilot’s seat along with the 360 degree visibility (except the annoying roll bar) of the -8 makes it a fun machine, too. But, the -3 surpassed them both…..no contest!
We selected KLBX for my first flight as it is out from under the Class B airspace and has a MUCH longer and wider runway than our home field. When we arrived this morning, the AWOS reported 16 kts gusting to 22 kts, 20-30 degrees off the nose. It wasn’t ideal, but it also wasn’t too bad, I decided to go for it!
First impression? It seems to climb like our neighbor’s F-1 Rocket. I was trying to make a “normal”, steady and conservative departure but found myself passing through 1000’ agl well before the end of the 7000’ runway. With the first turn out of the pattern, it was clear the controls were even lighter than my -6, yet beautifully precise. I climbed up to 5000’ agl (and msl), then practiced landing pattern/approaches with go-arounds. As Paul had briefed, the plane does NOT want to slow down. I found it hard to keep it down in the white arc. The plane just wanted to keep screaming along. Oddly, it reminded me of the RV-12 in its seeming desire to stay afloat. After three practice patterns up high, I came back in for a real approach and landing. I got Junior slowed down and touched where I wanted but a strong gust caught me just when I thought I had it done. Power in and around I went. I then made three landings (two stop-and-goes) before turning Junior back over to Paul for the flight home. The winds would be almost direct x-winds at home and I don’t feel ready to try that much x-wind yet.
Here's my RV grin at the end of the flight. Bundled up as it's a bit nippy today.
The -3 exceeded just about every aspect of our other RVs for pure fun, local flying. It climbed better and has extraordinary visibility. The controls are lighter, throttle response quicker, and both feel more precise than either of the two other planes. Without question, the -3’s cockpit design and comfort blows them both away. It is pure joy to fly! And, the -3B is cheaper to build and cheaper to fly! As it seems most RVs are flown solo the vast majority of the time, I have to wonder why the -3B isn’t the most popular model?
As I flew my -6 back home, it felt sluggish. Like going from a Porsche to a 4-Runner. Both have their missions. One is a heck of a lot more fun to drive and the other is more practical on trips. I’ve always found the -8 to feel more solid but also sluggish in roll response relative to the -6 and figure flying the Valkyrie immediately after Junior will feel like driving a Mack truck. No question which plane will be my first choice for solo flights without a lot of baggage (which is the vast majority of my flying).
The winds remain gusty today but I’ve told Paul to not be surprised if the -3 is gone when he gets up tomorrow morning. He may have a tough time prying it away from me in the future!