After falling in love with the Starlet around the age of 13 when a RC model kit came on the market (never seen a real one in the flesh until recently), I have purchased a nice one that came on the market here in Australia (as far as I know it the only one down here) with a 235c1 Lycoming in it and a 72x50 metal prop.
The lil beauty had been up for sale a few years ago (unfortunately I didnt have the money), and had a landing incident on the flight back home piloted by the new owner, where it was re-purchased by the original owners to replace a landing gear leg and other minor things.
Following a longish kind of break after selling my old W.A.R. FW-190 in favour to raise funds to restore the MiG, I hadnt flown in nearly 9 years, and a quick BFR in a Piper L-4 still left me a little worried of how the little machine would handle, given its history after the last sale.
What do I think about that design??? I have flown a lot of different types in 4000+ hours over last 27 years...anything from a hang-or paraglider to ex-military jets with little hot things like Pitts, Zlin etc in between - but there is nothing, and I mean nothing that gives you the fun and pleasure like this little Starlet does!
Its not only very pretty, its also one of the sweetest aeroplanes to fly - its a bit like being a kid again riding fast motorbikes without a helmet :-) and it gives you a rock solid feel without worrying of something vital falling off if you "accidentally" bump the stick and the green stuff is somewhere where it shouldnt be when flying a 172 :-)
If you are a very low time (in tailwheel planes) pilot, and you are building one....please do get a bit of time in an old Cub from the back seat, a Decathlon or something similar before you take her out for a first date - it certainly aint no Piper Cub, and although the approach speed of about 70 mph (a bit over 60 kts in mine) over the fence is a lot slower than a Pitts, due to its size and being very "convertible", it does give you kind of a "test pilot" feeling during the first few landings.
Art Scholl was definately right about the rudder authority, however it is not necessarily a bad thing..its very easy to keep it straight with small inputs on take-off and landing - unlike a 185 and it prefers 3-point, and once in the air..it just feels right.
I have been siffing through all the documentation I have, but have been unable to find anything in regards to the structural integrity (+/- g loads by design), and therefore am very conservative at the moment with loading it during gentleman's aerobatics of no more than 3.5-4g - does anyone of you gentlemen have any details on that?
Also, this sensational beautiful plane has been around for so long....has anyone seen any video footage of one? We are planning to do some shortly with a Piper Tripacer as a camera ship.
Would be great to hear from anyone who is building one, has got one..or just like me...just loves the plane and finally found one :-) ..am over 40 now..and just didnt want to wait a decade while building one :-)
All in all....with the 115hp in it (2000ft/min+ climb), its unique beauty...its not only a really pretty plane..it just lives up to its looks and simply "just loves to fly"....:-)
Pilot size: Just like the original builder..we both are a bit on the largish side...6ft and around 100kgs - regardless of fuel load in both tanks, CofG is close to FWD limit on this one, with the local AU regs allowing up to 106kgs pilot weight and full fuel. At 6ft, there is no problem at all with a comfy fit.
Cheers and happy landings,
Disclaimer :-) : This aint no flight review, but just a few thoughts of a very privilegded Starlet owner (who didnt spent the decade building it)....If you however have one sitting in the garage...get onto it....you got no idea what you miss out on :-) ...and like with everything that has been around for so long....."if its popular for 40+ years..there is reasons for it :-)
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