What to the following events have in common? …Sebring LSA Expo, Heart of Texas LSA Expo, Midwest LSA Expo, Sport Pilot Tour… Answer: All are focused marketing shows generating keenly interested crowds to examine Light-Sport Aircraft. When that happens, business arrangements sometime result, and not all deals are between airplane buyers and sellers. *** At the Sebring LSA Expo FK Lightplanes USA struck an agreement with Hansen Air Group. The latter, an Atlanta-based national seller of the Sky Arrow and new FP-04 Peregrine, signed on to represent the Fk9, seen in Florida atop Baumann BF-1500 floats. One aviation family helps another as FK’s father-and-son Tony and Adriel Anderson linked up with twin brothers Jon and Ron Hansen. *** Recently I attended an open house for another mini-conglomerate in light-sport aviation based at the Melbourne, Florida airport.
Cosmos (France) Samba
Phone: (011) 333-8035-6800Darois, -- 21121 - France
|Empty weight||210 pounds|
|Gross weight||410 pounds|
|Wing area||154 square feet|
|Wing loading||2.7 pounds/sq ft|
|Fuel Capacity||2.6 gallons|
|Standard engine||Zenoah G25B-1|
|Power||22 hp at 6,600 rpm|
|Power loading||18.6 pounds/hp|
|Cruise speed||45 mph|
|Never exceed speed||55 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||600 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||200 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||200 feet|
|Standard Features||Topless M hang glider wing, weight-shift control, steerable nosewheel (push left, go right), foot-operated nosewheel brake, hand throttle, seat belt. British hang glider wing certification.|
|Construction||Aluminum tubing airframe, composite trike wing crossbar, Dacron® polyester sailcloth. Made in France.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - Trike carriage is true minimalist configuration (with enough weight allowance to add a few select accessories if you insist). No kingpost and upper rigging lends a modern and racy look. Wing has been through British certification as a hang glider. Single-seat trikes are rarer, but offer pleasant differences from cost to performance; Samba is a great combination of powered trike and hang glider.
Cons - Design hadn't been developed for years and had to play catch-up as the trike experienced newfound favor. Several significant improvements needed at time of test flight have reportedly been addressed at the factory.
Subsystems available to pilot such as: Flaps; Fuel sources; Electric start; In-air restart; Brakes; Engine controls; Navigations; Radio; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Simple is what the Samba is about, so this category deserves a "Systems? What systems?" response. However, Cosmos has since added a hand throttle, nosewheel brake and even an electric starter. As such, the Samba - which should still make Part 103 weight easily - is well-loaded for systems. Brake is foot-operated, as usual on trikes. Samba should use hang glider instruments which mount to the control bar.
Cons - Overall, the Samba is not the work of hardware art that the bigger Cosmos trikes are. It's supposed to be simple and it is. Adding the features recently made available also bids up the cost, perhaps unnecessarily. Adding conventional instruments will require inventing the mount, and a radio must be hand-held or control bar-mounted.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Entry gets no easier than this. Seat has potential to be very comfortable (once seat bolts were reversed). If you use control bar instruments, they are quite readable and easily reached. Lower speed range of Samba/Topless means a windscreen is hardly necessary.
Cons - Easy as entry is, the seat is low enough that older pilots could struggle a bit to rise from it. A lap belt is insufficient and shoulder or 4-point belts are advised. No cargo area (though some side bags might be added).
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - The Samba is so light (only about 200 pounds empty) that ground maneuvering is a breeze. All trikes have some flexibility in ground maneuvering as you can lift a wing without changing direction. Nosewheel is quite responsive even though small. A nosewheel brake has been added, Cosmos reports.
Cons - No question about it: "wrong-way steering" (push left, go right) is nonintuitive (but standard on most trikes). Until you develop the instinct for it, the reversed quality can be unnerving. Winds can more easily upset the very light Samba and its high-performance wing. Ground clearance is less than larger Cosmos trikes. Suspension is limited to air in the tires and flex in the system.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - "Point your toe and off you go" using the foot throttle. Takeoff is generally easy in trikes, and this lightweight single-seater is no different. Only the engine's small size limits the sensation at liftoff. Climb was an adequate 600 fpm. Landings are equally straightforward with terrific visibility. Slow speeds reduce need for slips or flaps (neither of which apply to Samba operation).
Cons - A small single-banger engine won't help you leap from rough runways (though bush flying isn't why it was designed). Like all trikes, Samba is limited in crosswind capability, although practice will give more latitude. No control surfaces to help steepen your approach if needed.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Light, fast, responsive and intuitive - not much need be added to this statement. Weight-shift or not, this Samba and Topless combination was a delight if you want light controls. Samba/Topless is also the first trike I felt I could dive authoritatively. Category rates an "Excellent" in my logbook.
Cons - Great handling or not, Samba still uses weight-shift, and some pilots have a mental block about using it. Like all high-performance hang gliders, the Topless has anhedral (downward-angled wings), which makes it modestly roll unstable; your weight easily overcomes this, but some "high siding" of the control bar is needed while in steeper banks.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - For what this machine is - a powered hang glider of the late '90s - it has superb performance. The Topless wing is state-of-the-art in hang gliding. With stall in the very low 20s and speed to 55 mph, Topless offers a respectable speed range. A climb of 600 fpm on only 22 horses is mighty efficient. Very strong glide ratio.
Cons - Even with great performance, this still isn't a cross-country cruiser (under power, that is). You're out in the wind, so more speed is less comfortable. Endurance isn't long with only 2 gallons of fuel (factory increasing this to 2.6, a little better). No other negatives.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Stalls are straightforward and not threatening, although they are less docile because the wing is considered a high-performance design. Power response is normal (more power produces nose-up). Longitudinal stability appeared conventional. Steep turns were simple and easily controlled (essential for a soaring machine). Adverse yaw isn't much of an issue on trikes.
Cons - Lap belts are definitely not enough in case of violent upset. As always, I wish Samba had been fitted with a ballistic parachute. For this reason, I did not attempt spins. No other negatives.
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - For only $10,995 ready-to-fly, Samba is a good value if you want this type of aircraft. Performance and handling appear very well-suited toward those with weight-shift soaring in mind. Well-known company, one of the world's largest trike builders. Breakdown to car top and trunk is possible (certainly with a little pickup truck).
Cons - Not really a beginner's trike. Not a cross-country cruiser.
You may know pilots like this. Heck, you might be one of these folks. Large numbers of them help manufacturers get trick new hardware on the market. Their willingness to try fresh concepts and their enthusiasm for all things new make purists an essential part of flying. One type of flying purist is the sort who prefers to stick with a FAR Part 103 ultralight. The genre helps define ultralights in general – we fly them because we like them, not because we’re hoping to grow up and become an airline pilot someday. Purists prefer the simple honesty of Part 103 flight. Slow-flying ultralights allow flight closer to fields and trees and landmarks. Amazingly short takeoff rolls and uneventful stalls make these basic machines easy to enjoy and give them versatility as to the size airstrip required. Low cost and operating expense help convince even more pilots. So, if all these things are good, why not make them the best they can be – the slowest flight, the shortest takeoff, the lowest cost?