After extensive trials and testing we found that the Hawk was the aircraft most able to meet our requirements. The following is quite a deep analysis, but this particular
aspect is of the utmost importance to the flying school.
Our requirements were as follows:
The advantages of the Hawk are:
- Good short-field performance
- Controllability in the Cape winds (the weatherman sometimes gets it wrong)
- Structurally sound
- Good visibility for game-count, surveillance, photography etc.
- Good training air-craft
- Balanced cross-country machine
I sound like a salesman, but there are disadvantages to the Hawk as well:
- Excellent controllability in adverse weather and also during approach - this ability is due to its very large control surfaces.
- A quarter of a century of development and award winning design has resulted in a very safe and strong aircraft. This development has also resulted in a very well
balanced cross country machine with a good cruise and an equally good glide ratio (70 % power on a Rotax 503 gives a cruise of 60 mph, 70 % power on a 4 cylinder Jabiru
engine gives a cruise of 90 mph, the glide ratio is 9.7 to 1). This is excellent performance for this class of aircraft. I attribute this excellent performance to the
small frontal area resulting from a tandem design as well as the use of a low drag wing section.
- The tandem system holds several advantages: Better thrust from the pusher propeller; more space available to the occupants therefore more comfortable for long cross-countries
as well as easier access for students of all shapes, sizes and ages; good layout for training; excellent field of view on both sides for photography or surveillance work.
- The pusher prop system results in a very low dash-board (therefore your visibility forward is excellent), add a windshield and there is so little wind that it is quite
normal to wear a peak during flight (see picture above)
- Training advantages: All controls are duplicated front and back, so there is no sharing of a side-stick with the accompanying delay for the instructor to take control
when you get it wrong (or the annoying training yoke to use up even more of your already limited space). With dual training it is the instructors job to fix it when the
student gets it wrong. The Hawk ensures the student also does not have the psychological impact of a huge empty seat next to them where the instructor used to sit during
that challenging first solo, the instructor is still just a voice in the head-phones.
- I normally remove the doors whenever I can, but for that flight on a chilly winters day when the aircraft feels like it is on rails in that very calm sky the Zip-on-doors
are bliss (We fly for fun – not to prove how much cold we can withstand) when it warms up – unzip the doors and store them behind the back seat.
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- Due to the well balanced design, the Hawk gives very little indication of an approaching stall and stays neutral in trim right up to the stall The tandem seating also won’t
allow you to hold the hand of a very nervous passenger (this is an idiom and does not mean the lady in the following example does not like holding hands). Here goes: ‘I have also
been told by a nervous passenger that she actually felt more secure in the backseat of the Hawk than in the side-by-side I used to own’.
- Many microlight pilots do not give weight-and-balance too much attention (even though it is in the MPL syllabus) but the tandem seating does require you to be more aware of this feature.