Yesterday, I was again grateful for my residence at Spruce Creek Fly-In, the large airport community near Daytona Beach, Florida. Why? Because after a lucky last-minute phone call, I zipped over to the airport restaurant and went flying with Jim Lee in his new Phoenix. *** Now, I’m a soaring enthusiast, so a LSA motorglider already starts well up my wish list. But this Phoenix, whew! She’s simply gorgeous with slippery compound curves and the handling is marvelous. *** Much more than simply a soaring machine, Phoenix climbs like the proverbial homesick angel and can cruise faster than many LSA. It also comes standard with two wing configurations — 49 feet stepping down to 36 feet — so you really get two airplanes in one. (Not only that, but if you need to put Phoenix in a hangar, you can remove the long wingtips to squeeze down to a 34-foot span, hardly any wider than a “standard” LSA.) *** Inside the cockpit, the 43-inch wide space is handsomely appointed and you have a few controls and an instrument not typically found in LSA. You have some prop controls — get the full LSA Glider explanation to understand how this works. Plus any self-respecting soaring pilot wants a variometer to find lift; Phoenix provides this with a small instrument that also makes sounds that allow you to keep your eyes outside the cockpit. *** You’ll want to pore over the specifications and I’ve only given a brief review here. I hope to fly Phoenix again soon when we can explore soaring conditions. But here’s a few tidbits: • glide 32:1 • power cruise 115 knots • stall 38 knots • useful load 612 pounds • range 900 nm (power on). *** Phoenix isn’t cheap, but you get a lot for the money. Base price is presently $149,000 including those wing extensions that give Phoenix two distinct (yet pleasant) personalities. When luxuriously outfitted with a highly readable EFIS, autopilot, airframe parachute, radios and transponder, Phoenix can hit $165,000. Those who have investigated motorgliders will see this as modestly priced. You don’t get these lines and this kind of performance for a bottom-dollar price. She’s a specialty aircraft but since Lamabada left the scene, Phoenix occupies this special space all by her lonesome. Jim has a long list of good prospects so I wouldn’t wait too long to check out this Czech beauty. I know I’m in love; my attempt at photos doesn’t do her justice.
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