Around the Airport

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It Looks Fun But How Can I know For Sure?

Every now and then something comes along that makes you sit up and take notice.  The Double Ender is one of those things.  Created not by using anything new but with great effort to pick and chose the methods and mechanisms that would best achieve the desired outcome, it is a real looker.  But, how does it perform?
From what I can tell, The Double Ender doesn’t perform any better than the typical tricked out Alaskan Super Cub.  Actually, some of the tricked out Cubs may be slightly better in ultimate performance.  Yet, if that was all that mattered, wouldn’t everyone be flying helicopters?
The Double Ender is not the first plane with this basic layout.  There have been several others.  One such plane is the Seeker.  Being the first though isn’t important.  Adding the missing pieces is.
There are three things I see about The Double Ender that make it different and better.  Those are the full wraparound clear canopy, the twin tandem engines, and something I’ve fantasized about for years, the ability to dump fuel.  The visibility out of The Double Ender, at least the tandem seat model, would be second to none when it comes to piston driven aircraft.  And as for the engines, although I would prefer something other than the Rotax, they have proven themselves reliable (I just hate the sound).  Additionally I’m not sure there is anything else of that size and horsepower being built.  But the important part of “two engines” is that you have two.  When it comes to dumping fuel, wouldn’t that be great?
Of course everything comes with a drawback.  The canopy will most surely help the sun cook you till you’re done.  The engines could tend to make the plane porpoise if it were on floats.  And the gas dumping could be interesting so I’m going to allow someone else to test fly that option as I’m not sure where the airflow will take the dumped atomized fuel.
Continuing with the inner voice narration; on the other hand there are see-through shades for canopies like that, the engines appear to have been placed at an angle of attack to partially compensate for power application pitch over tendencies, and I want to be on hand when they test the fuel dumping option.  Seriously, that could be one impressively expensive Fourth of July.  If it isn’t then it’s everything I hoped for.
But back to the engines; let’s be real.  Powerplants have always been the Achilles heel, the leaky radiator as you enter the desert, and the empty wallet in Vegas when it comes to aircraft success.  From day one it was the powerplant that made the aviation possible a reality or not.  The same goes for The Double Ender.  Yet from what I see, as long as the rear engine cools properly and doesn’t experience prop issues due to disturbed airflow, the setup is difficult to argue against.  And I have to admit, when flying around in the back country I would prefer to have two powerplants.
All that said though, there’s only one way I could ever be sure about any of this.  Do any of you know how I could get some time in this thing?

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