William (Bill) Hills
I finally took my 1st flight in RS-15 (Sn 21) on Sunday (July 14, 2003). After waiting for the ship for more than a year I was happily rewarded with a great 2-hr flight in moderate conditions. While my initial plan was to take a high tow (5,000') and practice using the flaps much of the way down the ship's performance quickly changed that plan. After I burned off a ton of altitude using the flaps and making turns I was having so much fun that I ended up finding thermal after thermal and go back up and start all over again.
The ship flies just as others have described. On take-off I had a fast wing runner who stayed with the plane for a remarkably long time. Even so, aileron authority was pretty weak for a moment or two. After that, the rest of the tow was normal and uneventful.
Once I release, I was surprised at how quite and comfortable the ship was to fly. The neutral stability was great, just set at the speed you want and leave it and the ship just flies. It pretty much did the same thing in steep turns as well. There was very little work required to keep the ship tracking in the direction you want it to go.
I was surprised that I did require a bit of time to get use to the 90- degree flaps. Even though I've been flying a Monerai, with 90-degree flaps for glide path control for many years, the deck angle of the RS- 15 with 90 degrees deployed is significantly steeper and the breaking action of the flap much more significant. I found that I tended to want to stop at angles that were appropriate for the Monerai, only to realize that I failing to maintain airspeed. Once I did a few passes with the flaps while carefully monitoring airspeed things were fine.
Thermalling was a real pleasure. Adding a few degrees of flaps really lets you slow the ship down and fly in fairly tight thermals comfortably. Unfortunately, it was pretty late in the day so I didn't get a chance to fly with any other ships to compare climb rates.
Landing was also uneventful. With 90 degree of flaps on final the ship comes down like its on rails. It was great. The steep approach was pretty easy to gauge because the flaps were so effective. I was really surprised at how quickly it slowed down once I flared. I'm glad there was a lot of discussion about not rounding out too high, because it really wants to stop flying pretty quickly, especially since our runway is pretty uphill.
All in all it was a great 1st flight and I'm looking forward to many hours of flying the RS-15. Thanks to all of you for putting so much information about the HP/RS ships on the web and in this discussion group. It really helped.
Webmaster note:Bart Smith, builder of this RS-15, died in November of 2011. He spent his lifetime in aviation. He was a B-17 pilot in WWII serving in England, Germany and North Africa. He ran an airport when he got back from the war, was a flight instructor, flew an air ambulance, was a member of the civil air patrol. He visited Ohio many times and knew Dick Schreider.