VT-16 Orlik: Maiden Flight

Yesterday my VT-16 Orlik had its successful maiden flight.

The day proved to be quite eventful. As usual we do the maiden flight in aerotow – which again proved to be a good decision. Even though we did extensive pre-flight checks, we somehow oversaw that the elevator wasn’t quite neutral and slightly up. As soon as I released the Orlik from the towline at around 250m I had to give a LOT of downtrim, after which the plane was flying ok. Also challenging were the crow (butterfly) settings. I installed and programmed the inner wing control surface (brake flap) to allow it to come down by around 75 degrees. This proved to be a bit too much, as (unlike some of our other builds) the plane responds very well to crow. In addition to that, the Orlik also needs a lot more downrudder in butterfly/crow than with our other builds. This meant that the Orlik came in too slow for the first landing and stalled around 30cm above the landing strip, literally dropping out of the air. Fortunately nothing happened. A quick reprogramming and further finetuning during subsequent flights cleared all problems.

Unfortunately that wasn’t all the excitement of the day. During my 7th flight I lost the canopy after engaging the motor for a short climb. We found it back after a long search in the already high wheat and I could have a final good flight at the end of the day. To add to the events of the day, in the late afternoon Georg’s Orlik also had a really nasty looking mid-air collision with the glider of a colleague. Both gliders however landed safely with barely a scratch.

I like the Orlik. It’s the pleasant oldtimer that we hoped it to be. It thermals very well, responds very well to rudder and needs little aileron in curves. It also has excellent stall behaviour. Of course it’s not a racer – and wasn’t built for that – but does pick up speed nicely with negative camber. I plan to fly it a lot in the next few weeks and further finetune settings and the center of gravity.