did we choose a Sky Arrow?
We all began our flying on CFM Shadow microlights, which have many similarities to the Sky Arrow; tandem seating, side stick control, composite construction and a design which represents a shift away from the conventional in an attempt to re-think aircraft design.
|The Shadow led us to appreciate the benefits of
tandem seating, there are many, but the main one is the visibility! Both occupants can see out of either side of the aircraft, and the pilot has a huge field of
view. As the wing is behind it
doesn't obscure the pilot's vision in turns like a conventional high wing, or the view of the ground as in many low winged aircraft.
We also consider the superb visibility to be an important safety factor for a VFR aircraft. Although many people
may say that this layout is 'less sociable' we would suggest that it is infinitely preferable to the cramped
cockpits of most comparable side-by-side aircraft where pilot and passenger are obliged
to squash together!
The CFM Shadow microlight
of the other advantages we considered:
It looks good and stands out from the crowd.
We were impressed with the quality of the components from the beautifully machined aluminium of the control runs to the high quality finish of the composites, and the attention to detail.
The helpfulness, friendliness and unbiased advice of the UK importers, Sky Arrow (kits) UK.
Modern carbon fibre construction which is strong and light, and will not corrode.
The ease of build of the kit - minimal composite work and every nut and bolt supplied.
In late 2002 we decided to form a group to purchase, build and operate a Sky Arrow and in the December we flew to Rome to see the factory. A representative from 3i picked us up from the airport and drove us to our hotel. The following morning we met 3i sales director Flavio Colonna who gave us a tour of the impressive production facility at Monterotondo, about 20 km from Rome. The tour left us in no doubt of the quality of engineering and workmanship that goes into the kits and production aircraft, which, incidentally, use exactly the same components.
Then to 3i's private airfield for demonstration flights with factory test pilot, General De Marchis, a former Italian Air Force General who used to fly F-104 Starfighters and live to tell the tale, despite the plane's nickname of the 'Widowmaker'. We each had a short flight, to get a feel of the handling, during which the general demonstrated every corner of the flight envelope with a couple of loops and chandelles thrown in for good measure.
A lunch of many courses and good Chianti gave us a sound basis for negotiations to begin in earnest.
Much later, at the factory we were given use of the company boardroom to discuss among ourselves and agonise over the options list.
It was a couple of hours before we called Flavio in and announced we were ready to sign on the dotted line.
Each of the owners has a one third share in the aircraft. We are all friends and do not really think of ourselves as a syndicate, rather as 'joint-owners'.
Peter Lynch is a retired electrical / structural engineer and project manager. He is a temporarily retired yacht and dinghy sailor, but finds that keeping current in both boat and plane skills is complimentary but mutually exclusive.
Nick Ray is a freelance press photographer based in London. He works primarily for The Times, covering assignments for them worldwide. He also undertakes commercial, editorial, PR as well as private commissions in the UK and abroad.
Peter Ward has worked in the conference and event industry for over ten years as a producer and is now a freelance consultant in this field. Apart from flying, his other consuming passion is dancing, he teaches 'Lindy Hop' in Reading and also attends dancing events all over Europe.
|a little time for coffee and sight-seeing in Rome||guided tour of the factory in Italy|
|...can we afford it...?||...there must be a way....||signing on the dotted line..||...flying home...still wondering if we can afford it...!|