I got off from work early on Thursday and got a hotel up in Sacramento. The idea was to sleep up near the airport because I had a 6am flight to Phoenix. It was a great idea that didn’t work out too well. This was one of those cheap hotel chains, in retrospect, I should have shelled out a little more for the hotel or else just stayed home and got on the road at 3am. As it turned out I didn’t sleep one wink. And the elevator smelled like an armpit. I woke up to dense fog at 4:30am. I hoped it wouldn’t delay the flight. I found my way to the airport and parked in hourly right outside the door to my airline. I had already printed my boarding pass so I went straight to take my clothes off in front of the nice man from TSA. He told me to put some close back on and that they only wanted my belt removed. Pity, would have been a much more comfortable flight. Anyway, with the help of a king sized shoe horn I got settled into my seat and the plane took off on time. An hour and a half later we were landing in Phoenix. It took me about 20 minutes to walk through the terminal to the door. I called Ed Snyder of Sportplanes Unlimited and it turned out we both picked the right door because he was waiting right outside. He wasn’t even sure what airline I was on but there he was. I poured myself into the most comfortable SUV I’ve ever been in. Well, the cramped airliner could have affected my perceptions there a bit.
Ed drove me out to Glendale Municipal. What a nice airport. They have a real-live terminal with a passenger waiting area, a gift shop, and a restaurant. A dang good restaurant. Since I had not had a chance to eat yet Ed bought me breakfast. Then we headed over to the SportPlanes Unlimited hangar complex. What is affectionately known as Ed’s world. The hangar complex is actually 3 separate hangars within the rows of airport-owned hangars. 🙂 I took a look at a S6ES that Ed is building for a customer. It gave me a good idea of what to expect when building the ES. In my opinion the ES is much rougher compared to the S. The S looks much more professional than it’s sibling but you just can’t beat the simplicity of covering the ES. Ed gave me a tour of some of the building details. He also gave me some ideas for when I’m building my S6.
Finally we got over to the hangar where Ed keeps his S6ES. Ed painted over his ES skins and it looks real nice. Ed gave me a tour of his S6 and some of the refinements he’s incorporated like sun visors and landing lights. We climbed aboard so Ed could go get fuel. He demonstrated some of the excellent ground handling you can expect on even the tricycle gear coyote. That thing can turn just like a taildragger. Ed emptied some gas cans into the wings and then we were climbing in again but this time to go do some flying.
We departed Glendale climbing at about 1000 FPM. Now it was cool outside but I’m a lard butt so that is actually pretty respectable performance. We headed toward the outskirts of town where Ed performed some maneuvers that demonstrated the control harmony of the S6. Then I started flying. It took more pressure on the stick and especially rudders than I was expecting HOWEVER, I’ve been flying an RV-4 for 5 years so I’m spoiled on control pressures. It wasn’t difficult to move the controls they were just firm. Absolutely no slop, the airplane responded as soon as you asked it to. Ed brought the plane close to a stall, you’d have to be in a coma to not realize the plane is about to stall. I told Ed that I intended to do a lot of off-airport landings so we flew to a dirt strip and Ed performed a high speed arrival, bled off the airspeed just prior to the strip, and then touched down light as a feather. Ed then demonstrated the ruggedness of the landing gear, unintentionally. He rolled across a deep rut nosewheel first that almost launched us back into the air. But the nose gear didn’t fold up, we just kept rolling. That was impressive. We flew back to the airport. Ed was going to let me land the Coyote but I declined citing my lack of sleep. I told him that I wanted to buy a kit, not his airplane.
We taxied back and put the plane away. Then we got down to business. We went to his office and started filling out the paperwork to get a new Coyote in the works! I picked out my options, and gave the paper to Ed. I’m glad I went through a dealer because Ed gave me some good info when picking them out. One thing I didn’t know is that you can buy upsized tires that are bigger than the standard tires, but not as big as the tundra tires. Ed totaled up the damage and I wrote Ed a check.
The flight home was just as cramped and unpleasant as the flight to Phoenix. The fog was just as thick when we landed as when we took off (in fact we almost had to divert to Oakland.) I still had to drive home 90 miles in fog with little sleep. Only I felt warm and happy because there will soon be a new project in the garage and my son and I will build this one together.