Flying the Slick 360 (2006) by Glen Dell

There are numerous similarities throughout motor sport for the creation of the ideal vehicle. Whether it be a racing car, motorcycle, boat or plane one wishes to achieve the ultimate balance of power, weight and maneuverability. This was certainly the criteria for the development of the Slick 360.

The size of the aircraft was determined by the desire to build an aircraft that would be competitive at Unlimited level but be powered by a four cylinder engine. An aircraft that is very small, like the Pitts S1S or One Design, is difficult to judge accurately. A bigger aircraft incurs weight and drag penalties which ultimately require more power to maintain acceptable power to weight ratios.

The addition of a more powerful and heavier engine creates a greater problem than increased mass however. In order to maintain the Centre of Gravity in the ideal position the cockpit (and occasionally batteries etc.) needs to be moved far back behind the spar so that the weight of the pilot balances the engine. As various components and the pilot are moved further away from the C of G, greater control forces are required to overcome the inertia to start a maneuver and to stop the momentum thereafter. Invariably this will result in greater control forces and difficulty in achieving good scores in a sequence. In some cases certain maneuvers simply cannot be flown in an aircraft that has mass which is dispersed too far from the C of G.

An aircraft that has a long fuselage will also be difficult to flick roll, stall turn and do rolling circles. In competition aerobatics the aircraft must make the flying as easy as possible for the pilot while he or she concentrates on the sequence and positioning.

Flying the Slick is a pleasure indeed! It is simply so easy to push the 475kg plane out of the hangar, do the pre-flight and get into the cockpit with its side canopy. The five point Hooker harness allows the pilot to strap himself in as tightly as he wishes. Instrument layout is conventional and starting is made easy by the electronic ignition.

The Slick has a 240HP AEIO360 engine. The power is achieved by increasing the compression ratio to ten to one, electronic ignition, cold air induction and other clever modifications undertaken by AeroSport Power in Canada. Taxing is safe and simple as the pilot can quite easily see over the nose. Power and pre-take off checks are the same as those for most light aircraft. Once lined up on the runway it is important to lock the tailwheel to assist in keeping the aircraft straight, particularly during landing. Power can be applied as quickly as desired and the tail lifted immediately. Acceleration is good with the plane becoming airborne at about 65 mph. A climb at 78 mph will give a rate of climb of around 1800 feet per minute at 8000 feet density altitude.

Aerobatics are easy to do – that was the main aim of building the aircraft. The airframe is incredibly rigid as one would expect from a (mostly) Carbon Fiber design. Control is very direct with maneuvers being very easy to start and stop. Flick rolls are particularly fun to do as the rate of rotation is quite phenomenal.

Pre-landing checks are conventional save for checking once again that the tailwheel is locked. Initial approach at 90 mph will allow a nose attitude that is low enough to give a good view of the runway. Over the fence at 80, the threshold at 75 and touchdown at seventy in the three point attitude. The locked tailwheel will keep the aircraft straight with very little rudder input required.

The success of the Slick is already well proven by the rave reviews of pilots that have flown it and possibly more importantly, competition results. With six planned to be flying in South Africa by the end of 2006 this little gem seems certain to set the SA aerobatic standard for the future.

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