After flying myself today, I got a ride in a kit built Lancair IV - a friend recently bought one from the original builder and decided I needed to check it out. Since a lot of pilots here are 'going places' pilots I thought I'd make a post. Bear in mind that its the impression of a relatively low time pilot having an engineering background but no experience in this kind of performance aircraft.
The plane is extremely well built, 100 pt show plane quality but with a 20th century style (non-flat panel) instrument setup. Engine is a non-certified (modified) TSIO-55O Continental of 350 HP.
Getting in is a challenge, different in that regard than I expected. It's a 2+2, back seats for small people only, and front seats that are really fine once you're in, but it takes some gymnastics to get seated. It's obviously a setup in which they took the tallest design spec pilots and shrink wrapped the cockpit around them.
Wing loading is something like 35 lb/sq ft, very high. Looking out sideways during taxi the wing looks much too small :-) Take off flaps are apparently absolutely mandatory. Acceleration was strong and after rotation the airplane climbs at a relatively shallow angle (maybe 1100 fpm at some high airspeed that I forget) while it gathers its skirts. Take-off flaps stay in for a long time while it accelerates more and more like a freight train. By mid-field downwind its going 170 kts and at that point it finally reaches its happy place, with climb rate remaining constant as speed increases more and more. At 180 kts its holding 1200 fpm climb with power pulled back a little... and it apparently keeps that up almost indefinitely as you climb up as high as you like. Take off (full power) fuel flow was something outrageous like 34 gph.
At 7500 ft (this was only a 30 minute flight) it indicated 220 kts level at some reasonable cruise power setting that I forget. It's very quiet, with an inflatable door seal and other refinements. I flew it a bit - all controls were quite firm, pitch was firmest with ailerons lighter and pretty responsive. It really gobbles up real estate in maneuvering flight. Doing something like S-turns for spacing on final doesn't come across as a practical concept... but pattern work is not what it's for.
Slowing and descent was clearly critical and speed brake use seemed to be near mandatory. The owner said that slowing and descending simultaneously doesn't work well. In general terms he descends, then slows. His landing was perfect regardless and we were stopped in 1500 ft of runway. Significant braking is mandatory apparently, even for a longer roll-out, or you'd go off the end of any moderate runway length.
It was very interesting to experience and fly a little - seems to me it's like a jet in its character, and would sure get you around fast if that's what you needed. The only thing similar I've been in, in terms of needing speed to perform, was a Marchetti SF260 but that was relatively mild.
My impressions FWIW.
Is this the one which was turboprop converted also? I have a photo of it above my desk at work. Always fancied a "compact" turboprop
Yes, some were built with a Walter turboprop. I imagine the performance would be very high!
The plane reminded me of something like the last versions of the Porsche 928 car. Rumbling engine, not a dainty bone in its body, and focused on covering ground high and fast over anything else.
This Lancair IV-P appeared at my base the other day