I don't trust two cycle "screaming meanie" engines. There's a reason why the ultralight guys are experts at engine out landings.
For the pilots, a bit of a flying report:
Transitioning to this aircraft from the sedate Champ wasn't as straight forward as I'd thought, obviously.
With all that elevator, it's easy to pick up the tail before it has any authority, which means one is just along for the ride until it does. The upside of this is that it's actually a very small window of speed where it's an issue - around 20 miles an hour or so it starts to bite. To avoid this, I've been keeping her tail down with the tiniest bit of back pressure on the stick and letting her just lift off in a three point attitude and bringing the nose down once she's flying.
The ailerons are weak, but once at flying speed the free flying rudder makes up for it's silliness at lower than stall speed. All turns are lead and ended with the rudder. Throwing the stick side to side without it is just pissing around. Adverse yaw is very mild.
It also means "wing wagging" is pitiful. In the "flying" video, the little wiggles were me trying to rock the wings to wave. I thought I was really doing something there, but it just looks like it was gusty winds.
With weak ailerons, slipping isn't as aggressive as one would like. One can pretty much make a Champ fly sideways, but the Nieuport sort of muddles into a slip and tries to get out of it, rolling the wings level against the ailerons in favor of the rudder.
This is a dangerous place to be, obviously, as one is cross controlled.
The good news is that the aircraft is nothing but drag, and slips aren't really required. Pull the throttle and the down elevator button has been started.
I know I just typed a big bunch of stuff saying the ailerons are crap, but in fact she's a surprisingly nimble aircraft. Low weight, decent thrust with a responsive engine, and high lift wings means she can do incredibly tight turns. A proper Immelman is easy as punch.
So, the roll rate is pretty good, provided one leads with the rudder.
Controls are very light. I actually put some resistance into the elevator control rod, as it was floppy; as it is, one can fly and maneuver with forefinger and thumb on the stick. Likewise, the rudder requires very little pressure to move. One has only to look in the direction they want to go and think it through and it's done.
I'm going to throw the engine in here as well. It's crisp response to the throttle in all ranges and without a hiccup. Indeed, the challenge is to find the sweet spot for level cruise, as she likes to climb.
Stick movements are large side to side and small front and back, as the elevator is overly large. The only time the stick is all the way back is during taxi, and all the way forward during control checks. Moving it halfway from center forward during wheel landings is more than enough to stick the wheels.
A free flying rudder has it's advantages. When one moves the pedal, one is getting all of it working for the pilot. Coordinating turns is easy as pie - just use a little less than one thinks they need. It doesn't take but a minute to figure this out, and the pressures are very light.
The disadvantage is that without a vertical stabilizer, the aircraft tends to roll on it's own accord, so a little left rudder input is required at all times. Some guys with rudder bars came up with a light bungee cord system to do it for them. I just use my foot. The inherent problem with this is that the pilot can try and fix the roll with the ailerons. And, if they're not careful, wind up cross controlled without realizing it.
It is an article of faith in the Nieuport community that the slip ball is the most important instrument on the panel, and I concur. It's subtle enough to defy the "butt test;" one just doesn't feel it.
I put springs on the cables that go to the tail wheel, as the pedals give a bit too much authority. The tailwheel cables and the rudder cables actually join and merge a bit behind the seat.
The stall speed is about 35 mph. She breaks straight ahead in a power off stall, and slightly to the right in a powered one; a little anticipation of this and it's straight ahead. There is little warning to the stall in the traditional sense - no buffeting, for example. One can feel her ending flight, though, as she'll get mushy and then stop flying. In any case, it's very gentle. The aircraft doesn't "brake" into a stall, she eases into it. Stall recovery is immediate and without issue. Again, this makes sense, as stall is 35 miles per hour - it's not hard to get that back.
I have not, and will not, spin the aircraft, but I suspect recovery would be immediate and straight forward.
The difference between climb speeds is minor. 55 mph gets one a climb rate of 300 feet per minute; 60 gets one 350. I've been aggressive on the stick and cranked it up to 450 at 60, but the aircraft can't sustain it. While that seems anemic, the take off distance itself from the halt is less than 500 feet. Since most short fields are 1,500 feet long it's not an issue.
She'll cruise all day long at around 2700 RPM's at an indicated airspeed of 70 mph. She's ground trimmed for level flight at around 60 mph, though, turning about 2500 RPM's. This suits me fine, as my flight goal is to look at cows and fields and the pretty sun on the waters of Lake Martin and the Coosa River.
Best glide is around 50 mph with a 5 degree nose down; but she has the glide angle of a rock. One must always be cognizant of the terrain ahead, to the sides, and what one has just crossed over in the event of an engine out.
In all cases, there is so much drag due to wings, wires, and wheels that a little power is a good thing. Pulling power to idle causes a feeling of a brake being applied. One moves forward against the straps - gently, but it's really something the first time one feels it.
I'm flying along behind a direct drive 1915cc VW engine throwing a 60x27 propellor (which is going to get changed out to a 62x27, as Culver goofed up the replacement). The engine is single electronic ignition, with a single carb that has the heat applied continuously. It is responsive through all throttle inputs with a steady power band. On takeoff I'm turning around 3300 RPM's, and at cruise around 2500 - so no real stresses on it.
Half throttle and she's tooling along beautifully.
Cooling of the cylinders is by a baffle that divides the engine horizontally, creating a high pressure system above in the cowling and pushing the air around them to the open bottom portion. The oil is cooled by a massive cooler underneath the engine positioned in the prop wash directly. In fact, I have a cooling problem, not a heating problem, with the engine failing to reach full operating temperatures in flight - even in the hottest part of an Alabama summer. I'm going to start blocking off portions of it with cardboard and tape for winter flying.
I have not CHT's attached to the engine itself, so I can only go by oil temps.
On taxi, there is no visibility over the nose, so S turns are the order of the day. In flight it isn't so bad - she is pretty much straight as an arrow, neither nose down or up. But one of the reasons I went to a half circle approach is to get better visibility of the runway. Since all landings are wheel landings, it's not really an issue - but one uses all of their vision, working the peripheral vision to track the sides of the runway. Focusing on the center usually works out to something goofy.
The windscreen does a very good job of protecting the pilot, but goggles are still a must, as looking left and right around the nose puts one in the wash. This last weekend I went up in temps in the mid 50's and my sweatshirt was the lower limit of comfort. Next time it's leather jacket or wool coat and scarf.
The seat cushion is three inches of foam on a board that is on aluminum, and after an hour or so one can regret keeping one's wallet in the back pocket. My extra back cushion (ones they make for driving) is a must.
The harness is three points - a lap belt and two shoulder straps hooked into a quick release. Even cinched, they allow movement to lean in the cockpit left and right enough to look around the nose. And they have been tested for inversion of the aircraft under duress with glowing results.
Overall visibility is very good. What we miss in flight sims is the brain filling in the blank spots and peripheral vision. It's rare that the lower wings get in the way of inspecting points of interest on the ground while in flight.
Being very light with a lot of wing area, she gets pushed around a lot in thermals. She responds well to corrections to them, but on a hot, sunny day one is going to get tossed around a little...something one just has to get used to.