I hope the cockpit will look like this in the future. The LX9000 is probably the best system for me with its large display.
Navigation with the PDA. The extra cables and bad readability in sunshine starts to be annoying though.
Christen Eagle II, D-EEMM. I did about 30hrs and 100 landings in it
SF 27 ´Eifelschreck´ - about 150hrs, a 500k-flight and numerous outlandings...a great plane
It might be unusual to keep a motorglider rigged outside, but I fly a lot more this way then I would with it being stored in the trailer.
I started flying in 1990 in a soaring club located at Wershofen/Eifel, very close to the German/Belgian border. I flew club aircraft
on numerous crosscountry flights. In 1995 I opened an SF27 syndicate with a friend of mine and we flew the glider extensively
for two years. It also got to know a lot of fields in the Eifel area, that´s what it got its nickname from (Eifelschreck, "Scare of
Two years later we sold the SF27 to Italy and bought an Elfe S4D. I did not particularly like the handling of this glider
and we eventually sold it two years later.
Over the next couple of years I continued to fly club aircraft and also got my powered
aircraft rating. My job as an air traffic controller at Langen prevented weekend glider flying more and more, thus powered flying
was a welcome alternative. (Glider clubs in Germany usually operate only on weekends and flying on weekdays is often difficult
Eventually I entered a syndicate of a Christen Eagle II. This aircraft was a great challenge and fun to fly...but
11 gallons of AVGAS per hour less so. (AVGAS in Germany comes at around 13$/gallon at this time).
My heart was still devoted
to soaring but for the forseeable future I was unlikely to do any weekend flying due to family and job constraints. That meant
I needed a new aeroplane that enabled me to go soaring independently but also suited my desire for short joyrides and longer trips
by engine. A "normal" self-launcher was not an option since it would have restricted me too much to pure soaring. Financially
it would really have been about the same but I considered the pros and cons seriously before my purchase and now, after three
years and 300 hours, I´m still happy with my decision.
A Stemme S10 would also have been an option, but it´s technically much
more complex than the Carat and also costs a good deal more in purchase price and operation.
There was only very limited information
available regarding the Carat and due to the few numbers being built there were no used aircraft on the market. I tried to get as
much information as I could, especially at the Yahoo-Newsgroup
In early summer 2007 there was finally a used Carat advertised at
segelflug.de. It was owned by a syndicate and based on a small airfield in the Black Forest, southern Germany. I had a number of long
phone calls with the owners to get first-hand information about the handling and performance of the glider. I still could not make
up my mind at the time and first enjoyed a holiday.
After another three months we finally agreed on a trial flight. Nadja joined
me on my trip to Waechtersberg but due to the bad weather I only managed a very short flight. Still, I was totally overwhelmed with
the experience and liked the Carat a lot. After a sleepless night I called the owners the next morning to confirm the deal. A couple
of days later I picked up the plane and it has been stationed at Mainz (near Frankfurt) since then.
When taking over the
plane it had about 240h flighttime and was in immaculate condition. The cockpit had basic instruments and also an artificial horizon,
a Garmin GPS, a Zander SR820 and FLARM (an anticollision device used in Europe). It was also equipped with a radio and transponder.
changed the instrumentation after my first year of flying and got rid of the Garmin and the horizon. For navigation I rely on an IPaq
HX4700 with SeeYou, GPS data is provided by FLARM. Readability of the PDA is quite bad though in bright sunshine. My Zander also stopped
working last summer, therefore I plan to replace the three units with an LX9000. This device has a huge display and integrated
FLARM. For those of you flying in the western US: we have so many airspace restrictions here that a moving map is absolutely mandatory!
February 2008 the propeller had its 200h-inspection at the AMS factory in Slovenia. I flew down to Ljubljana nonstop from Mainz (about
370NM across the Alps) and continued to Lesce. The inspection was completed within two days and we also checked the hydraulic gear
retraction system and I got a good idea of the Carat engineering.
After a couple of long soaring flights I got worried
about the battery capacity. 17Ah are usually enough for one flight but with little engine time it´s not sufficiently recharged. To
start the engine however you need battery power since windmilling is no option. My airplane usually stays parked outside, charging
the battery is therefore not easily possible. Eventually, during the 2009 winter I (well, AMS) added solar panels and a second gliding
battery. The general looks of the airplane were also improved by applying blue stickers and it was displayed like this at AERO 2009,
Europe´s biggest GA exhibition.
After three years of flying the Carat I´m still totally happy with the plane. It enables soaring
on a clubclass level, 5-600km flights are regularly possible in central Germany (although I have always missed out on the 600km so
far, I guess 700km are a realistic goal for me). Also the plane gives me the advantage of using the weather in a more efficient way.
I can fly towards the good weather early in the morning or come back on the engine late in the evening. A trip of 100NM and more into
the weather is no problem at all given the good cruise performance. Also coming clear of airspace restrictions is easier than it would
be with a "normal" self-launcher.
For example I did a trip from Mainz to the Black Forest for some soaring there and motored back to
my old home airfield of Wershofen in the evening, almost 200NM (02.05.2008
). Thanks to the large baggage compartments I even
brought a sleeping bag and tent!
At the same time the Carat gives me the option of flying some patterns just for the fun of it (forget
the 15$ landing fee for a while) or a short joyride before going to work.
On the ground the Carat handles like a powered aeroplane
which greatly facilitates the operation on larger airfields and controlled aerodromes. You are totally independent!
The Jaxida covers
provide an easy preparation for flight and make short flights are a realistic option. You wouldn´t do fly a short pattern in winter
or a sunset flight after work if you had to rig the plane first.
Exploring unknown areas without long trailering are another facet
of the Carat. Ridgeflights 30NM away, exploring the wave at sites 150NM (Porta Westfalica
, wave flights in the Schwarzwald
no problem with this plane! An 18m-selflauncher wouldn´t make those trips due to range restrictions. At the very least the trip would
take a lot longer!
This flexibility is the reason I don´t mind the lesser soaring performance in respect to the 18-m-class. I
probably won´t manage a 1000km-flight in Germany, but I have a lot of fun on days where other gliders stay in their trailer. For me
the Carat is the best compromise between a glider and a powered airplane. Wolf Hirth probably had something like this on his mind
dreaming about a powered glider!
For the future I still have a lot of plans with the plane. Of course I´d like to do a soaring
trip across Germany or Europe, the Carat is made for this! But also powered trips to the North Cape in Norway or to Scotland for some
wave flying are high on my list. Before doing this though I have to add a Mode-S-transponder and a 406-ELT first.