Glasair Sportsman 2+2, (Our) First Flight

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At Sun 'n Fun 2005, AVweb had the pleasure of flying a Glasair Sportsman 2+2 ... that we didn't have to build. First impression: excellent short-field and slow-flight performance with respectable cruise, and light, balanced controls with little adverse yaw ... but don't expect short people to have an especially easy time getting in. The Sportsman is a capable, kit-built, two-seat high-wing with space for two big people plus two little people in back -- plus fishing rods and the grace to put you somewhere you can enjoy them. The aircraft we flew was tugged by a 180-hp engine and a constant-speed prop, carried fresh fuel and two plus one pilots, wouldn't stall (without above-and-beyond persuasion), handily outpaced a 172, and would fly before the airspeed indicator pointed toward the first number. Welcome to the new generation of aircraft. Like most modern top-end aircraft, the Sportsman's controls are well-balanced, and ailerons offer little adverse yaw and command roll right up to (perhaps through) a stall that wouldn't likely happen without premeditated malice. The range of performance was impressive. The catch? Of course, you've got to build it. But for the manually uninspired, and those willing to accept those differences inspired by a production line, have a look at the Symphony 160. For our dollar, it flies (and looks) very similar to the Sportsman 2+2 ... if you can live without the work ... or the truly personal touch.