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Opinions on SuperPetrel LS and others for new sport pilot?

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Opinions on SuperPetrel LS and others for new sport pilot?

Unread postby Alwaysanewbie » Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:39 pm

Hi everyone,

My first post to this great forum. I am a sport pilot student of, shall we say, a certain age (OK, late 40's). I've been traveling 1 and 1/2 hours each way to do my primary training in a J3 Cub. I've always been interested in seaplane flying, and thought the tailwheel training would serve me well, not only as a land based pilot, but also in transitioning to seaplanes.

The travel, along with the issues with scheduling and weather, have made my progress slow and frustrating. I have about 23 hours since Spring of 2014 and have progressed through my dual cross-country, so getting close. I have 'only' my solo cross country, some focused cross-wind and hard surface runway work, and some polishing hours to go to prep for the checkride. But, as they say in the building world, '90% done, 90% to go'. This has led me to seriously consider purchasing my own airplane so that I can either train closer to home, get an endorsement to fly back and forth to my instructor, or to just use the transition training during the purchase process to complete my training at the same time.

Long story short, my focus has come down to a number of airplanes, but most serious of those, is the SuperPetrel LS. That is from a number of perspectives--side by side seating vs. tandem, true amphib vs. floats (I don't want to start any arguments over which is 'better'--just seems to offer some level of margin for a newbie like me), combination of good cruise as well as slow stall, availability of BRS (again, please no arguments about whether BRS is really just bunch of 'B_S'). Other airplanes high on the list--CubCrafters (either the SS or the Sport (they should really replace those 's's' with dollar signs!)), Kitfox S-LSA, the Icon (talk about $$$$$!), and the RANS Raven S20 (if they would ever come around to getting the S-LSA out the door).

Looking for any and all knowledge, opinions and experience with the above, especially the SuperPetrel. Keeping in mind my own background and experience. To me, the Icon, aside from being out of reach money-wise, is a little hard to quantify, and not sure why they continue to withhold specs even though they have moved to production. Also, the hipster attitude in dealing with them is a bit much for someone of my age. The CubCrafters is really impressive, but the tandem seating is a downside for me, especially after doing my dual cross-country in the Cub--it was nearly impossible to keep things organized in there, especially with any airflow going through the cabin (ie, window open). The Kitfox and Raven really look attractive, but wonder if they are 'too much' airplane for me--they really have a lot of get up and go, and although I haven't flown them (yet), they sound as though 'docile' is not really their forte--more like aggressive and "high performance". That's great for someone looking for a true bush plane, I am more attracted to the margins--they are built tough, have available tundra tires, etc.--kind of like driving an SUV but rarely if ever doing any true off-road driving.

Since the Cub just isn't the long-term airplane for me, not something I want to purchase to finish my training in, though it could be an option. The bigger picture is that there are no LSA's in my area to rent when I'm done with my training, so getting something of my own that I could fly longer term, is attractive.

Thanks and looking forward to the discussion!
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Re: Opinions on SuperPetrel LS and others for new sport pilo

Unread postby akavidflyer » Thu Sep 24, 2015 6:06 pm

Have you looked into the Avid Catalina? There are a few out there for sale at a good price. What are you requirements for cruise speed, number of seats etc. What is the elevation of the area you are planning on flying?

Leonard Perry
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Re: Opinions on SuperPetrel LS and others for new sport pilo

Unread postby Alwaysanewbie » Thu Sep 24, 2015 9:05 pm

Thanks for the reply! I took a quick look at the Avid, interesting airplane! Sport pilot limits me to LSA's only, so that limits me to 2 seats, which is fine with me. Definitely looking for a closed cockpit, though the ability to fly with a window open or off is OK with me for those times when it's called for : ) And I am trying to limit myself to the 'known' entity of an S-LSA (factory built) vs. E-LSA or homebuilt. Elevation isn't a problem, I'm in WI and don't plan on going much beyond the Midwest. Cruise of 90 to 95 knots is ideal, don't need much more than that, but don't want to go much less either. Sport pilot and LSA regs limit the top end cruise to 120 knots, which is actually more than I'm really interested in--I like to watch the world pass by vs. whiz by!

The aircraft in my post pretty much fit the bill, but wondering if folks have any personal experiences with them, and/or any biases about them that they would share. Also, any advice for my situation as a whole.

Hope that helps, thanks again for your consideration!
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Re: Opinions on SuperPetrel LS and others for new sport pilo

Unread postby Paul Jackson » Tue Nov 24, 2015 2:54 am

I was able to test fly the Petrel at Sun n Fun in 2014. It was demo'd for our TV show by Brian Boucher who is the US distributor.

Walk around:
Fit and finish was top notch on the aircraft. It is tightly cowled and everything is very accessible on the preflight. It was an easy plane to like visually. The white 3 blade pusher prop and spinner are impressive. Wing tips are upturned and lights are all inline with the design.

Ingress and cockpit:
I took the right seat as we were making passes and it was up to Brian to get low and fast. It was fairly easy to get into stick was in the middle of the seat and you have to step on the seat which is a pain but Brian had a system to keep seats clean. Seats were molded in but padding was decent and leather. Panel layout was great and very functional. It has an integrated throttle in the side wall which i liked and the gear handle was center stage which I like in a seaplane. Not much bag room ( I am used to a SUper Cub with extended baggage) but I did like the shelf and tuck under area. I didn't look at weight and balance but it was a tight area behind seats was my impression.

Start up and Taxi:
Rotax fires up quick and easy and taxi was not tested much on a straight ramp to water. Simple stuff with castering nose and differential heel brakes if I remember correctly.

Water taxi:
It lies a bit low in the water for a Cub guy but most in this class do also. It turned well with the belly rudder at all speeds making docking and beaching much easier. It also fought the X wind a bit better than a Cub on straights.

Water Run and T/O:
It jumped to step pretty quickly and really accelerated to aerodynamic handling smoothly. Water run was short in time and length and it flew out like a flying boat with a nice low nose angle. The sponsons kissed a couple of times but drag left or right didn't feel like it would pull hard or be a factor as you accelerate you get more sponson clearance which is a good design feature. It pushed some water but my thought was prop was mostly out of spray for as low as we sat.

Climb out and passes:
Handles very nicely with good wing loading and roll rate. It didn't bleed speed in a turn and the biplane made it handle the slower speeds (we didn't do much) without too much mush or slop. Visibility was excellent though I would guess a single piece bubble like Icon has in its design is better. Forward visibility is a little tight with seat angles but side and overhead make up for it. Noise and vibration for a pusher were low and the rotax was smooth...I think the 3 blade is a strong choice here.

Approach and landing:
Trim is on the stick which is nice (indicator on pilot side) and there are no flaps to forget. I liked the gear indicators on the center panel and very brightly lit. It entered the water flat and fast (from a sensation point of view as you are so close to it). On step it kissed the sponsons in a turn nicely and it was not tippy at all at speed. It rubber ducked a bit (went nose low) coming off step abruptly but cabin is tight and no leaks though over time I would be it might.

I loved flying it and it was fun to splash about in it. I think the fuel burn and speed make it a serviceable in state (going to the cabin ship). I am a Canada fishing guy and it worries me a bit there as docking and beaching are two different animals. If it were a Super Cub v Petrel argument it would be hard to bet against a Cub for that mission. If your mission is local or less than 500 NM this is a pretty good option. I don't think the Searay and Catalina's stand up next to this very well at all. It is a production level LSA and it shows very nicely. Price point it is cheaper than the "to be delivered" Icon. Both come from smaller companies which makes me a bit nervous. i owned an "orphan" Eagle 150B and it was an awful experience. If these are priced at $135 for the Petrel and $180 for the Icon I would have to have a good look at both. The Icon is winning the PR war but I would fly both and look at the math before I went either way.

Here is a link to another review from a guy that does them for a living:

Sad part is my Producer who shot the flight and test for our show passed away in November of 2014 and this was in his edit pile. I have all the footage and will likely be putting it together with another production guy soon. I have some good float plane stuff on ITunes and and on our show's website at

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