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I have 240+ hours on my 8A and it is the only RV I have landed (transition
trained in a 6, but no landings). I have landed my 8A in an eighteen knot
direct crosswind (90 degrees) and in 23 knot wind 50 degrees off nose. Not
to say they were the BEST landings, but doable without breaking anything. I
got my pilot's license in a Cherokee 140. I think the 140 is pretty easy
and straightforeward to land. The 8A lands extremely easy, more so than the
140 because it is more responsive and weighs less than the 140. I have
considerable time in other "lighter" experimentals and in ultralights. I
can't imagine it being any easier to land a plane of the same size and
weight as an 8A.
I get a little nose wheel shimmy on landing rollout but it doesn't affect
lateral control or steering. Once planted on the runway, it's easy to keep
it there under control. As far as taxing - forgetaboutit - it's the best.
And I can swing my tail into just about any spot a tail dragger can.
The only downfalls of the nose dragger are two things. First, it IS
possible to drag your rudder if you are not careful under some
circumstamces - like a heavy passenger on a washboard grass strip. With
enough weight in the back seat, a little bump that nudges the nose gear up
when at speed can put the nose high enough to drag the rudder if you are not
careful. I learned this from another 8A pilot and friends before I first
flew my 8A and I have never dragged mine. Being cognizant that it can
happen and quick reactions on the stick make it a non-event.
Second, since the nose gear is less robust than the main gear and does take
a lot of pounding on bumps and under braking, it could break. It should be
protected through good technique. You simply learn to use back stick when
taking off and landing to ease the load on the nose gear. Not unlike some
other nose gear aircraft. I land on the mains and hold the nose gear off as
long as I can. I use back stick when braking. Simple enough.
One other thing that may or may not be an indicator of ease of handling in
the 8A. I have read numerous posts of guys getting only 100 to 150 hours on
their tires before replacement (usually tail draggers). I land and take off
99% of the time on concrete and I still have my original factory tires. I'll
probably get another 40-50 hours out of them. I think a lot has to do with
the ease in landing. Just my 2 cents, YMMV.
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