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Sweepstakes: Checking out in your Sweeps RV–10Sweepstakes: Checking out in your Sweeps RV–10

New video puts you in the left seat

Sure, its big Sun ’n Fun reveal and Oshkosh debut have been canceled by the even bigger quarantine. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start getting to know your AOPA 2020 Sweepstakes RV–10 even before you win it.
Pilot Briefing July 2020

With a bevy of strategically placed video cameras, an AOPA video puts you in the left seat of the Sweeps RV–10 for your checkout flight.

You’re on the ramp at AOPA’s home base in Frederick, Maryland, you pull the doors closed, then start the 260-horsepower Lycoming IO-540. It springs to life, and the bright, three-screen Advanced Flight Systems IFR panel lights up an otherwise cloudy day. You plug in a waypoint, the Martinsburg VOR just 25 miles west, on the Avidyne IFD 550 and get your taxi clearance. Visibility from the cockpit feels like looking out from a tall SUV, and you get the feel of the castering nosewheel as you make your way to Runway 23.

The runup gives you the first sense of the airplane’s power as you have to stand on the brakes to keep the airplane from lurching forward. At 2,000 rpm, you cycle the freshly overhauled MT propeller, and its brand-new governor smoothly shifts the repainted blades to high pitch and back again.

The airplane is light with just one occupant and two-thirds fuel (40 gallons), so you expect takeoff acceleration to be brisk. But the reality is brisker than you imagined.

At full power, the Sweeps RV–10 charges out of the blocks like a sprinter and it’s off the ground and climbing in less than 600 feet. P-factor and the spiraling slipstream require some right rudder during the takeoff and initial climb, but light pedal pressure seems sufficient, and the slip/skid indicator on the primary flight display (and Avidyne D2 standby instrument) confirms you’re applying the correct amount.

At 1,000 feet agl, you reduce engine power to 25 inches of manifold pressure and dial the rpm back to 2,500 rpm. You’re in a 10-degree nose-up attitude, airspeed is 100 knots, and your rate of climb is 2,000 feet per minute. A turn to the west hints at just how lively, responsive, and well balanced the ailerons are—and there’s virtually no adverse yaw. You shallow the climb and accelerate to 120 knots, yet the rate of climb is still an impressive 1,800 feet per minute.

At 4,500 feet, you level off, yet the downsloped nose gives you the impression that the airplane is descending. It’s not, and the instruments confirm you’re in level flight and airspeed is increasing. Pretty soon it’s indicating more than 160 knots (172 true) and you’re approaching your preprogrammed waypoint. Time for some maneuvering.

You start out with a lazy eight, a maneuver in which pitch and bank are constantly changing, and you’re amazed at the sublime control harmony and airplane’s immediate reaction. The Sweeps RV–10 feels like it’s on rails as it gains nearly 1,000 feet during the first half of the lazy eight. You let the nose fall as the airplane gains speed, level off momentarily at 4,500 feet, and then begin another turn, this one to the right. You increase the bank angle to 60 degrees and the Sweeps RV–10 proves smooth, steady, and obedient.

A green blob on the multifunction display shows rain in the area, and light precipitation shows up on the windshield, too. The ADS-B system shows weather and traffic and provides exceptional situational awareness. You engage the digital Dynon autopilot, load an LPV approach to Runway 23 at Frederick, and show the georeferenced approach plate on the 12-inch multifunction display.

You take note of the decision altitude (690 feet msl) and load it into the Advanced PFD so that it reminds you when you get there. Then you sit back and monitor the avionics as the airplane intercepts and tracks the final approach course and follows the vertical guidance toward the runway. Run the prelanding checklist on the primary flight display while the airplane flies itself, correcting for every wind gust. You add flaps using the electric switch on the carbon fiber Aerosport instrument panel, then glance out the left window to confirm they’re down. An automatic trim sensor keeps the elevator trim perfectly adjusted as the airspeed and configuration change, so pitch forces are light as you disengage the autopilot and handfly the last mile at 75 knots.

Hold that speed into ground effect, flare by bringing the floor-mounted control stick full aft, and pull the throttle lever to idle. The Sweeps RV–10 rewards you with a smooth touchdown on the main wheels then tracks straight ahead during rollout. You’ve been working hard, and an overhead ventilation system from SF Sport Aviation circulates cool air throughout the cabin.

You didn’t expect to become so at ease with the Sweeps RV–10 so quickly, but the airplane inspires confidence. It’s a performer, but it’s also well behaved, mannerly, and makes pilots look good. There’s much to learn about the intricacies of its systems, but there’s no hurry, either. You’ve got time.

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Dave Hirschman

Dave Hirschman

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.

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