Updated: Aug 4
The Ikarus C42 is a great training aeroplane. It is relatively easy to fly and has few vices. It is forgiving and is a comfortable platform for learning the basics of flying an aeroplane. It also has the ‘proper aeroplane’ look, rather than some of the older generation microlights such as the Thruster or X-air.
As an instructor I fly the aircraft regularly. Here are my tips to master the C42.
1. Trim the aircraft constantly, especially in the circuit.
Final approach is much less work when the aircraft is trimmed out for approach speed. When trimmed, it will be easier to hold speed and you will be adjusting pitch far less often. It allows you concentrate more on your alignment without worrying about your airspeed fluctuating.
The C42 requires forward trim after each stage of flap, particularly in the B model.
2. Know and use the correct approach speeds.
You should approach for landing at 55kts. In crosswinds and/or gusty conditions you should approach at 58kts. Where the crosswind component exceeds 10kts, you should use one stage of flap for landing. For short field landings, you should approach at minimum approach speed (52kts) indicated by the yellow triangle on the airspeed indicator(now you know what it means!).
3. Right rudder!
Like most types with the Rotax 912, when applying power, the C42 will yaw left. It should become natural to the pilot to apply right rudder as power is increased. You may even need a touch of left stick when applying the rudder. Practice applying and reducing power to see the effect on yaw. Try to feel it rather than looking at the slip ball. The C42 is much more pleasant to fly when it is in balance.
Be careful when turning from base to final. Make sure you are in balance.
4. Get to grips with the cowl flap.
The B model is equipped with a cowl flap to help regulate engine temperature. It is very easy (and common) to overheat the engine by forgetting to open the cowl flap. In winter, I find that I need to open it half way to keep the engine temperatures in the green, but in the summer I need to open it at least 75%.
5. Stop the bugs from getting down the side of the windscreen.
Peel the rubber from old windscreen wipers and push it between the window and dashboard. This stops the bugs getting trapped down there. If they are already there, make a small thin nozzle for your vacuum out of a few sheets of paper and suck them out.
6. The A and B models handle slightly differently.
The A model is slightly less ‘draggy’ and floats somewhat down the runway, but the B model tends to reduce airspeed quicker and give up on you earlier in the flare. Make sure to flare at the correct height in the B model because if you are too high, you can drop like a stone with less control authority to smooth it out. The B model is slightly slower in the cruise requiring a touch more power to maintain the same speed when compared to the A model.
7. Make sure you are sitting in the correct position.
To fly the C42 well, you need to be high enough to see the front of the cowling and close enough to the rudder pedals so that your legs are not completely stretched out. You should be able to reach full deflection with ease, not a stretch. Use cushions behind you and below you.
8. You’re not straight.
Students (and some pilots) often taxi/land to the left of the centreline and yaw to the left whilst flaring even when they believe they are straight.
When sitting on the left, your viewpoint is somewhat distorted due to parallax and it is made worse by the yawing to the left caused by engine power. Students need to learn what straight looks like. Sometimes this can be done by lining up parts of the cowling with the centre line. In a tandem aircraft such as the piper cub, students wouldn’t have this problem as they’d be sitting in the centre of the aircraft.
9. Don’t be afraid to dip the wing during a crosswind landing.
When applying rudder to line up with the runway, you will need to apply opposite stick to counter drift. Pilots often don’t apply enough and end up drifting somewhat downwind at the point of touch down. This puts a side load on the undercarriage and makes for an uncomfortable landing.
Don’t be afraid to dip the wing significantly and land into-wind wheel first. This is the correct method for a crosswind landing.
10. Go easy on the brakes.
The brakes on the C42 are not great. Some Rotax 912 engines tend to creep on and build up power whilst taxiing. This can result in ever faster taxi speeds which some pilots try to regulate using the brakes. Using brakes against power like this will result in excessive wear. Reduce power to idle and only use brakes when necessary. After landing, hold the stick back. This brings your elevator up and acts as a big air brake helping you to slow down. If you buy a new C42, get the upgraded Beringer brakes.
Are you learning to fly in the Ikarus C42?
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