Jonas Boll describes his experience with his Virus SW

 Since 2008, I have been searching for an airplane that fit my needs.   My list of needs is as follows...

-able to land on a 900 foot grass strip, on a hot humid day
-really fast
-inexpensive to operate

It turns out my list is quite demanding.  I had a hard time finding anything that went over 120 knots that could land, and takeoff on a 900 foot grass strip safely.  I have a few different places I love to visit that would be unreachable without this capability.  This requirement alone removed almost all of the airplanes I had considered off of my list of potential planes. 

Fast...  I nearly purchased a Glastar 2+2.  I even drove for 14 hours to try one out.  It is a very nice airplane, and performs wonderfully.  It cruises fast, and takes off short. Sadly, a quick calculation on the amount of fuel it burned, and the amount of money I was willing to burn after the purchase of the plane had me searching again.

I had then stumbled across the NASA challenge on the web.  The winning Virus had caught my interest, but there was no Virus SW planes available in Canada for me to try out.  Six months later, after many hours of reading every bit of information I could find on this new airplane, I decided to take the family for a vacation to Europe.  After letting my wife drag me and the kids all over Europe, doing touristy things, looking at old buildings and stuff,  we finally got to see something interesting.  We arrived at the Pipistrel factory.  Words can not describe how impressed I was with the people working there, the aircraft being assembled, and the facility itself.

We toured the factory, but could not fly due to fog.  So, off we went, to do more touristy things, looking at more old buildings, caves and castles.  A few days later, still under a shroud of fog, Ivo called my hotel and informed me they would pull a trailer containing a Virus SW to the other side of Slovenia where the skies were clear.  We were given a ride in the van pulling the trailer, and drove for 3 hours to Celje.  We watched as they unloaded the Virus from the trailer, slid the wings in place, attached the tail section, and fuelled up.  

 I was very impressed with the climb, slow flight characteristics, manoeuvrability, gliding ability, spoilers, and most of all, the incredible cruise speed.  As we circled mountain tops at more than twice that of my last planes cruise speed (which had the same 912uls engine), I was calculating how to access my funds to order the Virus SW before we were even on the ground.  They certainly named it right, as after my initial flight, I was completely infected.   Every Idle moment from that point on, I would catch myself daydreaming about the day my new Virus would arrive.

Today, I flew to a fly-in breakfast at a small City called Camrose, Alberta.  Out of the 85 aircraft parked along the airstrip, My Virus SW constantly had the largest crowd of spectators admiring it.  I barely had a chance to go and get some breakfast as a constant flow of people asked all kinds of questions about the origin, composition, performance and price. 

Yesterday, I had my first thermalling experience with my Virus SW.  I know it is not the best glider, but I was able to gain 1500 feet in about 5 minuts, and hold it there for over an hour with the engine switched off.  It was late in the afternoon, and I had to get home for a date with the wife,  but I considered standing her up for my new found challenge.  Oh well, there is a whole summer ahead of me.  I'm looking forward to setting personal records of unpowered flight in my Virus. 

 I have flown over 180 hours in the last 6 months since I completed my kit, and am having the time of my life.  The Virus seems to shrink the world down in size, turning 1000 mile journeys into relaxing day trips.  I have flown across Canada/U.S.A. on a whim,crossed the Rocky Mountains a number of times, landed at huge international airports amongst 747s one leg of the trip, and in a small farmers field the next.  I have flown in weather from -30 to +30°c.  Rain, however, slows me down by about 20 knots.  It still flies great, but rain does affect the range on long flights.

I fly almost every night after work, and all weekend long.  If I'm not in a rush to get somewhere, I'll throttle back to about 110 knots and only burn around 12 L/hour.  If I'm flying formation with friends in their C-150s,  I have to go even slower so they can keep up with me.  I have literally flown circles around them for fun when going so slow on cross country trips.  I have many friends with older airplanes, Cherokees and Cessnas, that rarely go flying only because their budget does not allow the kind of hours of flight they would like.  But it's ok, because I always offer to take them for a ride, and they seldom refuse.

I find flying is much more enjoyable with a passenger that never stops smiling.

 

Jonas Boll

Canada


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