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Touring Motor Gliders Association (TMGA)

Is the Phoenix the best TMG to own out there?


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Hi everyone, it's my first post here!

First of all: The Stemme is not an option since it is simply too expensive, too complex and too cumbersome

In case you are interested about my experience with TMGs (I fly SEP and normal gliders as well): I know the ASK16 and H36 Dimona, both with 80 HP Limbach engines fairly well and love flying both. However, I mostly fly them as cheap SEPs and not as gliders.

What I am looking for:

  • serves an affordable SEP with two seats
  • has a window on both sides that can be opened (I like to take pictures with large cameras, so I must be able to stick the lens through the window)
  • hot and high as well as short grass field operations (takeoffs at 7500 ft DA performed with ASK16 were not a problem but the climb rate of both the ASK and the Dimo is very poor and so is takeoff performance from mois grass fields)
  • high service ceiling and oxygen system (in my experience, FL125 on a summer day seems to be the max for the ASK16, having a bit more headroom, e.g. FL150 would be great)
  • decent glider performance (ideally better than ASK 16 or Dimona)
  • suitable for wave soaring (so must be able to handle rather high speeds, turbulence and crosswind landings)
  • Night VFR capable (the H36 I flew was approved for NVFR in Europe)
  • tailwheel and/or retractable gear
  • optional: Aerobatic (very simple aerobatics with engine off would be sufficient
  • cheap and simple to maintain (so e.g. a Rotax 914 equipped HK36 TTS seems overkill to me if the plane is light enough to get decent performance with a normal 912)
  • I generally don't care about the seat configuration
  • Will be operated in EASA airspace only

Some concrete mission examples might be:

  • Short recreational flight (<1h) => must be ready to fly quickly and easily unlike e.g. a Stemme
  • Mountain sightseeing & photography (1.5h) with lots of climbing over short distance needed, 20-30min final glide with engine stopped to make use of the altitude
  • Occasional cross-country trip with passenger and light baggage (>3h) with constant engine use => needs reasonable useful load
  • Glider cross-country with occasional engine use => engine must be able to handle this and should start reliably, battery must be big enough to power the transponder for flight through controlled airspace
  • Wave soaring with lots of initial climbing needed, potentially strong headwinds during climb => shouldn't be too slow, potentially needs oxygen system
  • Night VFR short cross-country (prefer TMG much over SEP for the glide ratio)
  • If possible: Spin and very basic glider aerobatic training (e.g. hammerheads and loops)

After doing my research, I came to the conclusion that the Phoenix would fulfill these requirements the best and close second would be the Sinus (tailwheel version). I believe that the Sinus might be even simpler to fly and maintain and I would prefer the door design that would allow for perfect photo missions. However, it seems that as a glider, the Phoenix is superior. What are your thoughts on this and has somebody a direct comparison? Which engine option would you go for on the Phoenix? I imagine that both the Sinus and the Phoenix will easily outclimb the ASK16 with the 80 hp Rotax already but maybe the 100 hp isn't much of a difference in terms of operating and maintenace cost?

Are there any other modern options I should consider? There seems to be no aerobatic TMG that is fairly modern except for the Windex which is single seat and more of a self launcher. Actually, something like a tandem seated Windex would be the dream plane :=)

The only aerobatic TMGs I found were the IS28M and potentially some version of the RF5. Is this correct and do these stand any chance against the modern Sinus and Phoenix in terms of daily use, glider performance and maintenace/operating cost? I don't quite like the idea of buying a heavy, old and rusty plane that will constantly need repair. There are several videos out there of e.g. Sinus and G109 doing aerobatics, also the Dimona used to be approved for it.

Finally two concrete questions:

1) Do you ever use the short wingtips and why (question also applies to Sinus Flex)? Is a few kts more cruise speed worth the loss in glide ratio in case of an engine failure?

2) Can somebody compare the visibility out of the cockpit of the Sinus vs a low wing TMG? I have flown over 15 aircraft types but none of the was a high wing. I imagine doing right hand turns in the Sinus quite scary because I will not see the traffic to the right of me.

Thanks a lot for reading and I am looking forward to any helpful advide or practical experience that you can share!

Best wishes,

Felix

 

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Edit: The Ximango might also be an option but I don't think that it will significantly outpferform the Phoenix and be more expensive to operate? Also, the Stemme S6 with retracts would maybe still fit the bill in terms of practicality but I fear it will be ridiculously expensive.

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The Phoenix is a phenomenal aircraft.  However, it only has typical sliding vent openings on the sides.  Not very large for serious photography.

The HUGE advantage compared to the Sirus, is that with the wingtips removed, the wingspan is ~35', so it fits into any standard T-Hangar.  The Sirus is just over 40' with the tips removed, so it will not easily fit in a standard size US T-Hangar.

The Phoenix is a touring motorglider.  The glide performance is ~30:1, similar to an ASK-21.  From a gliding performance perspective, it doesn't match a Stemme or a self launching type glider.

However, it is a GREAT airplane when used as a powered airplane.  With full fuel it can hold two adults and 100lbs of baggage.  If you are flying at 10K ft AGL, you have about 60 miles of final glide.  This means that you can fly throughout the Caribbean, from Florida to Grenada, and never be at risk of being in the water if your engine fails.  It cruises at 110k burning 4 Gallons / hour, giving you 600-700 mile range.

All of the Phoenix's in the US have the 912 Rotax engines.  I wouldn't go with anything else.

All of the Phoenix owners I know LOVE their aircraft.  The biggest problem is getting one.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

When I was looking in late 2019, I tried multiple times to reach the USA distributor for the Phoenix, without success. XimangoUSA, by contrast, at least still exists which is partly why I ended up with one. Its wings fold to 33 feet, but folding is not easy for my old body of great weakness. The biggest downside, IMO, is, being largely FRP and not CF, high empty weight. My single ride in an H36 (with a 912) convinced me that it works quite well as an airplane, but less so as a glider. The Ximango, OTOH, feels like a Grob G-103. It has an SSA handicap however, of 1.4 - similar to an ASK-13. Max L/D is somewhat better, but wing loading is higher and neither penetrate well. Photography as you describe is impossible; not just because of the little vent sliders, but because their placement is awkward. The Pipistrel Sinus is far better for that. The Sinus's light weight makes it a good performer as an airplane, for sure. Spoiler handle on the roof, tri-gear on most, and high wing would seem to make it an awkward-feeling glider, though I haven't yet flown one. Admittedly though, the high wing would easy my anxiety about taxiway lights and let me get into some fields that I presently cannot safely do. Being still in production is a huge advantage and the high wing takes much of the taxiway light phobia I have now developed. All TMG's excepting ones like the RF-4 or Scheibe, have small wheels. EU style, putting-green-like grass is fine, but normal American turf, especially when even a little soft, adds a lot of drag and extends takeoff distance considerably.

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