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Aircraft Review : Grumman American AA-5 Traveler by vFlyteAir

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Aircraft Review : Grumman American AA-5 Traveler by vFlyteAir

 

Route : Circuits - KLAL Lakeland Linder, Florida

 

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First thought is "Quick flight and I'll feel out the aircraft". This is the new Grumman American AA-5 Traveler from vFlyeAir and it looks very good from the first time you look over the controls. "Flaps tooo".... but it is a guess because they are electric and they don't have any steps in their ºdegree angle, so the flap setting is noted as a "little bit". Power up and you are off with just a little of asymmetrical thrust from the two-bladed propeller that is easily corrected as taught by the Chuck Yeager School of Flying by applying the right foot a little to the right rudder pedal. Heading down the runway the AA-5 also needed a little push forward of the yoke to keep it level (back pressure) but at rotation I will leave the ground quite nicely...  but you didn't really any flap to get off the ground either. As the Traveler will quite easily fly without any extra help and in fact the wing will easily lift you at around 55knts.

 

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Climbing you have the time for a quick glance and a look around at the nice panel. The quality is very good and well above the quality that vFlyteAir has produced in the past. The cockpit is snug but well created and laid out. I have a twiddle of the autopilot switch but it just makes the aircraft just do long slow turns...  very odd. I feel the handling and it is quite stable but an adjustment of the trim is always required to find the right level. In fact the trim is your friend in this aircraft and so you use it a lot. A turn (to the right) and the aircraft will slip a bit too easily into a steep degree turn, and if you get it wrong you can also easily drop a lot of altitude. So nice and easy turns with a lot of thought put into the turn is the best option to keep the aircraft in a nice clean turn and at the same height. You soon get used to it and it becomes second nature very quickly.

 

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Holding the flap lever all the way to get to the lowest flap position will drain off the speed but you don't get that power drop too much in the fact you don't need a lot of throttle to counter-act it (The flaps will retract completely however with only one flick of the switch up, which is a great feature). Dropping the height and control is good as well and the aircraft is easy to place above the runway. But the Traveler has a demon in that the wing gives you a lot of "float", I then quickly found myself half way down the runway in no time before a bumpy touch and finally a grip of the tarmac. But that didn't help either as the speed was very slow in winding off, The brakes are useless at this speed as well?

 

I ended up on the grass past the end of the runway.

 

Flying Schools note the AA-5 as "to hot to handle" as noted in the manual, as I recommend to read before doing what I didn't do (which is first read the manual!). As you do, the first thing is to try that landing again. I did and the trick is to have full flap (every time) and get that speed down as low as you dare. You will however still float but at least try to get the wheels down on the hard stuff as quickly as you are past the piano keys - as you will need as much runway as can get to rub off the speed and finally get some grip from the brakes.

 

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Well that was a lot of "hair-raising fun". The Traveler looks quite benign, but it was quite interesting to fly. I unhooked the canopy back and took in the fresh air (a fan by the computer) and you felt the freedom of space and air around you. Turns were fun in the fact of the view and openness. The pilot is a bit thin on top and I doubt he would last long like this in an Australian summer. I then pulled the "mixture" back a little to slow the taxi more and you have to be careful not to shut down the engine (That is what the mixture is for as well). but as the engine spluttered a small adjustment was needed and the engine recovered effectively and the effect (and sound) was very authentic.

 

History

Grumman American AA-5 series is a family of all-metal touring and training 4-seat, light aircraft. The aircraft was originally an American Aviation design that followed on from the success with the AA-1 Yankee Clipper which was a two seater light aircraft in built in 1969. The company then decided to produce a four-seat aircraft, and they started with a new "clean-sheet" design that was designated the American Aviation AA-2 Patriot. The AA-2 design did not meet its performance goals during test-flying and only one was actually ever built.

 

American Aviation still needed a four-seat aircraft to fill its product line, the company simply enlarged the external and cabin dimensions of the AA-1 Yankee to create the four-seater. This decision capitalized on the marketplace identification of the Yankee and its derivative the AA-1A Trainer and also resulted in 2/3 parts commonality between the two aircraft designs and in that saving development time and production costs.

 

This new four-place aircraft was named the American Aviation AA-5 Traveler, and was powered by a Lycoming O-320-E2G engine of 150 hp (110 kW). It would carry four people at 121 knots (224 km/h) cruise speed and was certified under US FAR Part 23 conditions. Production of the Traveler had just started in 1971 when American Aviation was sold to Grumman and became the Grumman American division. Grumman continued production of the Traveler and 834 Travelers had been produced when production of this model ceased in 1975. The AA-5B Tiger,  AA-5A Cheetah, AG-5B Tiger where all variants of the AA-5 Traveler.

 

Specifications - Maximum speed: 143 knots (163 mph, 265 km/h) : Range: 686 nm (789 mi, 1,270 km) : Service ceiling: 13,800 ft (4,200 m) : Rate of climb: 850 ft/min (259 m/min)

 

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Closer inspection on the ground reveals a more quality and detailed aircraft than what you expected at first glance. The Yellow (N954NL) default livery is not the best for the lines or detail. The Orange and Brown (N7164L) livery is a better choice. The detailing is excellent. Not quite to the extreme dirtyness and markings of a Careando aircraft, but it is very good and highly detailed with the panels and riveting perfectly recreated. No doubt it was Carenado style detailing that was the aim here and to a large extent vFlyteAir has certainly succeeded. Of any aircraft the Traveler is closest to is the Carenado Mooney in its application and feel, but without the ripped mats and really oily dirtyness of the Carenado machine. The wheels and undercarriage are very well done with excellent detail on the braking system (you can see the pads work). The front wheel on the real AA-5 does not turn (you use the brakes on the rear wheels) but here the Xplane feature is used. A luggage hatch can be opened with a switch on the panel with a case inside.

 

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There are three menus : One a "Camera" Icon "View Selector" on the lower left of your screen that gives you seven interior views and eight exterior views. Two menus are also situated in the centre of the panel in vrefs and a checklist.  The GPS unit can be seen or hidden, and basically it is a Garmin GN460 display set in a Garmin GPSplus housing. Opening the roof is above you via a handle that can reveal and a nice interior and great stitched leather seats. noted are the well created seat belts and headphones.

KY 97A TO50

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When starting the Traveler from cold the first thing you are asked to do is pull the yoke pin. (if you start the aircraft with the key it will disappear here as well)

 

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The standard six (Artificial Horizon, Altimeter, Airspeed, Heading, Compass and Vertical speed) are added by 5 more in the - Course, Bank turn, RPM and Temperature (EGT/CHT) and OBS - Omni Bearing Selector (VOR). A KMA 20 T50 COMM radio is set in the top of the panel. Lower down far left is the (turn) key and starter and master power switches (red). left lower panel is lighting and fuel pump switches with in the center Carb heat (carburettor), Throttle, Mixture and Primer sliders. Fuel tank selection is directly below. All panel detailing is excellent and even the vents move.

 

Equipment stack is well created with chrome (metal) panels. and includes a  KY 97A T50 Comm radio, King KX170B COMM (1) - NAV 1 (VOR 1) The Nav 1 setting can be used as a VOR 2 unit and you can switch between the two types (tracker) of frequencies on the panel and for use with the OBS. Also there is a KR85 TSO ADF unit and a King T76A Transponder.

 

Noted also is an AMP, Oil Temp, Oil Pressure and Fuel Pressure gauges.  On the right side of the panel is a glovebox that can be opened.

 

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A quick start via switching on the key (swings like a Careando key) and pressing the starter (mixture slider in and fuel pumps on) and I'm off to the runway again.

 

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My reason for the flight was in how to get the Autopilot working?

 

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Oddly enough the Autopilot is on the bank/turn indicator...  the left (magenta) knob is the heading (pull out) and the right is knob (green ) is the pitch. It is an odd arrangement in that you pull the knob and then turn the knob to change the heading but really it just turns the aircraft right or left. You can't set a heading, but just flow over to the point of the direction you want to go and then turn the knob back the other way to head in that direction. It is not very exact and a bit vague, but works. On the pitch it a bit more easier in that you can adjust in about 5º increments up or down and it is more effective. Turn the AP off on the center panel and you have control again.

 

Liveries

You have 1 White and 9 liveries... all are noted by their Registration Numbers and N5494L is the default.

 

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They are all very good in quality but not spectacular or that anything really stands out in design. But you do cover mostly the UK and US registrations.

 

Aircraft Lighting

The panel lighting is very good with HDR on, there is an adjustment for backlighting the dials and a red glow over the panel.

 

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A great feature is the adjustable light that can be used towards the panel or over your maps. The switch is two way with a rear dome/spot light as well.

 

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Outside lighting gives you nice navigation lights and a strong landing light. However the beacon is far to overbright and so is the strobe effect. Sitting in the cockpit is like flying around a lighthouse!

 

Conclusions

No doubt is that vFlyteAir has come up with the goods, vFlyteAir are known for their micro light aircraft that were fun to fly and were also quite good in their designs and features. AA-5 is however a totally different direction and feel for vFlyteAir, and if you are accustomed to their earlier aircraft then the Traveler will come as a bit of a surprise. This is certainly a far more rounded aircraft from vFlyteAir and get in closer and the detail is really excellent. More clever liveries would have helped here as most look quite bland. the detail work on the liveries is however very good. Sounds are excellent all round from start up to shutdown, the noise rises as you open the canopy and that gives you that great open - wind in you hair feeling with the engine noise. vFlyteAir has also captured the Travelers unusual flying abilities and strange wing-lift behaviour. It is unusual to fly (certainly on landing) and you have to adapt to it... Again in many respects it is like the Mooney in that way in it behaves and looks. Frame rate is fine but it is a huge download of 459.80mb and expands to the same 459.80mb when placed in your General Aviation folder.

The Grumman American AA-5 Traveler is very good all round and an interesting change of direction aircraft from vFlyteAir. The AA-5 Traveler comes with good strong features and which is enjoyable to use and fly.

 

Yes! the Grumman American AA-5 Traveler is now Available from the X-Plane.OrgShop : Grumman American AA-5 Traveler

 

Price is US$26.95

 

Documents : post-2-0-62490800-1386925505.jpg

 

Developer Site : vFlyteAir

Review By Stephen Dutton

14th December 2013

 

©copyright 2013 : Stephen Dutton

 

Technical Requirements

Window Vista or Windows 7 (32 or 64 bits) or MAC OS 10.3.9 (or higher) or Linux

X-Plane 10.20 (or higher - 64 bit compatible)

Multi- Core 2 GHz - 4GB RAM/1GB VRAM- 500MB available hard disk space

Version 1.0 (last updated November 14th 2013)

 

Review System Specifications:

Computer System:     

- 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27”

- 6 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3

- ATI Radeon HD 4850 512mb

Software:     

- Mac OS Mavericks 10.9

- X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.25 (final)

Addons

- Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle

- Rena desk Fan

Scenery

- KLAL - Lakeland Linder Regional Airport 1.3 - Drankum (personal items have been added)

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