Schleicher ASK21Mi, VH-ZYE

This is a self-launching two-seat motor glider (or sailplane), constructed of glass and carbon fibres. Although its primary purpose is a pilot-training aircraft, its performance with a wingspan of 17 metres, compares favourably with many single-seat gliders. Despite being very docile in handling and relatively easy-to-fly, it is also capable of extended cross-country flights, high-altitude soaring, and most types of aerobatic manoeuvres.

The ASK21Mi that SoarAbility operates differs from conventional gliders however in that it does not require a tow aircraft or winch to get it aloft. With an internally mounted rotary engine and a propeller system which folds out just behind the rear cockpit, the ASK21Mi is largely independent from the need for a ground crew. Wing tip wheels and a steerable nose wheel make ground handling even easier.

The controls of the ASK21Mi operate in the same manner as most aircraft whether they are light aircraft, passenger airliners, or military fighter jets. The primary control consists of a column or joystick situated in each cockpit and which operates the ailerons for lateral movement and the elevator for both longitudinal and speed-control. Feet pedals operate the rudder the primary purpose of which is to counteract what is termed adverse yaw. The rudder also helps with directional control both on the ground and in the air and on the ASK21Mi it is interconnected with the steerable nose wheel which greatly enhances manoeuvrability.

If for whatever reason you are unable to use the feet operated rudder pedals that is not a problem. Whilst a small but growing number of aircraft have been modified for hands-only control around the world, The SoarAbility two seat motor glider is the only aircraft in Australia fitted with a hand operated rudder system both in the front and rear cockpits. With light control forces the hand controller functions just the same as the pedals and gives you the full range of control authority to fly the aircraft.

As in most two-seat gliders, the pilot-under-training sits in front seat position, and the instructor is positioned at the rear in what is a typical tandem arrangement. With dual hand-controls, instruction can be given by a person using the same control configuration as the pilot-under-training, or either seat can be reconfigured for conventional hand/foot control as required. This also provides for the ability for a hands-only pilot to becoming a fully-qualified instructor with the capacity to train pilots with a range of abilities and needs: or otherwise.