One of the perks of being a flying journalist is that it gives me the opportunity to fly aircraft that many pilots don’t, like the record-setting Light Sport Aircraft, the FA-04 Peregrine.
The low-wing airplane, built by Fleming Air in Germany, is imported by the Hansen Air Group of Kennesaw, Georgia.
“We came up with the name Peregrine,” said Mike Hansen, vice president of operations and my copilot for the flight. “We had to come up with an American name since the German name is almost unpronounceable for most Americans.”
A family member came up with the idea of calling it the Peregrine because the Peregrine falcon is a long-range, fast bird — and both those characteristics describe the airplane, Hansen said.
This particular airplane was flown by Mike’s cousin, Matt Hansen, and one of his students, Jessica Scharle, during a record-setting speed attempt for coast-to-coast flight last June. The pair flew from Jacksonville, Florida, to El Cajon, Calif., in 19 hours and 21 minutes, including time for fuel stops. Total flying time was just over 17 hours.
For the pre-flight inspection, Hansen handed me the checklist and we walked through it together. When he’s not working air shows, he can be found at the controls of an airliner and his attention to detail was much appreciated.
The Peregrine is mostly composed of carbon fiber. The wings are fiberglass and Kevlar. This makes for a light and strong aircraft, but you better be sure there aren’t any dings or spiderweb cracks in the skin as this could compromise structural integrity.
Going into CFI mode, I asked if the wheel pants could be removed as they can take a beating in an instructional environment. “The main gear pants can be taken off, but the nose wheel pants are formed into the gear,” said Hansen, adding, “there is an option for a different fork sans the pants.”
The LSA uses cables and push-pull rods. Fuel tanks are in the wings. The airplane, which holds 28 gallons, can cover 500 nautical miles, with reserve, Hansen said, adding, “It has an economical cruise rate of 4.5 gallons an hour and will do 110 knots true easy. If you decide to do a faster cruise speed that is still under your limit of 120 knots calibrated, you will burn closer to 5 gallons an hour.”
At seat level the cockpit measures 41 inches. At shoulder level it is 44. You sit low in the Peregrine, with a bubble type canopy over you. It should be able to accommodate pilots in the 6-foot range. Pilots of smaller stature, like myself, will most likely want a back cushion for better rudder authority.
We were flying an early version of the Peregrine. According to Hansen, there have been some refinements. For example, in the production models the seats are adjustable. The early model also had toe brakes rather than handbrakes.
“We are experimenting with them,” he said. “A lot of pilots want toe brakes because that’s what they are used too. The standard is handbrakes. Having flown both, I prefer the handbrakes. They are simpler, lighter and have fewer moving parts.”
The panel is up to the customer, who can choose steam gauges or a Dynon glass panel. Base price for one with steam gauges is $122,750; $133,500 for the glass panel models.
Customers also have a choice of engines: Rotax 912 100 hp or 80 hp, or Jabiru 2200 80 hp. The engine in the model we flew was the 100-hp Rotax 912, which can run on 100LL or premium auto gas.
Engine start was done per the checklist. Taxiing with a bubble canopy can be a challenge in some designs because it gets hot inside. The Peregrine has side vents for ventilation, which is easier than taxiing with one hand holding up the canopy.
The pre-takeoff checklist is straight forward and, because of the cockpit layout, there is no awkward reaching across someone to reach something.
“It takes a boot full of right rudder on takeoff,” Hansen intoned as full power was applied.
It did take a fair amount, but it wasn’t anything that demanded Herculean strength. Climb-out was quick and, with the bubble canopy, we had good visibility. Because we were at an air show and there were a lot of aircraft in the vicinity, we did a series of gentle banks to get to altitude.
The Peregrine is light on the controls. It would be easy to over-control, but hard to miss that’s what you are doing, because you really feel this airplane.
We started with steep turns. The good visibility was much appreciated and the airplane seemed to rotate on its wing.
Slow flight was next. Here came that boot full of right rudder again. Stalls were gentle and predictable with a minimum loss of altitude. Slips followed. Landing was uneventful, with no surprises.
Hansen remarked it was too bad that we couldn’t take the LSA on a cross-country flight.
“That’s where the Peregrine really shines,” he said. “It has enough room in the baggage area behind the seats that you can fit two regular roller suitcases in weight up to 66 pounds.” This is significant because there are a lot LSAs that barely have room for the pilot’s headset bag.
- Length: 19.8 feet
- Wing span: 31.5 feet
- Cruise speed: 100-110 knots
- Empty weight: 750 lbs.
- Maximum takeoff weight: 1,320 lbs.
- Vne: 162 knots
- Va: 97 knots
- So: 42 knots
- Landing roll: 394 feet
- Takeoff roll: 328 feet
For more information: HansenAirGroup.com.