SAM LS Designer Thierry Zibi and I met at Sandpiper Aviation at Meacham Airport in Fort Worth during October’s AOPA Summit. We chatted for about an hour prior to climbing aboard the tandem two-seater — named for Zibi’s son — for a flight around the area.
Thierry told me SAM LS prototype we were going to fly had about 145 hours on the airframe, was “docile, safe and enjoyable,” and to look for 70-75 mph on takeoff.
The SAM LS, in tricycle gear configuration, is designed with a 2° nose down attitude to aid visibility on the ground, but does require the pilot to intentionally pull the plane off the runway.
With the nose up, forward visibility was a bit limited, but many airplanes suffer this affliction.
The low clouds meant we were at altitude in short order. Pulling the power back a bit to settle into cruise, visibility in all directions from the front seat was marvelous.
As we plied along southwest bound, the SAM LS allowed me one of my favorite things to do when flying…look outside. The SAM LS tracked straight. When entering a turn, it feels solid and intentional. No sloppiness in the controls.
Weather forced us to turn back toward Meacham for a full stop after a 20-minute outbound leg. Again on the inbound leg, I marveled at the lightness of the controls and the comfort of the cockpit. At 26 inches wide, there was plenty of room to stretch my elbows and not feel cramped.
This SAM LS’s panel was nicely outfitted, but I wasn’t flying the avionics, I was flying the airplane, which is what it’s supposed to be all about.
On our way back to Meacham, Thierry lamented not having enough ceiling to do some stalls or performance maneuvers. To be honest, that didn’t bother me in the least. For me, flying serves two main purposes. First for fun. Second to travel from point A to B. For this, the SAM LS is a most worthy candidate.
We entered the pattern, slowed down to flap speed and waited as we finished downwind, base and final. There were no surprises. None.
As the runway rose up to meet us, I pulled slightly to arrest the descent and a solid but smooth landing followed. We plane tracked straight as our speed bled off.
About 55 minutes after firing up, we shut down in the same parking spot.
Thierry shook my hand and offered me the compliment of telling me he didn’t touch the controls at all. For a pilot who just recently became current after an 11-year hiatus, that was nice to hear. A testament to the design styling of the plane.
If Sam, the son, grows up to be as well behaved and sweet as the SAM LS, Thierry should enjoy success as both a parent and plane maker.