We headed out from Austin and leveled off at 2,500 feet VFR below a ragged overcast. It was gusty and bumpy, and I got a workout hand-flying the GX. Not that it's a difficult airplane to fly. Far from it. It was just a rugged flying day. And I did realize early on that this was an airplane you need to use your feet to fly, something the Cirrus I normally fly gives me very little practice at. The yaw stability in the GX is not strong, though the new model does have additional side surface, with a slightly larger ventral fin and tail surface.
As I noted, the airplane is very roomy inside for the two occupants, but there's precious little baggage space. My modestly sized camera bag was a tight fit, and while Remos is thinking of adding an external baggage door for more storage, it hasn't done it yet.
Inflight visibility, especially downward, is very good. The windows, as you can see, are quite large. One thing I don't like is the view out the side. You sit very high in the seats, so your head is actually above the top of the side windows, forcing you to bend downward to scan for traffic out the side.
Because of the weather, we never got higher than a couple thousand of feet over the terrain, and it was choppy, but even so, the cruise speeds were within shouting distance of the maximum the LSA regs allow. And with an adjustable pitch prop, you can always opt to get better cruise performance (with the 120-knot limitation) at the expense of some takeoff and climb capability, where the Remos has plenty of performance in reserve.
For the most part, the panel is very nicely done, with a pair of Dynon LCD displays, a PFD with built-in AHRS and air data and an MFD with engine monitoring. Because none of this equipment is certified -- the Garmin transponder, audio panel and SL30 navcoms are the exceptions -- they can be configured by the pilot in a number of different ways. Whether this is good or not is debatable. With LSAs being essentially self-certified by the manufacturer, the whole thing is outside the box. For instance, the GPS running the whole show, including driving the autopilot and sending position data to the displays, is a handheld, a Garmin GPSMap 496 with XM Weather. It does a great job, but at least by Part 23 standards, it's all very odd. That said, the layout of the GX panel is exceptionally clean and well thought out and very capable for such a light airplane.
I was, however, very disappointed in the performance of the autopilot, a noncertified TruTrak unit, though it's likely that the problem was with the setup and not the autopilot itself. I've flown with TruTrak in a couple of Experimental airplanes in the past and have been impressed by its performance. In this case, the autopilot was unable to hold altitude in the bumpy air and actually put us into a pronounced nose-down attitude, forcing me to manually disconnect it. And unlike certified autopilots, you couldn't shut it off instantly. Instead you had to disconnect it by depressing a button on the autopilot itself for a few seconds. I'd sure want an autopilot disconnect button on the stick.
As far as flying manners are concerned, the GX is well harmonized, with pleasant overall handling qualities, if a bit on the light side -- though what do you expect with a 670-pound airplane? My overall impression was very positive, and I'm sure I'd quickly get better at working those rudder pedals.
Because of the gusty conditions, my few landings in the GX were probably not representative of the airplane's manners. Down at San Marcos, where we went to shoot some touch and goes, we were looking at a 45-degree crosswind gusting up into the 20s, so it was challenging for a newbie in the airplane.
On approach it took a bit of doing to get it slowed down to flap speed while still losing altitude, and once I did get it into the low, low flap range, it had a tendency to sink, which is a bit surprising in an airplane this light. And on short final I found it a bit hard to get the proper perspective on the centerline, so I wound up being a little cockeyed on my first few touchdowns. Once I got the idea, thanks to a few helpful hints from Chris, I was able to get things straightened pretty consistently.
That all said, the airplane was remarkably responsive and would have done anything I asked it to do. It would just take a little practice to get to that point. And my "bad" landings early on resulted in 300- to 500-foot ground rolls once I got it planted.
The LSA market hasn't really panned out as many had anticipated. The lure of $50,000 two-seaters has proven illusory, as what we've been saying for years becomes clear to everyone: It's simply not possible to make money on any kind of substantial airplane at that price. And even though the market is down for LSA makers, as it is everywhere, and there's sure to be some shakeout in the market, Remos looks like a good bet. It's well financed, it has a solid product, and it doesn't need to sell a hundred airplanes a year to make money.
And for those pilots starting out who are looking for a little sport airplane with big ramp appeal, or for the seasoned veteran looking to transition down into the LSA world, the Remos GX has a lot of flying fun to offer. And those are two of the major markets the LSA category was aiming for from the start.