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The heir of the glorious Cross Country is having an excellent success, proving to be strong and efficient, obviating to all the problems of its ancestor, rather unavoidable owing to the project age.
We have tested the "Skin" quite a long time with the 14m wing and with the Rotax 503 engine, which was more than adequate to the machine spirit, even if a little weak. Now we have tested it with the Rotax 582, in a silenced version and with a new two-place 16m wing, surely more centered than the quick (but slightly hard) 14m one, therefore more suitable for instruction or tourism.
Comfortable and strongThe trike is by now a classic, with an inclined and soldered beam, the usual solid fore carriage and a posterior little frame supporting the mast, the engine and the main carriage.
The streamlining and the size of the seats is very good, the front seat is designed for medium and tall size pilot. In particular, the seat padding is adjustable with some "Velcro" stripes.
When flying alone, the back seat can be tilted forward, therefore gaining a double function of luggage van and support for the pilot's back.
A second quite big luggage pocket is contained in the back of the passenger seat, which has space and comfort too, together with pedals within easy foot reach. Inexplicably, there is not a second main switch in the back, consenting to the instructor to turn off the engine if necessary.
The great central tank, fitted with an internal bulkhead, is perfectly integrated within the seats block; the fuel level is visible in flight too, with a little external tube integrating the transparent sector on the right side.
The trike is completed with an undercarriage that proved to be simple and affordable even in an intensive use.
The posterior legs have shock absorbers and round tube struts with aerodynamic plastic fairings; in front there is the characteristic "big wheel" with pantograph gimbals and double shock absorbers: this is surely efficient, but we consider it someway too heavy.
The brakes are good, with drums on the three wheels.
Power without noiseThe Rotax 582 engine duly fills the posterior part of the "Skin", in this case coupled with a "C type" gearbox, with a 4:1 reduction ratio and a four-blades Arplast propeller with a silent profile.
There is of course an aspiration box for the two Bing carburettors and an exhaust silencer.
This choice cannot be discussed: the little power loss with the silencing system does not affect at all the performances, whilst the noise reduction, especially at full take-off power is practically a must for the ULM survival.
Nothing to say about the engine installation, without any axis angle, while some accessories seem to be assembled in a rather too simple way; the nice expansion flask is mounted to the engine support frame, protected from shocks and vibrations.
There are obviously steel wire safeties for the silencer and the aspiration box.
On boardThe pre-flight checks are simple, in particular the structure has not hidden or hardly reachable parts, including the connection with the wing that can be inspected climbing on the central beam.
Same for the engine, completely "open-air" ready for an immediate check, and for the wing too. Tips, nose and cross-to-spar connection (protected by a zipper) are all within hand reach just inclining the bar, except the cross-to-keel connection.
Getting on board is easy, for the passenger too, the four-points safety belts are good, even if the adjustments need a little bit of time, because the ventral belt trends to slip up to the chest.
No problems in taxiing, with an excellent shock absorption, manoeuvring is more than sufficient (only in right turns the turning angle is reduced and the big throttle pedal could be difficult to use).
The powerful and gradual brakes can keep the "Skin" still at fixed point until 5,500 rpm.
FlyingWhen the pilot alone, the "Skin 582" with a 16m wing is a real climbing champion, but with a normal take-off run: even with completely forward bar you'd need 100 ft (m 30) to leave the ground with decision.
Even if there is no axis angle, the propeller torque is moderate and the direction is easy to maintain at full power too.
At level flight, 4,000 rpm are sufficient to fly at about 45 mph (km/h 70) with the wing connection at the second hole.
Manoeuvring is overall good, with a smooth piloting that will be surely appreciated during cross-country flights and instruction.
No problems in holding turns, even at steep angles of bank and once again no torque effects of the big propeller, even with bar pushed forward.
The only note is for the roll reversal, which needs a definite command, without a prompt response.
In a word, the 16m wings seems a good compromise between performances and agility, with a bigger vocation for tourism than for pure sport flight.
With two people on board, the biggest wing load makes things better: the take-off run is contained within 200 ft (m 60) with an optimal climb rate, even if not impressive, for an easy control even for the student pilot.
The 16m seems therefore to be a faultless two-places wing, soft and easy to fly in turbulence: in the Sahara raid we have flown even with 32 kts (km/h 60) gusts without big control problems).
With wide bar movements, the pressure return is correct, as for a really easy wing.
The fairing works correctly and the comfort is faultless: the legs stay in completely still air and the little transparent dome contributes in deflecting the air stream just above the helmet. If you bring the hands at the bar centre, you can feel how they lie in a calm zone; a full air stream can be felt only if the hand is raised to the anti-stall protection rubber.
The trike seems to smoothly enter into turns, without rough shakedowns, as the fairing further enhanced the already known flight qualities.
Even with the passenger, it is impossible to keep a level flight at full throttle, at least with the adopted settings, that anyway we think should be the best one. In fact, advancing further the wing connection you'd get adverse effects on manoeuvring and piloting smoothness.
At the other end of the speeds gamut, the stall is practically impossible to reach, unless pushing the bar fully forward against a strong resistance.
Since the "Skin" is safe and controllable in approach and final, landing is never a problem even at pretty high speeds, thanks to the trike stability.
Just a note in flight: checking the fuel level, even if possible with the external tube, is still difficult, at least if the safety belts have been correctly tightened.