Thanks to Bernd Weber of Schempp-Hirth for sending us this flight report by Schempp-Hirth president Tilo Holighaus. See also a video interview with Tilo about the Quintus M.—Ed.
We were very excited and happy when the weather broke just before Christmas on December 23rd, and we were able to successfully test fly our new QUINTUS-M. This enabled us to achieve our challenging goal of getting our new 23 meter aircraft into the air in 2011 and thereby giving ourselves a wonderful Christmas present.
In the meantime, despite changing weather, we were able to complete further test flights. On January 6th, our Epiphany holiday, our experience is especially worth mentioning: between rain and snow showers with a gusty west wind, I took off from the Hahnweide for an exciting flight. With the help of the wingtip wheels and the steerable tail wheel beautifully built into the rudder, I rolled independently up to the end of runway 31 and was once again overjoyed about the maneuverability and pleasant ground handling, which made the assembly so simple a few minutes prior.
The takeoff on the soft grass runway progressed without any problems. Without pitching, the QUINTUS-M accelerated very well, powered by the injection engine SOLO 2625-2i, and in less than 150 m I was already in the air. The climb was so steep that while still on the crosswind leg I found myself nearly at cloud base a good 400 m above the ground and I then switched off the engine. I consciously say "switch off" because one has only to flip down one yellow switch and the electronics on the new 57 mm ILEC-control unit stops the propeller in place and retracts fully automatically.
I arrived at the Teck well below the top of the ridge. The ridge wind conditions were not easy and I was immediately challenged in the new sailplane. But to my excitement, after the first figure 8 on the ridge all my worries disappeared. Despite the 23 m wingspan, the roll rate is amazing. The concept of combining an oversized, light-handling rudder and the full wing flaperons that only deflect upwards on the outer wingtip seems to provide wonderful agility and proves a comfortable combination of rudder force and coordination in the controls. One really never has the feeling of sitting in a "big" sailplane. Right in these difficult turbulent conditions the new QUINTUS-M gives one an immediate feeling of safety.
Having become "brave," I didn’t spend much time hanging around at the Teck. I immediately flew upwind to the next ridge. The orographics of the Swabian Alb ridges make tight turns and figure 8s necessary to gain height. Out of curiosity I made a full circle and was again amazed by the tight turning radius as well as how slowly and yet smoothly one can utilize even the smallest updrafts to gain altitude.
In the meantime the bases rose somewhat and so I attempted my first longer glide. I realized that with the highly modern airfoil the glide speed would be significantly higher than previous larger gliders (even with the relatively low wing-loading without water ballast), although I practically had to force myself to fly 20 to 30 km/h faster as "normal". The subjective impression I received was tremendous. I arrived at the next ridge higher than expected and as I pulled up, the speed to height exchange simply didn’t want to stop. I then started imagining how it would be when I will finally be able to chase down a cloud street in the QUINTUS-M full of water…..
Increasing snow showers forced me to give in and land much too soon after only an hour in the air and over 80 exciting kilometers of ridge hopping, though the landing itself was uneventful despite the turbulent wind. I rolled along on the comfortable shock absorbent undercarriage quite pleased after this first longer QUINTUS-M flight and was already looking forward to the next take off!