Skyfox Gazelle Review
From the very first moment that I laid eyes on the Skyfox Gazelle, I loved it! The look, the shape, size, everything about it was, to me, how a robust ultralight should look like. I must say that the Gazelle has a very strong look to it - quite agricultural in many ways, however finished nice enough for the type.
It is a fairly tight fit inside with me, at 6' 1", and the instructor, who was thankfully only a small guy...but we did fit and that was the main thing - we could close the bubbled doors, which was a bonus!
Start up is a breeze in this aircraft, as there are very minimum systems and instruments - so VERY easy to the new initiate! Powered by the very reliable 4 stroke Rotax 912 (80 hp) engine gives a real sense of confidence up front. Take off is full-power, cruise is set at 5,000rpm giving a cruise speed of around 70-75 kt.
Take-off was very simple, with all controls feeling very similar to most light GA aircraft that I have flown. Full-power was applied - a little slow to get going off the mark, but at around 50 kts just a very gentle amount of back pressure had the Gazelle rotating nicely, with positive separation from the ground. Once airborne, only very slight controls are needed to keep this a/c straight and climbing away nicely at around 4-500 ft/min with a FULL load and a hot day (around 35 degrees). As the day got hottter our climb speed was at times only 1-200 ft/min (40+ degrees)...so not a record breaker and nothing too startling in the climb department.
In fact there is very little surprises or anything startling at all with this a/c - it is a basic trainer, and thats what it does best. I had no troubles at all in any configuration with this a/c, and there seemed to be absolutely no bad habits at all - it did what it was told, and was very, very forgiving when I did something odd! Ailerons are quick responding and give crisp and positive bank - not much movement needed at the stick at all...there is good positive feed-back to the stick from all axis.
The stall is a non-event...both powered and non-powered - in fact I was unsure that we had even stalled until the instructor told me to recover! I thought to myself: "recover from what?" Just a bit of a mushey feeling...and no airspeed - But a simple lowering of the nose had the gazelle flying again with power to keep her pointed in the straight and level...no signs of a wing drop, or anything nasty at all - a total delight and a well behaved lady!
This a/c is an absolute delight to fly! The cruise speed is around 70-75 kt, so there is plenty of time to take in the scenery and there is no chance of this aircraft becoming a handful. It would be the perfect machine for those who are not in a rush, but want the 'real' feeling of flight in an enclosed ultralight a/c.
The best part about this a/c is the way it lands - there are no flaps, so flair is a sinch! Everyone lands well in the Gazelle!! Certainly an ego booster for any Pilot...I think if you cant land a Gazelle, it might be time to re-consider your motivation and reason to fly. It truly is a pilots dream to land and fly in general - as long as you arent in a rush, that is. The day that I was flying the Gazelle it was very hot and blowing a gale from variable angles, and yet I did not have to go-around once - the aircraft was very precise and very controllable in the flair, with full rudder authority right through until VERY low speeds, in which case the nose wheel would then take over directional control. I must say, I was very pleased with the landings in such adverse conditions...Im sure it wasnt me, I give full credit to the aircraft - such a pleasure to fly!
There is only 40 lt fuel capacity in the 2 wing tanks (plus feeder tank of around 10lt) so range isnt that far, probably about 2.5 hours with reserves - but then again, for this type of flying, it is quite adequate.
The Skyfox Gazelle is a 2 seat side by side a/c (no useful luggage space, apart from a small hatch accessed from the outside behind the cabin), has differential toe brakes, dual floor mounted control sticks with basic instrumentation and systems. It is a robust nose wheel a/c that will take a bit of a pounding thanks to its tuff undercarriage - bush strips are certainly no challenge to the Gazelle!
I absolutely adore this aircraft - for the type, I give the Skyfox Gazelle 8/10
Positives: Easy to fly and land, Gentle and well mannered flight characteristics. Cheap @ around $35-40,000AU (2008) for a nicely presented used a/c. Great training a/c that can be registered RAAus or VH. Has a very easy 'folding wings' system for trailering.
Negatives: A little slow @ around 70-75 kt, no luggage space, not much range with only 40lts fuel, and a little draughty (which is expected for type) - this is great in the warmer months/climates, not so good in the cooler months/climates.
Conclusion: This is a pilots aircraft...it is very well mannered with no vises, anyone can fly and land WELL in the Gazelle. If you arent looking for speed or endurance, this is a great little aircraft - I love the Gazelle!
Aircraft are like a lot of things in this world - they suit different people for different reasons. This Review is just an over view and my personal thoughts, not meant to be a hard and fast rule. I do hope that this review has been helpful or at least interesting to read, and I ask that you also seek another or even your own opinion and experience on this aircraft.