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Savoring a New Design

Savor Debuts at Copperstate

By Pat Panzera for eaa.org

October 29, 2009 — A very short span cantilevered high wing, extra-wide cabin with tandem seating, welded steel tube fuselage inside a fiberglass faring with a metal wing filled as smooth as any composite wing—appearing like so many tricycle-geared European S-LSA entrants—until you look in the cooling inlets and see an 0-320! What could this possibly be? The name inscribed on the vertical stab reads “Savor the Experience” and the EXPERIMENTAL decal displayed in two-inch letters on the door still didn’t help solve the puzzle posed on the showplane ramp at the Copperstate Regional Fly-in last week. Only when owner/designer/builder, 29-year-old Chris Christiansen appeared and answered questions did it all come together…the one-of-a-kind Savor.

Chris is no stranger to aircraft design and construction, and no stranger to Copperstate, either. As an exhibitor in 2003, he displayed his Peregrine XS-302 - a one-off, single-seat, all-composite, Rotax-powered time-to-climb aircraft. Although completed and flown, Chris hasn’t attempted a record flight yet. He instead built his second aircraft, the “Saker,” before designing the Savor, an “ultimate” short cross-country machine, his third design, and certainly not his last.

Although nothing about this plane could be described as conventional, every feature, elegantly knitted together, comprise all of Chris’ favorites. He likes the unobstructed view of the ground from the front seat of a tandem with a high wing, but doesn’t like a strut in the way. He also doesn’t like conventional gear and also loves a great power-to-weight ratio, which he gets from the 160 ponies on tap from the freshly overhauled (by him) O-320. With a gross weight of just under 1,600 pounds, the Savor’s P/W is better than a stock Lancair 235 or 320, and much like that of a Vans RV-4.

The short, clean, all-metal wing is built similar to a BD-4, with tubular spars and an exceedingly long center section for increased G loading. The span and the airfoil are built for speed and all the flush rivets are filled. With only four hours logged for phase one, Chris doesn’t have all the numbers together yet, but cruise speeds in the 150 mph range with a 7 gallon-per-hour fuel burn are anticipated.

The 4130 steel tubular fuselage was completely MIG welded (metal inert gas, aka wire-feed) by Chris. Admittedly it’s overbuilt for testing purposes, but future plans are to remove some of the currently structural members inside the cockpit to allow for lowering the seat for taller pilots and for comfortably locating rudder pedals for the rear occupant.

Chris designed and built the landing gear. Of particular note is the round section of aluminum that makes up the main gear legs. The taper machined into the metal is there to control the spring rate and was cut by Chris on a 10-inch table saw with a carbide wood cutting blade. He also designed and manufactured the weldments at each end of the aluminum legs and the steel front strut.

The Copperstate aircraft judges were duly impressed with the Savor - enough so to award Chris the “Best Plans Built Award.”

Look for a more in-depth look at the Savor in a future issue of EAA’s Experimenter e-newsletter. If you are not already a subscriber, you’re missing out on a great and free EAA member benefit. For more information about Experimenter, visit www.eaa.org/Experimenter.


From the designer/builder ...


I began with an idea of what I wanted and what I enjoyed flying and also what I thought other people would enjoy and appreciate in a clean sheet design. I love flying high-wing aircraft as they tend to be more stable and since this aircraft’s purpose was to be a comfortable quick trip jumper of about 3-400miles. I didn’t want to have to be on the stick the whole time.

At the same time I wanted a sporty aircraft that would also be fun to fly while just playing around, not aerobatic, but lively. I also love tandem aircraft but I’m lazy and enjoy tricycle gear. I also wanted a lot of power and room, which this aircraft has both, with 160hp on tap and a cockpit hip width of almost 36”.

Although high wings tend to be slower aircraft, the BD-4s and Wittman Tailwinds of the past prove this to be unfounded. I thought if I could adapt newer composites which allow a sleeker shape and refined lines I could improve upon the success of those that have come before me. I wanted to prove that a high wing doesn’t have to be an ugly and slow aircraft. High wings can be sexy and sporty too.

As far as the construction of the aircaft, it is tube framed with composite shells attached to the frame. The wings and tail are riveted aluminum. The wings control surfaces are bonded pvc ribs and riveted spars. The interior is fully molded to give a crisp, finished look. There is one door on the left side of the aircraft that opens gull wing style. The landing gear legs are milled aluminum rods with a larger diameter to reduce the shimmy normally associated with spring rod gear. All but two of the control rods and bellcranks ride on a bearing of some sort for ultimate smoothness in the control system. The wings are detachable.

I am currently looking at different construction techniques to reduce build time and reduce cost and parts count of the aircraft in anticipation of a possible kit aircraft if the design proves itself worthy of sale.

As this aircraft is still being tested, some of the performance numbers haven’t been set in concrete. Also as this is a new aircraft I anticipate some changes to performance numbers and don’t really feel comfortable releasing all data yet. Here are some preliminary numbers.

Wingspan - 23.5ft
Length - 23ft
Empty weight - 1097lbs
Gross weight - 1550lbs
Airfoil - NACA 64-415a
Engine - Lycoming 0-320, 160hp
Propeller - Hertzler silver bullet
Landing gear - Tricycle 5x5.00 wheels
Seating - Tandem
Cruise speed - 150mph @2400rpm
Top speed  - So far 170mph
Stall speed - Not yet demonstrated, but 55mph full flaps

- Chris Christiansen

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