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Retractable Radial Rocket

A new option for New Century Aerosport's mini-fighter

February 10, 2011 —Jeffery Ackland, maker of the Radial Rocket TD, is a longtime taildragger pilot and advocate, but count him among the converted since making the first flight in his newly designed Radial Rocket RG (retractable gear) homebuilt, which comes in nosewheel configuration. “Combining the retractable gear option with a nosewheel configuration provides the best of both worlds - improved performance and ease of ground handling,” said Ackland, of New Century Aerosport, Olathe, Kansas. “The RG significantly lessens the pilot’s workload.” 

First flight of the new RG model took place at Johnson County Executive Airport in Olathe, Kansas, in mid-December 2010. The first customer-built plane is in final assembly and a maiden flight is expected this spring, Ackland said.

“This opens up the Radial Rocket experience to a much wider range of pilots,” he added. The new design, based on the TD, has the look and feel – and performance - of a fighter aircraft. Some compare it to a Sea Fury, Bearcat, or even a FW 190. And it’s now available as a comprehensive airframe kit, with available customized build-assist options.

The Radial Rocket RG, like its older taildragger sibling, features a composite airframe designed for aerobatics. Power comes from the 360-hp M-14P nine-cylinder, geared radial engine. The company claims a 242-mph high-speed cruise, or 210 mph at the economy setting. The RG is also spacious, maintaining the TD’s 34-inch wide pilot compartment (30 inches for the co-pilot).

The electro-hydraulic gear retraction system uses an electric motor driving a hydraulic pump to actuate individual hydraulic cylinders for each gear leg. This produces quick four- to five-second extension/retraction. A simple emergency gear extension uses a pressure release valve located in the flight deck that, when actuated, allows the gear to freefall into position. Gear freefall is assisted by springs exerting over-center pressure on the nose gear drag brace, and main gear side braces.

The airplane’s one-piece wing has two full-length I-beam spars/carbon fiber spar caps that provide maximum strength with minimum weight. Extended wingtips increase the overall span by 16 inches as opposed to the TD - to offset the slightly increased empty weight and preserve climb/stall performance.

A natural laminar flow airfoil (NLF) design combined with an electrically actuated slotted flap system provides excellent airfoil performance throughout the speed range, Ackland said.

As opposed to the TD, which swings a huge, 98-inch diameter three-blade constant speed MT propeller, the RG has a four-blade 80-inch MT prop. Kit price is listed at $74,500.

To learn more about the new Radial Rocket RG, visit the website.

Radial Rocket RG Specifications
Seating - two, tandem
Engine - M-14P, nine-cylinder radial, 360 hp
Prop - MT, four-blade, constant speed, 80 in. diam.
Wingspan - 26.8 ft.
Length - 22.2 ft.
Flight deck width - 34 in. pilot, 30 in. copilot
Wing area - 93.9 sq. ft.
Empty weight – 1,720 lbs.
Gross weight – 2,575 lbs.
Useful load - 855 lbs.
Baggage capacity - 12 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity - 65 gals.
Cruise, high speed - 242 mph
Cruise, economy - 210 mph
Range, econ. cruise, 30 min. reserve – 1,200 sm
Climb – 3,500+ fpm solo, 2,000+ fpm gross
Vso, stall, flaps down - 70 mph (61 kts)
Vs1, stall, flaps up - 85 mph (74 kts)
Vne, never exceed speed - 280 mph

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