First Customer-Built Diesel Sportsman

I’ve got about 58 hours on my Sportsman diesel now and I really like it. My son and I flew it from the Las Vegas area to Oshkosh burning 6.2 gal/hr at 75% power. Our first stop was northeastern Nebraska, where we took on 43 gallons of fuel at $4.09/gal. Not bad.

The thing I like most is the ease of operation. Just get in, start it like a car (it starts the same way every time—no hot starts, cold starts, priming, flooding—all starts are normal starts), a simple run-up performed by the FADEC at a push of a button, and we’re off. Then just set the power lever at the percent of power or fuel burn you want, and that’s it! No messing with mixture, ROP, LOP, prop setting, carb heat—nothing, just enjoy the flight. When it’s time to come down, there’s no worry about shock cooling or anything like that, just pull the power and descend at any rate you want.


Also, it’s the smoothest aircraft engine I’ve ever flown behind.

Noise level is about the same as a Lycoming.

The downsides? In the Midwest, I had to search a little to find Jet A. I’ve had no problem finding it out west and Mexico, which is where we normally fly. I’m 40 lb heavier than a standard avgas sportsman, but I can get almost 5 hours duration out of the main tanks, which is plenty for the flying I do, so I don’t need to carry as much fuel. Of course, the initial cost is substantially more than a gas engine, a price I was happy to pay for the benefits I enjoy. The installation is more complex, but it wasn’t too bad once we understood what needed to be done.

One of the things I appreciate most is the added safety. In the event of an accident, Jet A or diesel is much less likely to ignite than 100LL Avgas. And the EGT never gets over about 700F, so oil or fuel leaking on to the turbo or exhaust pipe are much less likely to cause a fire.

Without wheel pants, I’m seeing average speed of 125KTAS at 75% power. Full power speed of 138-140KTAS.

After having flown almost 500 hours in my diesel Van’s RV9, I’m really enjoying the Sportsman. I like the roomier cabin, the ability to carry more payload and passengers, the visibility.

What a nice plane.


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