One of the best things about the GlaStar is going somewhere; a little stick pressure is all it takes. It’s comfortable – get lumbar support for the seat. It has great visibility – if you’re high enough in the seat. You have lots of room – make storage places for the normally carried odd and ends. It carries about anything you can put in it – just stay inside the limits. (The empty-weight, forward CG normally allows for a huge pile of stuff in the baggage area at gross weight.) And the GlaStar flies pretty well hands-off – if you take the time to set the ground adjustable tabs.
The GlaStar Owner’s Manual, section 4-9, 10 and 11, (pages 26-28) gives the reader a good foundation for setting up the GlaStar for cruise. The quickest way I’ve found to get to cruise speed is to maintain climb power, as I trim for level flight until cruise speed is reached. Otherwise, it is not unusual for the GlaStar to remain 5 knots or more below normal cruise speed (particularly at heavier gross weights). Sufficient extra power must be held long enough to get the GlaStar up to maximum cruise speed, then reduce power to normal cruise. Another trick is to climb 300′ above the planned cruise altitude, set cruise power and trim gently downward to pick up some extra speed before arriving at and retrimming for level flight. One way to check whether you’re flying at maximum cruise speed (while in level flight) is to leave cruise power on while trimming slightly down and watch what happens. If your GlaStar starts a gentle descent and then starts flying level again at a faster airspeed, you just gained a few knots for cruise. While a lighter GlaStar will obtain maximum cruise speed and remain there during the flight, a real heavy GlaStar will require a lot of power to get to the higher cruise speeds and then may have trouble staying there in turbulence.
Most of us learned to fly in lighter aircraft, which flew pretty well on 55% power. (They had so much drag a lot of power made little difference in airspeed.) The GlaStar “loves” power and that’s a major reason for its speed. More than once I’ve flown a “slow” GlaStar and found out that coming up to 75% power tended to bring the cruise speed in line with the book values. Other major factors contributing to higher cruise speed are cleanliness of the airframe, (2-5 knots), light to heavy weight, (5+ knots) and additional drag items. It should, with its clean, low drag profile, cruise at the book speeds if you use the same power. The first 400 hours of the prototype GlaStar were flown using a 125 HP, IO-240 with a fixed, cruise prop. At 75% power, we were using around 94 HP and having a blast. The cruise speed of the trike with wheel pants was 130 knots light and 125 heavy. With the installation of the 160 HP engine, cruise instantly jumped to 140 knots light and 135 knots heavy.
You can adjust many things to get the GlaStar to fly straight and level and fast. Everything from wing or tail incidence, rear wing airfoil “canned in,” aileron “fly-up,” flaps adjusted properly, extra drag features installed (no wheel pants, etc.), ground adjustable tabs set and on and on. Most GlaStars are reporting an unusual consistency with equal airframe type, horsepower, thrust (prop efficiency) and weight. We recently flew the new demo, 160hp GlaStar, wing to wing with a 180hp, similar type GlaStar, and found at the same power settings (25 squared) the 180hp was cruising 5 knots faster. This is exactly what the book says. (What the book didn’t say was that the 180hp appears to use about three to four gallons more an hour to get that increase in speed.) Finally, for those GlaStars without autopilot or wing levelers, I carry a couple of large, thick rubber bands tied end to end. Hooked between the stick and throttle or door, this – along with elevator trim – gives me infinite lateral trim adjustment for a totally hands off airplane in smooth air.
Tim Johnson’s articles are his own perspective and reflect over 1,000 hours of safely flying the prototype GlaStar in demonstration, cross-country, and air-show flights. Your experience, training, GlaStar airplane, and local situations may require different procedures. Be safe! Never attempt something just because someone else did it! The current GlaStar Owner’s Manual and current FAA and/or local regulations are your overriding guides. Airspeeds used are KIAS (indicated airspeed in knots).