Sportsman Control Stick Installation

Collective wisdom occasionally found in the forum


Q (Dennis Vanatta): Installing the sticks is one of those things which it seems needs to be right the first time, since there’s no adjustment once you drill the holes. Any words of advice, horror stories about getting it wrong, things you did to get it right the first time, problems you ran into afterwards, etc.?


A (Russ Beers): If you are using grips that require a good number of wires, be sure you use a connector under the seat that is easy to disassemble so you can fish the wires out through the stick if you need to repair a switch or PTT.

I had to sand-off all the powder coating on the stick to get it to slide into the control system. That said, I’m not too worried about corrosion in such a place, but I lightly wiped the bare steel with Corrosion X…

I secured a rubber grommet into the end of the tube once I’d cut it to length so the grip wires could never rub against the steel edge.

If you have the seat cushions in-hand, just spend a few hours sitting in the plane to feel comfortable with the fore-aft position of the stick prior to drilling. If you did need to re-locate it, I think there should be enough room to drill a second hole. Since 90% of the time my wife is in the right seat, I positioned that stick a bit more aft, but a number of 6-foot guys have also flown in that seat, and no one complained, so the position is more of a comfort thing than anything else…

My panel design/layout might be unique, but the stick height with a grip that largely mounts on top of the stick (Ray Allen) means it gets very close to the throttle when I do my “controls free and correct” check at run-up. A hand on top of the stick can hit the throttle (of course if my hand is on top of the stick all kinds of things are happening to the electric trim servos!) While we were determining how far back I could locate the stick, we found that the limit was not my anatomy, but rather the forward edge of the seat cushions. We wanted enough height to the cushions to provide a good sight-line out the front.

Some cushions have a carved-out section in the center of the forward edge to allow a bit more aft stick. Our upholstery simply compressed the foam enough to prevent any interference.

In level flight, I usually have my left forearm resting about half way down my thigh, which seems pretty comfortable. I thought I might want an armrest in the door, but so far I don’t miss it.

A (Rocky Morrison): I found that making sure the ailerons are neutral and the lower carrier is blocked into place to prevent movement was helpful. You may want to test with the floorboards in place because they may interfere with the full forward movement of the control stick. I also made a quick block between the sticks keeping them parallel.

A (Dennis Vanatta): I’d like to offer a few ideas for installing the sticks.

The book definitely says to drill the holes with a #10 bit and to use AN3 bolts (3/16”). When I drilled the first set of holes, I found I had a little lateral slop in the controls, I got thinking about it, and a #10 drill is actually 0.1935” in diameter, while an AN3 bolt is really 0.1875. So, I re-drilled the holes.

Drill first with a #21 bit and insert (almost have to thread it in) #8 bolt in one of them. Then up-drill the other with a #14 bit (0.182”), and ream to 0.1870. Repeat for the other hole. Then the AN3 bolt goes in snug and tight. No slop.

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