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-   -   SMYTH SIDEWINDER - who has experience? (https://www.pprune.org/private-flying/371384-smyth-sidewinder-who-has-experience.html)

sahni 25th Apr 2009 01:39

SMYTH SIDEWINDER - who has experience?
Hi there!

Looking for owners/pilots of a SMYTH SIDEWINDER as I would like to get some input/feedback about this airplane regarding handling issues, flight characteristics etc.

If anyone has a 'flight manual' I'd really appreciate a copy if possible :-)


UFG-IRL 25th Apr 2009 02:06

I avoided one of these
Back in Coventry in the early 90's i was fascinated by Kitplanes.
I narrowly avoided purchasing a share of an SS because of their record at the time.
I do rember though reading one of their manuals and strangely enough it was written by an author who we believed had never actually flown one.
How to Kill Yourself in a Homebuilt Airplane

sahni 25th Apr 2009 10:08


I read in your reply that you got sceptical about flying/purchasing a kitplane, especially a SS. Is that right, and have you ever flown one?

Until now my only experience is with 'standard' light aircraft such as Cessna and Piper, but I'm quite keen to fly something like the SS. On the other side I'm not stupid and aware of some fatal accidents with SS flown by pilots with little experience on type.

UFG-IRL 25th Apr 2009 21:46

I never said i was sceptical about kitplanes. ONLY just the SS.

I had been flying Kits almost 20 years before that and here i am almost 20 after still flying them. (The CAA and IAA have been chasing me for Years :p )

And yes, i have flown one, that one i mentioned in my post, although a small flight Coventry - Leicester on a test. I already knew this models reputation.

I found this particular aircraft unstable, unbalanced and nerve wrecking, and yes the owner was with me. However this same flight made me sceptical of purchasing a kitplane that has already been assembled by someone else. I love Kits and the fascination of the first test flights, but when a certain model has more than average failings it is not necessarily pilot errors, regardless of .experience on type.

sahni 27th Apr 2009 21:53

Your responses helped me a lot, and I think I'm not going to fly the SS proposed to me :uhoh:

However, if anyone else wants to tell some experience/feedback don't hesitate to reply.


T18 29th Apr 2009 09:09

Smyth Sidewinder
Hi Sahni,

I have nearly twenty hours on the SS, in my opinion its a fantastic aircraft, fast, very light controls, really nice to fly. I would admit that its good to have a fair bit of experience or some training on the aircraft with an appropriate instructor, prior to going solo.

Some years ago I tried to import one into the UK from NZ, but was put off by the PFA.

Superb A/C, pity its not cleared for aerobatics here in the UK.

aeromanic 24th May 2009 04:20

I completely support T18's comments above.

The Sidewinder is a fine design and a superb aircraft if treated with respect.

It is not a kit, only plans are available, but if constructed with care it is a strong and well-performing aeroplane.

In my opinion the poor reputation is unfounded; I've read all the available NTSB accident files for this design and have not seen any reports that the aircraft came apart in flight. Virtually all cause factors relate to handling errors in some way or other.

I have accumulated just over 500 hours and 800+ flights in my Sidewinder over the past six years and find it a total pleasure to fly.

T18 24th May 2009 17:48


I am jealous that you have so many hours on the Sidewinder, especially in Canada, I'm sure that you have had some "interesting" moments. I remember being asked to fly my friends A/C over his house rather fast, he screams "I have control, you have exceeded the VNE". I then had to explain how the a/c ASI can show 150kts with the GPS showing 180kts. One embarrassed pilot!

Another time he bottled out of being shown slow flight, because he thought we were going to fall out of the sky.

I believe that he was thinking too much about horror stories, rather than flying his aeroplane.

As I mentioned before, it's pleasurable aicraft to fly, one with superb feedback. If you are tuned in and listening of course.


n45zz 1st Sep 2009 03:21

I have a sidewinder and love it. It is not a cessna, it is more like a bonanza.

PH-ERD 7th Sep 2009 14:47

Smyth Sidewinder - cabin size
Hi all,

this is my first post on this forum and so I just introduce myself a little. My
name is Heinz and I am from a place called Muenster in Germany (Europe, the
other side of the pond).

I am flying since I am 13 years old (started with gliders and now at the age of
45 I have logged some 1,500 hrs – mainly collected during the time when I went
to university and when I was a flight instructor for PPL students at the same
time (I was freelancing and collected some 600+ hrs training at that time). The
planes I have flown are Mooney, Piper Arrows and all the Cessnas as well as
French built planes. I have owned a gardan Horizon (French) and a Grumman AA-1
(the 1969 model with the early wing) in the past (the AA-1 was the best fun I
ever had - however certainly a bit underpowerd).

I now fly an Eggenfellner Subaru H-6 powered French built all wood Robin 2+2
seater which I have converted from a Lyco powered plane to the Eggenfellner
Subaru H-6 with my friend Hans from the Netherlands (search for the callsign
īPH-ERDī on youtube). The conversion was relatively easy and PH-ERD performs
flawlessly since day one without weight penalty and without any cooling issues -
if someone wants information on that let me know.

After that enjoyable year of flying I realise that 95% of my flying is alone, 3%
with one more person on board and ca. 2% with my family (wife, 2 kids at the age
of 10 and 12). The family likes flying a lot and will not give up on PH-ERD for
sure. However as I have got a partner in on PH-ERD I am now searching for a 2
seater for my trips like mentioned above as I would like to go faster than 125
to 130 kts TAS (thatīs what the Robin does at 8 to 8.5 gals fuel flow per hr).

I donīt want to go for a single seater as even when my kids wonīt want to go
where I go at the same time (say at the age of 16 or 18) I will travel with my
wife (she is 5 ft 2" at 105 lb) than.

So the mission statement is
• VFR day, legs up to 330NM at ca. 145 kts TAS at 7 gals / hr
• Carry me (I am 6 ft 2" at ca. 200 lb – and thatīs the problem, I suppose) on
board with 30 lb baggage and every now and than one light weight person like my
wife plus a little luggage as well
• In case of WX trouble I need an ADI and an autopilot like the TruTrak
Digiflight VS I have now for comfort.

AND HERE WE GO WITH MY QUESTION (sorry it took so long to get there): I am 6 ft
2" at ca. 200 lb and my body is 35.5" tall when I sit - do I fit in a Sidewinder
or not? I donīt know if I have one near me (Germany/Europe) to try.

So – can you guys advise please.

Many thanks, Heinz
Eggenfellner H-6 powered 4-seat Robin, īPH-ERDī
130hrs since 1.
SEP 2008 .... counting
Homebased EDLT (Muenster-Telgte, Germany, Europe)

aeromanic 9th Sep 2009 04:00

Hello Heinz,

I saw the replies to your post on the Yahoo Sidewinder Group and know you'll get different opinions as always......
Have now flown my Sidewinder for over six years and have almost 1000 flights logged. I think the answer to your question re. size is very much an individual thing. It is certainly 'cozy' especially with both seats filled, but not uncomfortable for people of average size. I am just over 181cm and 88kg and fit ok but perhaps like some other builders, I made the aircraft (seat position, rudder pedals, controls etc.) to fit me. I therefore think that if you have a particular aircraft in mind to buy, it would be best to try it on rather than relying on what other folks have to say about it.

As a guide though, you could seat yourself and your wife (or flying partner) on side-by-side chairs and measure the outside-shoulder distance. In the Sidewinder the seats are close together and the distance between the canopy rails, if built per plans, is 87.63cm.


PH-ERD 9th Sep 2009 19:52

I love my wife so we like it cosy ..

thanky fo coming back - the plane sits in the US and I canīt go there so I try. So to in a VLA or UL which is close to the dimensions can ne an idea as well.

The biggest issue is not my wife really (sorry, darling :O) it is if I feel right as I agree with you that īsize is very much an individual thingī - letīs not get into that in a non-avaiation context however ..... :mad:

So, any idea what plane is similar and/or is I can sit in one in Europe?

Best, Heinz

quilmes 9th Sep 2009 23:29

Sad Glenrothes one in France
All in all it's a sad story but perhaps the former G-BRVH is
still impounded at Abbeville? So maybe worth making an offer
to the French Authorities to take it off their hands, as it's
been sitting there for about 7 years or more ?
Your Social Worker would likley have to accompany you though
- to discuss possible self harm issues.

aeromanic 10th Sep 2009 02:41


The two main factors I think, are shoulder width and canopy height. The latter may be compensated for by seat height adjustment or as in my case (for the right seat) by adding or taking out seat cushions.

I don't know of any factory-built aircraft that use a similar-sized canopy but as for homebuilts, I believe the Turner T40, Thorp T18 and the Mustang II all were designed for the same canopy as the Sidewinder. You may be able to find one of those in your area and try it on.

Best regards,


bertdeleporte 4th Dec 2009 21:21

Hi all,
new on the forum, i'll spend a little time next week to introduce myself.

I just read the thread, and want to update G BRVH news.
The A/C has been sold by French Authorities through a sealed bid last year:


I bidded, I won.... I'm very glad, it was a lucky strike.

The A/C sat from summer 2004, seized by French Customs for smuggling in a hangar held by Aero-club de la Somme, the customs paying the hagarage.

The A/C is in very good condition, I agreed with LAA for a top overhaul, a flight test and a transition training. I hope I will fly it next spring: I sourced the spare rings last week (eventually after one year seek) in the US.

Quilmes, I'm very glad you know the A/C, do you know some of the previous owners? I got in touch with Ian Bellamy, the builder, I'm looking the folllowing owners to trace the A/C documentation.

Heinz, I'm quite tall (184 cm) but fit into the beast with a little spare headroom. The usefull load is somehow very limited, 130 kg with full tanks if I remember well. I'll check for you. For information G BRVH is limited to 1400 lbs (I saw som up to 2000 lbs in the US) due to aft CG limitation after initial flight tests. The AC was turning upside down at stalls, wich did not pleased the LAA, the authority in chage by CAA to survey construction and release the Permit to Fly. The aft CG limitation solved the problem.

Maybe the CG story is one of reasons for the lost type A/C in the US, and the LAA request is wise... I'm confident anyway in the behaviour of the thing.

I'll keep everybody posted of the job progress.



quilmes 6th Dec 2009 23:17

One of Glenrothes's more extreme residents, now departed finally.


Wow - that's news for sure.

Strangely, it seems to have dropped off the
latest SCAN "Based Abroad" list, but at least
now it's resolved in a tidy fashion.

So which aerodrome will you use;
Lesquin or Marcq or some other place?

Some UK history at;
GINFO Registration History | Aircraft Register | Safety Regulation

Some press coverage:
Article: HEROIN FLIGHT; Drug-running businessmen jailed for a total of 10yrs.(News) - The Mirror (London, England) | HighBeam Research - FREE trial

It says ten years pokey, but I'm thinking that
these guys have been freed already?

The Samaritans may be able to help with the
outcomes of your rash purchase on;
[33] 01 46 21 46 46.

Send photographs.



bertdeleporte 7th Dec 2009 11:04

Hi Quilmes,

I've been flying from Marcq (LFQO) for now 22 years, and plan to use the A/C to commute between Marcq and Cherbourg (LFRC), where I work. My travel time would then drop from five to one and half hours, and I would not be subject to speeding tickets and the " points hunt", typical French game with drivers vs police forces...

Many thanks for the newspaper extract, unfortunately, i'm not able to download for free. Do you already have a copy???
For information, according to the President of the Aeroclub de la Somme, the guy was fed and housed six months by French prisons and released... Small price for the offence. It seems his wife has left, priceless punishment.

Thanks for the phone number, I prefer to use French speaking supportive ears at my pub!!!

If you have any piece of information regarding I.C. Whyte, I would be very glad to hearing from him. He still must have all the documentation of the A/C, it would be very helpful for me to recover it.

Two pics of the cyl heads:




leinadair 27th Mar 2010 12:47

I have a sidewinder tube fuselage, wing ribs and spars, landing gear, complete plans, and apx 25-30 completed welded parts. The completed work seems to be of good quality, I estimate completion to date to be at only around 10 %.

Would I be better off buying a finished sidewinder (some are selling for around $ 29,000 us) or completing what I got for a song.

I think I would enjoy completing the project and I understand it is not a kit so this means machining, welding, riveting, cutting etc. etc. and then the rest engine, control panel, avionics, instruments, controls, seats uplhostery, finding a Canopy, cowlings, wheel pants etc. etc.

I am not strapped for flying as I have a nice Murphy Rebel Amphib. which I fly regularly.

I am interested in the sidewinder and I understand this will probably take me years to complete.

Dan http://images.ibsrv.net/ibsrv/res/sr...lies/smile.gif

aeromanic 27th Mar 2010 22:50

Hello Dan,

I see this is your first post, so welcome on board!

The Sidewinder is not a project suited to everyone, that is certain. As you state, it is not a kit so here are a lot of bits and pieces to make. On the other hand, scratch-building may be more satisfying in the end; at least you can say with some conviction that you indeed "built it yourself" whenever that inevitable question comes up.

I have one of the five or so Sidewinders in Canada, it is one of two in BC, the rest are in Ontario I believe.

Good luck with the project and PM me if you have specific questions.


bertdeleporte 29th Mar 2010 17:02

Hi Dan,

very welcome to the Sidewinder Addicts Club!!!

As you understood, I did not built myself the machine. The builder, with whom I got in touch, spent a mere 4 years to complete the project. He is retired, count abt 1000 h per year, the machine ate him something in the 4000 h range, to give you an idea. Since he sold the AC (2001), he built eight (E-I-G-H-T, four plus four, you did not misread!!!) other machines. The sidewinder was his first and most complicated machine, he told me.

As you said, you will learn a lot, but it will take you a hell of a time. Some parts can be tough to handle with, for instance the heat treatment of the main undercarriage, and you will need support of the local (!!!! read: the 500 miles around!!!!) other owners.

If you really want to fly a Sidewinder, you'd better source a nice machine, air proven, with its own born temper or features.

You will save a lot of time, and due to less and less industrial activity, a lot of money. Local shops to machine or manufacture specific items are becoming seldom, they can't afford to bother with one shot projects unless it is very well paid.

Keep us posted, a copy of the doc would suit me very well, pass me a PM please.

Tailwinds for your Amphibian,

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