The new 3DHS Slick 580 is just plain fun. I could probably end the report on that note alone because that statement pretty much covers it. The Slick is just plain fun.
Of course, I flew Slicks years ago, but never came to understand the plane the way I do now. I'de like to think I have learned something about flying in that time, and this helped me reach a new accord with this old favorite. The Slick's big strength is it's harrier stability, but we already knew that.
Slick In Alpha
What I have come to learn this time around is that the wing stalls and likes to stay there, which is pretty much the same thing a spoileron mix will do. I believe my time experimenting with a spoileron mix taught me how to fly the Slick better and get more out of it's unique post stall stability. This stability goes beyond no tip stall or wing rocking tendency. The Slick's unique 3D ability is that once stalled, it likes to stay there. Like this, you are not ballooning in and out of alpha flight. You just hold the nose up and drive it around, and the plane takes care of staying in the stall. You have a much wider window of speed while staying stalled, so if you get your speed off a little you are not going to blow out of alpha.
A lot of planes will enter 3D alpha flight and if you get going a little fast the wing will start flying again. This makes harrier a lot of work, but with the slick you just hold the nose up and forget about it. I always knew the Slick had superb harrier stability and absolutely no wing rock, but I didn't understand why.
When you pull the nose up and stall the Slick, you had better be on the power because it's going to start sinking. Without power it will sink pretty quickly, so you simply add some gas and drive the thing around with the nose up. The wings don't rock back and forth because both wings stay stalled, or at least the same amount of partially stalled. The plane almost never tries to jump up on the wing and start flying unless you give it too much power or drop the nose.
This also allows the Slick to do superb elevator maneuvers. An elevator is more like a sinking harrier where the plane is in post stall flight and dropping. If you hit it right the plane will drop nearly vertical. A spoileron mix will really help with this, but the Slick simply does not need it. You pop the nose up, hold in about 7/8th elevator stick, and steer it with the rudder. Once the plane starts to drop you can arrest the speed of the drop with a little throttle, and with more throttle it sinks slower. Cut the power and it will drop quickly, so you have this wonderful ability to burn off altitude without gaining airspeed, and you control it with throttle and angle of attack. As you can see it the videos, the Slick does this marvelously with no instability of any kind. It just sinks to right where you are pointing it.
All of this post stall stability makes the plane just right for flying in tight confines like a park. You can almost drop the slick straight down in an elevator, and you can see I do several landings like that, right in the middle of the painted dot on the runway. This is actually quite easy because the Slick stays so stable and so in control in these kind of high alpha maneuvers.
Mostly the Slick allows you to fly sloppy 3D and it does not penalize you by making you look bad. It has such a wide speed window for post stall flight that when you want it to 3D, it's going to stay in 3D until you deliberately power out or drop the nose. It's easy to harrier this way, easy to elevator and easy to hover. As someone who is struggling to get a good hover going, I really appreciate that part.
Not much has changed here since the original slicks. The plane loves to do nice long slow and point rolls, and big round loops. It is not quite as good as a 48" plane simply because bigger planes (everything else being equal) fly better. Still, a good pilot can easily do better precision with a small Slick than a marginal pilot can do with a bigger plane, so this part is going to be up to you.
The Slicks have always had fat fuselages and a lot of drag, so high speed precision is more like medium speed precision. It is simply not a super fast airplane like the 48" Extra and Laser EXPs are. In a way this works to it's advantage because you don't have 1000 yards to pay with n a park or baseball field. A slightly slower plane gives you the time to get your rolls in before you run out of airspace.
Snaps and Tumbles
Because of the way the wing stalls and likes to stay there, violent maneuvers become , well, pretty violent. Snap timing changes, but then again, that's a pilot thing and it is easy enough to adapt. Inside snaps at high speed usually wind up with the plane doping at least one back flip and the outsides are so quick I am still trying to figure it out!
The slick does a great pop top, and it does not even require that much speed. I like to lock in the rudder and then reverse the elevator right before it stops turning, add a touch of power and then the plane will drop into a nice, tight flat spin. I get one or two extra rotations, but by then it's getting pretty low and time to fly her out.
You can also do a conventional flat spin with the Slick that looks pretty good. You spin it on ruder and elevator alone, and if you have your CG close you simply ease off the elevator after a few turns and she will start spinning faster. From there you can speed the spin up by jamming in down, and then slow it down with up. then you can add power to slow it further and control your exit exactly where you want it. This is something you just have to experiment with until you figure it out, but the Slick does all of this so well that t's a fun learning experience.
There has been some talk about the new SFGs. some people like them and some people don't. I ran them on my first 44" Slick and they were fine, though the plane has so much rudder authority that I was wobbling around a lot in my harriers and elevators. The slick knife edges better with the extra lift of the SFGs, but I think it harriers more smoothly without them. It's simply a matter of deciding what you want out of the plane and choosing from there.
The new Slick is just a fun little plane, but we knew that was going to be the case when it was announced. It's a little more floaty with more wing. but it is still the easy harrier king that it always has been.
But, just in case you missed this part: The Slick is just plain fun. To me that's enough reason to always have at least one of them in the fleet.