It’s easy to board this flying boat. The large canopy swings forward to a nearly vertical position, so there’s no need to duck your head when boarding. Just step onto the sponson and then onto the cockpit floor.
The cockpit is wide and voluminous, visibility is great and the pilot’s hands fall naturally onto the stick and throttle. The side windows are removable, so you can fly with your elbow and arm out the window as though you were buckled into a roadster. The instrumental panel is especially impressive as the angle of attack gauge is mounted at the top of the stack, directly in front of the pilot.
“Fly the wing and you fly the airplane, ” commented Hawkins. With 1, 000 hours flying Vipers, he finds it odd that all civil aircraft are designed with airspeed indicators and so few have angle of attack systems for low speed performance and stall protection. “Why be preoccupied with airspeed? The aircraft stalls on angle of attack.”
Hawkins said the flight would consist of a few “demo and do” military style training lessons, including the first water takeoff, full power-on and power-off stalls, cross control stalls and aggressive maneuvering at maximum angle of attack. We also would fly maximum performance turns at low altitude, make a few splash-and-dash touch-and-goes, and then fly some formation with second A5.