Ralph Gaither, an experienced naval pilot with over 26 years of experience in airplanes and a VariEze pilot/owner called the other day to let us know of a canopy opening that he had. First of all his canopy warning system was out of order, a micro switch had failed. (Dont laugh, this can happen to you!) Secondly, it was a hot day in Arizona. The canopy was kept open while taxing out to the runway. The canopy was locked, then the wind shifted necessitating a long taxi to another runway. The canopy was opened for better ventilation (you can see it coining, right?).
To make a long story short, he had to quickly fit in between traffic for take off, his safety catch had somehow gotten bent and did not catch, so the canopy opened fully at between 200/300 feet AGL during the climb out. Ralph, kept his cool, he flew the airplane, maintaining the climb, left the throttle full up, reached with his left hand and grabbed the canopy rail. He pulled the canopy down and closed it on his wrist (not fully closed). He climbed out in this configuration until at 1000 feet AGL. He trimmed the airplane as best he could, and throttled back to fly level at a reasonably slow speed (100 to 110 knots would be best).
Then he took his right hand off the stick and calmly locked the canopy and continued on his way. Ralphs canopy does not have the throw over stay that was shown In CP 30, page 8. Rather he has a simple retaining cable. He expressed the concern to us that he felt that the over-center type throw over stay may have made it much more difficult to close the canopy in flight. We have given this some thought and we agree. It would be more difficult to close the canopy, but certainly not impossible. Anyone who flies an EZ with this type of stay, will know that it takes both hands for about a second to flick it over center and close it.
It is food for thought and we wanted to give the builders and flyers the benefit of Ralphs experience. We believe the throw over stays advantages outweigh its disadvantages. It is very light, it will hold your canopy open in a wind without allowing it to crash closed or open against the fuel tank. It does not impose the tremendous torsional loads through the canopy frame that the gas spring type canopy restainers do. Consider also that there has to be literally a triple failure before this would become a factor in flight.
1. The canopy warning system must
2. The safety catch has to fail.
3. The pilot must have a brain failure, or fails to comply with his or her checklist.
All three of the above have to occur before the throw over stay becomes a factor. We at RAF have elected to keep our throw over stays but we feel that each individual builder should make his or her own decision.
Incidentally. Ralph reported that the airplane was not at all difficult to fly, he easily maintained heading and continued his climb. The biggest thing to remember is to FLY THE AIRPLANE.