I’ve been talking with Todd Silver for a number of months now on getting a new canopy.
Why? Well, here’s the story:
The first canopy I got from Todd was one that I went down and picked up out of his shop in Ft. Lauderdale in early 2013 while I was deployed to Tampa, FL. I had wanted a little bit larger/longer canopy so that I wouldn’t have the windscreen up so close to my face, and a little bit taller to have just a little bit more “cabin” space. However, I should have analyzed the shape of the canopy more thoroughly before throwing it in the back of my vehicle and hauling it back up to Tampa.
Fast-forward to late 2013, once I was settled into my job in Qatar, where I had more time to ponder various build aspects since I wasn’t actually making layups or sniffing epoxy fumes. I took my pics of the canopy, traced them out (poor man’s CAD) and then overlaid them onto an outline of a close depiction of my fuselage. I checked this out a number of times from as many angles as I could find. The main depiction of what I found is here:
The canopy profile is very close to a true section of a circle on a standard curve. What this meant is the highest point of the canopy sat behind the rollover structure and really wasn’t adding any usable space, but was most certainly adding drag. Now, to be clear I picked this canopy out of a lineup and the result of my dissatisfaction with it was my fault, not Todd’s. Todd was nothing but exceptionally helpful as I was looking at his canopies. In addition, the shape of the canopy also meant a fairly flat and low profile directly in front of the pilot’s seat, and a sharper curve aft where the canopy met the firewall structure. To be clear on another point: this canopy is beautiful. It just happened to have the wrong characteristics that I was looking for.
Now, I confirmed my misgivings with the canopy when I came back to the states for a couple of weeks from Qatar in March 2014. I hauled the canopy down to my buddy Marco’s shop (since my project–but obviously not my canopy–was in storage) and we trial fitted it on his fuselage. Now, I widened my fuselage 1.4 inches at the pilot seat, but the rest of the fuselage is widened at the same ratio as the original plans fuselage (except my firewall). Being more of a maverick, Marco chose to widen his fuselage 2 inches the entire length. When we put the canopy on his fuselage it displayed and confirmed the characteristics I was concerned about (see pic above), but it also proved to me that the dimensions were just too big, since the canopy was close to being oversized even for Marco’s bigger fuselage.
With confirmation in hand, I approached Todd and let him know my concerns. I sent him the pic above along with this pic below depicting more of the shape I was looking for (BTW, I used Steve Volovsek’s canopy as a style reference).
As you can see, the most “bubbly”part of the canopy is directly over the pilot as it flattens out behind the pilot for a good intersection angle with the firewall.
Thus began a conversation over the next few months about the size, shape, etc. of the canopy I was wanting. Since I wasn’t in a hurry to get a new canopy until after I returned from overseas and settled in, Todd and I waited until I got back to finalize my choice of a new canopy. Well once back, Todd of course delivered in spades. He sent me a lineup of pics of a few different canopies (I think knowing full well which one I’d pick) that were all very close to what I wanted, with one being spot on:
Compared to my existing canopy on-hand: