Tip-up or Sliding Canopy - Making the decision.

That is the choice every Van's RV-6, RV-7, and RV-9 builder makes when it is time to order the fuselage.  You can build the empennage and the wings since they fit both fuselage types.  But when it comes to making the decision about which canopy there are things you have to consider.  Here they are in no particular order.

  Safety The aluminum roll bar assembly is behind the seats and your head. The 4130 alloy steel roll bar is in front of the passenger and pilot.
  Visibility from the cockpit Unrestricted view forward (Winner) Steel roll bar and center brace bar in front.
  Ease of cabin entry and exit Difficult for me.  You can only push off from the bulkhead behind the seats.  Pushing off the canopy side rail can be tough on your shoulder muscles. Just grab the center brace bar that holds the roll bar in place and pull yourself out of the seat.  Meske also makes a pair of handles that mount to the steel roll bar.  I bought these for later installation. (Winner)
  Ventilation while taxiing The prop wash keeps the tip-up canopy closed. The slider is just like rolling down your car windows and cruising main street. (Winner)
  Baggage loading & unloading Poor.  All bags have to be placed in the cargo area by putting them over the bulkhead behind the seats and though the limited space under the roll bar assembly.  (Poor) Poor if built to Van's design.  All bags have to pass under the canopy frame and over the bulkhead behind the seats when the canopy is in the full-aft position.  The bulkhead behind the seats is still an issue here.  (Poor)

BUT, if you put in the Meske tip-up modification to the sliding canopy you have unrestricted access to the cargo area with the canopy tipped forward and up from the cargo area. (Winner)


  Access to panel instruments, etc.


Tip-up builders have access to the back of the instrument panel when the canopy is open, which can be a problem when you open the canopy if it happens to be raining when you need to get into or out of the airplane.  I learned to fly in Florida and had to work my way around rain showers to get into and out of Lantana on more than one occasion. Some slider canopy builders have used a modular instrument panel to gain easy access to the panel instruments.  I made my own modular panel as seen on this page and others in the this web site.
  Ease of construction I have heard some folks complain about the close tolerances on the forward top skins and getting them to clear each other.  Most tip-up builders feel this one is easier to construct. Some think that the slider is the more difficult to build.   Getting the aft canopy skirts to lay flat is the big issue here.  I had to put on the aft skirts twice and still needed a little modification that I came up with to get the look and fit I wanted.
  Ground operation considerations. The tip-up canopy can become a sail if the wind is blowing while it is open.  Also, if you put your headphones up on the instrument panel while you are getting out, and then forget to put them away before closing the canopy, nasty things could happen. The Meske tip-up slider modification can also create the canopy as a sail condition.  You have a dash board for temporary placement of small items like headphones.

You probably noticed that I did not put a winner in either of the last two issues.  These will be discussed forever with opinions on both sides.  As for my choices, the items I listed in the column under slider are my feelings on these issues.   When I went to Oshkosh this year and found Bill Duffy with a new RV-9A sliding canopy with the Meske tip-up modification, I felt vindicated in my choices.  He came to Oshkosh two years ago (2002) with a tip-up canopy RV-9A.  It was when I was sitting in that tip-up canopy airplane that I realized just how hard getting in and out would be.
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This is the airplane Bill Duffy brought to Oshkosh 2002.  He had built the armrests per the Van's design.  In that configuration they are not rated for anything except resting your arms.  It was seeing that restriction and the other lack of good places to push oneself up out of the seats in a tip-up that helped me make my decision for the sliding canopy.  I also found a way to make the armrests stronger, which you can see HERE in my web pages.

Here is Bill's current sliding canopy RV-9A that he brought to Oshkosh 2004.   The Meske canopy modification is not visible in this photo.  You can see he opted for mounting screws for the cowling instead of the hinges that Van's designed into it.
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