Over the years we have built, help build, and repair over 30 Challengers, both dacron covered and using conventional covering materials. The upgrade to the high reduction drive improved climb performance with two on board from the older system of 400 feet per minute to closer to 700 feet per minute in the long wing version powered by the Rotax 503, twin carb, dual CDI ignition engine.
While I haven't flown a new Challenger II equipped with the Rotax 582, when I put one on my plane in 1986 climb at gross came in at around 900 feet per minute.
Cruise on the Rotax 503 comes in at a comfortable 65 mph at around 5800 rpm. Stall with two on board will come in at around 35 mph. Flown solo the stall comes in between 25 and 30 mph.
A straight on stall is very gentle and predictable with a shudder, and then the nose dropping, and then about 50 feet later the plane automatically starts flying again. Stalls in a turn can be very disconcerting as the plane tends to drop into the turn.
Aileron control feel is a little mushy and requires a little bit of getting use to. Rudder control is more positive than the ailerons, and when flying with doors for the first time will really get your attention until you get use to the totally different flying feel of the plane.
Engine noise is a little louder than most other light sport aircraft of this style because the engine is mounted under the wing and closer to the pilot and passenger, rather than above the wing.
The noise is lowered a little by the use of a shorter 3 blade prop over the standard two blade longer prop. The reason for this is that the prop is coming very close to the fuselage and ailerons which creates noise. A shorter prop helps eliminate the noise, vibration and harmonic resonance.
The Rotax 503 will use about 3.5 gallons of fuel an hour which gives just over 2.5 hours of safe flying. Option fuel tank sizes and styles are available.
To my knowledge I was the first person to put skis and floats on the Challenger II. The plane is an excellent ski plane, and can be equipped with a heater working of the engine which will take the chill of you when flying.
Back in 85 I couldn't get my Challenger on floats off the water until I switched to an upright engine mount with a gear box and 64 inch prop. When I switched to the Rotax 582 with a gear box it became a real performer.
The Challenger is a great plane for a pilot that owns and flies it himself. At only 300 lbs empty weight, it is too light for an abusive training environment. It's gross of only 960 lbs is also a problem when you consider most planes will weigh in at 450 to 475 lbs, with electric start, paint, brakes, instruments etc. Put two people full fuel and you are at gross. NOW add floats of 150 lbs, doors, parachute etc.
The other thing to consider is resale value, most new Challenger II's with conventional fabric covering ready to fly built for you will come in between $35,00 and $45,000 CDN. The resale price of these craft because there are so many out there is generally less than half of this.