Rodney Brim's N87BR sports forward-hinged doors (Velocity builder's, please read his harrowing door-opens-in-flight tale below and take heed).
Airworthiness Date: 05/03/1998
Builder: Rodney Brim
Door Open in Flight (Always turn into the door)
I had a near fatal encounter with the door opening and not coming off. I sent in some suggestions to the factory, which should be part of all your emergency procedures. I have since re-hinged my doors from the front, and they open quite nicely in flight without creating any problems - although I can't close them once they are open until I'm back on the ground ;)
Bottom Line: If the door pops all the way open and doesn't tear off, (which mine didn't, in my case it was the co-pilot door and it swung all the way up and I couldn't reach it) you will be in an emergency.
1. The aircraft will be moderately directionally unstable - you now have a dorsal fin of sorts in the middle of the aircraft and the plane wants to wander around that center - its still quite flyable.
2. The curved door is a spin waiting to happen. As soon as you turn away from the door, the plane will begin an involuntary roll away from the door, and drag will increase quickly. You will be in what would be a stall-spin configuration in a conventional plane. Speed will be dropping like a rock, as will the plane, and you're best efforts to stop the spin and return to straight and level will result in a bank exceeding 60 degrees. In my case I was departing the airport at 200 feet agl. At this altitude, once you initiate a roll, you will have less than 5 seconds to get it right or meet your Maker.
3. Don't turn away from an open door in a Velocity. Turn into it, you'll pin it against the fuselage and stabilize it against the air frame. You'll have tremendous drag, but its flyable. I have 325 hp and I could maintain altitude at full power.
4. With all the drag, the plane is going to feel like the gear is hanging out. In all the noise and confusion, charts flying around, you won't be able to hear through your headset - remember that the gear isn't down (I didn't) but don't drop it until you've made the field, because it obviously will create even more drag.
Hope that helps, Rodney Brim,