Flying the Bearhawk
With the Bearhawk you get performance like most pilots have never experienced. The Bearhawks short field/STOL capabilities, large cabin with generous real world useful load/CG envelope, and respectable cruise speeds make it a truly useful airplane. As a back country hauler for your hunting trips or as a weekend family cruiser, the Bearhawk can be whatever you want it to be.
At Bearhawk Aircraft, we believe the Bearhawk to be the most capable, best performing four place utility experimental airplane without exception. Instead of us extolling the virtues of its flight characteristics, please read and listen to the comments of pilots (who have nothing to do with our company) who have flown the Bearhawk.
Download and Listen to comments (mp3 audio files) from these pilots about their flight in a Bearhawk
|Roger Krenzin – chief pilot for the JAARS missionary group. He has done amazing flight demonstrations of the Helio Courier at Oshkosh, and checks their new pilots out in the Helio which is famous for its short field capabilities. He has flown all over the world and into some of the most difficult strips imaginable. In this audio clip, he talks about his flights in a customer’s Bearhawk and compares the flight characteristics of the Helio to our Bearhawk|
|Larry & Nancy Mueller|
|Allan Shultz – from N. Carolina at Oshkosh 2007|
|Jim Cristoff – from Massachusetts – has over 4000 hrs in a Cessna 180|
|Mark Stein – from Wisconsin at Oshkosh 2007|
Mike Araldi Report
Date: Sat, 6 Jun 2009 07:48:31 -0700
The Bearhawk has about 32 hrs on it now, and is performing flawlessly so far! It’s a very easy and honest airplane to fly. I’ve been able to induct 7 new BH pilots, and they all agree…..it’s one of the best all around airplanes they’ve ever flown. I went with a Monty Barrett balanced IO 540X and a MT 3 bladed prop, extremely smooth combination. All of your performance numbers are accurate, your kit is a pleasure to build, and working with you, Jim, Budd,and the rest of the BH tribe is great! Thank you for the great support. I’ve experienced the RV grin……..and now the Bearhawk Rush !!! I’m convinced now more than ever, the more BH’s that come on line and the more pilots fly them, your kit sales are going to grow exponentially… …brace yourself !! Lets try and put together a Bearhawk fly-in at my strip here in Lakeland ! Cheers!!
Comments from Dave Roberts in Montana
Budd, Mark,& Bob:
I have 96hours on 125BH now. I like it better every time I fly it. I’m starting to fly quite a bit again now, usually half an hour almost every day sometimes less sometimes more. I’m using it for ranch work mostly now,checking cattle, water, etc. But I can usually get a couple of landing and takeoffs in each time too. Yesterday we had about a 20 mph wind coming straight down the crosswind runway. Take off roll was about 100′ with two on board and about 30 gallon offuel. Landing was about the same. Had to try to land on the dryspot. Today 3 of us flew to a friends place to look at gravel for our shop. We landed in a stubble field. It looked dry. It wasn’t real soft but really muddy. 125BH looks a bit like a bush plane now. The tail wheel was about the size of a basket ball. We had to clean the mud off of the tailwheel before we took off. It is in a pretty serious need of a wash job now. When wecame home, we landed in less than 200′. Two adults and a 90 lb kid. No wind. This winter I have really been missing building on an airplane, but after flying the Bearhawk the last few days, what can I improve on? For my mission I just don’t think I could get much better than the Bearhawk. Visited with Chuck and Dawn Judy (owners of Bearhawk Proto II) a while back. We were talking about the Bearhawks and the POWER. Last fall Dawn went with someone somewhere in a 172. She said when they took off she kept waiting for him to pull the throttle back and abort the takeoff. She was sure there was something wrong with the airplane. It wasn’t picking up speed fast enough for take off. Then she realized there wasn’t anything wrong with it, it was just a 172. She was so used to the BH. Anyway,thanks for a really great airplane.
Thank you again for the demo flight in the Bearhawk. It was a blast. I’m sure that I missed some of the fine capabilities of the airplane, but a demo flight is in my mind the equivalent of speed dating. I started to compare the airplane to the Maule M-5-210C that I own as soon as I was in control. The elevator is quite light, but not overly so. It seems to intuitively follow where you want the plane without the wrestling match that my aircraft requires, especially at low airspeeds. I was quite at ease with the slow flight manners that the Bearhawk displays; no mush or high sink rate when it is slowed near the stall condition. Flaps are super effective with no airflow disturbance over the tail surfaces. The transition from just above stall to cruise speed is seamless with no hint of bad manners at the low end of the speed range. Acceleration is brisker than than my Maule. Mind you, there is a 28 sq. ft. wing area and 40 engine horsepower advantage for the Bearhawk, while my Maule weighs 30 pounds less. I did a steep turn in each direction. There wasn’t the loss of speed that is evident in my aircraft. I let one of the turns start to spiral, (sloppy pilot technique). There wasn’t anything that made me feel uneasy about the character of the Bearhawk.. The flight handling characteristics are just so solid. All of this took place with three people on board, with only one who was close to FAA normal male weight, and about 3/4 fuel. I won’t comment on ground handling qualities at take-off or landing as I did not have control of the aircraft at those times. It seemed to me that both were benign in character.
Let me start by saying that my main reason this year for coming to oshkosh was to take a better look at the Bearhawk. As for the way I feel about the flight well lets see. I cant even tell you how wonderful of an airplane it is. You already know. But I will say I was very happy and I cant wait to really start building one. Words cant describe on how wonderful it flies thats all I could talk about to a few of my flying buddies. I will be keeping in touch and possibly putting my order in after the 1st of the year. I must say thank you for the demo flight it has charged me with the drive to get one of the best flying airplane out there. It flew better than I could have even hoped for. Very impressive performance.
Oshkosh was nice. Lots of “Stuff” to do and see.
Got a demo ride in the Bearhawk demo plane. Very cool and inspiring. The Power On Slow Flight is truly “Poetry in Motion.” We did turns in this configuration and it was simply amazing. Its very hard to stall the plane and, when it does, you need very little control input to recover. The neatest thing I can tell you (and I do not mean to slam Cessna and Piper) but the control of the plane is much like a Beech. Very solid and does what you tell it to do, like it should. No slop. I hope I can figure how to rig mine that way. I believe you will be able to fly it with your figure tips (for those that were taught to trim and fly like that) Special Thanks to Demo Dave!
I was at Arlington yesterday. Weather was typically early July overcast with ceilings about 1800 and about 60 degs. Pretty slow day as far as the flying, however the usual vendors were in place. Bearhawk Aircraft has a QB kit on display plus the Demonstrator. This is the first time I’ve seen a Bearhawk in person, or have had a chance to look at the kit. I am amazed; the guys in Mexico are doing some quality work. As said before, the Bearhawk is a bit deceptive…it’s bigger than it looks. I’m 6′ 250 and found it to be very comfortable, and not terribly difficult to get in. I have the flexibility of kiln dried lumber, so getting out was slightly awkward…but not a deterrent. The cabin actually “feels” wider than the RV-7 or a Bonanza (wife’s observation) since the cabin overhead isn’t arched. Something that I noticed after the fact is how solid the airplane felt…It is stout. So, as stated here before, the Bearhawk is NOT simply a hot rod Pacer (not that there would be anything wrong with that either). Now, for the interesting part, the demo ride (or Yall gotta get one of these!): Since I haven’t flown regularly in 6 years, these observations are of questionable and varying accuracy.
1. Visibility on the ground is great to the side, and side-fwd. The nose obscures more of the fwd view than my luscombe..but the luscombe had unusually good fwd visibility in a 3 point…just good enough for a false sense of security. Slight S-turns are a simple and effective solution that should be done regardless, and it is a cool Taildragger tradition. In other words, fwd visibility is a non- issue.
2. The 540 is smooth, sounds good, and with ANR headsets…almost too quite. Without headphones…it’s a healthy sound.
3. Acceleration with three on board is a rush. No more adjectives necessary. The wife approves.
4. Pilot Dave took off in a near three point, slightly lifting the tailwheel before rotation, then rotating what looked like maybe 5 deg above the 3 point attitude. Seems like about an inch of fwd displacement off trim was needed to hold the nose down. This attitude and power gave what looked like 75 mph IAS sustained, and a rather impressive climb angle. (even looks cool from the ground) Passing through pattern altitude about mid field we pushed over, accelerated to about 100mph, and 1200-1500 fpm, probably about 10 deg nose up. Big smiles and wife very much approves..this is important. Time to make for left downwind departure.
5. Cross wind to base, in a mild cruise climb, and at about mid field we were level at about 1600 ft and 140 mph, pulled back to about 22inch(?) Hg.
6. My turn. First turn Dave advises to lead with rudder. Aint that the truth. I don’t think that there is an abnormal amount of adverse yaw, just the control forces at the rudder seemed higher than what I remember of typical span cans. Combined with VERY light controls in pitch and roll and there might be a perception of higher adverse yaw. The rudder is powerful, so even if the peddles feel heavy…very little displacement was needed to coordinate turns.
7. 6 Years of Aviation neglect will make one rusty and ham-fisted.
8. Ailerons are light and responsive. Roll rate may not be RV like, but the control forces seemed lighter. I didn’t notice breakout force. Pitch forces are nicely proportional to roll, great control harmony. Rolling in 45deg bank or more, like an RV seems natural and effortless. I noticed that hitting mild updrafts caused me to apply backpressure on the stick like a reverse counterbalance. This is easy to fix, rest your forearm on you leg and hold the stick a few inches below the grip. Trying to fly around with the full leverage of the stick is what happens when you get all giddy about an airplane ride and forget old habits. In short, this airplane is a freaking’ joy to fly.
9. Cessna drivers will probably find the over-the nose sight picture at level cruise pretty typical. Bonanza drivers might tend to bury the nose a bit.
10. This amazes me: During slow flight, control forces and responsiveness didn’t seem to drop off like a Cessna. In a Cessna, I remember the lack of feedback as being a indication of nearing a stall. This wasn’t the case with the Bearhawk. Entering slow flight with 20 degs flaps (little if any trim change when the flaps are deployed), and down to about 70mph IAS then adding 20inch Hg,and pitching up to a near departure stall, rudder forces and effectiveness seemed pretty much unchanged, At what I would guess as 25-30 nose up I felt what seemed to be a pre stall mush (no buffet yet)..however the controls felt almost as they did in cruise. I’m chalking some of this perception up as me being rusty and excited. but this definitely is not a 172. I imagine these means none of that loosy-goosy feeling a 172 gives at 10K feet. A definite plus for any cross country airplane used in the western states.
11. Landing was pretty mundane (in a good way). Dave took the controls at about 5 miles or so on a long final, settled into what was about a 70mph approach with a bit of power to land “long”. rounding out past the numbers, touching down between the threshold and the fist taxiway (800ft) and a brakeless roll out turned taxi to the turnoff another 800ft or so down the runway. Pretty cool. Wife still approves of the airplane, not sure about my flying. 🙂
The flight in your bearhawk was simply the high point of my life dealing with the Bearhawk ,a true performance plane, it really startled me how quick it left the ground, and I loved the visibility even better ,its attitude in flight .Being a machinist and designer by trade I was very impress by the fit and finish of your kits, I have seen 3 now in the Salt Lake area ,they are impeccable .I have looked for design errors and cant find any .Its nice to find product and people who do their home work., again thanks, it did wonders to propel me in my own project ..
Sincerely Mike B
Went to copperstate, and yes I did get to ride in and fly a Bearhawk. Jesus is still my hero, but the BH is my all time favorite plane. I dont know all the test pilot lingo, but what I can say is that the BH is the most honest plane I’ve flown. The control pressures are about as good as I could ever want. Very responsive to your inputs yet not aerobatic. If I wanted the controls to be like a Pitts I’d build a Pitts. The takeoff weather was hot, 2/3rds fuel and two guys for probably 340 lbs. Gregg was fairly conservative in the takeoff (good) yet the thing was off like a cub. It didnt get ahead of me. The rudder was just fine, so to those of you out there in Bearhawk land concerned about adverse yaw, well, spend the time building instead of thinking. The rudder pressure was good, and I will use the longer horn instead of the newer shorter one. I fly Cessnas all the time, yet I did not have any problem with the ball. If I had an hour and half doing landings and such from the left seat I would be right at home. It was loud when I took off the headphones, but that is expected since we dont want to add the weight for insulation. I am thinking about using the bubble wrap insulation on mine up front and below the floorboards as I feel that a lot of the noise is from the exhaust, and good fire blanket on the firewall. Getting in is definately aided by steps like Pat has on his. I am pretty sure that when we landed we were tail low and there was a slight skip of the mains. A C-170 would have veered to one side or the other, but the BH stuck to the ground and tracked straight ahead. I paid particular attention as to how much rudder pedal Greg used in taxi, takeoff, and landing. He used very little rudder in ground control. We flew at about 5500 ft 17″, and 2350 rpm , showed 125 mph, and 10.1 GPH/rich. It could have been leaned out considerable. Full tilt we were showing about 150-52. Now to the stalls. They werent! would be the best way to describe them. We did one stall with 2 notches of flaps and a little power. There was a very slight burble, and with the recovery we had gained altitude. I asked Greg to do a full stall with minimal altitude loss in recovery. A little background here first. In a cub if you cant recover in less than 50 feet you arent paying attention. Most other plane as you know need a margin of 500 feet for recovery. the FAA says 1500 agl minimum for these maneuvers. Anyway, Greg pulled the power back, 2 notches of flaps, raised the nose and held it. The very instant it broke he added power and we had gained 50 feet. So the stalls are a non event. You would have to be brain dead to not recognize an impending stall and recover. This is the plane I wish we had in the Border Patrol. I could comfortably loiter in it at 48 to 55 mph. Turn with your feet on the pedals and not on the floor and your golden. As far as the plane itself (a demonstrator) the trim was overhead crank, which I liked. The trim crank has the perfect amount of travel. I like a full crank or two for trimming more than a slight movement of a wheel. I like where Pat put his fuel selector. Easy to reach, and well placarded. Interior room is what I would expect and I did not feel cramped at any time. Oh yeah! the visibility is great. Makes a cessna driver feel like he can see something.
Saturday I was lucky enough to take a Demo flight in the BH. On one hand I was looking forward to the flight, but on the other hand I felt a bit of trepidation. -After committing to the design and purchasing a kit without having flown in one, I was nervous that I might not like the flight characteristics as well as my research had led me to believe that I would. I was particularly concerned about the issue of adverse yaw, which has come up on the list recently. I have only been flying for a few years, I learned to fly in a 152 and than transitioned to my first and current plane, a Stinson 108 (small tail). I have about 150 hrs in the Stinson. Greg took me and another fellow up for a demo flight with about three quarters full fuel. The takeoff was a non event, it was not a short field take off, yet it was pretty quick. Here is my perception of the takeoff: power in, one one-thousand , two one-thousand, tail up, three one-thousand, four one thousand, up, up and away! The tower at Copperstate had their hands full so we did not do a high performance climb, …I think Greg was more interested in getting the hell out of Dodge. I noticed a 1000 fpm climb at 110 mph. indicated. I’m guessing that the Altitude Density was around 3000′. Once we we’re away from the fun created by not all of the landing traffic realizing that the runways had been changed due to the wind, Greg let me have the airplane. The joy stick felt great and I was amazed at how sensitive the pitch was. At first it took a couple of seconds to get used to how light the elevator felt. I realized that even though it seemed lightning fast to change attitude, it held that attitude in a very stable manner. …I decided, I like a plane that does what I want it to without me having to do much work. The ailerons were a touch heavier than the elevator. To me the forces still seemed light enough that I will probably lower my stick height so that my arm will rest on my thigh while I have the grip in hand. It took me about three 90 degree turns to get the feel of the tail behind me. What freaking adverse yaw? -GEESH ! This ship only needs a slight lead in with the rudder and than it holds a coordinated turn a heck of a lot better than my Stinson does. Maybe my Stinson is out of rig? If I had to describe the BH in one word it would be: “Easy”. It just gives you what you want, you don’t have to trick it into doing anything. Greg did two landings, both solid three pointers with a cross wind, both a non event.
For those of you with any doubt about what to do next here is the short of my first ride in the Bearhawk at EAA ’06. Perhaps it will help you close the deal. I flew the Bearhawk. Take off was, as you all have been told or already know, amazing. We had a stiff quartering headwind which, most likely, contributed to our ~100′ take off roll. That being said, the Piper 140 that I saw depart before the first demo still took a good 1000 feet, so it wasn’t all the headwind. We were a flight of three people, all light-weights, but none the less three. None of these numbers are verified, but even if I exaggerate by a lot you are still doing much better than any other 4 place out there that I can think of this second, at least piston powered. Within 60 seconds we were well above pattern altitude, and the one time I did glance over to the VSI the needle was buried at 2000 ft/s. (Maybe it needs a different scale on that instrument.) Visibility over the nose was not as bad as I thought it would, on the ground or in climb. In cruise, it was certainly reasonable. For those who have trouble, put a pad under your butt and you will get to see more, there is a ton of headroom in these planes. We leveled off and the plane very quickly jumped to the 140-160 mph range before I could count to three. First the turns, the coordination of the pilot (me) stunk, but it has been awhile. After a few words from Dave (Demo Dave) I was leading with the rudder and the plane settled in to turns very nicely. The control forces are on the heavier side, but very balanced with respect to up-down vs side-to-side, that is the forces required are very similar in all directions. This is important to me, and in fact was the one complaint I had for the RV-4 I flew a few years back. The turning forces on the RV were way different then the fore-aft forces, and I found it distracting. I say heavier, but certainly not prohibitively; they were very comfortable. Stalls, what can I say, Holy !@#$. What stalls. The first one, power off, pull back pull back, and then Dave says “there it is, you are now in the stall.” What?! When, wait, where was I? We do it again, this time I see it, the attitude dropped an inch or so and then I flew around in the stall. Left, right, with or without rudder, all in complete control. No wing drop, no crazy descents, no worries. If you don’t keep the elevator FULL aft it immediately comes right out of the stall. Next we did the power on. Full power, pull back and back, and wait. You have to wait for awhile, as the 540 just keep pulling you. No you can not see over the nose now, but if you don’t recognize this stall in a departure you have some serious training to d much. Perhaps a few inches, and then it is just as stable as before, and there is almost no sink rate. I did look at the VSI and it was hovering around the zero. So, simply amazing, “but wait there is more.” We go back to the pattern, enter downwind, and the controller comes back “Bearhawk, what is your cruise?” We come back with “150-155 mph, Bearhawk” thinking they want us to accelerate for other traffic. Tower: “Bearhawk, is that a kit?” “yes” “how much” “~$30,000” Silence… Tower: “Are you giving demos all week?” “yup” “I will try and get down to the flight line the next time I see you out here” We are on short final by now. Landing was just fine, and when we were down and clear, we switch to ground. “You folks have a website?” “Yup, bearhawkaircraft.com, and you get the plans from bob barrows.” “great, thanks for your help” mic click. So there you go, the tower operator, decided that just by watching it take off and land, it was worth more inspection. We thought it was great. Anyway, for those who are on the fence, I don’t think there is a comparable plane out there right now.
Date: Sat Aug 6, 2005 6:32 am
Subject: OSH Trip comments #3
Thursday was the day I was really forward to! Bearhawk Aircraft was giving rides to prospective BH buyers in the demo BH. Their way of saying thanks to Del Hinsch and me for helping set up on Sunday, they gave us a ride in the BH! It was totally unexpected and undeserved, but I didn’t say no either! We met at the BH area at 1:30pm and rode with six others to Fon-du-Lac airport for the afternoon. Before we went, we drew numbers to determine the order of who flew when. I was lucky and drew the first ride! A nice guy by the name of Greg (sorry, don’t remember the last name) was the pilot. Apparently, he is very familiar with the BH since he is the one who test-flew proto 1 and currently flies for a living and also instructs. He did a preflight and then we got into the plane and went through the start and run-up. Mark had ANR headsets for the front seats so that was really nice. Even though we were about 15 miles south of OSH, there was plenty of traffic going in and out, so we kept our heads on a swivel and listened close to the radio as we taxied out to the active. The engine ran smooth and Greg put in 20 degrees of flaps for T/O. The takeoff was nothing short of phenominal! We did an intersection takeoff and were easily airborne in a couple hundred feet with full fuel, two people (one of which was weighted down with bratwurst…yum) and a hot, humid day. We were almost at pattern altitude at the end of the runway, climbing at 100mph and 1000fpm with no effort at all. Greg leveled off at 3000ft msl and went to 23 squared and we indicated about 152mph at 11gph! One thing that struck me almost immediately was how flat it was and how many potential landing areas were there! Coming from Alaska, I always keep an eye out for any place that I might get away with if the engine quits, but around there it looked like one big forced landing area. Anyway, Greg slowed it down a bit and let me have the controls. We did some clearing turns and I did some straight and level and some 30 degree banking turns 180deg left and then right. In level flight, Mark’s aircraft had no problem being trimmed hands-off. No joke…it just flew really straight. The turns needed rudder to get started, but was also really solid all the way around. It was a little strange flying from the right seat, but Greg didn’t complain so I must have not scared him TOO bad. It was more sensitive in pitch than the ailerons, but that was exactly like Pat Fagan’s and was just fine. Greg then took the controls and demonstrated slow flight and a stall. All the controls, even the ailerons were responsive throughout the maneuvers. The stall was completely uneventful…just a couple of bumps and it was flying again. We then headed back to the airport to give the others a try. There was a 12kt quartering crosswind from the right-front, but with 20 degrees of flaps, Greg set it down in a three-point attitude and it just stayed there rock solid on the runway. As we taxied back, I don’t know who had the biggest grin, me or those that saw the takeoff! What an amazing airplane… After the rides were done, there was a guy from Canada that had 10 airplanes ranging from a Maule to an Ultimate Biplane. He was thinking of getting rid of the Maule, but wasn’t sure what to replace it with. After a ride in Mark’s BH, he was ready to get rid of the Maule and get a BH! Paul M. In a nutshell, I have never flown an airplane that handles better in crosswinds, that gets up faster and quicker, lands slower and shorter and delivers overall better flight performances ( cruise speed, useful load, endurance etc.) than this airplane. You should have been with me when I landed on an icy Wyoming 7200 Alt. runway with a serious (20-25 MPH) quartering crosswind. John: If your parameters included STOL, Good cruise, big useful load, good looking, great handling characteristics and working with a very knowledgeable bunch of guys, you will be happy with your choice. Welcome aboard. On another note. I flew to Evanston, Wyoming yesterday in temps that were -10 F with windchill well below that. Winds were around 20-30 mph. My oil temps ranged around 145-165 and CHT were all 350-380. Other than the oil temps being a little low the engine was pretty happy. The thing I want to report on however is the cabin temperature. My plane is not what you would call water tight and I have zero insulation. I have one heater 2 inch hole in the middle of the firewall and had the lever pulled half way out. The cabin heat was such that I did not need gloves or a wool hat and was comfortably cool. I did have one passenger on the return and he was comfortable. I did not have the back seat in so I cannot speek to how that might have been. There is no separate heat channeled to the back seat area. I had been worried about this because winter flying in the mountains can get pretty chilly and as such I am very pleased with the initial (pretty good) test. Footnote: Evanston is 7,200′ elevation and the runways was solid ice. Winds were at 200 favoring runway 23 at about 20-30 knots. No problem. Three notches of flaps, I knew brakes brakes would be worthless and the wheels were not going to grab anything. With that big rudder it was easy to keep her straight on the longitudinal axis and she settled on slow and slick as anything I have ever seen. Taxing was a different story. Brakes were of no use in keeping her straight in the crosswind. Use the brakes and all it wanted to do was weathervane. Power and rudder were the only things that would work and was easy to use. At any rate it was a great flying experience, added to my respect in the capability of the BH and makes me like the plane even more if that is possible. Peter S. Don’t worry about your shop. I’m sure it will be done by the time you take delivery. I got the last pieces of the roof done two days before Mike showed up with my kit. You made the right choice with this bird. It has the capability to do everything you can imagine. All you need is a bit of skill to go with it. I got to fly the demo Bearhawk at Arlington this year and when we were done I put down a deposit. That simple.
WOW! I think I’m ruined for all other planes, I want to thank everyone for the ride in the amazing Bearhawk. It couldn’t have taken us more than 200 ft to be off the ground and climbing at a ridiculous angle and rate of climb. I was to be busy looking at the disappearing ground to look at the vsi, but we were headed up in a hurry. Heading out for some maneuvering the view over the nose in cruise was better than any spam can I’ve been in and that’s without a seat cushion under me which I need (at 5′ 8″). The controllability of the plane is great at all speeds but I was really impressed with the handling and authority in slow flight. Stalls were a complete non event, although the power on stall was at a ridiculous angle of attack! It just mushed, and we still had more aileron control than I’ve felt in other planes. The rudder is something I would get used to in a hurry, it’s very powerful, but coordinated flight is not hard at all. Overall the sweetest flying machine I’ve flown so far. The control harmony and authority is very good. And that take-off, I’m still processing the sensory overload from that.
I have flown about 55 hours now with the new engine. I have been having fun learning the systems in the plane, I haven’t been flying any amount over the years and nice to finally be able to get some time in the air and learn everything I forgot from 25 yrs ago. enough of that.. My plane is flying at an empty wt of 1377lbs. The field I live and fly from is 6500 ft and has been running a density altitude of over 8,000 all summer. I have Bob’s IDEAL engine that he pictured a couple years ago that he is calling 170 HP with a McCauley 82 inch CS prop. The take off roll is something less than 300 ft with me alone. Lots of fuel and a second person adds about 75 ft, I let the plane lift from a three point when its ready (something around 40mph) level out and climb at 75-80 mph and usually indicate about 800 fpm.. Remember the altitude. If I cruise wide open I can indicate up to 125mph which will true around 145mph. I like to pull it back to 19-20 inches and 2350-2400 rpms and indicating 115 truing at 135mph. I like to land in a 3 point also. It does great wheel landing but I found it likes a little power to do it smoothly. I like to keep a little power on with 3 notches of flaps and it set in very nice if you dont force it. Approach is between 55-60. My instructor did some landings during my BFR. He has lots of hours in a Pacer he let me fly before starting flying this year, I couldn’t land that thing. The instructor likes to use lots of rudder and brakes on landing and rollout. I have found that a steady pressure and easy corrections work much better in the BH. Once it lands just do what is needed to keep the ground track straight until it gets very slow. I am a low time pilot and have most of my tail dragger time in the BH, I think the controls are very responsive during the landing phase and do what they should. The only time I get excited is if you let things start to get out of hand during the last phase of rollout, my plane will drive you around the runway once you let it go. I seem to have that same problem with any tail dragger I get into so I think the pilot is the biggest problem. The instructor was really overcontrolling the plane, I finally landed the plane for him and it was fine.
Have a great week and happy building. Tom Y 075 (plans builder)
Flying the Bearhawk
After debating whether to waste the time of those already committed to building, I decided to submit this for anyone not completely sure. First, I consider myself a low time pilot. Second, that time is restricted to 172/182 aircraft, widely regarded as the most docile planes you can find. Therefore, my techniques are not even roughly honed. I can herd a plane in the desired direction, and due to being based at Mid Continent, a class C, can maintain heading and altitude close enough to not get grouched at by the controller. But I am very far from being in a class with most of you. All this is leading up to saying that I found the Bearhawk to be very pleasant to fly. Takeoff from 5,500 feet ground altitude, at or above 80 degrees was quick. I can’t tell you how far we rolled before rotation, but it wasn’t a long way. I think I saw 1,600 on the rate of climb. Sensitivity of the overhead trim crank was, I think, overstated. It is positive and not lacking in power, but it felt just right. Power off stalls were a non-event, with minimal altitude loss. Power on, while at a ridiculous angle, were mild. After three consecutive power on stalls, I had to break off the maneuver to avoid climbing into Denver’s class B shelf. When heat turbulence lowered a wing during the stall sequence, I picked it up (wrongly) with aileron. After being told to lead turns with rudder, I found no discernable adverse yaw and didn’t notice that my feet were doing anything. Ok, call me numb butt. And the ball was in the middle of the panel, not in front of me. But I didn’t see the nose wandering around before settling down in a turn, either at speed or during slow flight. Once established in a turn, the plane tracks with no pilot input. I soon found myself resting my forearm on my knee and holding the handgrip with fingertips, just because it was more comfortable than suspending my arm in midair. After entering downwind, control was relinquished to the real pilot, and I must say, this was the first time I saw four whites on the PAPI at three quarters of a mile on final, yet touched down on the numbers. I didn’t pay attention to how much of the flaps were out, was having too much fun to notice. We were not at an uncomfortable nose down angle – everything just felt “right”. Everything! Following through on the controls, I felt the rudder pedals being busy, but he was correcting before I saw the need. Which I interpret as my needing lots of tailwheel training. What I’m trying to say is that if you have any trepidation about handling your plane, quit worrying. Yes, it is capable of some amazing feats. And you want to be better than me before crowding the edges of the envelope. But while building your skills, you can conduct everyday operations with confidence that this plane is not trying to sneak up and bite you. Log a few hours with an expert before pushing things, but never worry that the plane is beyond your capabilities. In case you can’t tell, I LIKE this airplane!! And the plotting is in high gear on how to get one of my own. The only compensation I have received for this endorsement was a free ride in the Bearhawk. And I’m sure that you who have flown it will excuse my babbling. I keep hearing Toby Keith in the back of my mind, singing, “Gotta getcha one, gotta getcha one…”