It sure looks like a Super Cub. Well, not that much like one, but the Bearhawk Patrol is right smack in the middle of the genre's visual envelope--a high-wing taildragger with a 180-hp O-360 engine turning a fixed-pitch, two-blade propeller--with a few differences. The wing skins are metal with fabric-covered control surfaces, the tail feathers are airfoil contoured, and the flaps have four equal stops from 0 to 40 degrees. The door is different, too. It opens like a car door, not a clam. Oh yeah, and the left window swings up like the right one instead of sliding. The trim lever is different, too. Okay, so maybe the Patrol is not so Cub-like, but just the same, expect to hear the "C" word from a lot of folks on first glance.
Bob Barrows, designer of the fourseat Bearhawk, needed something to fly without taking three empty seats along, so he designed and built the Patrol, which has a reduced-power endurance of nine hours. You may not want to stay aloft that long, but at least you'll always be able to fly to an airport where the avgas is cheapest.
Entry is from the right. Rump on the doorsill, weave your left leg to the left side of the stick--or just one big step if your legs are long enough--hoist yourself onto the seat using the overhead structure, and pull in your right leg. The cockpit is wide--29.5 inches across the shoulders--wide enough that you'll actually have to lean to see almost straight down through the side windows.
Barrows has been accused of being allergic to electricity,and that diagnosis is apparent in the prototype Patrol. No battery, no starter, no radios. Although the cockpit contains everything required for VFR flight, by today's techie standards of LEDs, moving maps, and nav/comm redundancy it seems somewhat barren.
The panel is about 8 inches tall at its high point and contains everything except the throttle (left wall), flap lever (left-side floor), and trim lever (overhead left side just aft of the front seat so both pilots can reach it). The rear seat has a control stick, rudder pedals, and a throttle. Toe brakes operate independently up front.
Everything is within easy reach except the flap handle, which requires a less-than-snug shoulder strap tension to reach the release button on its top when in the flapsup/lever-down position.
A couple of cold pull-throughs on the prop, mags on, and one healthy swing of the blade ignites a cold engine on a warm day. Nudge the throttle to about 1000 rpm to start taxiing on level pavement, then back off to an accommodating 800 rpm for a fast walking speed as you S-turn down the taxiway. You can hoist yourself up a couple of inches for a decent view over the nose, but you won't see the taxiway directly ahead from a normal seated position.
A sprung, steerable tail wheel permits a serpentine path for clearing the taxiway ahead. Naturally, more throttle activity is required on grass, and a brake tap tightens the turn as much as you want. Pedal forces are very low--less than 10 pounds on either surface. There's plenty of excess power for a takeoff with any flap position.
With the flaps up, taking off from pavement with 5 knots of crosswind and a density altitude around 2,300 feet, the tail can be raised less than five seconds after advancing the throttle. A slight nose-high attitude flies the airplane off about five seconds later. That's with two aboard and a full 55-gallon fuel load.
Drop the flaps to 20 degrees for a shorter takeoff. On a grass runway with about the same density altitude, the tail still comes up about five seconds after power-up, but as soon as it's up, you can rotate for a comfortable liftoff with the airspeed indicator showing 45 mph.
The airplane accelerates nicely while climbing even with 20 degrees of flaps. Clean it up, start your turn at a couple of hundred feet, and you'll be at pattern altitude before completing the turn.
The Patrol features plenty of shoulder room--29.5 inches in width--as is evident here.Best rate of climb speed (VY) is 70 mph, but this has the plane in a 15-degree nose-high attitude. The installed non-sensitive altimeter prevented a reasonable climb rate check, but it surely exceeded 1,000 fpm, indicating plenty of climb rate should be available when flying a cruise-climb for an improved forward view.
High power settings make for a lot of noise in the prototype. There's no insulation of any kind, and the straight exhaust pipes and accompanying rattles push the decibels up there.
Level flight at 5,000 feet density altitude shows 130 mph on an indicator that reads 6 to 8 mph fast at cruise speed according to Barrows. The power setting here is 18 inches of manifold pressure and 2400 rpm. If the noise or the fuel flow gets to you, throttle back to 15 inches and 1900 rpm for an observed airspeed just under 120 mph.
The trim lever, which resembles a window crank handle but with a full throw of less than one-half turn, operates in the intuitive sense of forward for nosedown and vice versa. It's sensitive but not difficult to set where you want it. There's a trim tab (36 square inches or so) on each elevator that doubles as a servo tab.
The field of view (FOV) in level flight is what you'd expect from this classic design. Look-down over the nose is about 15 degrees. You can see almost straight down if you press your head against the side windows. Look over your shoulder to see most of both horizontal tails. The roof is clear, providing a good look-up between the wings. This clear overhead can be used to peek into the turn in a 30-degree bank if you lean a little to the outside of the turn. Of course you can always increase the bank angle, which is what you'll want to do in this airplane anyway.
BALLS & SPRINGS
Count on a little left pedal to remain in balanced flight while cruising. Without it, the plane flies one ball left, giving a slow flat turn to the right if the wings are kept level. It doesn't take much, maybe a pound or two of pedal force, and that's not so easy. Applying some force to the other pedal makes the force modulation easier. [Note: Postflight inspection revealed differential rudder spring tensions. Barrows reports balanced flight with replacement springs. He's also changed the rudder gearing to increase rudder pedal forces by 50 percent.]
Don't get too comfy with your feet in that position, because you'll need to use them for turns. The Patrol is what some pilots like to call a rudder airplane. There's adverse yaw--a 2-inch lateral stick displacement swings the nose 5 to 10 degrees the wrong way, so rudder coordination is necessary to keep the adverse yaw in check, and leading a turn with just a smidge of rudder while you're rolling works well.
Pedal forces are low throughout the flight envelope, so a little care is needed to avoid over-controlling the airplane in yaw. After a couple of minutes of practice, reasonably coordinated turns with accurate VFR heading rollouts can be achieved. Stepping on a pedal also rolls the airplane in that direction--an indication of a positive dihedral effect.
A basic airplane needs nothing more than the basic VFR instruments. The center stick and simple rudder pedals say "utility"
Control stick forces are also low. The longitudinal and lateral control systems are tight. There is no force freeplay (slop) or position freeplay (stick moves without resultant airplane motion). It takes only 1 or 2 pounds of stick pull or push to generate a pitch rate, and 2 to 3 pounds of force starts the plane rolling.
There is some friction in the lateral system preventing the stick from returning to exactly where it was before displacement. It comes back to within three-quarters of an inch, and the resulting residual roll rate is around 5 degrees per second in either direction hands-free. Established in roughly a 20-degree bank angle with enough rudder to keep the slip/skid ball centered, the airplane tends to return toward wings level when left wing down and maintain the bank angle when right wing down.
The picture starts to emerge here that there's probably more drag generated by the right wing than the left one in the clean configuration. It seems sufficiently minor that a small rigging adjustment might be the solution. The airplane exhibits positive static stability in pitch. It takes 3 to 4 pounds of stick pull/push to fly 10 mph slower/faster than the speed for which the airplane is trimmed.
It also exhibits positive static maneuvering stability. Count on a 10- to 12-pound pull for a 2g turn. Dynamically, the airplane is also stable. A quick pull or push on the stick causes a quick pitch attitude change without any extra pitch oscillations--a deadbeat short period response.
Rolling the airplane using full lateral stick and coordinating rudder from 30-degree left wing down to 30-degree right wing down generates sufficient roll rate for all cruise maneuvering tasks. Although not measured, the average rate surely exceeds 60 degrees per second. Performing the same test with a left roll results in a left aileron vibration when more than half-stick displacement is used. It feels like the aileron, which has a 25-degree deflection, is stalling. The frequency of the aileron buffet is about 3 per second, and you can see the left aileron's leading edge corroborating the buffet felt in the stick and airframe. At no time does this feel threatening, just roll rate inhibiting. [Note: Aileron deflection has been changed to its proper 20-degree maximum since this evaluation flight, and Barrows reports his new aileron design has resolved the buffet issue.]
The rear seat has a control stick and rudder pedals, but toe brakes are operated from the front.
The roll rate ramps up nicely when the stick is displaced and decays quickly but not abruptly when the roll input is removed. Kicking left pedal then right pedal causes a couple of overshoots before the airplane reorients into the wind. This Dutch roll characteristic exhibits slightly more yaw than roll, and the single residual oscillation takes about two seconds. Idle stalls in the clean configuration seem benign. Increasing backstick force and nose-high pitch attitude are the cues to an approaching stall. The prototype also had a (probably wind-generated) whine that begins about 60 mph--a nice audio cue, but probably limited to the prototype. There is no traditional warning in the form of buffet, but the pull force increases to 10 to 15 pounds, and the pitch attitude reaches about 8 degrees nose-up just prior to the stall. The stall is a gentle pitch break in the 15-degree neighborhood with an occasional right-wing-drop of about 10 degreeswith the ball centered. Neither violent nor disorienting, the stall can be broken with a slight back-stick relaxation with or without power addition.
Turning stalls with idle power occurring in a 30-degree bank angle also have no traditional warning. Stick forces feel the same as the 1g case, but the pitch break is masked somewhat in the turn. The more obvious sign of stall is the airplane's uncommanded slow roll toward wings level regardless of original turn direction. Relax the back stick slightly, and you're flying again.
Lowering the flaps to 10 degrees requires a lean forward to reach the button on the end of the lever that must be depressed whether lowering or raising the flaps. The remaining flap positions can be set without leaning, but the force on the lever is fairly high--probably 40 pounds or more for the 30- and 40-degree notches when set at the recommended speeds of 70 mph and 60 mph, respectively. Flap deflection causes almost no pitching moment change.
Any more than 30 degrees of flap deflection gets more drag than lift. Good for steep approaches, but 30 degrees is the normal pattern setting. Flying level at 60 mph with the flaps at 30 degrees, 1550 rpm at 4,500 feet density altitude, the airplane is more nose-high than when cruising. The look-down over the nose is about 5 degrees here. In this landing configuration, the slip/skid ball shows one-half ball right unless a tiny right pedal force is maintained. There's more adverse yaw under these conditions. Coordination is not difficult, but the pedal forces are so light and the airplane is still so responsive to pedal inputs that a light foot is necessary.
The breakout forces in pitch, roll, and yaw don't change perceptibly from the cruise situation, but the effects of lateral control system friction are more pronounced. The stick centers to within 1.5 inches after a lateral displacement, which is enough for more than 5 degrees per second of hands-free roll rate. Finding the correct stick position does not require any conscious effort; just fly the plane. The control system remains tight in all three axes with no detectable freeplay.
With the slip/skid ball now tending toward the right, it's no surprise that the airplane's spiral characteristics are opposite their cruise flight counterparts. Now the airplane maintains the bank angle in a leftwing- down turn and rolls towards wings level from a right-wing-down condition.
Longitudinal static stability is positive with a 3- to 4-pound pull needed to hold 50 mph and a 2- to3-pound push for 70 mph when trimmed for 60 mph. Operationally, airspeed control around the pattern is much easier with a good airspeed indicator scan than by relying on stick force cues. In turning flight it takes a light 3- pound stick pull for a level 30-degree bank turn. Pitch dynamics appear well behaved throughout the flight envelope. There seems to be plenty of roll rate available for pattern maneuvering, although you can expect to use larger stick displacements.
Fullstick rolls in either direction create smooth rolls with no trace of the aileron buffet experienced at cruise speed.
Rudder deflection is +/- 30 degrees, allowing a lot of sideslip generation. During full-pedal slips, you can expect at least 20 degrees of sideslip and 20 degrees of bank to hold a steady heading. This will take about 5 pounds of back stick and opposite aileron, and even full pedal requires only 25 pounds or so. Performing forward slips on final approach, the airplane feels controllable, and the magnitude of the slip is easy to adjust to suit the drag increase desired. Returning to straight, balanced flight for the round-out, the plane's response is immediate and predictable, and despite the adverse yaw and rudder sensitivity, there does not appear to be any tendency for over-controlling.
Idle stalls in the landing configuration occur with the airplane between 5 and 10 degrees nosehigh during a slow deceleration. Still no traditional warning, although the pitch attitude and a 10-pound stick pull provide cues. The stall is a generally mushy pitch break of 10 to 15 degrees. If you hold the stick back and work the rudder to keep the ball in the center, the wings remain fairly level, but a mild, random wing drop can occur. The airspeed indicator points to zero--it's a lie, but the speed is quite slow.
Approach turn stalls also appear to show the effects of the half-ballright level flight skid. Starting left wing down, the airplane rolls easily toward wings level at the stall, masking the mushy pitch break. Right-wing-down stalls are mushy pitch breaks with no tendency to roll either direction. The pull force just prior to the stall is 10 to 12 pounds.
AROUND THE PATTERN
Airspeed, altitude, and descent rate control around the landing pattern are not difficult, but you'll have to keep an eye on the airspeed indicator to maintain the desired 60 mph on final approach. The FOV from downwind until you're ready to lower the tail onto the runway is good.
The airplane is more of a gliderthan you might expect. Slips work well to correct a high start down final, and there's no airspeed error associated with the slip. Although 60 mph was recommended for final approach, Barrows says he sometimes flies 45 mph. The reason becomes obvious during the round-out as the airplane floats longer than you'd expect as it slowly sheds enough knots to bring the tail down to the 3-point attitude. Low stick forces and prompt airplane responses discourage too tight a grip on the stick. This pitch response sensitivity is not hard to deal with; it's just initially surprising for this type of airplane. There's ample power to fly the airplane away from the ground with any flap setting should you decide to abandon the landing. If you like to carry a touch of power into the flare, don't forget to pull it off, or you'll have a hard time convincing the airplane to stop flying.
With the throttle at idle, the airspeed decay during the flare is just about right to inch your way toward the runway while rotating the airplane toward its 3-point attitude. For most pilots, the landing will probably provide the heaviest stick forces of the flight, but the pull to the landing attitude is still no more than 10 to 12 pounds.
Once all three wheels are rolling, directional control is that of a typical taildragger. The Patrol is a basic airplane, aimed toward its namesake role. At least the prototype seems to be.
You might add an electrical system or sound insulation or stiffen up the control system, but you don't have to. Simple flying with few frills--the way it used to be and the way a lot of pilots still like to do it.