Bob W: “I have flown my LSA about 115 hours in a bit over a year. During this time I have made it a point to practice short field landings on actual short fields as much as I can. Frankly, the LSA can be landed so short that I would not want flaps on it. It can be hard slipped at minimum airspeed with full control and confidence. This allows for a very steep descent when landing over trees. The slip can even be safely carried into the flare, if I find myself with a little extra speed, as it can be eliminated instantly. I find that I get the shortest landings by touching down tail low ( close to or 3 point) and braking hard while holding the tail up with the elevator. This may sound risky, but it is very easy to control because of the compliant main gear and effective elevator. My airplane has a full panel with electrical system as well as conventional covering and full paint, so it is heavier than Bob’s, and I’m a big guy at 260 lbs. still, it climbs well over 1,000 rpm and will cruise at 112 mph indicated at 75% on my O-200 with 3 blade warp drive prop. That said, I usually cruise at 100 mph indicated on slightly under 4 gph.
While the discussion of flaps for the LSA is an interesting intellectual exercise, I don’t think flaps would add anything useful to the design. It is pretty great as it is. Of course builders can do what they want, but for me, the design is about perfect.”
Mike S: “To set the stage I want to say that I am no expert. I’m a 750 hour tailwheel pilot that started my flying in Ultralight aircraft as well as instructed. The aircraft I have owned and flew are Aeronca champ, Tri-pacer, Husky UL, Mooney, 115hp Citabria, Cessna 170, 180, 210hp Glasstar Sportsman, and most recently owned a 325hp Cessna 185 and 160hp Supercub.
When I flew the Bearhawk LSA all I could say when I got in the air was “Holy F?#@k”. The take off was short, it climbed great and the controls were perfect, all on 105hp. I was comparing it to my 160hp Supercub but I gotta say it makes my cub feel like a piece of shit. OK, I’m being a bit hard on my cub but when I spend the 120k on a Supercub that was built in 1954 and have to go through the certified expense to add VG’s, props and tires, just to have it fly at 90mph it leaves me a little bitter. You would think the Cub would kick the ass off the LSA. I‘m here to tell you it doesn’t. I was a firm believer that if you want to land short you need flaps. I’m here to tell you that also is not true. I need to say, I have never been so impressed with an aircraft on first impression in my life. “
Ivan H: “Over the last few years, I have had the privilege of flying Mark Goldberg’s Bearhawk Patrol to Oshkosh for the annual fly-in, arriving on Sunday afternoon. Once again this year, the plane performed flawlessly, with impressive takeoffs and reasonable cruise speeds. I picked up a passenger in Northern Arkansas and arrived at Oshkosh for a total of 9.2 flying hours from San Antonio. Winds were light for the first leg to AR, then turned into a 10 mph headwind for the second half of the flight. Total distance was about 1175 statute miles.
This year there was a change of plans for the return leg, and I would fly the Bearhawk LSA for the trip back to Texas. A check of the weight and balance (thanks Wayne) showed that with my passenger and 60 lbs. of baggage, we would be operating near the Bob’s specified aft CG limit with a gross weight of approximately 1400 lbs when the tanks were full.. Since the plane is designed for 1500 lbs., all looked good to go. (Fortunately, I was not limited to 1320 lb. since I was operating it as an experimental and not as an LSA.) I was pleasantly surprised at the way the plane handled the aft CG. Having about 2000 hrs. in my RV-4 has taught me that not all planes are fun to fly near the aft CG. The return to Northern AR was made at about 1500 AGL since the temperatures were still cool down low. My passenger was happy to be in the shade for the trip in the roomy back seat of the LSA, so much so that he elected to continue on to South Texas with me the next day instead of his planned ride in another friend’s RV-4 with its bubble canopy. The Texas summer heat was in full swing by afternoon with plenty of bumps down low. So we cruised at 4500′ where it was tolerable. The aft CG situation was more noticeable in the bumpy air, but the plane still behaved well, not having that porpoise feeling.. Overall, the return trip took 10 hours, consuming 5.6 gph with an average 10 mph tailwind. If you can live at 115 mph, the LSA is nice performing airplane. When I finish my current Patrol project, I know now what my next project will be.”
Rollie V: “I think the only big surprise for me was when you let me fly the LSA. I was amazed at how much fun that plane is to fly. I only have a little time in Cubs and I have always thought that if a Cub had 100hp, it would be great, especially if you could change that door so it isn’t so awkward to get in and out of the Cub. Well, forget all that – the Cub will just never be what the Bearhawk LSA is. Super short take offs, great rate of climb, and higher cruise than a J3 could ever hope for. All in a plane that flies great, is easy to get in and out of and even has an adjustable front seat, I guess when they were making Cubs all pilots were the same size or something. If my mission didn’t involve long cross countries and hauling more payload than will fit in any light sport plane, I would be kicking myself for not building the LSA instead and saving a bunch of money on a smaller engine and fixed pitch prop. ”
Bob W. in Alabama: “Before I talked to Bob Barrows, I had thought about what the differences were between my old J 3, homebuilt PA 11, and the Bearhawk LSA that could account for the differences in spin characteristics out of a slip. After all, more things seemed to be similar than different. In a slip, all would have the air flowing diagonally over the wing effectively, it would seem, shortening the wingspan and increasing the chord. The ailerons seemed similar. The only thing that I thought of that was quite different (at least on my planes) was the dihedral, but I could not envision how that might cause the difference, so I called Bob to discuss the matter.
Bob told me that he thinks the primary difference that accounts for the better behavior with the Bearhawk is the airfoil used. Both of the rag wing Pipers use the same airfoil, essentially, which is very different from that of the LSA. I’ll take Bob’s word for this as he is the expert and I know for a fact that the airfoil used on the LSA far outperforms that of the Pipers in other areas such as climb and speed while still allowing impressive slow flight so I’ll just add one more thing to my list of reasons that I think the Bearhawk is not just a great LSA; it is a great airplane, period.”
Collin C. who previously scratch built: “I have 760 hrs in my project to date. All fabric work done, firewall forward complete. Have to hang the wings and final trim on the windshield, plus few minor details…I estimate that I will have a little over 800 hrs when finished. Love the Bearhawk aircraft and working with the kit has been great!”
Rusty H. in Alabama: “After working with Mr. Way for about a year on his QB Bearhawk LSA. I wanted to drop you a line about the project. First I would like to say it was a pleasure working with you and your team of fine craftsmen. The kit construction was excellent with all the difficult parts done to very high standards, it required no jigs and all parts fit as per the plans.
My subsequent flight proved that Bob Barrows designed a great flying aircraft. Performance of the aircraft is great, meeting or beating the advertised numbers. This is a FUN airplane to fly. This aircraft redefines LSA. A large guy cockpit, classic looks and configuration, speed to the edge of LSA limits, great handling plus short takeoff and landing roll. A real airplane and a winner kit.”
Bruce M in California: “Upon unpacking the kit I was pleased to find that the workmanship was excellent,” stated Bruce. He continued, “The wing was fabricated to the extent that I did not have to build a jig; I only had to rig ailerons and rivet the bottom skin. The top skin came finish riveted. The steel fuselage is all welded and ready for installing the interior systems.”
“I chose to cover the fuselage and control surfaces using the Poly-Fiber system. By diligently following the instruction manual, the fabric came out smooth and shiny. I like the lines and general appearance of the airplane.”
“I found a low-time Continental C90 engine that I installed without a generator (to avoid the requirement for a transponder and ADS-B). A small lithium battery drives a lightweight starter. The propeller is composite from Catto Propellers.”
“My first flight went very smoothly. The airplane was off the ground much sooner than I expected. I barely had the throttle full forward. I did a few steep turns and stalls at altitude to get the feel of the airplane. Stalls are docile at 30 mph with no surprises. The airplane glides much farther than I expected, so I had to slip on the approach, again well behaved. The 3-point landing was smooth. I was pleased and very excited about this airplane. I now have a beautiful airplane, along with a few skinned knuckles, some paint-stained clothes, and a big grin.”
Bob W in Alabama: “At 24 inches of MP and about 2,700 RPM I was indicating 116 MPH at 4,500 feet,” stated Bob. He continued, “I think that should be about 75% power. Climb is great and the airplane is very easy to handle for takeoff, maneuvering and landing. I flew for about 45 minutes and explored the slow flight regime in preparation for landing. Handling when slow is benign and very normal. The airplane glides very well, so if you are building one it would be wise to brush up on slips.
“I flew for 2.5 hours on Thursday in slightly windy and gusty conditions and did 12 takeoffs and full stop landings. So far, the takeoffs and landings have come out even, and I hope to keep it that way. While the first flight takeoff was from a 1,000-foot grass strip, all of the landings and other takeoffs have been on a 5,000-foot paved runway. The airplane handles very well and is easy to takeoff and land.”
“For my first flight I used a bit of nose down trim to be sure I did not have to push hard in the climb and that worked out well. Stalls with the engine at idle are a non-event. In fact, I only have enough stick travel to nibble at the stall. I have to add power to get the airplane to stall fully. The airplane has very good low speed manners in my opinion. On the next flight, I will explore the slow speed handling more as I plan to do departure stalls in both directions.”
“I am having no cooling issues, whatsoever. I have an oil cooler and my bottom cowling extends below the firewall a bit to increase the air exit area. That increases drag a bit, I’m sure, but I did not want any issues with cooling. I have a glass panel from MGL Avionics with CHT on all four cylinders, and the temps are moderate and pretty even. Of course the real test will be summer weather but I think that will be OK.”
“I have been continuing to explore the slow end of the flight envelope and I like it. At full power, the climb angle at stall is so steep with wings level that I can’t imagine an accidental stall.”
“I continue to be amazed at how easy this airplane is to land. Most of my 1,000-plus hours in tailwheel aircraft has been in Pipers and Cessnas without any form of gear damping. I find that the gear on this airplane does not have the same tendency to bounce even if the landing is a bit firm. Also, the airplane likes to track straight after touchdown. I have only done full stall landings so far, as I prefer them, but I will try wheel landings next. I’m hopeful that the gear will make those easy, as well.”
“I continue to be impressed with how well the airplane flies and how easy it is to land. I did a couple of wheel landings when the wind was varying between 11 and 13 knots and gusty. The gear did a good job of absorbing my mistakes so I liked that. Frankly, I find wheel landings much easier in aircraft that are heavy, but this one is easier than the Cubs, etc. for me.”