The last time we flew the Bearhawk was about three years ago at Oshkosh - we found the hefty four-place with the IO-540 to be a rugged and well-behaved bush plane with a cavernous baggage area and plenty of power. Today we got the chance to give the "B" model of the aircraft another try, and found the incremental improvement in speed and handling to be a nice touch to an already fine machine.
The most significant change to be found in the "B" is a Riblett airfoil borrowed form the successful two-seat Bearhawk Patrol. The new wing is mated to the existing airframe, and a modified horizontal tail (with an airfoil shape in place of the flat ribs) was added to give more pitch authority. The result is an airplane that still handles well, has plenty of power to climb quickly, and has a top speed improvement estimated to be around 6 mph. We were able to get the airplane going at about 127 KIAS at 3,000' MSL, with above normal temperatures - so it was probably doing about 135 KTAS. The stall is very well behaved, with a single noticeable (but tame) break replacing the previous behavior which could best be described as a damped phugoid with a moderate sink rate.
We'll do a more thorough review of the new Bearhawk in a future issue of Kitplanes.