Bearhawk Aircraft announced today the FIRST FLIGHTS of TWO Bearhawk LSA aircraft built by customers from Quick-Build kits. Owner/builders Bruce McElhoe of California and Bob Way of Alabama completed, certified and flew their Bearhawk LSAs, the first two completions, in November 2016.
The Bearhawk LSA was designed, built and tested by Bob Barrows, maker of the original Bearhawk 4-Place. Bearhawk Aircraft offers a Quick-Build (QB) kit of the two-place tandem seated Bearhawk LSA. Resembling the Piper Super Cub and other high-wing aircraft used for sport, recreation and utility, the Bearhawk LSA differs slightly with its single-strut-braced all aluminum wings and advanced Riblett 30-613.5 airfoil. The aircraft is a lightweight design that meets Sport Pilot requirements.
“Today [Nov. 11, 2016] I got a call from the very first Bearhawk LSA customer to finish and fly his Quick-Build kit. He was really happy with how it flew. And another one is being FAA inspected next week, and should make its first flight soon after.” These were the words of Mark Goldberg, owner of AviPro Aircraft. If he sounds like a proud papa, that’s because he is. Mark happens to be the maker of Bearhawk QB kits, a lineup of three aircraft designs manufactured to meet the 51% amateur-built rule.
The first customer-built Bearhawk LSA (from a QB kit) flew the week of elections and Veterans Day 2016. Empty weight came in at 821 lbs. Owner Bruce McElhoe of Reedley, California was pleased with how it flew. Bruce had received his kit 3½ years prior.
“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. of Alabama is an experienced pilot. He flew his QB Bearhawk LSA for the first time the week of Thanksgiving 2016. Bob reported that the flight went very well and he was extremely pleased with the handling and performance of the aircraft. Further, all temperatures were normal and performance was as advertised according to Bob. He installed an O200 engine with Ly-Con high compression (9:1) pistons swinging a 3-blade Warp Drive propeller. The aircraft has a full electrical system using B&C components and avionics from MGL.
“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.”
Additional Bearhawk Aircraft LSA aircraft kits have been shipped to South Africa and New Zealand according to AviPro. Bearhawk Aircraft manufactures high quality Quick-Build aircraft kits for the Bearhawk 4-Place, and two-place tandem Bearhawk Patrol and Bearhawk LSA. Designed by engineer Bob Barrows, the Bearhawks have in common excellent performance and superb flying characteristics. Bearhawks are known for their short field capability, higher than expected cruise speeds, and very gentle slow speed manners. For utility and recreational use, customers around the world fly Bearhawk aircraft.