Bearhawk Aircraft has reported two first flights of Bearhawk Model B aircraft in Idaho and California. The Bearhawk Model B is a 4-place aircraft designed by engineer Bob Barrows. Also, aircraft kits of the Bearhawk Model 5, a 6-place design announced last May, have shipped.
The first four customers of the Model 5 have received their kits and construction is underway. All Bearhawk aircraft models employ superior strength and durability in their construction. Designed to fly fast and land slow, Bearhawk aircraft are renown for their short field capabilities, gentle slow speed manners, and hauling capacity.
The Idaho-based Bearhawk Model B was completed in under one year by Brent Huddleston, a short timeframe considering he's a first-time aircraft builder. Brent says his new Bearhawk has more performance than his previous O-470-powered Cessna 182Q. He had never flown a taildragger, but this did not deter him from comparing the Bearhawk to others in his search for a kit. In the end, according to Brent, “The Bearhawk was the fastest, had the best specs, big doors, and, by comparison, the 182 was too small for even my dog.”
Brent installed an IO-540 engine, “ported and polished to 9.5:1 compression,” on his Bearhawk. With the big 300-hp engine, Brent and his instructor say it's very responsive, not light, and yet not heavy on the controls. Brent has his own landing strip and already appreciates the difference in climb attitude, noting that the 182 points up in climb, while the Bearhawk is still gaining speed at 1200 fpm and 3/4-throttle but “feels level.” He claims speeds of 155 mph TAS, and says he's getting many compliments on workmanship, paint and finish.
A second Model B builder, Tim Newsome of California, flew his Bearhawk for the first time last month. The Bearhawk Model B is a “refinement” of the original 4-place Bearhawk by Bob Barrows. Enhancements to the Model B include a longer, speedier and more stable Riblett 30-413.5 airfoil, and weight-saving aluminum fuselage formers, window sills, and door sills in place of steel. Airfoil shaped empennage surfaces improve stability, control authority, and speed. The 4-place Bearhawk is long-established as best-in-class for its speed, STOL capability, and large payload carrying capacity.
Four Bearhawk Model 5 kits have arrived in the hands of their respective builders. Virgil Irwin took delivery of one in Oklahoma, albeit, the aircraft is ultimately destined for West Africa. “The kit has been fantastic so far,” says Virgil. He plans to have it flying by October, and meanwhile will be finishing up his A&P certificate. The Bearhawk is Virgil's first complete build, adding, “I will have a couple of guys helping off and on.” The instrument panel will be IFR-capable and built around the Garmin G3X. Once in Africa, the aircraft will be based on a dirt runway. Virgil states there is no actual IFR in the country, however, "Niger weather in the Sahara desert requires special VFR due to dirt in the air.”
The West African destination is tied to the missionary work the aircraft will service. Hence, Virgil expects to obtain permission to operate off-airport. He noted that Niger has no general aviation and only six such aircraft are based in the country now. Thus, no avgas is available. While it can be special ordered, at an exorbitant $22/gal., the Bearhawk will need to run on auto gas. Per its mission, the aircraft will be operating heavy all the time and Virgil needed, “a big aircraft that hauls a lot.” The Bearhawk Model 5 fit the criteria. It will employ a Lycoming IO-540 engine with 8.7:1 compression and EFII (Electronic Fuel Injection and Ignition).
A second Model 5 kit was recently delivered to a customer in the Houston area. Ryan Barker of Livingston, Texas, is a commercial pilot. After flying the Bearhawk 4-place and 6-place models, Ryan determined the Model 5 is the best all around plane for him and his family on their grass strip. Ryan is another first-time builder and expects to work solo on the build, enlisting help when needed. He looked at other aircraft, including certified models, for his family of five. “I wanted a family truckster,” he stated. “The demo flight really validated my choice. The engine will be an angle-valve IO-540.”
Two additional Bearhawk Model 5 builders have begun construction in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Jackson, New Hampshire. The aircraft's design was in response to a customer's call for more cabin and more payload. It's the only 6-seat purpose-built kit aircraft on the market, and the first in the lineup of Bearhawk aircraft to use a 300-horsepower engine. The Model 5's fuselage is slightly wider by two inches, and longer by 14, than the original 4-Place Bearhawk. The Model 5 has considerably more interior room than Cessna's load-carrying 185 Skywagon. Gross weight is 3,000 lb, with utility category strength at full gross. Cruise speeds of 160 mph combine with exceptional takeoff and landing performance on the Model 5.
Bearhawk aircraft are available in kit or plan form. Models range from 2-, 4- and 6-place configurations. All Bearhawk aircraft excel at accessing remote airstrips and are renown for their rugged construction and large cargo areas. Avipro / Bearhawk Aircraft manufactures high quality Quick Build kits for the Bearhawk 4-place Model B, Bearhawk Patrol, Bearhawk Companion, and Bearhawk LSA, and new Bearhawk Model 5.
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