Piper J3 Cub – Flitfire Texas – For Sale

1939 PIPER J3 CUB FLITFIRE TX • $34,500 • OFFERED FOR SALE • Flies like a Cub… predictable, low-and-slow and fun! J3 C-65 Piper Cub s/n 3150, Continental A65, TTAF 2936, SMOH 693, painted in historic Flitfire Texas scheme, well-maintained & documented, 406 MHz ELT, auxiliary fuel tank, sealed struts, Atlee Dodge safety cables, new bungees 2017, metal and wood propellers, new carburetor, auto gas STC. Aircraft hangared and kept in flying condition by museum organization since 1980s. Alamo Liaison Squadron, San Antonio, TX. Need to make room for other aircraft. Call Gene 210-842-0429 or Richard 210-478-1132 for more info. • Contact Mike Taylor, –  located San Antonio, TX United States • Telephone: 210-624-2226 • Posted on Barnstormers.com February 27, 2020 • For more information visit als-cannonfield.com or download the Trade-a-Plane flyer.

Texas Flitfire – Vintage Piper J3 Cub

Texas Flitfire - Alamo Liaison Squadron

The Alamo Liaison Squadron in San Antonio, Texas, restored this 1939 J-3 Cub to resemble the “Flitfire” aircraft produced by Piper Aircraft. The aircraft resides at the squadron’s museum and is one among a collection of World War II L-birds the organization maintains in flying condition. (Photo by Paul Bigelow). General Aviation News, February 6, 2020, Leading Image, page 4. Read the full edition here.

Bearhawk Aircraft Announces First Deliveries of New Bearhawk Companion Kits

AUSTIN, TEXAS, JANUARY 24, 2020 – Bearhawk Aircraft announced today the first two Bearhawk Companion kits have arrived at their respective customer’s hangars. The new Bearhawk Companion is a side-by-side two-place aircraft. Introduced in August 2019, the Companion is STOL capable, cruises at 130–150 MPH, and carries from 950 to 1,150 lb. of payload.

Joining the Bearhawk lineup, the Companion complements other Bearhawk aircraft ranging in size from 1,320 lb. (LSA) to 2,500 lb. gross weight with two or four seats. All models enjoy significant payload capability and durable construction. Designed by Bob Barrows, Bearhawk aircraft feature aluminum wings completely flush riveted, a super strong steel tube fuselage, and fast cruise speeds with excellent slow speed manners.

Greg Charest took delivery of the first Bearhawk Companion kit this month. In selecting the Bearhawk Companion, Charest desired an aircraft with proven strength and a wide performance envelope. His dilemma was deciding between the Bearhawk 4-Place and Bearhawk Patrol, then the Companion was introduced.

Bearhawk Companion Kit Delivery

Read the story in Flying magazine.

Read the story in General Aviation News.

A Brilliant Glass Panel Experimental Huey

The archetypal Huey UH-1 utility helicopter is not what one would think of normally as an experimental aircraft. First of all, it’s got a well-earned reputation for dependability. If it were indeed an experiment, there would be some degree of dissolution in its 65-year tenure. Second, the Huey is a marvel of wonder among aircraft, in particular with fixed-wing pilots and amateur physicists who remain convinced that helicopters aren’t supposed to fly.

Huey UH-1 over water.
The iconic Huey UH-1 Iroquois over water.

The Huey is iconic. Its image is one synonymous with aircraft of the Vietnam, and Southeast Asia, conflict era. Despite the Huey’s demonstrable pedigree, the FAA regards many of today’s UH-1s as experimental, or amateur-built, aircraft. Bell Helicopter, a renowned manufacturer of type certificated civilian and military rotorcraft, created the UH-1 beginning in 1954. Surprisingly, the FAA registry shows an equal number of UH-1 examples under both “Amateur” and “Type Certificated” headings.

“The only category the FAA has for something like this is experimental exhibition, which is the category that all of the aircraft they don’t know what else to do with go to. It’s the land of weird aircraft,” said Andrew LaFollette, Chief Pilot with Mission Essential and G Force Air, owner of the formerly German registered UH-1 D / 71+46.

UH-1 D German Registered 71+46
UH-1 D helicopter as German-registered 71+46.

“Under experimental exhibition rules, an owner is not allowed to make money with their aircraft, plus there are often other limitations on operations,” continued LaFollette. Respective of these rules, G Force Air’s UH-1 has appeared on static display at public events. The Huey has also been used with local law enforcement in training roles and frequently gives rides to veterans.

“What’s remarkable about the Huey is that in bringing them back to life one brings back to life other people’s stories in them. It is truly an amazing machine that almost everyone I talk with, when out flying, has been affected by in one way or another. It’s no wonder they’re still around and will still be around for the foreseeable future,” LaFollette added.

Huey Glass Panel Modification

Gardner-Lowe Aviation Services is a comprehensive maintenance, service and avionics installation shop based in the Atlanta area. As a long-established outfit with a glowing reputation, Gardner-Lowe sees a variety of aircraft move in and out of its hangars. The Huey was already something of a standout when it arrived at Gardner-Lowe, no matter whom you talk with. The project UH-1 D flew in under its own power, albeit with a panel full of German-made avionics and instruments. When it left, N8379R was sporting a complement of glass panel displays from Garmin, a pedestal-mounted iPad electronic flight bag, and an indispensable array of USB power and 6-Pin LEMO headset ports throughout the cabin.

Huey glass panel.
UH-1 Huey panel with a complement of glass displays from Garmin.

Matthew Platt of Gardner-Lowe Aviation Services, located at Middle Georgia Regional Airport (KMCN) in Macon, Georgia, provided a rundown of the Huey’s newly installed equipment:

  • Garmin G3X Touch System with Dual GDU 460 10.6” Displays (replacing the mechanical 6-pack cluster: Airspeed Indicator, Attitude Indicator Gyro, Altimeter, Radar Altitude Indicator, Heading Indicator, VSI)
  • Dual Garmin G5 Flight Instruments, providing backup EFIS Attitude Indication and DG/HSI Display
  • Garmin GTN 650 GPS/NAV/COM/MFD Touchscreen with WAAS in the pedestal
  • Garmin GMA 350H Digital Helicopter Audio Panel in the pedestal
  • Garmin GTX 45R Remote-mounted Mode S ES dual-link ADS-B “In” and “Out” Transponder
  • Garmin GTR 20 Remote-mounted Comm
  • Garmin GRA 55 Radar Altimeter with corresponding GI 205 Radar Altimeter Indicator on the pilot (right) side of the panel
  • Mid-Continent MD93 Digital Clock with Dual USB Charging Ports on the main panel
  • Bose LEMO Headset Jacks, 10 places throughout the cabin
  • Stratus Power USB Charger Dual Ports, 4 places
  • iPad Air/iPad Pro 9.7″ AirGizmos Panel Dock in the pedestal
  • Engine Vibration Detector/Analyzer (an original “ALARM” instrument, standard on the German UH-1) on the pilot (right) side of the panel
  • Instrument panel and center pedestal were fabricated in full carbon fiber.

A former Huey pilot, Jeff Huntoon, having seen the new panel commented, “Except for the curve of the dashboard, there’s little in common with that panel versus the old Army UH-1H that I flew.” Huntoon has logged roughly 3,000 hours in rotary wing aircraft. However, his most recent time is in the cockpit of a 747 for a major cargo airline, an aircraft that more closely resembles the windscreen view of this modernized Huey.

Boeing 747 Cargolux cockpit.
Cockpit view of a Cargolux Boeing 747.

Based in Germany, Huntoon offered some insight on the country’s history with the UH-1, “The Americans used the UH-1 Huey as a general-purpose Utility Helicopter—UH, as its name implies—for which medical support was one mission. The Germans did the same, however, here the Huey had a much more involved role as a nation with EMS support. They are recognizable to the German citizenry as fire, police or ambulance service,” in army green with orange doors and an “SAR” (search and rescue) inscription. Replacements were painted red and white with “NOTARZT” (emergency doctor) lettering on the tail.

Huntoon continued, “More recently, civil EMS commercial operators fill that role, typically in yellow painted Eurocopters known as the Gelber Engel (yellow angel).” At sea, the German Navy is just now taking delivery of the first Airbus NH90 Sea Lion naval multi-role helicopter. But the Huey’s long operational history worldwide is a testament to the American-designed UH-1’s strength and stability.

Huey, the German Expat

The German manufactured, U.S. transplanted Huey is now N-registered and owned by G Force Air LLC, an organization based at KCMH in Columbus, Ohio. G Force also operates a Super King Air 300, Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain, Mooney M20K, American Champion Scout 8GCBC, and a ViperJet. The UH-1 is in good company following a long and distinguished military run. Its “experimental” distinction, though, is shared by only the lattermost mentioned of its current stablemates.

UH-1 D U.S. Registered N8379R
German-built UH-1 D Huey flying as U.S. Registered N8379R.

While the U.S. registration for N8379R shows it as a 1970-year model, LaFollette believes 71+46 was built in 1968. The German company Dornier, under license from Bell Helicopter, built a total of 352 UH-1s. They were identified as UH-1 D, but they were not the same as the U.S. built UH-1D models. The “D” in the German manufactured units stood for Deutsche/Dornier. In fact, the German built UH-1 D helicopters more closely resemble the U.S. manufactured UH-1H models.

“I like to say that the Germans took all of the faults of the UH-1H and fixed them,” said LaFollette. He continued, “These include solid CNC machined aluminum floor panels in place of fiberglass composite floors that have a tendency to not hold up to helicopter vibrations. The tail spar is also different, so the AD/SB [Airworthiness Directive 99-25-12 / Service Bulletin SW-18-29R1] that has come out on many of the U.S. Hueys is not applicable to the German birds. Also, all of the German birds have composite main rotors. The benefit includes a 10,000-hour service life versus 2,400 hours for the metal blade Hueys.”

The UH-1H was essentially the Bell Model 205 with a 1,400 shp Lycoming T53-L-13 engine. Its pitot tube was relocated from the nose to the roof of the cockpit to prevent damage. All the rotable parts (blades, heads, gearboxes, etc.) of the German UH-1 D are OEM Bell parts.

“We purchased this helicopter from a company in California [Rice Aircraft Services] who was importing them to be updated and sold to foreign militaries, and to be put right back to work. They had bought a number of them and decided to try selling a few in the U.S. market. After a lot of negotiations, we struck a deal and [c/n] 8206 was put back together,” said LaFollette.

The Huey had been shipped from Germany in a container. Following reassembly, LaFollette revealed, “It was test flown and that was it. We elected to have it painted in its current colors—gray camo, tiger stripe pattern. The light grey is used on current Marine Hueys.” The U.S. Marine Corps operates the UH-1Y Venom, a twin-engine version, also called Super Huey and Yankee. It is the Marine Corps’ standard utility helicopter and was still in full-rate production in 2018.

UH-1Y Huey helicopter of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit
UH-1Y Huey helicopter of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Ferry Flight from California to Ohio

LaFollette recounted the first U.S. cross country flight of N8379R and its subsequent panel upgrade: “The cockpit, minus the German military equipment, consisted of steam gauges and a single VHF comm with barely a transponder. We picked it up in California and flew it back to Columbus, Ohio, in June of 2018. What a trip that was. Four days and 25 hours later it’s on the ramp at its new home. I equate that experience to riding across the U.S. on a Harley, one that should be experienced by all. Navigating across the U.S. with basically an iPad, it quickly became obvious that to keep operating in today’s modern airspace, we needed an avionics upgrade.”

Finding the right fit for an avionics retrofit was the next step. “I interviewed a tremendous number of avionics shops,” said LaFollette, “and Matt at Gardner avionics was the only one that generally seemed excited and brought his own ideas to the table. We dropped it off with them in January (28th) 2019, and rolled it out the door just in time for Sun-n-Fun on April 4th. The owner elected to equip the helicopter with the latest and greatest, and we decided to remove the old wiring and systems that were no longer being used.”

Tracing Huey’s Past

What is known about this particular helicopter’s past service is limited, but 71+46 did have a role with the German Air Force, or Luftwaffe—literally translated as “air weapon.” In congruence with Huntoon’s remarks, other UH-1 D examples are still used today by the German Air Force serving a SAR role. These “Dornier” UH-1s all flew with a cross insignia—the Bundeswehr Kreuz—on their tail displaying their ship number. LaFollette noted, “The UH-1 Ds are slowly being retired and once they are parked for good they are auctioned off and sold to the highest bidder.”

Bundeswehr Kreuz, a cross insignia of the unified armed forces of Germany.
Bundeswehr Kreuz, a cross insignia of the unified armed forces of Germany, with German registration number 71+46.

Records show 71+46 was registered in Germany and stationed at Nörvenich Air Base (ETNN) in November 1991. Nörvenich has historically been home to the German Tactical Air Force Wing 31, or Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 31. Photos of the helicopter with the markings “KFOR” suggest it had a role with the Kosovo Force, a NATO-led international peacekeeping command founded in June 1999, in the autonomous region of Southeastern Europe. The Huey was later located in Schwechat, Austria, at Vienna International Airport (LOWW) in May 2008. Here it still bore the German flag, KFOR and 71+46 markings. The Huey arrived at Rice Aircraft Services in Olivehurst, California, in 2018.

Dornier UH-1 D with Kosovo Force markings (KFOR).
Dornier UH-1 D with Kosovo Force markings (KFOR).

About the UH-1 Huey Helicopter

Developed by Texas-based Bell Helicopter to meet a United States Army’s 1952 requirement for medical evacuation and utility use, the UH-1 was produced from 1956–1987. Though commonly known as the “Huey,” a nickname derived from its original, later-transposed designation HU-1, the helicopter was also identified as the Iroquois—a name borrowed from the North American Indian tribe founded by the “Great Peacemaker.” The Huey’s entangled role as both utility/military workhorse and peacemaker resonates appropriately, despite the obvious paradox.

The Huey was the first turbine helicopter produced for the U.S. military. It is powered by a single turboshaft engine with two-blade main and tail rotors. Recognizable for the sound it makes when flying, the two-bladed design gives the Huey its characteristic “thump,” particularly evident during descent and bank maneuvers. More than 16,000 Hueys were built and many continue to operate worldwide today.

UH-1 Variants

Model number UH-1A was assigned to the first 100 production models. Follow-on UH-1B models were equipped with a more powerful engine and a longer cabin. The UH-1C addressed aerodynamic deficiencies of the armed UH-1B units and further upped engine power. Following another stretch of the cabin, the UH-1D emerged along with a multi-fuel capable engine.

In the civilian market, these aircraft were designated Bell 204 and 205. Approximately 4,000 A through D models were built, most being upgraded, armed or otherwise modified at some point in their operational life. Some were later converted to the UH-1H standard, and most-produced version, starting in 1966. The UH-1H’s dual controls consist of a single hydraulic system boosting the cyclic stick, collective lever, and anti-torque pedals.

UH-1 War Service

The UH-1 first saw service in combat operations during the Vietnam War, with around 7,000 helicopters deployed. Primary missions included general support, air assault, cargo transport, aeromedical evacuation, search and rescue, electronic warfare, and ground attack. During the conflict, the Huey was upgraded, notably to a larger version based on the Model 205. This version was initially designated the UH-1D and flew operationally from 1963.

Army UH-1

Designed as a troop carrier, the UH-1D replaced the piston-powered Sikorsky CH-34 Choctaw, an anti-submarine aircraft originally intended for the Navy, in service with the U.S. Army. The UH-1D  seated two pilots and additionally up to 13 passengers or crew in its cabin.

UH-1s tasked with ground attack or armed escort were outfitted with rocket launchers, grenade launchers, and machine guns. They were also modified locally by the military outfits themselves, who fabricated their own mounting systems. These gunship UH-1s were commonly referred to as “Frogs” or “Hogs” if they carried rockets, and “Cobras” or simply “Guns” if they had guns. UH-1s tasked and configured for troop transport were often called “Slicks” due to their absence of weapons pods. Slicks did have door gunners, but were generally employed in the troop transport and medevac roles.

Marine UH-1

Already in service with the Army, the U.S. Marine Corps selected the UH-1B as an assault support helicopter. Later modified, it became the UH-1E and replaced Cessna O-1 (L-19 Bird Dog) fixed-wing aircraft used for liaison and observation, and Kaman OH-43D helicopters of German design origins.

Navy UH-1

The U.S. Navy acquired UH-1B/C helicopters from the Army, and these aircraft were modified into gunships with special gun mounts and radar altimeters. They were known as “Seawolves” with the Navy and served in river patrol operations.

Air Force UH-1

The U.S. Air Force added later UH-1F and UH-1P models to its inventory. The Air Force also used the UH-1N for support of intercontinental ballistic missile sites, including transport of security personnel and distinguished visitors. As recently as September 2018, the Boeing/Leonardo MH-139 (an AgustaWestland AW139 variant), won a competition to replace the UH-1Ns.

Retrofitted, German-built Huey during training exercises.
Retrofitted, German-built Huey during contemporary U.S. training exercises.

D” is for Dornier

Dornier Flugzeugwerke, the now defunct German aircraft manufacturer, under license by Bell built the slightly customized UH-1 D helicopter from 1967 to 1981 for the Bundeswehr (German military). Original plans were to deliver a total of 406. These constructions saw service with the German Army and German Air Force in light utility roles and in SAR operations. Other variants of the UH-1 were built under contract in Italy, Japan and Taiwan.

The UH-1 D’s engines were produced by Motoren- und Turbinen-Union GmbH (Motor and Turbine Union, a German company), now MTU Aero Engines of Munich. The 85-year-old company was originally founded as BMW Flugmotorenbau GmbH (Flight engines construction). Today, MTU is a global provider of commercial and military engine and maintenance services, and a partner to industry leaders GE, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce.

The Dornier UH-1 D has a spacious cabin with seating up to 15, or six stretchers and a medic. It can be loaded quickly through its large sliding doors and has a high carrying capacity. Also capable of performing an attack role, the German Army, or Deutsches Heer, however, used the UH-1 D almost exclusively for transport purposes. Considered among the safest of aircraft, it was used by Germany’s Federal President, Chancellor, and other government Ministers and Members.

Utility Helicopter Workload Reduction

LaFollette elaborated on why the Huey panel retrofit, “The term situational awareness gets thrown around a lot, but I think that nails exactly what we were going after. With the G3X and the ability to display traffic, weather and airspace via one quick touch, this greatly reduces the pilot workload. Especially when operating a helicopter, all of your body parts are being used mostly all of the time. Things that get taken for granted like changing comms or typing in a frequency are no big deal in an airplane, at certain times in a helicopter can be a very big deal. We went from a single comm that used rotary style switching to two digital smart comms with standby frequencies that, just about know what frequency you want and loads it in for you. The synthetic vision is a huge help. With Garmin’s helicopter obstacle database, it has more detailed terrain and a large amount of power lines that are overlaid on the screen.

UH-1 D Huey with Garmin G3X System.
UH-1 D Huey panel retrofit with Garmin G3X System.

“We typically fly with two pilots, however, now that the panel has been completed, single pilot operations are a breeze. When we did the panel mod we were able to lay out the engine gauges in the order that we wanted and moved the really important instruments right in front of the pilot’s view. Another example is our starting clock. In the old cockpit, we had to wind it up to make the second hand start moving, then push a button to activate it for our 40-second start limit. Now we use a Mid-Continent clock/timer/USB charger and it’s a very easy one button start.”

Retiring After 60 Years of Service

As early as 1967, the UH-1B/C Huey was being replaced by the Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter. Huey gunships were rendered impractical by the increasing intensity and sophistication of anti-aircraft defenses. In 1979, the U.S. Army relegated the UH-1 primarily to support Army Aviation training and Army National Guard units at the introduction of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. The UH-1 was ultimately retired from the Army in 2016.

Devotees of the UH-1 in a gunship role extol its ability to act as an impromptu “Dustoff”—a call sign for emergency patient evacuation of casualties from a combat zone. The Huey is also commended for its superior observational capabilities, notably its large cabin, which allowed return fire from door gunner positions. During the 1972 Easter Offensive by North Vietnam, UH-1s equipped with TOW launchers (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided anti-tank missiles) were given the nickname “Hawk’s Claw.”

Why We Do This

Nearly half of the 7,000-plus UH-1s flown in Vietnam were destroyed. The troops’ toll was 2,177 lost in their operations. Today, the Huey and its operators are memorialized in museums and collections around the world, for example Wings & Rotors Air Museum in Murrieta, California.

Wings and Rotors Air Museum UH-1
Wings and Rotors Air Museum UH-1 Huey helicopter.

A recent aviation magazine article (Sport Aviation, September 2019) profiled Huey pilot/owner Jimmy Graham. His restored and updated UH-1H is used to honor veterans. In doing so, he “unites” with those who flew them. The EAA Young Eagles co-chairman and pro football player said he flies the Huey with pride, “carrying a piece of history and moving it forward.”

For G Force Air and the UH-1 D crew, the sentiment is similar. Whether flying veterans, police trainees, or enthusiasts alike, the Huey makes a lasting impression. Extricating the helicopter from its storied past and giving it a new life means others can feel that sense of pride. Keeping it flying takes commitment, and the costs are significant. Despite the obstacles, a flying museum is a place where stories can be shared, passions kindled, and ideas nurtured, making the efforts, valiant, nostalgic or plume, immeasurable for all involved.

Today, state-of-the-art in helicopter experimentation and design can be found in the Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter, “Whiskey” rendition. The “W” iteration was one of but a few letters not used in the evolution of the UH-1. Nevertheless, the Huey’s legacy is unmistakably part of the new HH-60W. Providing an unprecedented combination of range and survivability, the Whiskey strives to be the most sophisticated rotorcraft the world has known. In retrospect, this is precisely what the Huey proved to be throughout the latter half of the 20th century. A vintage Huey with a modern glass panel cockpit offers a brilliant reflection on just how advanced helicopter design has come.

Retrofitted, German-built Huey in hover.
The retrofitted and U.S. registered, German-built Huey in hover.

UH-1 D 71+46/N8379R Specifications:

  • Manufacturer: Dornier (Bell)
  • Model: UH-1 D (Iroquois, model 205)
  • Construction Number: 8206
  • Aircraft Type: Rotorcraft
  • Number of Seats: 14
  • Number of Engines: 1
  • Engine Type: Turbo-shaft
  • Engine Manufacturer and Model: Lycoming T53-L-11
  • Engine Output: 1,400 SHP
  • Cruise Speed: 205 kph / 125 mph
  • Range: 500 km / 310 miles
  • Gross Weight: 4,315 kg / 9,512 lb
  • Carrying Capacity: 3,880 lb
  • Empty Weight: 5,215 lb
  • Main Rotor Diameter: 48 ft
Huey
– Huey –

Read this article in Avionics News magazine – January 2020, feature article on pp 28-34.

Read this article in Helicopter Maintenance magazine – February/March 2020, cover story beginning on pg 8.

71+42 instrument panel
Instrument panel of UH-1 D 71+42 at Berlin Gatow, November 2019. This was the standard cockpit configuration of the German-manufactured Huey, including 71+46.

Better Design, Better Solutions

A lot of people in [any] industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have. – Steve Jobs

Knowledge vs. Experience
Knowledge vs. Experience. Better design and better solutions result when one can connect the dots with a broader perspective on the problem. Connect with Connect Communications for experience in solving your marketing communications problems.

Bearhawk Aircraft Announces New Bearhawk Companion With Side-by-Side Seating

AUSTIN, TEXAS, AUGUST 26, 2019 – Bearhawk Aircraft announced today a new model in its lineup of Bearhawk aircraft kits, the Bearhawk Companion. Expected to ship in October, the Bearhawk Companion is a side-by-side seating two-place aircraft with utility category strength at full gross weight.

The new model complements other Bearhawk aircraft ranging in size from 1320 lb (LSA) to 2500 lb gross weight with two or four seats and significant payload capability. The lineup of Bearhawk aircraft shares many common traits, most notably the durability of their construction. Designed by Bob Barrows, Bearhawk aircraft are renown for their strength, performance and safety. All Bearhawks feature aluminum wings completely flush riveted with driven rivets (not pop rivets), super strong steel tube fuselages for safety, and fast cruise speeds while retaining excellent slow speed manners.

Mark Goldberg, owner of Bearhawk Aircraft kit manufacturing, stated after AirVenture Oshkosh 2019, “We have for some time now heard from many buyers that desire a side-by-side, two-place aircraft with all the great features of the Bearhawk designs.” While the idea was not new to the Bearhawk community of builders, its time had come. The Bearhawk Companion is based on the Patrol’s wings with a fuselage derived from the 4-Place. The result will be a very rugged two-place utility plane with a large area for cargo and superb load carrying ability. Without the need to haul significant weight far aft, like on the Bearhawk 4-Place, the two-place Companion will handle and perform much like the Patrol, however, it will be sportier than the “SUV/pickup” styled Bearhawk 4-Place.

The possibility of offering this model had been discussed before, then a firm order and deposit from Greg C. of Massachusetts put the plan in motion. Greg asserted, “I wanted the proven strength and wide performance envelope of a Bearhawk. But, like many others, was torn between the 4-Place and Patrol. Since most of my flying is local, or medium distance cross-country with a single passenger, the new Companion is a perfect fit.”

The Bearhawk Companion will appeal to backcountry and cross-country flyers alike. Side-by-side seating is preferred by some for its two-passenger configuration with both occupants having a broad view through the windshield. The arrangement also allows full access and an unobstructed view to the instrument panel. This can be advantageous for pilot training, flights into instrument conditions, and for “pinch hitter” pilots who may be called upon to take over the aircraft controls.

The Bearhawk Companion can be powered by the lower cost and readily available Lycoming 4-cylinder engines including the 320/360/370/375 variants and IO-390 providing 150–210 hp. A large cargo area will occupy the cabin behind the seats. The new two-place Companion offers 2200 lb gross weight, an increase of 200 lb over the tandem Patrol. The Bearhawk Companion will be capable of carrying 225 lb of cargo in the baggage area (likely to be increased after flight testing).

The Bearhawk is a Go Anywhere aircraft that performs a variety of flying activities. The 4-Place Bearhawk fills a utility and transport role extremely well with its large cabin. The Bearhawk Patrol is a tandem two-place version that excels at accessing remote airstrips. The Bearhawk LSA is a lightweight design that meets U.S. Sport Pilot requirements. The NEW Bearhawk Companion is a side-by-side 2-place model with superior strength and payload capability. Each aircraft shares backcountry qualities that include stable slow flight and higher than expected cruise speeds. Bearhawk Aircraft manufactures high quality quick-build kits for the Bearhawk 4-Place, Bearhawk Patrol, Bearhawk LSA, and now the Bearhawk Companion.

For more information on Bearhawk Aircraft, visit www.bearhawkaircraft.com, or contact Bearhawk at info@bearhawkaircraft.com or 1-877-528-4776.

– Bearhawk –

ADS-B Users Gather Round, As The Means They Are a-Changing

Weather + Position + Attitude… Keeping it all in check with ADS-B.

SkyVision Xtreme Portable, in its Xth and final iteration, was a convenient, hard-shell black briefcase of spy grade avionics that could receive and display aviation traffic and weather. More than that, SkyVision Xtreme Portable was the first demonstrable product in a complicated scheme to force general aviation’s adoption of ADS-B. Released in 2013, though conceived in 2010, the portable device offered ADS-B In & Out with little or no burden of installation.

SkyVision Xtreme Portable
SkyVision Xtreme Portable ADS-B In & Out System.

By FAA mandate, aircraft operators are now (by January 1, 2020) obligated to equip with ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast). Essentially, ADS-B is an upgrade to the commonplace transponder, or “squawk” box, that it now circumvents. SkyVision’s portable gave sleuthy first adopters a means to participate in the scheme.

The SkyVision Xtreme Portable concept was simple: Allow pilots to bring their weather and traffic system to the airplane with them; and it worked. Others quickly followed with compact portable devices offering a subset of capabilities. NavWorx offered WxBox, a hot selling weather-only unit, and PADS-B, an “In & Out” device that included traffic and position reporting. Appareo released its Stratus line, while Garmin introduced its GDL receivers. Everyone suddenly wanted “In.”

NavWorx WxBox
WxBox ADS-B weather receiver from NavWorx.
NavWorx PADS-B
PADS-B from NavWorx, full ADS-B In & Out with a portable device.

A common refrain among pilots fortunate enough to fly with traffic warning systems is that they suddenly feel vulnerable in aircraft without them.

Dave Hirschman, AOPA Pilot, April 2013

SkyVision Xtreme Portable was revolutionary, taking full advantage of what ADS-B had to offer. First, it was a step up from old-school radar traffic devices. Satellite-derived ADS-B sees traffic all the way to the ground when radar cannot. The Xtreme system also included graphical weather display, GPS derived position information, and an attitude heading reference system. Most importantly, the Xtreme Portable provided full ADS-B In & Out capability, the latter a requirement of the FAA mandate. SkyVision Xtreme arrived well in advance of the pending FAA 2020 deadline, appealing to early adopters and stoking developers.

Inside the SkyVision Xtreme Portable was an ADS-B universal access transceiver (UAT) from NavWorx. The briefcase was a self-contained, complete system and its only physical connection was a 12/24-Volt power plug. An internal battery supplied backup power. A pair of antennas tethered to the unit. On an iPad, or other tablet device, the data was displayed, transmitted via Wi-Fi. As aircraft came into view—before they could be seen through the windscreen—each was shown with distance, relative height, heading, speed, climb/descent trend, aircraft type, and call sign (if available). The device was smart and advanced. It set a standard others would follow.

SkyVision Xtreme on iPad
SkyVision Xtreme traffic and weather displayed on an iPad.

How rapidly development occurs. Nearly every existing avionics manufacturer, and a surge of newcomers, produced, bought or sought compatible products with the new ADS-B standard. The rush was on. With both open source content and competitive mettle at work, ADS-B adoption was indeed a contest. Big investment, from heavyweights like Garmin, aimed to head the standard. An indulgent FAA selectively conspired. Programmers and electronics entrepreneurs concocted ideas and seized opportunities. The community of aviators welcomed a supply of creative new products.

Nearing the end of 2019, the innovation continues. There’s Stratus 3, the nexus of the SkyVision concept, several years into its product life cycle. It comes from marketeers of aircraft transponders, electronic flight bags, and an array of other technology innovations. Simple to use, portable, free benefits (such as weather, traffic, GPS navigation), works on almost any device, and compatible with all the top apps, Stratus is now a commodity for ADS-B In, priced at around $700.

There’s also FlightBox, a palm-sized cuboid sprouting two antennas with, “All the features of the Stratus 2S at one-fourth the price,” according to the company. It’s an open source artifact of ADS-B development. With electronics available off-the-shelf, its users are emphatically embracing it. In the spirit of SkyVision and NavWorx affordability, FlightBox represents a culmination of ADS-B In development, setting one back a mere $239.

There’s even a DIY option with Stratux, an open source software adaptation of ADS-B development that can be used with widely available component parts. For example, one can get a 3D printed enclosure, add the electronics, and drive it with Stratux. The software is free, and public forums actively support it. Stratux is a bridge from the world of experimental aircraft to commercial ADS-B development.

A commodity in situ, culmination at play, and more bridges still ahead, ADS-B technology will continue to advance. We are seeing a glimpse of this at uAvionix, a company that integrates ADS-B into wingtip nav lights/strobes and tail beacons. These ultracompact and simple to install turnkey solutions are just the beginning.

uAvionix offers another pair of affordable and compact ADS-B solutions, one for the US—echoUAT—and one for the UK—SkyEcho. The echoUAT is a dual-link 1090 MHz / UAT device. An integrated Wi-Fi system talks to portable displays. A old-fashioned wire links it to common EFIS systems. A stealthy transcoder picks up Mode C signals. SkyEcho, by comparison, does all of the above framed in plastic roughly the size of a Tic Tac box. Both give the user everything presently available with ADS-B, not the least of which are compliance with national regulations and universal connectivity to popular avionics devices.

echoUAT and SkyEcho with display
echoUAT and SkyEcho with display.

SkyBeacon and tailBeacon, the aforementioned wing and tail light solutions from uAvionix, have a street price of around $1,800. They are “Out” only, hence there’s no need for a display, and require a conventional transponder. A typical ADS-B capable transponder runs $3,000 (there’s a net assumption that your current transponder is worth $1,200). By contrast, the latest touchscreen navigator from Garmin costs five G and comes with lots of extras; to add ADS-B is an additional $2,700. In this analogy, it makes good economic sense to ADS-B equip with uAvionix. But, the means they are a-changing.

Today, uAvionix is on the innovative edge of the general aviation industry, and it’s about time someone stepped up. There are few who challenge convention and succeed. Boxed avionics which occupy every bit of instrument panel real estate are not the future. Integration and applications will transform avionics, much like they did with the telephone. In its latest move, uAvionix purchased AeroVonics, makers of the smartly simple AV-20S Multi-Function Display (MFD) and AV-30 Primary Flight Display (PFD) products. Both bring low cost and ease of installation to GA. For now they are stand-alone products, but they will shape the future for electronics, data and display integration including ADS-B and future situational awareness technologies.

So what’s next? Single ADS-B microchips will integrate all now standard functions. These chips will be embedded in the aircraft; one might say implanted under its skin. GPS, ADS-B and all its forms will get “smart,” interrogating and resolving issues, often before pilots are even aware of the anomaly. Aircraft surveillance, under ADS-B or its global equivalent, will persist for the sake of safety. The advantages of free weather and traffic will be suppositional while the voyager-pilot beleaguers other tasks. Though for now, we can just fly a bit more secure in knowing that we are less distant from disaster in the event of nearby peril.

Note: The legacy SkyVision Xtreme is still available today with Skyvision Xtreme Moving Map Software employing the Stratux receiver and an 8-inch tablet display.

This article was published in InFlightUSA magazine, November 2019.