The carbon-composite SkyLeader UL-39 Albi two-seater, ultralight concept presented in 2017 was not seen in 2019. However, other aircraft were on display from its manufacturer Zall Jihlavan Airplanes of the Czech Republic.
The JH Aircraft Corsair is a replica of the legendary Vought F4U Corsair American fighter aircraft certified to LTF-L German civil airworthiness requirements and U.S. American FAR part 103 regulations. It returned in 2019 and is available in a ready-to-fly aircraft as well as kit form.
Marketed as “a fighter jet design in a luxurious form,” the desert camo plumed TL Ultralight Stream was seen again in 2019 suspended in its hangar/hall at Messe.
The Stampe SV4-RS from Ultralight Concept in Belgium is a light-sport full scale replica of the 1930s Stampe-Vertongen SV4b. It returned in 2019 and is available ready-to-fly at under €100,000.
While two examples of the T-131 PA Jungmann were present at Aero 2017, Air Res did not show in 2019. The T-131 is a stunning replica of the Bücker 131 offered by the flight school and maintenance operation of Air Res Aviation of Poland.
The ChemTools T-28 Trojan seen in 2017 was scrubbed and the company branded Extra EA-330LT was on exhibit in its place in 2019.
The Tomark Viper SD4 is an all-metal two-seater microlight/LSA aeroplane seen again at Aero 2019. The company is pitching the SD4 as a Primary Air Force trainer.
Blackshape, though neither vintage nor warbird, presented two exciting aircraft including the full carbon fiber framed high performance two-seater Prime alongside Gabriél. The latter, powered by Lycoming, was pitched as an airline trainer. According to Blackshape, “both aircraft have been inspired by cutting edge approaches in military training syllabuses.”
Again, a newly manufactured Junkers F13 was present, this time on the aircraft’s 100th anniversary. It was the second in a contemporary minting of the Junkers F13 being built from original drawings. The F13 was developed in Germany at the end of World War I and first flew in 1919. Like other manufacturers of civil aircraft immediately after World War I, Junkers was faced with competition from the very large numbers of surplus warplanes and the F13 was the company’s answer.
A newcomer to Aero 2019 was the Bücker 133 Jungmeister, an advanced trainer of the Luftwaffe in the 1930s. This one is named for Liesel Bach, a German aerobatic pilot and flight instructor, and the first woman to fly over Mount Everest.
Inside the Dornier museum at Bodensee Airport one can learn about the Do-27. TQ Avionics, based in Germany, is well aware of the importance of this classic high-wing taildragger. Built for military use in a light utility role, it’s a heavy hauler, and compared to similar STOL-capable it’s a standout, which correspondingly reflects the diverse capabilities of TQ Avionics’ parent company, TQ Group. The company has recently purchased a Do-27, and while it will based in the U.S. one can expect to see it in many places including North American fly-ins and cameoing in international press.
In 1919, ground trials began for the Siemens-Schuckert R.VIII bomber. In 2017, Siemens brought the Magnus eFusion aircraft to Aero. The eFusion fully electric design was unfortunately lost in a test flight accident in June 2018. But at Aero 2019, the Magnus returned.
Trig Avionics displayed a pair of Pitts S-1D Specials at Aero 2017. These aircraft have since been retired and their pilots have ventured into an organization called Ultimate Warbird Flights offering experiences in a variety of warbirds including Supermarine Spitfire, TF-51D Mustang, ME109 (Hispano Buchón) Hawker Fury, Hawker Hurricane Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, and North American T-28 Trojan.
A newcomer to Aero 2019 was the ScaleWings Mustang. The company’s SW-51 Mustang replicates the historic North American P-51 Mustang in ultralight and experimental kit versions. It is produced in Poland and Germany.
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.
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 renown 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.
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.
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.
Platt of Gardner-Lowe Aviation Services, located at Middle Georgia Regional
Airport (KMCN) in Macon, Georgia, provided a rundown of the Huey’s newly
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)
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
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.
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 any fire police or ambulance,” 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
“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
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 powerlines that are overlaid on the screen.
“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
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.
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.
Aero 2019 was held again at Messe Friedrichshafen on the northern banks of Lake Constance in central Europe. The exhibition delivers a consistently pleasing balance of trade fair, camaraderie, progress, esprit de corps, solidarity, and fine cuisine. It lacks the enormity, nay listless spectators and petulant weather, of comparable shows in the U.S.; and that’s just fine with the vendors and punters it’s intended to draw.
Europeans categorically think of General Aviation (GA) as those aircraft not used in scheduled or chartered air traffic, essentially characterizing them as “sport” aircraft with the occasional appendage of “utility.” Much of what might be characterized as purpose-built aircraft in the U.S. are simply folded into sport aviation in Europe, and this is particularly evident at Aero. Style is pervasive, flair dominates, and a strong sense of nationalism and personality distinguish one European offering from another.
AERO Friedrichshafen is “Europe’s largest exhibition for general aviation, and with regard to innovations and premieres, it’s the industry’s foremost exhibition in the world,” said Messe Friedrichshafen CEO, Klaus Wellmann. He speaks the truth with respect to sheer numbers of aircraft at an indoor exhibition, and in particular 1- to 2-place aircraft. The show makes its mark with a dose of European flair, for example, the TL 3000 Sirius by TL Ultralight and the VL-3 Evolution JMB Aircraft greeted visitors with beauty and style.
Aero offers more.
While the most crowded areas at Aero, namely the corridors connecting Halls A3 through A6, were designated for general aviation services, equipment, engines, pilot supplies, and avionics (including Garmin, which is gaining a foothold in Europe) there were many other interesting areas to browse.
Twelve large hangar halls at Messe Friedrichshafen are complemented by an outdoor static display area populated by pre-owned aircraft for sale, a small collection of military and historic aircraft, and the Europa-Park Zeppelin on the adjacent airfield. German military technology was on display at Aero. Inside were search-and-rescue and law enforcement helicopters. Outdoors was a German Luftwaffe Tornado.
Eastern and Western Europe differ ideologically according to Christoph Becker, editor of FliegerRevue magazine, speaking specifically with regards to a fascination for aviation. The East is rife with engineering, design, development and has a long manufacturing history in this industry. For non-German speakers, I was told, the aircraft featured in FliegerRevue provide “aviation eye-candy.”
Junkers Flugzeugwerke from Dübendorf is one of the Swiss aircraft makers represented at the Aero. The company is currently building a second replica of the six-seater Junkers F13, an all-metal transport plane originally constructed in 1919. A recently completed F13 is flying under the Rimowa moniker. The company hopes to produce at least five units of this classic design from original blueprints.
Sustainable and e-flight (electronic flight) continue to be nascent technologies in the aviation world. However, a newly vinted and unusual-looking aircraft featured at AERO was the “flying wing” made by Horten Aircraft from Eisenach, Germany. Another notable design presented at Aero was the vertical take-off and landing e-flyer AutoflightX which, figuratively speaking, plans to elevate transport.
Two sides of the Altantic
North American and European aviators maintain a strong bond. This is evidenced by nearly every vendor at Aero. They are well aware that their market is not limited to one continent. Airplus of Germany, which markets unique products for aircraft performance and customization, is responding to overwhelming demand for installation of ADS-B equipment in the U.S. by providing this capability on business aircraft flown to Europe.
A number of exhibitors at Aero 2019 admitted to being travel-worn, having just arrived from a week in Florida at the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in. Back-to-back shows this year put a strain on personnel. Curiously, though perhaps favorably, the two shows will occur at the same time in 2020 making it imperative that duties be divided, rather than sweeping. Aero Friedrichshafen 2020 will be held April 1–4.
AUSTIN, TEXAS, FEBRUARY 12, 2019 – Bearhawk Aircraft announced today a customer-built, and flown, Bearhawk 4-Place aircraft took top honors in the premier New Zealand STOL competition. Jonathan Battson, in his Bearhawk NJB, outperformed all entrants with a combined score of 229 feet (74.1 meters), landing plus takeoff.
Battson’s Bearhawk competed in the Heavy Touring Category (greater than 2,550 lb.) at the 2019 STOL competition. The event’s official title is the “Healthy Bastards Bush Pilot Championships” and is held annually at Omaka Airfield, Blenheim, in New Zealand across the Cook Straight from Wellington. This seventh annual competition, run by the Marlborough Aero Club, was held on Saturday, February 2nd.
Battson built his Bearhawk from a quick-build kit in 2013. It is powered by a 260-horsepower Lycoming IO-540 with a Hartzell Trailblazer propeller. The Bearhawk won this year’s competition by about a 43-foot margin. “This is our fourth season at the contest, and we’ve worked hard to get the best out of the pilot and plane,” said Battson. The trophy has been in his field of vision for some time. In 2014, Battson took 3rd place at Omaka. STOL modifications to NJB include 31-inch Alaskan Bushwheels, vortex generators by Stolspeed, and Hoerner wingtips.
Worldwide, similar STOL (Short TakeOff and Landing) competitions pit specialized aircraft head-to-head. STOL aircraft are designed uniquely for backcountry flying where landing on unimproved strips, and in often difficult conditions, requires short takeoff and landing capabilities. Pilot skill also plays a major role in operating these aircraft in such environments.
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.
For more information on Bearhawk Aircraft, visit www.bearhawkaircraft.com, or contact Bearhawk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-528-4776.
It was at AirVenture 2017 when discussions about an engine swap on a Jabiru-powered Legend Cub took place between myself, Darin Hart, owner of American Legend Aircraft Company, and aircraft builder/owner/operator Rand Siegfried. One year later, I followed up with Rand about “Mickey’s Cub,” nicknamed Ziggy, and its 180-horsepower Titan installation. His reply: “Fantastic! Runs wonderfully, performs amazingly. Only thing wrong is that she is still in Illinois. We have been moving and didn’t have a hangar out here. Planning on some backcountry work next season, stay tuned!”
Rand built the Legend Cub at the company’s facilities in Sulphur Springs, Texas back in 2008 with his daughter McKinley. They took part in the factory’s KwikBild program. While a gift for “Mickey’s” 16th birthday, Ziggy has been flown by many members of the Siegfried flying family.
I was curious of the whereabouts of Ziggy and suggested a new photo shoot with its plumped-up engine cowling. The Titan engine is a derivative of the Lycoming O-360. Its four flat-set cylinders deliver an additional 60 horsepower over the formerly installed, and narrower, 6-cylinder Jabiru block.
Rand provided an incisive synopsis of the engine swap effort: “At Oshkosh a while ago, Darin told me that I’d love the performance of the Titan in a Legend, ‘It is spectacular,’ he said. Our Jabiru powered kit-built Legend, Ziggy, was ready for a change, so I called to ask if we could buy a full firewall forward kit. The answer was something like this: ‘Well we don’t really have a kit, but we could probably make up some parts for you, but you’d be doing a lot.’
“During a subsequent call he was obviously thinking as he went along. Legend had never mated their Titan cowling to the Jabiru boot cowl and firewall, so although he didn’t see any reason it wouldn’t fit, there may be some mating issues and building to do as the boot cowl and firewall are a different shape. He then thought about the elevator, more specifically that they have always had a balanced Super Cub style horizontal stabilizer mounted with the Titan and cautioned there might be some issues there. We agreed that since Ziggy is Experimental and as long as I was aware, the evaluation flights should be fine. If there was an issue, I could do something then.”
Mindful that the Siegfrieds had been more than pleased with their amateur-built Legend Cub for many years, the need for speed, in a metaphorical sense, was but one of the reasons a change was necessary. A Cub’s wing will only go so fast, but the excess power of the Titan is stunning on takeoffs and climb to altitude. The gentle nature of the Cub and its balanced flying surfaces provide pleasantly slow approaches and landings.
Rand continued in detail on the project, “A complicating factor for me was that the aircraft was located in Oshkosh, I live in California and we needed a new engine prior to Ziggy flying. We dismissed dismantling her and trucking as she has a beautiful Legend paint job and no matter how careful, there always seems to be some damage doing this. My dad, Old Bob, mentioned that they used to pull the prop off of Cubs, attach a tow hook and tow them with another Cub. This sounded like a grand adventure with my family especially as we are all glider rated and have worked as tow pilots. I also found an Oshkosh hangar that was available to work in and, being that I have been involved with the EAA on a volunteer basis for over 20 years, I know a lot of local folks who volunteered to support the effort with tools, etc. Practicality won out and we decided to do the swap in Oshkosh.
“First we had to gather the material from Legend and other vendors. The guys at Legend put together most of what we needed for a firewall forward install. At that time, the Titan was a new installation for Legend. They were still improving something with each new install and Ziggy had the Jabiru firewall/boot cowl to complicate the effort. It worked out that I could swing by Sulphur Springs to pick up the ‘kit.’ There, I was able to review and photograph some existing installations and, more importantly, talk to the folks who were developing the installation. This proved to be well worth any additional expense as I am sure that it shaved a bunch of time off the install.
“The kit consisted of an engine mount, untrimmed carbon cowling pieces, an exhaust system, hardware, control cables, etc. and some roughed out aluminum for the baffling and plenum. I purchased the Titan engine and Cato propeller separately as Legend could not get any better price.”
As I’ve mentioned, the Siegfrieds are a family of flyers, and adventurers. Their presence at AirVenture Oshkosh is a longstanding annual event and a reunion. In 2018, while attempting to track down Rand for more on the story, he was sailing to Nuku Hiva in the middle of the Pacific with his son. Then, back in the U.S., I caught him trailering to Wyoming for hiking and, later, making multiple flights to Wisconsin in preparation for the Oshkosh family gathering.
Rand filled in with more details from a year prior, “Once we got to Oshkosh with the Legend package it was time to strip Ziggy of everything firewall forward. By the end of the day we were bolting on the engine mount. It felt good to be moving forward with the new engine. My brother, Bob, had recently retired and was able to take the time to be up there and help. It would have taken much longer without him.
“We spent some time trying the get the engine in just the right place with an engine hoist and, in the end, we were glad it weighs only 250 pounds as we were able to lift it into the final position. Here is where patience really helps as you don’t want to force anything, but at times you have to push pretty hard. I was glad to have Bob helping as he never pushed to get it done, and rushing may have led to tweaking something wrong. Once the engine was in final position, then came positioning and mounting the cowl.
“Here is where we get to put the ‘experimental’ into the amateur built category as this engine cowling had never been mated with this firewall and boot cowling. A trip to Harbor Freight (one of many) yielded a multitude of clamps. The carbon-fiber cowl has the nose bowl molded in and is split top and bottom with two large side doors, a la Super Cub. I drilled and mounted the top and bottom half together and started laying it on the engine. It felt good to see it looking like an airplane, but daunting as I had to get it straight to have it look right in the end. I started with the prop shaft and centered the nose bowl on and behind the propeller flange. Clamping temporary bars on to the engine/flange helped to keep the nose bowl in place.
“Next came fitting the aft edge to the existing boot cowl, again with clamps and temporary stand-offs. I spent plenty of time measuring closely and then taking several steps back to review how it looked visually and making small adjustments. When I thought it was right, I took a coffee break and bothered some of the EAA mechanics with questions about their projects. When I returned, I did the same process all over again. Once I was satisfied I grabbed my roll of painter’s tape and applied it edge to edge and then cut along the edge of the tape. This proved to be a fast and easy way to get a straight edge where I wanted it.
“Next came the mounting. After making up four small brackets, I clamped them onto the cowling and marked where they landed on the firewall. Soon we had the cowling mounted and were ready to position the doors. I clamped them on and used the tape to lay out the first edge where the hinge would go on the top. After making that cut and mounting the hinge, the rest of the trimming went well. The only trick left was to position the quarter-turn fasteners along the bottom. I was able to mount the receptacles where I wanted them, close the door and use a pick to transfer the position to the door. None of this was hard, but I took my time so that it came out looking right.
“My brother was busy researching the electrical system differences and, especially, what would be required to support the new Light Speed Engineering electronic ignition. I did pull him away many times to take a look at the cowl fit. There was a good bit of rewiring required to support the change from the Jabiru electrical system to the more conventional system used with the Titan. The installation of the electronic ignition system was well documented, but there were a number of new components to find places for and some choices to be made to minimize any potential single-point failure modes. A few calls to Light Speed quickly addressed the questions that we had. I am very glad that Bob was there to work through this as he was better suited to it than I.
“The ignition power and control boxes were all to be mounted in the cockpit area, along with additional circuit breakers, switches and indicator lights. Bob was able to do all that while I continued in the engine compartment without us getting in each other’s way. Between the ignition and engine installs, daily shipments were arriving from McMaster-Carr, Aircraft Spruce and other suppliers.
“The engine baffles were the next project I tackled. There were several flat pieces that were blanked out from Legend that I spent some time piecing onto the engine to figure out where they fit. The Legend guys really wanted me to truck Ziggy to their factory as they told me they would have raw pieces, not a kit and no documentation. It was a fun part of the project, kind of like a puzzle made much easier by the photos I took of aircraft at Legend. Soon I had the blanks figured out, and rough dimensions of what aluminum I would need to complete the project.
“Luckily I had access to brakes, a shear and even a roller for the cylinder baffles. Once started, the work went surprisingly fast. I was able to squeeze all of the rivets by thinking through the sequence of setting them and having access to a very deep squeezer. What slowed me down were the parts I had to design for the front of the cowl which directed air from the cowl openings into the plenum. This required figuring out how to support the pieces and many trial fits. I had to remove the cowl to get everything in and out, so it was not fast. In the end, I think I got a pretty good fit and the silicon baffle material has laid down well without getting ‘punched through’ by the air pressure in flight.
“With the cowl fitted and the baffles in place it seemed like we would be flying in no time. As it turned out, we still had all those little things like fuel lines, control cables, oil cooler, engine monitoring probes, electrical, and ignition to finish. All of this took a good bit of head scratching as everything was different than the Jabiru. Bob was busy wiring on the new ignition when my other brother, Rick, headed up for some EAA Warbird meetings and had some free time. We put him on the job of mounting the ignition power units in the cabin.
“During this time the EAA’s Ford Trimotor crew was doing their training in Oshkosh. Since we had beer, they all came over after meetings and had a look. We were deep into routing the throttle cable which was not obvious (made more so with Jabiru battery placement, etc.). As you might imagine, there were many opinions on how to do this, some emphatic suggestions, and finally the one and only correct conclusion, marked on the firewall with a sharpie. I listened intently, absorbed the knowledge, and in the morning did just what I was going to do before this hops-fueled design session. It was great fun, and all had good ideas and experience to learn from. As it turned out, I ended up rerouting the cable later after seeing a later Legend install at Oshkosh. The ‘turns’ in the cable are now in the engine compartment instead of the cabin which is much cleaner, and something none of us suggested that evening.
“The FAA approval was straight forward. I very carefully read my operations specifications and, after the third reading, I realized that a major change required me to submit an updated ops spec to the FAA. With that completed, we were ready to move on.
“By plugging away at one system hook-up at a time these many tasks were soon done, and it was time to fire up the engine. We couldn’t believe how quickly she made great airplane sounds with that hot spark from the Light Speed ignition. We had decided not to install a priming system and that has proved to be a good call with this ignition, as she starts immediately.
“After ground runs and checks, it was time to fly. Boy the acceleration with 180 horses and the Cato prop was really something else followed by amazing climb. The weight and balance ended up about 100 pounds heavier and at the forward limit. I mounted a tool kit in the tail and have small brakes to keep the nose off the ground. The fuel flows at full power seemed less than what you would expect out of 180-hp, which led to higher cylinder temps than we wanted at high power settings. Darin at Legend finally figured out that the engine from Titan was spec’d with a size smaller carburetor than needed. After the carb swap, the installation has worked excellently.”
While an engine swap may be one of the most complex of all aircraft upgrade projects, it’s more common than one might think. The classic Cub is commonly recognized by its emphatically harmonious sounding Continental engine. Alternatives were tried, including Franklin, Lycoming and a 3-cylinder radial Lenape. The Legend Cub has traditionally sported a 100-hp Continental and it’s been fitted with 115-hp Lycomings, 120-hp Jabiru, and now the 180-hp Titan engines. Bigger is better seems to be the operative.
Rand summarized his delight with the changeover, “Ziggy, with the small, J3-size tail and large engine flies just fine. She is controllable throughout. Although I do feel I’d like a little more nose up control authority, I have flown other aircraft with less. I would like some more up trim and intend to change the incidence of the elevator when she is back in California.
“After flying her 30+ hours with some cross country all I can say is that Ziggy is great fun again. I flew from Illinois to Rogers, Arkansas and then on to Alpine, Wyoming. During that trip it seems I was getting at least 10 mph more true airspeed on the same fuel compared to the Jabiru. Having a mixture control sure helps, as does the Cato prop. Next spring I’ll bring her back to California and do the final finish work and paint on the cowl so she is pretty again.
“As I think back to the install, I feel it went very well. One thing I might do differently is figure out how to route the mixture control to the left side. Since the Jabiru did not have one, we had to install one. The most straight forward installation was on the right side of the panel. I find myself hitting it with my feet as I swing my legs into the cockpit (60-year-old legs don’t bend the same as they used to).
“My takeaways are those which working on aircraft keep reminding you. Take the time at the beginning to really think things through. It helps speed the project up. Having my brother Bob there to do the electrical install was invaluable. It is good to recruit help to fill in where your skills are weaker. In conclusion, this was a fun project that ended up taking two trips, each a bit more than a week of long days. Not being at home, we were able to spend full time on the project with few distractions. There were times when I missed some tools we have at home, but the support from the folks at Oshkosh was fantastic. Now I can’t wait to fly this beast, the performance is spectacular.”
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