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4 place handling from a newbie perspective

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  • 4 place handling from a newbie perspective

    I told Mark I would share a few of my impressions from flying his 4 place yesterday--primarily for the lurkers and newbies such as myself...

    To start I'm no tailwheel ace, nor test pilot. I have time in a few tail draggers, but I'm not an expert by any means. I'm interested in building/flying a Five to fly my family of 5 in and out of what will soon be our ~1600 ft strip in the front yard. So managed to coordinate with Mark to fly the 4 place and be able to at least say I'd flown the baby brother.

    We met Mark and Ken (demo pilot) and after a little bit of chatting and walking around, hopped right in and got moving. I flew from the right seat, so no throttle or brakes, but certainly enough stick time to get a good introduction to the airplane.

    My first impression after closing the doors was that even the 'small' 4 place had plenty of room in the cabin. I'm a fair size bubba (6'2", 240) and Ken isn't that big, but I expected it to be a tighter fit. The fact that the Five has an additional 2 inches of cabin width is just bonus. Taxiing was honest and straightforward. Calm winds as well so really no surprises. Visibility over the nose was limited, but I felt like the visibility down the side of the nose was excellent.

    Ken did the first two takeoffs. One normal, and one a little more short/STOL-ish. We had the two of us in the front seats, my 10 yr old son in the back and roughly half tanks. I'd guess both takeoffs were 400-500 feet and the second climb was impressive at 70 mph indicated. I didn't look at the VSI but probably in the 1500 fpm neighborhood. Both of Ken's were with flaps up, and I did the 3rd takeoff with 1 notch of flaps and then popped it to the second notch STOL style pretty quick after the tail was up. Not a max effort by any means and complete WAG, but probably a 300-400 ft takeoff roll (maybe less, but I'll let Mark chime in since he could see from the hangar).

    Ken gave me the airplane pretty quick after each of his takeoffs. We actually did all of the airwork after the first takeoff. Climb, cruise and normal turns were straightforward. I did notice that you had to lead with a fair amount of rudder to get the turn going, and then ease out of it as the turn was established. Nothing odd or notable, just my observation of the way this particular airplane flies. Probably most noticeable to me as my current airplane is an RV-6 (roll and pull!). We did some steep turns, slips, and stalls. We only did power off stalls--one clean, one dirty. Both were non events...the airplane just mushed straightforward without even a real break--very smooth and forgiving (of note, Mark has the B model wing on his airplane--don't know if they all act that way). One really pleasant surprise was the roll rate. I flew a Carbon Cub a few months ago, and while fun to utilize, it's not what I would call fun to fly--very ponderous in roll. The Bearhawk on the other hand had a nice crisp feel to the ailerons which gave it a little bit of a sporty feel.

    Back to the pattern, Ken did the first two landings--again, nothing max effort STOL, just normal approach and landing (over our two airplanes which were parked on the north end of the runway). We landed 500-700 feet down on each one and were stopped by, or slightly past, the halfway point each time (2600' grass strip). I did the full stop (albeit with Ken running the throttle) and all I can say is that it was honest and straightforward.

    To sum it up, the airplane just flew nice. Only good surprises (roll rate), and confirmation of what I've read from others--an honest, straightforward family truckster that can take you and your family (or a bunch of stuff) in and out of short unimproved strips--just what I was looking for.

  • #2
    I always love reading Bearhawk flying reviews... Flying vicariously through you!
    Rob Caldwell
    Lake Norman Airpark (14A), North Carolina
    EAA Chapter 309
    Model B Quick Build Kit Serial # 11B-24B / 25B
    YouTube Channel:
    1st Flight May 18, 2021


    • flashf16
      flashf16 commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Rob--I'm looking forward to watching you transition from building videos to flying videos on youtube...while I'm in the shop building!

  • #3
    I recently purchased a beautifully crafted BH 4 Pl from a member, Then I took a weekend to get transition training from Jared Yates (after 10 hours of Citabria time and a new tailwheel endorsement). I highly recommend flying with Jared, he is a polished instructor with incisive comments, and he seems to have great intuition as to knowing when to leave you alone and when to help out to keep you out of trouble. The BH is short coupled with a narrow wheelbase, but to me, seemed more stable than the Citabria.


    • #4
      The thing I recommend to anyone test flying an airplane for getting a handle on it, if you have limited time, is to fly it in the worst configuration. In our case that is aft most CG.

      That also happens to be my most critical point on the bearhawk, but one you need to fly and experience yourself. The bearhawk has tremendous useful load. But to use it, you'll be at that aft CG limit a lot. So be comfortable flying it like that. Neutral stability is not something most people have ever experienced in a certified airplane unless they've loaded it aft of legal.

      If you're comfortable with that, I don't think you can beat this airplane in utility.