Thursday, November 1, 2007
Aerostar 702: Still The Fastest
Forty years after its introduction, the Aerostar remains the world’s fastest, general aviation piston airplane—period
There’s something almost magical about staring out at your own reflection in the left, polished spinner of an Aerostar, watching it whirl along at 2,300 rpm six feet from your left ear. You can see the long nose stretching out in front of you, the ground zipping past below and the sky arcing away above. It’s one of the most satisfying and immediately identifiable experiences in aviation." />
Several years ago, I was hired to ferry a specially prepared, red and gold Aerostar 700, named “Spirit of Kai Tak,” from Hayden Lake to Biggin Hill, London, to participate in the London-To-Sydney Air Race. Cathay Pacific Airlines Chief Pilot Mike Miller flew the Aerostar on the 16-segment race from Biggin to Sydney and won every leg, averaging a surprising 279 knots for the entire race.
Miller’s flights were nearly all at FL250 with everything to the wall, but even if one engine had failed, the airplane’s single-engine service ceiling is high enough to top virtually any mountain in the lower 48 states. Sea-level rate of climb with one prop caged varies from about 250 to 383 fpm, by the way, depending on weight.
Perhaps because the engines are mounted so close inboard, single-engine handling is excellent. Lose one on takeoff above the 84 knot Vmc, and the airplane will still climb away with a minimum of fuss if you’re doing everything right. Even if you aren’t that proficient, the Aerostar will refuse to bite. Good dog.
If you’re in the market for a 702, you can either find your own 601P/602 and have it converted for $345,000, or Aerostar will build you a factory restored, like-new 702P for about $750,000. “It’s almost impossible to pin down exact prices,” says Christy, “because of the variation between avionics and airplanes.”
When you’re done, you’ll wind up with a guaranteed head-turner on the ramp, arguably one of the best-looking and most individual twins you can buy. It’s also a comfortable, relatively quiet machine capable of carrying a full six-pack of folks nearly 1,000 nm. And did we mention it’s also the world’s fastest, piston-powered, general aviation airplane?
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Labels: Piston Twins