Plane & Pilot
Thursday, April 1, 2004

The New Super Decathlon


American Champion 8KCAB offers some of the best aerobatic talent in the two-seat, sportplane class


decathlonRich, I know you can’t see the ball from the back seat, but if you could, you’d be rolling with laughter,” I said. I was flying Rich Manor’s new Super Decathlon in left-echelon formation 20 feet from our old friend Saratoga SP photo ship, and my lazy feet were out of practice at flying an airplane with considerable adverse yaw. The ball bounced back and forth out of its cage as I maneuvered on the Saratoga, the slip indicator only occasionally stopping in the center. It had been several years since I’d flown a Super Decathlon, and my rusty technique showed. Gotta unlearn those bad habits, I thought. Too many hours in Mooneys/Bonanzas/Malibus/Centurions and other modern designs that forgive poor rudder coordination.
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Factory Comparison: 2003 Super Decathlon
2003 Pitts S2C
2003 Extra 300L
New Price: $113,900$194,900
$243,000
Cruise Speed, 75% (kts.): 127150170
Vs (kts.): 4656
55
Fuel Burn, 75% (gph): 101414
Climb Rate (fpm): 1280
29003200
Service Ceiling (ft.):15,800
21,000
16,000
Takeoff Distance (ft.):495
554
377
Landing Distance (ft.):425750581
Useful Load (lbs.):
460
470
440
Wing Loading (lbs./sq. ft.):
11
13
17
Power Loading (lbs./hp):
10
6
6
Engine Horsepower:
180
260
300
Propeller Type:
CS
CS
CS
Landing Gear Type:
Conv/Fixed
Conv/Fixed
Conv/Fixed
Fuel Capacity (gals.):
39
29
44
Seating Capacity:
2
2
2
    
Sources: Aircraft Bluebook Price Digest, Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft



Perhaps the best news is the price. The American Champion 8KCAB is the least expensive aerobatic trainer on the market by a huge margin. There’s little question the Pitts S2C and Extra 300L are more capable aerobatic airplanes—both compete successfully in the unlimited class—but both models exact a more severe economic penalty. In aerobatic training mode, dual rental rates for both of the latter types typically run at least $250/hour, whereas new Super Decathlons sometimes are available for just over half that. Insurance considerations often constrict flight schools from renting any of these types solo, so that’s not normally a consideration.

There’s no escaping the conclusion that the Super Decathlon is a happy little airplane that probably was designed on a Friday night. It’s an exciting machine, dedicated to the premise that man cannot live on speed alone. With maneuverability only slightly limited by controls and power, the American Champion proves conclusively that there are three dimensions to flying.

For more information, contact American Champion Aircraft at (262) 534-6315 or log on to www.americanchampionaircraft.com.

SPECS: American Champion Super Decathlon 8KCAB N816LL



Labels: Piston Singles

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