Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Rocky Mountain High: The Aviat Husky
With a new Garmin G600 panel, Aviat re-creates the Husky backcountry classic with modern comforts and capabilities
Hold the brakes, full throttle and all three notches of the 60% span semi-Fowler flaps. I held the stick back as we started to roll, and Anderson told me to keep away from the snow banks. I tap-danced on the rudder pedals—mud flying—and bounced down what now looked like a narrow chute. In a few seconds, I could feel the Husky wanting to fly, and it came up like an eager puppy trying to please its owner. This was fun!
At Afton, I made a “standard” Husky landing: One notch of flaps abeam the numbers and slow to 70 mph (the airspeed indicator is marked in mph). Another notch on base, then slow to 60 mph on final, adding the last notch. Anderson had me trim full nose-up as we approached the numbers, and had me add a smidge of power. I did so and put the Husky down so softly that a feather bed would have felt hard by comparison. (Little did I know that my ego-gratifying greaser would come back to haunt me later.) Anderson seemed satisfied I wouldn’t wreck his airplane, so we said our goodbyes, knowing tomorrow I’d launch for California.
Back at the motel, my lack of sleep faded into excitement about the flight ahead. After a huge $4 breakfast, Robert Stewart and I met Horn at the factory on a deserted Saturday morning so he could open the hangar and pull out our ride home through the Tetons.
The Husky can carry a lot of stuff. We loaded four large duffle bags, camera gear, heavy jackets and flight gear into the baggage area behind the rear seat, as well as into the aluminum-lined aft stowage compartment, where Horn showed us how long items (like skis) can be carried. With an empty weight of 1,320 pounds and a gross weight of 2,200 pounds, the A-1C can haul full fuel (50 gallons useful) and two 200-pound people with ease.
It’s important to understand that the newest changes in the A-1C make it a very different airplane from the 180 hp version. While the feel and handling are essentially the same, the various enhancements make a capable airplane even better. The additional 20 hp, for example, yields about six knots better cruise at a fuel burn of about 9 gph (versus 7 gph in the 180 hp A-1C). The J.P. Instruments EDM-930 is linked directly to the G600, giving more accurate range predictions and allowing more exact mixture leaning, among many other capabilities.
Enhancements for the 2009 model include a larger keyed-entry door, vernier mixture control, a lighter and more responsive tailwheel, and the Garmin G600. Aviat is the first aircraft manufacturer to offer the Garmin glass panel, and Horn tells us that most Huskys are rolling off the assembly line fully IFR-equipped. Options include the EVS-100 enhanced-vision system and various wheels and tires.
An extraordinary feature of the Husky is its range and fuel efficiency. On May 12, 2009, Indiana pilot Kris Maynard flew his Husky A-1A for 15 hours, 3 minutes and 20 seconds on a single tank of fuel! He covered more than 1,200 statute miles and averaged 3.156 gph at a groundspeed of 68 knots. The Husky’s not a speed demon, but then again, that’s not what it was designed for.
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