Sunday, April 1, 2007
The Huskier Husky
An old friend with a bigger engine
|The first flight in a new airplane is exciting, even when it’s an old friend with a bigger engine. I had flown Huskies many times, but never the new 200 hp Aviat Husky A-1B-200, and as I started to throttle up, I was watching the edge of the runway for any indication that the airplane was trying to turn; it wasn’t. Also, I had a plan: I was going to do a standard Husky three-point, short-field takeoff rather than lifting the tail in the normal manner. What’s the fun in flying an airplane with a big motor if you’re not going to go for the gusto?|
Included in the “B” designation are a basic 2,000-pound gross weight and a wing that has been continually improved and tinkered with. The slotted, Fowler flaps with their external, head-banging pivot points were made 13 inches longer on each wing, so we’re talking about a whopping two feet more of flap. The ailerons were shortened, but their chord is now four inches deeper, resulting in an aileron of the same area, or bigger.
The ailerons use Curtis Pitts’ “Super Stinker Technology,” which he introduced on his Model 11 Super Stinker in the mid-’90s. This makes the ailerons much lighter and more effective without having to hang spades on them.
The “Bs” also feature additional baggage area. The right-side door to the normal baggage compartment is now accompanied by a left-side door high behind the wing, which opens into a nice little compartment in the fuselage’s upper portion. The CG is set so you can put 180 pounds in each of the seats, 50 pounds in the baggage compartment and 30 pounds in the aft baggage area.
When they hung the 200 hp IO-360 on the airplane they made additional changes up front. For one thing, the engine installation is a solid 38 pounds heavier. A good chunk of this is because the 200 hp IO-360 is an angle valve engine, as opposed to the parallel valve arrangement of the 180 hp O-360. These jugs offer increased heat dissipation because of their better finning but are, consequently, heavier. Another few pounds comes from the extra oil cooler, so now there are two coolers, one in each of the rear baffles.
As part of its cooling program, the Aviat factory fitted the airplane with cowl flaps, which our test pilot and host, Mark Heiner, said are necessary to get the heat down, but are good for five mph in cruise when closed.
Pitts pilots with sharp eyes will recognize the aluminum, compound curved cowl doors as fugitives from the single-seat S1T Pitts, which used the same engine. The cylinder assemblies make the IO-360 five-eighths of an inch wider than the 180 Lycoming, so the cowling had to be bumped out for clearance.
The airplane we flew was actually the original 1985 prototype that the factory uses as their test mule. Some of the more obvious test items on it, when we flew, were the unpainted, carbon-fiber nosebowl, wingtips and floorboards, which collectively knock 18 pounds off the airplane’s empty weight.