Thursday, July 1, 2004
Bellanca Viking: Wood, Fabric & Genius
The brainchild of an Italian designer, this classic airplane exudes a rare combination of style and substance
| It’s almost inevitable that Italian airplanes are compared to Italian automobiles. You can’t look at the smooth, sculptured lines of a Marchetti SF-260 or Partenavia P68 without thinking of a Ferrari or Maserati. |
“I’m not usually in a hurry, so I come back to 60% to 65%, to extend range and reduce fuel flow. I’ll typically see 165 knots or more at that setting,” comments Breiman. “If I do need to hustle, I can push the power up a little and manage 170 knots or more, but the burn goes up almost 2 gph for the privilege.” With 75 gallons in two wing tanks and one fuselage container, Breiman’s Viking has about four hours endurance plus reserve at high cruise, five hours at lower settings.
Brieman says his Viking’s best feature is simply its outstanding handling. “I love the way the airplane carves its way through a turn—you need only think about a heading or pitch change, and the Bellanca does it,” effuses Breiman.
Despite the joys of ownership, the producer acknowledges a few niggles. “It’s not the least expensive single to fly and maintain,” he explains. “Although the spruce wing is tough and durable, the fabric does have limited life and can represent a major expense if you need to replace it. That means you almost have to store a Viking in a hangar rather than outside, if you want the fabric to last—another fixed expense. That overhead elevator trim is a little unusual and takes some getting used to, although I’ve come to like it. The airplane’s cabin is loud in flight, but fortunately, the best ANR headsets and an inflatable door seal help solve that problem.”
The Bellanca Viking also is one of the most individual of singles that are flying in the sky today. For Eric Breiman and pilots who are like him, who prefer style with their substance, there is nothing quite like a Bellanca Viking 300A.SPECS: 1973 Bellanca Viking 300A N373EB
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