Friday, April 4, 2014
The Handsome, All-Terrain Bush Plane
Pick your “feet” for snow, water or land: You get them all with this rugged LSA
BushCaddy owner Larry Labor has logged more than 70 hours in his new LSA. Labor's 75-year-old friend, Phillip Gervais, is also a pilot and has no intention of giving up flying.
Earlier, I had talked with Watkin, who shared some of the finer points of BushCaddy's airframe. "We use a 6061-T6 extruded-cavity aluminum frame and skins, which are highly corrosion resistant, along with some 2024-T3 and 4130 chrome-moly steel structural elements. But predominantly, the aircraft is aluminum."
The robust airframe is built with lots of stringers and longerons. "The original design was created for float operations up in Canada," said Watkin, "which can be very hard on an airplane.
"But even after a significant amount of use," he said, "our inspections don't find issues. That's very rewarding. With some aircraft, there's not a lot of structure to attach skins to, and they can tend to oilcan in flight.
"Our airframe stays very rigid. It's built like a tank," Watkin added.
He added that he's not knocking the competition. "But our task is to build strong for bush flying and float flying." That's no easy challenge when your all-up weight is restricted to 1,320 pounds.
Even so, the Sport comes in empty at 750 pounds, a respectable number given its challenging mission: Many S-LSA tip the scales at more than 800 pounds.
Some comparisons: Cessna 162 Skycatcher (830 pounds) and Czech Sport Aircraft SportCruiser (740 pounds), both all aluminum; Tecnam P2008 (780 pounds) and Flight Design CTLS (790 pounds), both carbon-fiber composite.
The Sport gets some help in the weight department from its standard no-flaps configuration (available as options).
"It lands extremely well without flaps anyway...and sideslips like an absolute demon," Watkin explains.
Standard tanking for the 100 hp Rotax 912 setup is 20 gallons: 10 in each wing, which gives a range under 400 miles. Labor's airplane has 24 total gallons. EAB kit versions come with varying fuel capacities depending on owner preference.
Page 2 of 5