Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Backcountry Monster: The Legend Of Bigfoot
Expedition Aircraft introduces a tailwheel version of its bush-country workhorse
Handling is the first of many surprises to come. It feels nothing like a Cessna 206 and nothing like any of the heavier Cessnas. Bigfoot is nimble and light on the controls. Fingertip pressure is all that’s needed to fly this airplane, and the ample trim keeps the control pressures where you want them. The rudder has plenty of authority early on in the takeoff roll, and the controls are harmonious and belie the fact that this is one hefty airplane.
The second surprise is the visibility. Bigfoot is standard-equipped with doors that are almost entirely observation windows. Nearly the entire door frame is clear, allowing unmatched visibility from the cockpit and the rear. The cockpit has the limited up-visibility peculiar to high-winged aircraft, but the strutless wings and placement of the windows allow panoramic views of the landscape below, unequaled in anything else, except maybe a helicopter.
|The lack of any struts on Bigfoot allows its four cabin doors to swing 180 degrees regardless of flap setting, making loading passengers, baggage and cargo simple. The back features a row of three seats that can snap in or out, allowing different configurations. Left: Ted Dirstein, Expedition Air Chief Pilot and Marc Lee,P&P author. Right: Seamus McCaughley, formation pilot and Ron Mohrhoff, photo-ship pilot.|
In most airplanes, power-on stalls hold the spectre of a possible spin if the pilot misuses the rudder or uses the ailerons for bank correction as the stall breaks. Not so in Bigfoot. With the engine screaming and the yoke in my gut again, Dirstein instructed me not to use rudder, and correct only with aileron.
Ignoring my instincts, I slapped in some aileron and then…nothing happened! Bigfoot gracefully lowered its brow, straightened out and kept right on flying. It’s all thanks to a wing design that stalls the root far ahead of the ailerons, allowing full aileron use throughout the stall. Slow flight allows extremely slow speeds with excellent control response and no tendency to fall out.
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Labels: Piston Singles