Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Backcountry Monster: The Legend Of Bigfoot


Expedition Aircraft introduces a tailwheel version of its bush-country workhorse



Climbing away from Long Beach into the postcard blue, I saw a solid 1,100 fpm climb at around 80 KIAS. The beautiful Garmin G500 panel showed us settling into cruise at a little over 150 KIAS. We were running a bit behind schedule, so Ted had me pour on the coals at 2,500 rpm, and 25 inches MP fuel consumption showed 19 gph, but we were hardly in economy mode.

Looking around the cabin, it was clear that this airplane was made for hauling lots of stuff over long distances. The current Bigfoot has an empty weight of 2,300 pounds and a max gross of 3,500 pounds, though Found Aircraft is working toward increasing that to 3,800 pounds. Owners will have some 1,200-1,500 pounds of fuel, people and cargo to play with. This is a true five-place airplane capable of hauling five 200-pound adults, baggage and enough fuel for a few hours’ flight. Endless load combinations provide all kinds of options.


To increase the certified gross-weight capacity for Bigfoot, Expedition Aircraft is making modifications to the tailwheel.
As we approached the dry lakebed, Ted began briefing me for the landing. Bigfoot is as docile on landing as it is in the air. There were no surprises in the normal setup for landing: Power back opposite the numbers, add some flaps, a little more on base, adjust on final and flare it smoothly like any other taildragger. With the big tundra tires and the steel-gear configuration, Bigfoot will have a tendency to balloon a bit, so nailing the speeds helps. Ted could tell I wanted to do this again one more time, or 17, so we took it around for more.

Bigfoot makes it evident that Expedition has acknowledged the fun in aviation. This airplane is a blast to fly, and its vast capabilities get it closer to the perfect airplane. Whether you need to haul a bunch of fishing buddies to a backcountry lake or your family for vacation, Bigfoot handles it all in comfort and a little bit of golden-era style. While this is a work airplane, it’s equally at home on an asphalt runway or a shi-shi-la-la FBO anywhere in the world.

Ultimately, Bigfoot’s surprise for me was that it’s an airplane that can be handled by even the most basic general aviation pilots. You don’t have to be a super-human bush master to fly it. Sure, you can slow it down, drenching the tundra tires in the river just before planting it on a sandbar that looks like a vegetable garden, but you don’t have to. With its docile handling, ease of loading, ability to land just about anywhere and wide performance envelope, Bigfoot proves that you can create an airplane that’s simple, useful and great fun to fly.




Labels: Piston Singles

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