Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Luscombe Silvaire 8F: A Classic LSA
A Luscombe enthusiast revives the type with a larger Continental engine and a lower gross weight
If you’re a Luscombe lover (and most any pilot who’s flown the type is), the new/old Luscombe 8F must strike a resonant tone. These days, in fact, the old Luscombe design has taken on a new persona, that of an LSA.
Yes, it’s true the little Luscombe Silvaire has been on-again/off-again for several decades, but it appears the type certificate has finally come to rest in the hands of John Dearden, president of Luscombe Silvaire Aircraft Co. (www.luscombe-silvaire.com) in Riverside, Calif. Working out of Riverside’s Flabob Airport, Dearden, his wife and a group of dedicated Luscombe fans are making a brave attempt to revive what many regard as Don Luscombe’s work of art.
If you’re not familiar with the Luscombe, you’re in for a treat the first time you take the stick and guide the 8F up into the sky. In the late ’30s/early ’40s class of entry-level two-seaters, the Cub, Champ, Taylorcraft, Porterfield, Cessna 120/140 and Luscombe were regarded by many pilots as the least expensive and most enthusiastic methods of transitioning from ground to sky. Of those airplanes, the Luscombe Silvaire was one of the most respected; often considered a standout, it possessed better performance, improved handling and even a limited inertia-driven aerobatic capability. The original Luscombe sported a series of 65 to 90 hp engines, and its performance was generally a step ahead of the competition. In the ’30s and ’40s, Luscombes were regarded as the sports cars of lightplanes.
Today’s Luscombe 8F Silvaire LSA is essentially the same airplane as the original, yet improved in the respects that count. It’s still an all-aluminum airplane, and that may mean the most to some pilots who still believe aluminum is the best material for light aircraft. Unlike composite materials, the Luscombe’s all-metal construction is impervious to UV radiation, cold temperatures and severe heat. This means there’s no limiting airframe temperature that might result in delamination.
On top of that, many pilots have traditionally left Luscombes unpainted, thereby saving extra cost and weight.
Page 1 of 2