Plane & Pilot
Saturday, December 1, 2007

Micco SP26A: Capable Aerobat

This is that rare machine: a fun gentleman’s aerobat capable of cross-country travel or a Saturday-afternoon hamburger flight

The original Meyers 145 was an agile but not very enthusiastic sportplane, whereas the Meyers 200 and Interceptor 400 were regarded as leading-edge machines in the '60s. Despite that (or perhaps because of it), today's SP26 is an acknowledged aesthetic success, a sexy taildragger with an attitude. Parked on the ramp, the airplane assumes a deceptively jaunty stance, looking for all the world like that ultimate aviation cliché, a baby fighter. (Sorry.)

Slide the overhead hatch back, and the airplane seems to invite you to fly. The rails for the bubble canopy extend far aft, providing good access to the office. You step over the sidewall and ease your butt down into the seat, just like Hoover or Yeager mounting a P-51. Baggage goes into a compartment behind the seats and beneath the aft turtledeck.

From the minute you settle into the soft, cushy Oregon Aero buckets, you just know this airplane is going to be a ball to fly. The cockpit enjoys a pair of sticks with contoured handgrips that look almost military in appearance. There's, however, only one button on top of each joystick: radio transmit. There's also a trigger on the top front of each stick, but it doesn't control guns or missiles. It clicks the landing lights on and off—mundane task, clever design.

Directly behind your head, you can't help but notice a tough roll-bar structure, designed to protect both pilots in the event of an upset. Like the early Meyers airplanes, the SP26 is a tough machine, built to absorb turbulence, bad landings and general pilot stupidity. The Micco embraces 4130 chrome-moly steel and aluminum construction, and you can be reasonably certain that the airplane will hang together if you can merely remain conscious. Stress limits are technically +6/-3 G's, the legal aerobatic certification tolerances, but the SP26 has been static-tested to positive 11 G's.

Yes, the Micco is a taildragger, but it doesn't suffer from some of the traditional tailwheel blues. The cowling slopes downhill to preserve forward visibility, so there's no need for S-turns on the taxiway. Gear stance is wide and the wheel base is long—both portents of good stability on the ground and reduced susceptibility to crosswind upsets. The third wheel is free-castering, so the airplane is ultimately maneuverable on the asphalt, capable of reversing direction in its own wingspan.

Power loading is low enough that the Micco lifts off and starts uphill aggressively, without a pause to catch its breath. Flip the gear selector up, and the electrohydraulic system arcs the wheels inboard into the wells in about six seconds. In addition to the usual indicator lights, you have two small windows in the floorboards to check wheel position.

Climb rate is listed as 1,500 fpm, and you can't avoid the conclusion that the injected, 260 hp engine is the perfect marriage of powerplant to airframe. In combination with the semi-scimitar Hartzell prop, the Lycoming provides plenty of enthusiasm without draining the fuel supply inordinately.


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