Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Mooney Ovation 3: Turbo Performance Without The Turbo
The Ovation 3 is the fastest normally aspirated production single ever—period
(Of course, if you can make do with the standard 100 gallons, you can still endure for 5.5 hours at about 185 knots and enjoy a range of just over 1,000 nm. That ought to be enough for anyone who's not silly enough to fly across an ocean.)
The most immediate and obvious benefit of more power comes in climb. With 310 hp on tap and only 3,368 pounds to lift, the Ovation 3 sports a low 10.9 lbs./hp power loading. All other factors being equal (which almost never happens), a low power loading generally translates to good climb performance.
Better still, climb seems relatively unaffected by load, and it seems to go on forever. Back in the 1990s, I delivered nine Ovations overseas, one from the Kerrville, Texas, factory to South Africa, and eight more from Texas to Brisbane, Australia. The Pacific trips usually departed from Santa Barbara, Calif., to Honolulu at 3,900 pounds. That's about 550 pounds over gross (with 120 gallons of additional fuel on a ferry permit). Climb was certainly affected by the overweight condition, but once the airplane caught its breath, I still saw a consistent 900 fpm climb to the typical initial 6,000- to 8,000-foot cruise height.
Marshall suggests he and his wife experience better-than-book climb numbers flying near gross. Though he rarely has occasion to fly bladder-stretching legs, the long-range tanks provide a hedge for those times when you'd rather not stop, or would prefer to hold out for a cheaper fuel price.
Benefitting from over 50 years of development, the Ovation 3 offers an air-conditioned cabin with the Synthetic Vision–equipped Garmin G1000.
Most folks who fly little airplanes for a living (or even just for fun) acknowledge that speed is certainly one of the ultimate aphrodisiacs, and the Ovation 3 is therefore one of the sexiest machines in the sky. For our first cruise check, we went to the whip and left the engine at its full 2,700 rpm limit, just to see the top number.
Given its head, the Ovation 3 slips through the sky with the synchronicity of a Ginsu through hot butter. On our first max cruise check at 8,500 feet, I watched true airspeed settle on an eventual 192 knots, meanwhile pouring 19 gph through the engine.
Page 3 of 5
Labels: Piston Singles