If you haven’t yet flown a Tiger, you’ve missed out on one of general aviation’s real treats. As far as I’m concerned, the world has become a better place since the Tiger was reintroduced a few years ago. Whether the aircraft in question is a new 2006 AG-5B Tiger, a vintage American General machine from the early ’90s or an original Grumman American from the late ’70s, Tigers are among the most fun-flying airplanes on earth.
Practically everyone who has flown a Tiger has something good to say about it, regardless of its vintage. Today’s Tiger, though a dramatically improved airplane in terms of avionics and construction technology, flies as well as the original from 30 years ago, and that’s a ringing endorsement rather than a criticism of an outdated design model.
The Tiger flies extremely well by both ’70s and contemporary standards. Back in the old days when the originals were still rolling out the doors of the Savannah, Ga., factory, I ferried a dozen or more Tigers to the company’s number one dealer, Performance Aircraft located in Long Beach, Calif. Though many other ferry trips have long since faded from my memory, I still recall those Tiger ferries with reverence.
Today’s Tiger has seen some changes as the airplane has evolved, primarily in terms of avionics. The latest models feature the most exciting avionics suite in the industry: The Garmin G1000, an all-inclusive glass panel that makes virtually everything that’s come before look archaic. Learning to use an integrated avionics system with electronic rolling tapes rather than round, analog instruments with moving needles may take some time, but when you’ve finally made the adjustment, you’ll be amazed at how much easier everything becomes.
Mooney, Cessna, Diamond and Beech have all adopted the G1000 system in their top-of-the-line models, and Tiger Aircraft of Martinsburg, W.Va., has also embraced the new technology wholeheartedly, utilizing the two-screen Garmin G1000 system in its updated model. (Cessna will use a three-screen version of the G1000 in its upcoming Mustang VLJ.)
For those pilots who have perhaps been living on the dark side of the moon for the last several years, the Garmin G1000 incorporates virtually all flight and engine instruments plus all avionics systems and readouts into two flat-screen displays—a 10-inch primary flight display (PFD) directly in front of the pilot and another 10-inch display immediately to the right.
The G1000 is a completely integrated avionics suite, cleverly designed to fit a wide range of aircraft. In addition to all the standard VHF items—nav and com, including VOR/LOC/ILS and 8.33 kHz com frequency spacing—the G1000 integrates a mode-S transponder with Traffic Information Service (TIS) uplink, an attitude and heading reference system (AHRS) and digital air data computers. In the G1000’s full-blown version, Garmin also installs color weather radar and class B Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS).
Though the Garmin G1000 is the Tiger’s centerpiece, the airplane that surrounds it is one of the aviation industry’s most delightful machines. Like the original from 30 years ago, the updated model from Tiger Aircraft incorporates all the good things that came before without sacrificing the elements that made the Tiger such a popular flying machine way back in the day.
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