Bearhawk 5 Takes Flight

Stretched design allows up to six seats—or room for the proverbial kitchen sink

Bearhawk 5
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Bearhawk Aircraft’s latest design, the Bearhawk 5, first flew May 5. The seller of backcountry aircraft kits and plans announced their new design yesterday, and it’s “what’s in back” that really sets this design apart from other homebuilt aircraft. The aft cabin has been stretched, making room in the baggage area for an additional two seats.

The Bearhawk line of aircraft is a series of rugged two- and four-seat designs well suited for backcountry operations. Their existing four-place design has a cabin slightly larger than a Cessna Skyhawk; the Bearhawk 5 pushes the interior dimensions beyond those of a Cessna 185. The prototype is powered by a 315 hp Lycoming IO-580 engine and three-blade Hartzell 82-inch-diameter carbon-fiber Trailblazer propeller. Weighing in at 1,512 pounds empty weight, the design’s gross weight is projected to reach 3,000 pounds as testing continues. That puts the Bearhawk 5 into a rare group of designs with similar numbers for useful load and empty weight. Other notable designs in this range include the Piper Cherokee Six and the Cessna 185.

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The prototype, built in a collaboration with Collin Campbell, has more than five hours in the books so far and good handling qualities reported. The design began as a customer’s stretched and widened Bearhawk 4, a project that was abandoned for health issues. Bearhawk President Mark Goldberg served as the conduit between the languishing project and Campbell, who’s noted for having scratch-built a number of Bearhawks, most recently having completed a Bearhawk LSA prior to taking on the Bearhawk 5.

The fuselage is two inches wider and two feet longer than a standard four-place Bearhawk. The cabin, now 14 inches longer, offers the ability to add one or two seats to the back, or to utilize the space for baggage and cargo. The design is tailored for Lycoming six-cylinder engines ranging from 250-315 hp. So far, testing has shown cruise speeds tickling 160 mph and at reduced power, 145-150 mph with a lean-of-peak fuel flow of 14.5-15 GPH. Takeoff and landing numbers are still evolving. Takeoff rolls of 220-300 feet and landing rolls of less than 650 feet have been the norm from a muddy runway so far. As the runway firms up, those numbers should firm up, as well.

According to the Bearhawk website, more than 1,400 plans have sold for their designs, and more than 100 aircraft have been completed. Varying degrees of builders’ skillsets are accommodated from scratch-builders who start with plans and a pile of tubes, to quick-build kits with all the welding completed. The designs feature fabric-covered, welded tubular fuselage structures and strut-braced aluminum wings. With the introduction of the Bearhawk 5, the company’s designs now range from 65 hp two-seat models through six seats and 310 hp.

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