B is for Bearhawk



The last time we flew the Bearhawk was about three years ago at Oshkosh – we found the hefty four-place with the IO-540 to be a rugged and well-behaved bush plane with a cavernous baggage area and plenty of power. Today we got the chance to give the “B” model of the aircraft another try, and found the incremental improvement in speed and handling to be a nice touch to an already fine machine.

The most significant change to be found in the “B” is a Riblett airfoil borrowed form the successful two-seat Bearhawk Patrol. The new wing is mated to the existing airframe, and a modified horizontal tail (with an airfoil shape in place of the flat ribs) was added to give more pitch authority. The result is an airplane that still handles well, has plenty of power to climb quickly, and has a top speed improvement estimated to be around 6 mph. We were able to get the airplane going at about 127 KIAS at 3,000′ MSL, with above normal temperatures – so it was probably doing about 135 KTAS. The stall is very well behaved, with a single noticeable (but tame) break replacing the previous behavior which could best be described as a damped phugoid with a moderate sink rate.

We’ll do a more thorough review of the new Bearhawk in a future issue of Kitplanes.

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


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