Cassutt - looking for anyone who knows anything about it

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Little Scrapper

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Hi guys.

I'm curious if anyone has flown the Cassutt here and what your thoughts are about it in general.

I see there's a forum for it but man, it's pretty dead.

In the last 20 years I've heard from multiple people that the design is quite strong and besides being a little quick on the feet, is a pretty good flying airplane.

Anyhow, any reason why this airplane has lost so much traction in recent years?
 

BJC

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Hi guys.

I'm curious if anyone has flown the Cassutt here and what your thoughts are about it in general.

I see there's a forum for it but man, it's pretty dead.

In the last 20 years I've heard from multiple people that the design is quite strong and besides being a little quick on the feet, is a pretty good flying airplane.

Anyhow, any reason why this airplane has lost so much traction in recent years?
I flew one with the II wing, and it was very nice. The view of the runway is mostly blocked by the wing, but other than that, takeoffs and landings were straight forward. Control harmony was good, and the roll rate provided by the full span ailerons was fantastic. The vertical and rudder look smallish, but spins were easily and quickly recovered from.

Speculating on why there are not as many of them as some other small single seat airplanes:

The wing blocks the forward view of the runway.

Fuel supply is limited.

Most people today want a starter, battery, alternator, radio and transponder. Because of limited space, that gets complicated and heavy.

Entry and egress can be a challenge. I am 6' 2" and, back then, about 165 pounds. I had to turn both legs to the side, support myself by my hands, and carefully slide into position to get under the spar. Once in, there is no wiggle room. My heels were just an inch or two apart.

Other designs such as the Midget Mustang and the RV-3 do not have the same problems, plus they have room to carry a toothbrush. Another plus for some people is that the MM and -3 are all metal.

Airplanes get reputations, some deserved, some not. Most people that I have spoken to about Cassutts seem to have the incorrect impression that they are difficult to fly, when, in fact, they are not.


BJC
 

cluttonfred

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Unfortunately, with a few exceptions like the Volksplanes, a lot of the virtual communities for older, scratch-built aircraft are dead or on life-support. The Cassutt group does actualy seem to have some life to it, though: CASSUTT RACER OWNERS FORUM.

The Cassutt is certainly a proven, rock-solid design and would make a great fun sport plane within the limitations that BJC described. It comes down to what type of construction you want--Cassutt is all-wood wings with a fabric-covered, steel-tube fuselage. Personally, I much prefer wood over sheet metal and despise composites (acceptable in small doses for cowlings, etc.). I would be fine tackling a steel-tube fuselage up to the tack-welding stage and then calling a pro to do the real welding.

It does seem to be the general consensus that the longer wings are a better option for general sport use but even so, it's no STOL machine. Here are some exerpted comments from one owner:

"I own the Cassutt sport (17ft wing compared to the 15ft wing, also has a bigger fin and rudder) G-BPVO.
Stall speed is around 60 mph.
Top speed with me a 11 stone pilot is just over 170mph, never yet achived 180mph level flight.
Take off in nil wind is about 450m meters.
Approach at 90 mph, over the hedge at 80, side slip all the way until round out otherwise it soon pick up speed again.
Easier to land than the Taylor due higher wing , less ground effect. Once its on the ground its stays fairly planted.
Crosswinds never been a problem, due powerful controls."

Source: CASSUTT RACER OWNERS FORUM View topic - looking for a racer

Another option to consider is the Sonerai I, II and IIS, of similar construction but all-metal wings. A Sonerai II set up as a single-seater with a big VW or a small Continental and a baggage area up front would be the cat's meow, more wing area than the Cassutt and you'd have the option of a low wing and/or tricycle gear if you prefer.
 

BJC

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The airplane that I flew weighed about 520 pounds and the span was around 13 1/2 feet. Weight is very important. The propeller was built by Ray Hegy, and allowed the engine to turn around 4,200 RPM at full throttle in level flight. It was built to meet the F-1 specifications.

IIRC, one of the HBA regulars raced a Cassutt. Hopefully he can give better insight.


BJC
 

Turd Ferguson

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Anyhow, any reason why this airplane has lost so much traction in recent years?
Scratch build vs. insert Tab "A" into Slot "B" and the fact that the rights were in limbo for a few years after Ib Hansen the Cassutt cheerleader died. I though the new owner had a facebook page and that's where the latest info was? Maybe not. I'd buy one of the right one came along for sale. Building one would be better cause it could be made to fit.
 

Raceair

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I have a lifetime of Cassutt association, and have had 5 of them. I raced a Cassutt in the 1979 /1980 era, and must say that other than a Mong Sport, a Cassutt is probably my favorite homebuilt. The 111M version (6" thick, 15 ft. wing) has been the most popular model, and the tiny 11M with the super low aspect ration thin wing has been built in small numbers (probably less than 30 flown)
Right now, the design is in a transition as far as support, as it was sold twice in as many years. The new owner is a friend, and has not been able to get the public presence up again. I have calls in to him to see what's happening.
The airplane , if built straight, is very honest and predictable on the ground, mostly due to the ground C.G., where the main gear is as far back as it can go, so the tailwheel load is light. It is definitely 'easier' to land than my Mong. Several Cassutts have been built with flaps, including the one my dad and I built (N2EF) , And the best use for the flaps is for getting in and out of the cockpit. The altered flow over the tail with 30 degrees of flaps was uncomfortable to me.
You can build a stock Cassutt and have a heck of a sport plane, but if you want to be competitive in Reno Formula one pylon racing, the little low aspect ratio wings don't do as well in the turns in thin air. 80% of all the formula one racers are Cassutt based, meaning they all use the fuselage, but most opt for high aspect ratio wings and tails.
A Sonerai 1, built light, and fitted with a good 2180 VW power plant, would be close to a C-85 powered Cassutt, but the sonerai has 9 sq. ft. more wing, and less all-up weight, so would of course stall and do pattern work slower.
All in all, a Cassutt gives a lot of bang for the buck. Its fast, its aerobatic, and it does exactly what you tell it to do….Ed Fisher
 

Pops

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All I know is 2 friends of mine used to fly Cassutts and they both loved how they flew. Long, long ways from a C-150. One friend always said he loved passing Beech Bonanza's while during a slow roll. Both had the long wings. I used to have a set of plans, but gave then away.

Dan
 

Little Scrapper

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Interesting. Thanks for all the responses.

Ed, how can a Sonerai have 9 Sq ft of wing over the 111m when the Cassutt wingspan is 17'? I believe both the sonerai and the cassutt have 54" cords?

There must have been a big change somewhere along the line? Am I correct in assuming the 17' wing is the sport?
 

Raceair

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There are essentially three slab wings for Cassutts….The most popular was the 111M,, 'thick' wing, with a 15'-3" span, and a 54" chord. It has a 3 lamination main spar. this is the 'standard' version, built in great numbers. The 'Sport ' wing, has a 16 or 17 ft. span, same airfoil as the stock version, and has a 4 lamination spar. This version, not built in great numbers, is the closest to the Sonerai 1 in wing area….. The 'thin' wing is a 13'-8" span, a 58" chord, and is between 3 and 4 inches thick. This wing only works well when the empty weight is right around 500 pounds,….or less. Tom Cassutts prototype 11M weighed 444 pounds!, with a C-85, that he took a body grinder to. Rumor has it that Tom shaved 3 pounds off the Engine. I heard he did not even varnish the inside structures of hiss wings, to save a bit…. Tom was fanatical with weight, as Steve Wittman and Garland Pack were as well…………. Ed
 

Turd Ferguson

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Right now, the design is in a transition as far as support, as it was sold twice in as many years. The new owner is a friend, and has not been able to get the public presence up again. I have calls in to him to see what's happening.
Is he selling plans? I'll buy a set if that will give his company a boost.
 

Raceair

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He has sold a couple sets, but lately there has been no word of what is going on……I have calls in to him to find out the status…..Ed
 

BJC

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You can build a stock Cassutt and have a heck of a sport plane, but if you want to be competitive in Reno Formula one pylon racing, the little low aspect ratio wings don't do as well in the turns in thin air. 80% of all the formula one racers are Cassutt based, meaning they all use the fuselage, but most opt for high aspect ratio wings and tails.

All in all, a Cassutt gives a lot of bang for the buck. Its fast, its aerobatic, and it does exactly what you tell it to do….Ed Fisher
Thanks for adding your experience to the discussion.

Craig Catto, the propeller guy, is building a carbon wing for a Cassutt. That should be interesting.

Way back when, Pete Meyers built a Cassutt for aerobatics. It had a larger vertical and a Lycoming engine, but I don't remember which one.

Totally agree on the "bang for the buck" factor for the Cassutt design.


BJC
 

Raceair

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From Day one the Pete Meyers / Giles Henderson Cassutt had a taller fin, more stabilizer span, and at least a foot more wing…I also remember that it was always Continental powered. It had a special 'one off' propeller, that is still on it today. Last time I talked to Giles, he had to abort a X-country down to see me, due to weather…….Ed
 
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BJC

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That is the reason why I could not remember which Lycoming it had. It was a Continental!

Thanks to both of you.


BJC
 

Little Scrapper

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Really enjoy reading the responses guys, it's such a neat design and it's very unique. Too bad the support is a little weak because there's a ton of opportunity with this design.

One thing I noticed when researching the Cassutt is how much opinions vary between people who have owned/own them and people who never have. Everything I've read from past and current owners says it's a great airplane to fly and those who sold them seem to miss it, or at least regret selling it. And those who have never flown or owned one seem to point out it's shortcomings....probably because they are comparing it to other airplanes?

I get the impression it occupies a unique position among it's followers, similar to a Pitts? Almost a cult type following. I'm in love with everything about it, just trying to figure out what to do next.

I have drawings....and also some questions, especially in wing construction and how those ribs are made and mounted...and glued to the plywood. Otherwise the plans are pretty decent in my opinion.

Recently a fella put 3 very nice videos on YouTube about the cassutt. He talks about it and then shows the cockpit followed up with some touch and go's. He did a really nice job.
 

BJC

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One thing I noticed when researching the Cassutt is how much opinions vary between people who have owned/own them and people who never have. Everything I've read from past and current owners says it's a great airplane to fly and those who sold them seem to miss it, or at least regret selling it. And those who have never flown or owned one seem to point out it's shortcomings....probably because they are comparing it to other airplanes?
We pilots think that we know everything about aviation, and airline pilots KNOW that they know everything. :ermm: Don't believe anything that you read or are told unless you can independently verify it.


I get the impression it occupies a unique position among it's followers, similar to a Pitts? Almost a cult type following. I'm in love with everything about it, just trying to figure out what to do next.
NOTHING IS COMPARABLE TO A PITTS. And don't you forget it! :)

I have drawings....and also some questions, especially in wing construction and how those ribs are made and mounted...and glued to the plywood. Otherwise the plans are pretty decent in my opinion.
Any wood-skinned wing would clearly illustrate the construction. You might be able to find a project still in construction through a local EAA chapter. Doesn't need to be a Cassutt.


BJC
 

Little Scrapper

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I asked a Pitts guy "Why do they call it a Pitts 'special'? and he said, "because it's a special kind of airplane" then he just looked at me in silence. Haha, never forgot that.
 

Pops

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I named my airplane JMR Special. J-- JUST, M--Made , R--- Right.

Steel tube fuselage and wood wings.

JMR is my wifes initials, and also the name of the company she used to own.

Dan
 
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