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BBerson

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Want more load then get an old straight tail 182. Or a 205 or old 206. Pick a number, the higher the number more load.
(I know a guy that hauls his motorcycle in a 177)
Just buy and rebuild what you find. After two years you will only fly alone when the friends have lost interest.
 

Pops

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Have owned Cherokees and Cessna 172's and Cherokees are not a bush airplane in what I call bush flying. Have to agree the Cherokee is about the easiest airplane there is to fly. You would have to work hard to get in trouble with one.
A Cessna flying at GW just handles like a heaver airplane. A Cherokee at GW handles a lot different than at a light weight.
 

gtae07

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Cheap to buy seems to be expensive to maintain and vice versa.
Basic economics would agree (see “time value of money”).

I think part of the reason there aren’t many used homebuilts suitable for hard backcountry work is that it’s sort of a niche market, and even with the maintenance costs of certified airplanes there are still plenty of usable ones out there at reasonable pricing. Plus, I’d suspect that a lot of the backcountry airplane market needs an airplane that can be used for commercial services, which rules out homebuilts entirely.


Because the builder of a 51% homebuilt knows a lot more about his airplane than the owner of an older spam can. Theoretically, anyway. I have had my doubts for some time, seeing all these "quick-build" kits that surely don't require 51% of the work still to be done. And the kits that are put together by a third party. There has been so much fudging and pushing of the boundaries that I'm surprised the feds let it continue.
I’m kind of surprised, too. But as of late, I think the FAA’s attitude towards homebuilts has shifted to something more like “we have neither the time, nor the money, nor the manpower to regulate you. Don’t make us look bad, and we’ll leave you alone”.
The whole homebuilt-owner-maintenance thing was developed when airplanes were the product of a set of plans and a whole lot of mailing in for catalogs and mailing or phoning in orders for wood and metals and hardware and lots of stuff. The builder went to the airport and got parts off busted airplanes. He found a run-out engine, or something off an airplane busted in an accident or windstorm, and often rebuilt it himself. Sure, that builder knew his airplane intimately, way better than the mechanic.
As soon as that homebuilt leaves the builder’s possession, all that intimate knowledge goes out the window. And yet... as homebuilt “production” numbers keep rising, and more homebuilts move on to their second or third (or subsequent) owners, and the majority of completions now coming from kits with various levels of assistance, we haven’t seen a dramatic uptick in accidents caused by poor maintenance practices. Quite to the contrary, it almost looks like the FAA is quite impressed by the homebuilder community, and it also seems to considers the growth of high-quality kits and various assistance programs to be a net safety benefit—hence the rumors of MOSAIC potentially relaxing the 51% rule, at least to some extent.

But that was in the days when people could actually build or fix things. The days when magazines like Popular Mechanics or any of a half-dozen competing magazines were eagerly awaited every month, full of ideas and stories by people who had created neat stuff. Now we have millions of people who can't even change the oil in their cars. When automation made consumer goods so much cheaper, and disposable incomes went up, it became much easier and faster to just go buy a new boat or toaster or TV, or contract the repairs out to someone. The art of fixing and building was largely lost. Some people even saw it as a dirty, noisy hobby. Ot the fixer/builder was viewed as poor, not able to afford the flashy stuff. They failed to realize that DIY stuff is immensely satisfying and cathartic.
I think you are being too dismissive of “the kids these days”. Yeah, there are people who can’t do the DIY type tasks their fathers or grandfathers used to do (I say fathers and grandfathers because it was usually the men doing those things). But we’ve always had that. How many small auto and appliance repair places have gone under in the past few decades? Who was their customer base? Yes, the amount of repair activity has gone down and cost improvements in the supply chain have often made it economical to simply replace the item rather than repair it.
On the other hand, those same improvements have led to many items being far more reliable and less maintenance-intensive than they used to be. Cars, for example, are now expected to go 100,000 miles with nothing more than fluid and filter changes, and replacement of tires and brake pads.

But on the gripping hand... I’d say the DIY movement and the number of people who can “actually build or fix things” might possibly as high or higher than it’s ever been. See the astounding variety of “how-to” videos on Youtube, websites like instructables, home improvement shows, stores like Lowes and Home Depot, the ”maker” movement... there are magazines and blogs and websites updating all the time with new projects and how-tos, and new methods or tools for doing them; it’s just that this information generally doesn’t arrive in dead-tree form in one’s mailbox any more. I could go on, but the point is that all of this is far from dead. It just doesn’t look the same as it did when our more senior members here were growing up...
  • the things people are building and fixing aren’t the same. Cars don’t need fixing and tuning up like they used to; generally, they “just work”. Appliances are generally replaceable now, thanks to low production cost. But how many people decades ago would successfully tackle their own major home improvement projects, and do it successfully? How many more homebuilts are actually being completed today, vs. the “good old days” of scroungers and scratchbuilders?
  • Many of the tools and methods aren’t the same. “Back in the day” people used their father’s or grandfather’s hand tools, maybe a couple of large or clunky corded power tools. Maybe some people had gas welding torches or a large manual mill or lathe at home in their garage. But let’s look at what people do have... things like 3D printers and CNC conversion kits, inverter TIG machines, etc. The same improvements in supply chains and production costs that have led to “disposable” appliances also led to the widespread availability of tools and equipment that would have previously been unaffordable, or even unimaginable in generations past. Yes, some of it might be cheap Chinese imports, and they may not be up to the standards of production-line or professional-use equipment... but it still works, and more to the point, it has put these tools in the hands of millions of people who simply could not have afforded them otherwise, and opened up possibilities for them that they otherwise would have never had just due to inability to get the tools. And when you can’t get the tools, we even have easy ways of obtaining small-batch parts, shipped to your door.
  • They’re doing it in different places. Lots of people simply don’t have a garage or a workshop—they live in apartments or other places where there’s no non-living-space work area. So some of them have adopted different projects—you can run a small wood lathe or 3D printer in your living room, you can assemble and program electronics on the kitchen table. “Maker spaces” have cropped up in areas of higher demand, so people can share the space and capital items that they don’t have at their residence. And the internet has opened up the potential market for the things people make; no longer are we limited to tiny ads in magazines or high-fixed-cost physical shop fronts.
  • They aren’t learning the same way. Many people are no longer learning skills and practices alongside their parents or grandparents like we did. However, we’re no longer limited to learning by apprenticeship (formal or informal) or through formal classes (shop class or community college); it’s now feasible to learn any number of skills through internet resources and practice at home. There’s still the problem of sorting good information from bad (which is a problem even with in-person instruction), and many times in-person instruction is faster or more effective, but the resources are there.
I would thus argue that by no means is the spirit of building and fixing “dead”. It’s definitely alive and I think there are plenty of people who could build or maintain their own airplane. What’s missing is not skills; it’s the resources (space, money) and in many cases the lack of good-quality data—it’s hard to do something right, if you don’t know what right is. Things like the EAA homebuilders’ video series, Scrapper’s recent how-to videos, good forum posts with pictures... all of that contributes to helping people do things the right way. (Of course, that also leaves aside the “competition” for peoples’ time vs. other hobbies, but that’s another argument).

We may gripe a lot about the “kids these days” and most of y’all would probably consider me one of them based on my age. But I look around at the people I know, and I see couples with zero hands-on experience learning home renovation skills via TV and youtube and fixing up their own homes. I walk around my neighborhood and I see cars (old and new) being worked on in driveways and garages, I see welding projects, I see woodworking tools running every weekend. I see friends and coworkers making nice custom wood furniture as side businesses. I see guys picking up scrap steel and turning it into fire pits, furniture, and more. I see my sister buying a broken motorcycle and rebuilding the entire fuel and electrical systems with no formal instruction.

The skills and motivation are out there.
 

Pilot-34

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Apr 7, 2020
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354
Wow I can agree with most of that !

I think the reason that good backcountry aircraft are rare on a used home built market is twofold.
The motivations are different I think a lot of homebuilders just want to get in the air.
Back country people just want to get in the back country. Can do that by boat in a lot of places, or snowmobile, or four wheeler etc.
So when a pilot that desires to explore the back country does come across a good back country plane I think they tend to hold onto it.
So if you were that type of aircraft out there and less turnover among them it makes them numbers available for the market very small
 

Pilot-34

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354
Have owned Cherokees and Cessna 172's and Cherokees are not a bush airplane in what I call bush flying. Have to agree the Cherokee is about the easiest airplane there is to fly. You would have to work hard to get in trouble with one.
A Cessna flying at GW just handles like a heaver airplane. A Cherokee at GW handles a lot different than at a light weight.
Could you elaborate more on your reasoning here?

To my way of thinking and the nose wheel on the Cherokee seem stronger
The takeoff role can be a lot shorter with a Cherokee by pulling flaps and using ground effect.
That also keeps your wheels from throwing mud as long and that in turn makes for a cleaner wing and windshield.
Or alternately if you’re on floats it’ll help you get off the water better.
And horsepower ? Do we wanna talk horsepower ?
 

Tommy222

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Mar 23, 2019
Messages
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I’ve lived in Alaska for 30 years and not to start a war but the Piper 140 isn’t too good in the bush, but again we come to the definition of Bush flyingI guess.
 

Pilot-34

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Tell us WHY it isn’t good in the bush.
Honestly I think it’s two things mentioned
Loading and downward veiw.
 

Toobuilder

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Mojave, Ca
I just don’t see it. I look In trade a plane I find a lot of airplanes for sale.
But certainly not thousands of homebuilts...

...Where are the home built equivalents?
The vast majority of "available" homebuilts are not advertised - they are stashed in hangars and shops and backyards. You mentioned the Bearhawk in another post - the "cheap" functional equivalent has existed for decades in the form of the Bushmaster or Javelin conversions of the PA-22. I have one of these backwoods heavy haulers for a nearly giveaway price. So does my next door neighbor. But after paying for ads on sites like Barnstormers and fielding endless calls from hopeless tire kickers, I've come to realize a few things:

People say they want to "build", but in reality they want to "assemble". They want to open a blister packed, finished and powder coated part and hang it on their project in the exact sequence so clearly illustrated in the assembly manual. That's fine, so long as one realizes that level of non recurring engineering (NRE) has a significant cost, and that cost is borne by each unit produced. This is true for F-22's and RV's alike. Keep in mind that "cheap" and "value" are often not related.

The other thing I've learned is that the vast majority of people who complain about the "high cost" of aviation are just using it as an excuse to avoid doing anything. These people will NEVER have anything resembling an aircraft regardless of cost. You could give them an airplane and they would still complain. The bottom line is that if you want something bad enough, you can have it.
 

BBerson

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Port Townsend WA
If you land on bushes then the low wing isn't so optimal. But most don't. My runout Cherokee was originally bought new by Tanana Air Service (Alaska)
 

Dan Thomas

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Sep 17, 2008
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Tell us WHY it isn’t good in the bush.
Honestly I think it’s two things mentioned
Loading and downward veiw.
Honestly. An informed opinion from someone who's lived in Alaska for 30 years, and flown there, and you dismiss it? How in the world is anyone supposed to be able to help you? You implied that you'd flown Cherokees (pulling the Johnson bar to get off shorter) and you don't know this?

Go to the airport and watch a Cherokee 140 try to take off at gross, compared to a 172 with the same engine. Big difference. Low wings that get snagged on the bushes and pull the airplane off the runway. Short little laminar airflow wings that are fine for cruise speeds but not that good for lift at lower speeds. A light nosewheel that is easily bogged in soft soil and rips off or flips the airplane onto its back.

Fine for a "bush" strip that has a nice wide hard surface and is plenty long and has no trees at the ends. Not for this:

1590767373337.png
 
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Pops

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I flew off my neighbor's 900' farm strip for 2 years. The 900' ridge the dropped off very steep to a hollow on the south end. One way in and one way out, no go-arounds, turn final and you are going to land, high terrain at 12 O'clock. About a 60' flat place at the beginning and then a swag about 10' deep for 200' then a short level spot and then up a hill side. Started takeoff with a north heading going up the hill, make a 180 deg turn as fast as you can and come down the hill and hit the level spot and try to get off before the swag in ground effect, go over the end of the strip and have an instant 400' of altitude over the hollow. Bush flying.
My neighbor has a farm strip about 25 miles east of me. 1100' and very interesting. Its about a 35 on the WY mountain strip rating system.
 

Pilot-34

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Honestly. An informed opinion from someone who's lived in Alaska for 30 years, and flown there, and you dismiss it? How in the world is anyone supposed to be able to help you? You implied that you'd flown Cherokees (pulling the Johnson bar to get off shorter) and you don't know this?

Go to the airport and watch a Cherokee 140 try to take off at gross, compared to a 172 with the same engine. Big difference. Low wings that get snagged on the bushes and pull the airplane off the runway. Short little laminar airflow wings that are fine for cruise speeds but not that good for lift at lower speeds. A light nosewheel that is easily bogged in soft soil and rips off or flips the airplane onto its back.

Fine for a "bush" strip that has a nice wide hard surface and is plenty long and has no trees at the ends. Not for this:

View attachment 97342
I don’t get it why are you always looking to make me out as the bad guy?
It was exactly my respect for 30 years of Alaskan experience that made me ask the question.
It was exactly my respect for 30 years of Alaskan experience that made me ask the question here is a guy with 30 years of harder knowledge I wanted to find out the particulars of that knowledge.
People have different ideas of what they want in a bush plane what they need in a bush plane and even what a bush plane is.
Tommy made a all encompassing statement I want to know his reasons.
See I think his reasons are important .
 

proppastie

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Took my Pa-28-140 to Alaska. All my landings were airports. One out of the way spot, I can't remember where,... met a local that said he'd never seen one before, but was familiar with the Cherokee 6,.... "looks like nice little airplane".
 

BBerson

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Port Townsend WA
I wouldn't land my 172 on that abandoned area either. The bushes would damage the horizontal tail on rotation.
I did land my Cherokee at the Knik glacier remote bush strip. There wasn't any bushes to damage the tails.
 

Pops

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I wouldn't land my 172 on that abandoned area either. The bushes would damage the horizontal tail on rotation.
I did land my Cherokee at the Knik glacier remote bush strip. There wasn't any bushes to damage the tails.
One straight tail C-172 that I bought had the leading edge of the stab beat up from flying off a gravel strip and wheel picking up gravel and hitting the LE. I reskinned all of the stab.
 

BBerson

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Very common in Alaska. Most of the Cessnas in Alaska have special rubber boots on the horizontal tail. Still need skinning periodically.
 

azevedoflyer

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Feb 4, 2020
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Consider a short wing Piper, a PA22 (Tripacer) or a PA22/20 a conversion of such to taildrager.
They are sturdy little planes (29' span / 20' length), have upwards of 900# useful load (mine has an empty weight of 1092# and AUW of 2000#), cruise 110mph at 55% (2100 rpm) burning slightly less than 7gph of autogas (engine is a Lycoming O320 A2B/7:1 compression ratio). They are very nimble in handling but not harmonious (heavy rudder/less heavy in pitch/lighter yet on ailerons. What is surprising is their short field capability, something you would be hard to tell looking at those stubby wings. Have mine for 18 years and do not intend to get rid of her...
I read they are very popular in Alaska for reasons listed above. The design really shines behind an O360, an almost std feature in Alakan bushplanes.
 

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Pops

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My daughter and his husband used to have a Piper Colt changed to a tail wheel and a Lyc- 320. Fun airplane except had to watch the speed because it cruised within 4 mph of the VNE.
 

Dana

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I don’t get it why are you always looking to make me out as the bad guy?
It was exactly my respect for 30 years of Alaskan experience that made me ask the question.
Because whether you intended it that way or not, it came out sounding like you were challenging him. And you have a tendency to not let a subject drop even when it's settled.

If you've ever flown a Cherokee 140, you know it's not a sparkling performer, especially when loaded. A light wing loading and plenty of power is what makes a good bush plane. A Cherokee has neither.
 

Pilot-34

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Certainly it’s not as Sparkling a performer as a Cherokee 180 or a 235.
But for that part neither is J-3 quite the performer as a super cub 180.


Certainly it’s not as popular in Alaska as the high wing airplanes.

And of course that has to do with tradition ,perception ,and mission.

But there was a period when the Cherokee may have been the most popular bush plane in Alaska.
If you define bush plane as a heavy hauler to outlying villages.
The Cherokee six was very popular for that particular Bush mission for a long time.

Another thing to keep in mind when discussing Cherokees in Alaska is that an awful lot of flying is done from strips barely above sea level on colder than standard days.
Is it fair to judge the Cherokee by the standards of the least powered smallest of the clan?

Probably ,we judge a lot of Cessnas by the 150 and 152.

And again I will repeat the best bush plane is the one you have no matter whether the wings on the top or the bottom.
 
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