A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Bearhawk 5 first impressions

August 28, 2021
Emilie Phillips

We test flew the prototype Bearhawk 5 at Bowman this past weekend.

There were a number of build choices that I found odd.

  • two throttles?
  • a constant speed propeller governor that wouldn’t adjust below 1,800 rpm
  • miniscule avionics
  • 4 widely spaced seats instead of 6 or 4 and lots of baggage
  • drafty doors that let the rain in

I tried to ignore those, because each builder can make their own choices. The one build choice we did contemplate was the sky light. Tyson had hoped it would give more visibility over the wings in a turn. It only did for very steep turns. On the other hand, it relieved the claustrophobic feeling in the back of our Bearhawk, which makes both Isaac and I slightly motion sick in the back.

In the rest of this post, I compare to our Bearhawk 4.

Our original Bearhawk 4

The whole front dash and front windshield are different than the original Bearhawk 4. Tyson thought he could see out better on the sides. I thought the dash was lower than ours and the panel shorter. The stick goes under the dash. For full forward, you have to reach quite a ways under the dash. On the other hand, you can pull the stick all the way back without hitting the seats. That’s an improvement over ours.

Tyson appreciated the extra 2″ of width in the cabin.

The plane taxied well. It seemed to need a lighter touch on the rudder pedals than ours. But that again could be builder specific geometry.

Tyson checking out the Bearhawk 5 luggage space

The front doors are much better than the Bearhawk 4. They fold out at an angle so they rest on the struts rather than needing the extra mouse door flap. The rear baggage door can’t open flush with the fuselage. A longer hinge would fix that.

Like with our Bearhawk, the flaps on the Bearhawk 5 flex. The 45 degree setting on the ground gets pushed up to 30 degrees in flight. Our Bearhawk has an electric flap motor, so I can’t make a direct comparison to the stock floor mounted flap lever on the Bearhawk 5. It’s really hard to adjust the flap angle once the airplane picks up speed. Both retracting and extending the flaps is hard. I had trouble with the 45 degree setting at 60mph and the 30 degree setting at 70mph. Tyson has ideas of building slotted flaps and a ceiling mounted flap handle.

Compared to our early model 4 place, the 5 appears to cruise 5 to 10 kts faster on the same fuel and tires.

Steep turns

The flight characteristics of the Bearhawk 5 were all around better than our Bearhawk 4. Ours is old enough we have the original wing and flat slab tail. This plane has 315 horsepower in a bigger engine which brings the CG forward. Peter said he had to put weights in the back to keep it in balance. Despite that, it flairs much better than our Bearhawk and I could easily get it to stall. (That’s a good thing for short field competitions.) Tyson managed a very nice landing.

In our Bearhawk, pitch is twitchy to almost unstable, whereas roll is high inertia. In the Bearhawk 5, the roll and pitch rates are much better balanced. It rolls faster. The pitch, while still responsive, seemed to stay put better. A lot of this may be due to the longer fuselage. Some will be due to the airfoil horizontal stabilizer. Peter said people have complained about the adverse yaw. It seemed about the same as our Bearhawk 4.

We had little wind, so we could not evaluate the rudder’s effectiveness in a cross wind.


See also

The Bearhawk 5 is definitely a better airplane than the original Bearhawk 4. We will be upgrading when we get a chance.

All Photos