Private Pilot, September 2003
Text by: Norm Goyer
Photo's by: Bill Fedorko
(Click on images to make them bigger)
WE AMERICANS COME from a big country.
We love Big Macs, big parties, big Lotto winnings, Big Brothers, big mountains,
big hoop stars and of course big cars, big motorcycles and big airplanes. Many
pilots start out in a Cessna 152 but then purchase a Cessna 172, then a 182,
then a 206 and if their bucks hold up, a 208 Caravan. The progression is normal,
from small to big. Pilots know what they like and it isn't wimpy cars, wimpy
bikes or wimpy airplanes. Uncle Sam had it right when he told the world of
aviation, "There is no substitute for cubic inches." Period. End of discussion.
I, like many people, got my love for big airplanes with enormous engines while flying World War II aircraft. Uncle Sam also taught me that "if it ain't round it ain't sound." That refers to the U.S. Navy's love affair with radial engines and now, of course, the superdependable turbine jet engines. My love for big iron came from my father who sold Buicks and Cadillacs for a living. I can remember my dad opening the hood of his Buick Roadmaster and pointing out the straight-8 engine. He was equally proud of the beautiful V-8s and even some V-12s in the cars he would bring home for family trips.
Care to Compare
"Hey Norm, want to write about the eight to ten passenger AeroComp Comp Air 10 and the new Hummer H-2?" Bill Fedorko asked the other day. Would I? They don't come much bigger than those two, and besides, the Comp Air 10 has a round engine. I have flown all of the AeroComp aircraft and had an especially good time with the big 10 on floats a short while ago. I had never flown a turbine-powered seaplane before and I was chomping at the bit to exercise my seaplane rating one more time. As far as the Hummer H-2 was concerned, right up my parking lot. I have owned Chevrolet Suburbans since they were called "Carry Ails" and looked like saltine boxes with wheels. Again, we had a BIG family and we needed lots of seats to stuff our six kids and all the junk needed for family travel. Fifty years later, we still own a Chevrolet Suburban with a 454ci engine-nothing compares to cubic inches. I think of the new Hummer H-2 as my dream Suburban.
Airplanes are Pussy Cats
There is a closely kept secret amongst airplane folks. Big airplanes really are easier to fly than small light ones. They don't bounce around in rough air, they don't float half-way down the runway when you don't properly control your approach speed, and when set up with the proper trims, will cruise all day straight and level some even without an autopilot or wing leveler. For anyone who loves big and I really mean big SUVs, the Comp Air 10 should share the list of any pilot's big-boy toys. The Comp Air 10 has seats for eight that can be expanded to eight plus a couple of golden retrievers or kids, whatever your preference. The aircraft has a Walter M60lD 650-shp turboprop for power. The inside cabin dimensions are a staggering 13x5 feet. There are a good nine feet available after the front seats. Unlike an SUV, the Comp Air 10 is available as a tricycle or with a conventional landing gear (tailwheel).
The aircraft that I flew was on floats and based on the Indian River (Intra Coastal Waterway) in Merritt Island, Florida. Pilots who are used to flying in a four passenger Cessna or Piper are going to be amazed at the room inside one of these great utility aircraft. The size is comparable to that of my Suburban, which also has at least 9x5 feet of floor space after the front seats.
Big Engines Mean Big
The all-composite Comp Air 10’s performance is outstanding for such a huge aircraft. It will cruise at 175 to 200 mph depending on the load, altitude and obviously the power setting. The trademark of any turboprop aircraft is the ability to climb very rapidly even with a full load. The Comp Air 10 with its 3000-pound load capacity still climbs to its cruising altitude at an amazing 2000 feet per minute-plus. The takeoff performance at gross is equally great, measuring about 300 feet from a standstill to in-the-air.
Room in an airplane is a priceless commodity. There never seems to be enough. It seems that the huge cabin area of the Comp Air 10 would be large enough, but just in case more room is needed there is a removable cargo pod that attaches to the bottom of the fuselage. This pod is so large that ten sheets of 4x8-foot plywood will easily fit. For those who would prefer, skis (water or snow), snowboards or maybe a dozen boogie boards will also fit.
During the flight in the Comp Air 10, I remarked that the interior felt like my Suburban. No kidding I was told that they got the seats from a new Suburban. Should have known better than to have asked.
Great Low-Speed Handling
Earlier I remarked that large aircraft are simply easier to fly and that is a correct statement. Combine that fact with a correctly designed and built aircraft that contains a powerful engine and you have a very good flying aircraft. I tried out all the tricks of aircraft handling and the 10 came through every time.
In my estimation, slow flight is the ultimate test of an aircraft's aeronautical design. At minimum controllable speeds is when Band-Aids and trimtabs don't work very well and the airframe responds with some rather disturbing reactions of its own. If an aircraft can make 360-degree turns in both directions with the stall warning device screaming or blinking away, or the little gal telling you to increase airspeed, then the plane was probably designed correctly. If the wings can be held level after the ailerons are no longer effective with use of strong rudder input, the lateral stability is okay. Some planes will simply give up and fall off rapidly on one wing, and if it happens to be at the same time and you have full rudder applied, prepare for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
The Comp Air 10 was rock steady and even stalled straight ahead at about 45mph indicated. Of course the large twin vertical stabilizers and large rudders certainly provide the needed stability and control. Now, 45 mph is slow for such a large aircraft. In fact, all of the AeroComp aircraft exhibit exceptional flight characteristics. If you have need for a BIG airplane, then I highly recommend any of the AeroComp turbine-powered multi-passenger utility aircraft. They are some of the best aircraft I have flown for many a year.
The Hummer H-2, a Great
Companion to Your Camp Air 10
General Motors pulled a coup when they purchased the rights to the Hummer. And they did it again when they discharged the Hummer from the military and turned it into an almost civilized SUV. The Hummer H-1 was very close to the military HumVee, while the H-2 has the interior comfort and amenities of first-line SUV such as the Suburban, Escalade and the Yukon XL-all big SUVs with the comfort expected for $52,000. You get the macho military look without the need for an on-staff chiropractor.
The H-2 has the highly rated Vortec 6000 V-8 computer-controlled engine and Borg-Warner four-wheel drive with multiple transfer case settings. Hook these goodies to a well respected GMC Hydra-Matic 4L65-E, four-speed electronically controlled automatic. The gear ratios were chosen for anything from wall climbing ability to freeway cruising duties. The large l7-inch wheels plus the high-off-the-ground ladder-type steel frame will get you over the boondocks as well as out on the docks with your 7000-pound boat in tow. The H-2 has an empty curb weight of 6400: That is over three tons of iron. Its useful load is 8600 pounds, meaning you can load it up with 2200 pounds of stuff and things before the springs groan in protest. The H-2 is available in a rainbow of colors but for me there is only one H-2 and that is a yellow one.
Enter the Hummer H-2
So you jump into your yellow H-2, head out to the airport and load up your lemon yellow Comp Air 10-which will carry 800 pounds more than the H-2! After a brief flight from Northampton Massachusetts airport to Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod, you start unloading your other toys. All of your EMS camping gear comes out, and at the bottom are your latest toys.
Now, we all know that toys must match. So we take out a pair of Montague Hummer H-2 tactical folding mountain bikes. Yes, you are reading us right. Full-size, bright yellow, rugged bikes that will be right at home on the Cape Cod National Seashore bike trails that run right along the airport.
These handsome bikes were designed for Army paratroopers. That is why they are so rugged-they were dropped from airplanes. They can traverse any type of terrain at high speeds and when you are finished riding, a flip of a lever and they fold into a compact 3x3-ft. by l2-inch package. Wouldn't a pair of these look great tied down in the back of our Comp Air 10 or your Hummer? Of course they would.