• Head-2-Head Feature VI: A General Aviation Challenge

    Head-2-Head Feature VI: A General Aviation Challenge

    By Ron Blehm

    We have had some requests for a General Aviation Challenge which is understandable because I am not a GA kind of flying guy. I'll fly heavies and classic old radial engines before I climb into a Cessna but, given the demand ... From Mandang in PNG (AYMD) you have been asked to fly to Mendi (AYMN), pick up 500 pounds of people and parcels and deliver them safely to Nadzab (AYNZ) in Lae, PNG.

    • With full fuel tanks and a 170-pound pilot we'll depart and see which aircraft can climb to 5,000 feet quickest.
    • Next we'll see how the landing at 6,200 feet above sea level goes.
    • During 30 minutes on the ground we'll load 500 pounds and then try to depart.
    • Cruise phase for all flights will be 12,000 feet.
    • Upon landing and taxi and shut-down at Nadzab, we'll calculate time and fuel burn for our score; lowest number wins.

    First up is the default Cessna 182:

                       
    • Departure at 11:27 AM
    • Full tanks is 552 pounds
    • Time to 5,000 feet is 7.4 minutes
    • Arrival to Mendi is at 13:02
    • Departure from Mendi is at 13:32
    • Ground Speed = 130 knots
    • Shut-down at Lae is at 15:02
    • Fuel burned is 204.9
    • Remarks: Slow, arduous climb. "Twitchy".

    Next up is the default Piper Cherokee:

                       
    • Departure at 11:27 AM
    • Full tanks is 300 pounds
    • Time to 5,000 feet is 3.4 minutes
    • Arrival to Mendi is at 12:49
    • Departure from Mendi is at 13:19
    • Ground Speed = 150 knots
    • Shut-down at Lae is at 14:42
    • Fuel burned is 201
    • Remarks: Smooth, fast climb. Flies and trims out nicely.

    Finally we use the Project Bonanza V-tail:

                       
    • Departure at 11:27 AM
    • Full tanks is 570 pounds
    • Time to 5,000 feet is 6.5 minutes
    • Arrival to Mendi is at 12:23
    • Departure from Mendi is at 12:54
    • Ground Speed = 225 knots
    • Shut-down at Lae is at 13:50
    • Fuel burned is 223
    • Remarks: Climb is more stable than the Cessna but not fast. Cruise flight is fast and it holds its high speed on approach. It looks really ugly - I'll have to repaint it.
       

    Final Scores (low score wins):

    • Bonanza = 9.9
    • Piper = 10.1
    • Cessna = 10.4

    We see here that in total, all aircraft are really well matched with just half-a-point separating the final "efficiency scores". The Bonanza flies fast but burns more gas. I actually enjoyed flying the Cherokee and will likely keep that in the active hangar for awhile. (I may not see the other two again unless their use is demanded for some special project in the future.)

    Next up: Do winglets really matter?

    Ron Blehm
    [email protected]


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