Airplane of the Month • August  2005

Dave Penney's 1978 SparrowHawk Aerobat Taildragger  

Lucky Guy! Dave's "Other Airplane" is a Yellow 160HP 150 Taildragger.

Year: 1978 Model: A152 Serial#: A1520750
16 of 74, 1978 A152's manufactured
16 of 315, 152 Aerobat's manufactured in the USA

Back in the early '80s I instructed in a 152 taildragger and had a blast doing it. It made a great tailwheel trainer, with its side-by-side seating and familiar layout. But without that draggy nosewheel, it was always cruising up in the yellow arc on the airspeed indicator!

Fast forward to 2002. After a decade or so not flying, I joined a local aero club and got active flying and instructing part-time. I've always believed that every pilot should know how to fly a taildragger, and I finally got a chance to put my money where my mouth was. I found 36B on the internet, for sale in Phoenix. The thing that excited me about this particular taildragger was that is is an Aerobat. With its tougher airframe, this plane could take higher cruise speeds and stay in the green arc. And being able to do loops and rolls didn't hurt, either! So I caught a Southwest flight to Phoenix, flew home in 36B, and put her on leaseback with my aero club.

About 18 months and 300 hours later, 36B turned 2200 and I decided to overhaul what was after all a 25-year old engine. I'd heard about the SparrowHawk STC, and decided to have it done at the same time. This "freshened up" a great-running engine and bumped it up to 125 HP. 36B now climbs faster and gets over the top of a loop easier than before. And no more fouled plugs!

36B has had meticulous and regular maintenance, getting five annuals (100-hours signed off as annuals) in the last three years. But after 3 years and only 600 hours flown, I realized that I was putting too much money where my mouth was! 36B just wasn't paying off as a leaseback, at least not at the rate I was charging, so I took her off leaseback and will soon sell her to some lucky pilot.

But not to worry - I've still got my C-150/160 taildragger towplane to fly around in. I just wish she had a faster green arc!

Dave Penney

[Posted August 9, 2005]

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