AirVenture Momentum Pushes Bearhawk Kit Backlog Beyond 2022
AUSTIN, TEXAS, SEPTEMBER 20, 2021 – Bearhawk Aircraft announced today the company is ramping up production at its manufacturing facility to meet increased demand for Bearhawk quick-build kits. The company offers a high quality kit of parts and assemblies used for the construction of Bearhawk two, four, and six-place amateur built aircraft. At present, five models are available in both plan and kit form, including the original Bearhawk 4-Place, two-seat Patrol, Companion and LSA, and the newest Model 5 with seating for up to six. Kit production takes place at a company owned facility in Atlixco, Mexico.
Bearhawk Aircraft participated in this year’s EAA AirVenture fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Exhibiting in the experimental aircraft area were Mark Goldberg, manufacturer of Bearhawk kits, and numerous members of the Bearhawk community, plus aircraft on display including the Model 5, its largest that can accommodate engines up to 315 horsepower.
According to Goldberg, “Oshkosh 2021 was very busy for us. The crowd was undoubtedly attracted to the Model 5 sitting on 31-inch Alaskan Bushwheels at the front of our booth. We had ton of interest in all our models, and the most sales ever at the show this year.”
Two informative events held during and post-show AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 were presentations given by Goldberg relating the backstory of Bearhawk Aircraft and describing the various models that have evolved from his collaborations with Bob Barrows, designer/engineer of the rugged line of Bearhawk aircraft. The first was a “Homebuilts in Review” session, held mid-week during AirVenture and hosted by Joe Waltz of EAA’s elite Homebuilt Aircraft Council. The presentation featured the Bearhawk Model 5 in situ and an interview with Goldberg. Waltz gave an informative interview drawing upon his experience as advisor, builder, and careers as both Air Force and airline pilot. The ‘Bearhawk Aircraft Presentation at Oshkosh 2021’ can be seen here: https://youtu.be/hmOAEQkyZlw.
The second presentation was EAA’s weekly webinar series held on September 8, 2021. In the program, Mark Goldberg discussed the current five aircraft offerings, responding to listener and moderator questions. The two Bearhawk presentations offer a glance at what makes the aircraft so appealing to pilots and builders. Sturdily built, Bearhawk aircraft deliver a broad performance envelope that optimizes both speed and short-field operations. In addition, their unique load carrying abilities make them suitable for both cross-country and backcountry travel. The archived webinar can be seen here: https://www.eaa.org/videos/6271502678001.
Goldberg has been involved with Bearhawk for more than 20 years. He built his first Bearhawk, a 4-Place model, at the launch of the kit manufacturing business. Previously he was flying a RV-8 he had built, but felt the need for an aircraft he could fly more safely into unpaved strips. Goldberg attributes first becoming aware of the Bearhawk design to a Sport Aviation magazine article from 1995, at which time the only aircraft examples flying had been built from plans—a time-intensive process. Today, Bearhawk quick-build kits can be completed in around 1,000 hours, as evidenced by the 120+ currently flying.
Visitors at AirVenture often ask, “Why is the Bearhawk better?” The cool and casual response from Goldberg, and Barrows, often starts with a modest description of the Bearhawk’s technical prowess. For starters, Bearhawk wings form a constant airfoil with aluminum skin and flush rivets; a smooth surface translates to aerodynamic efficiency. This contrasts with fabric covered surfaces that form scallops between structural members.
Barrows worked with Harry Riblett on the design of the self-named, 10-percent thicker (roughly one-inch taller) airfoil now used on all Bearhawk aircraft. The product of their efforts was an optimized wing with 1–2 knot slower stall speeds and up to 5 mph gain in cruise speed. Also remarkable is that each Bearhawk model is designed to Utility category strength at full gross weight. Barrows places this, along with weight savings, at the top of his design criteria. More highlights are revealed in a 17+ minute YouTube interview, ‘Bearhawk – Bob Barrows’ Approach to Airplane Design.’
Bearhawk Model 5
The Bearhawk Model 5, fifth in the series, retains the classic styling of previous Bearhawks. It is a familiar high-wing design, a product of the ages and time-tested. As a conventional gear aircraft, it performs safely and predictably, especially on unimproved strips. The most notable change from the 4-Place is that the Model 5 is bigger, seating up to six. The two Bearhawks might be compared to the Cessna 180, a 4-place aircraft, and the larger Cessna 185. However, the Bearhawk is lighter and stronger, and can haul more with easy access through its large cargo door. The YouTube video, ‘A Walk Around the New Bearhawk Five with Builder Collin Campbell,’ provides more detail.
As previously noted, Goldberg started his first Bearhawk with the idea that he would manufacture quick-build kits so others could save time in completing their aircraft. He understood a few key points before launching his project. First, good tooling makes parts repetitive and interchangeable. With regards to welding, a stable fixture ensures an accurately manufactured frame—the component on which all other parts rely. Each Bearhawk frame is MIG-weld tacked, then inspected for gaps per specification. Final welds are done using oxygen acetylene (gas), a method preferred by Bob as historical, still flying airframes were done this way. Thinner material, such as on tail surfaces, is TIG welded. More on this and other manufacturing techniques can be learned in a YouTube video titled, ‘Bearhawk Factory – How We Make the Kits.’
Other things learned in the presentations and videos about the Bearhawk that contribute to its popularity include airfoil shaped tail surfaces adding 20-percent performance increases with their greater surface area on horizontal and vertical stabilizers. The larger 4-Place and Model 5 Bearhawks approach at between 55–70 mph with their large 9’-2” long flaps. Touchdown is 40 mph in ground effect, equating to 43–44 mph stall in air. The 2,000-lb gross Patrol is so stable that reaching aft CG (center of gravity) condition is nearly impossible. Empty, it weights 1,100–1,230 lb. The Patrol touches down at 35 mph, cruises at 150–155 mph with a constant speed propeller, and at 140–145 mph with fixed pitch. Compared to a 90-mph Super Cub, however, the Patrol will get in and out of all the same places. Finally, check out how loading and hauling is accomplished with a Bearhawk. The YouTube video ‘Bearhawk – the pickup truck’ is a 30-seconds time-lapse showing the transfer of a loaded 4-Place Bearhawk to the bed of a pickup truck.
All Bearhawk models appeal to backcountry and cross-country flyers alike, and can perform a variety of flying activities. The 4-Place Bearhawk fills a utility and transport role extremely well with its large cabin. The Bearhawk Patrol is a tandem two-place version that excels at accessing remote airstrips. The Bearhawk Companion is a side-by-side 2-place model with superior strength and payload capability. The Bearhawk LSA is a lightweight design that meets U.S. Sport Pilot requirements. The new Model 5 seats six and is powered by up to 315-hp engines. Each aircraft excels at stable slow flight and attains higher than expected cruise speeds. Bearhawk Aircraft manufactures high quality quick-build kits for all models.
For more information on Bearhawk Aircraft, visit www.bearhawkaircraft.com, or contact Bearhawk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-528-4776.
– Bearhawk –
Complete listing of videos and links mentioned above:
Homebuilts in Review, a live presentation hosted by Joe Waltz of 500AGL, https://youtu.be/hmOAEQkyZlw
EAA Webinar – Bearhawk Aircraft, presented September 8, 2021, https://www.eaa.org/videos/6271502678001
Sport Aviation magazine, October 1995, Flight Report: The Barrows Bearhawk, Utility in a Home-Rolled Package by Budd Davisson, 1995_10_08_Sport Aviation.pdf
Bearhawk – Bob Barrows’ Approach to Airplane Design, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4wid84CGZk
A Walk Around the New Bearhawk Five with Builder Collin Campbell, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k29_JrCACpY&t=1204s
Bearhawk Factory – How We Make the Kits, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2oe2ZF61t8
Bearhawk – the pickup truck, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rgnbjviNhg
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