What would I buy….Luscombe 8A
This is the second installment in a new series of articles based on a hypothetical set of airplane ownership criteria. Note: This information is strictly the opinion of the author. Your mileage may vary. See our previous installment here.
The goal will be to spend less than $20,000 for a light sport eligible, two-seater, with cheap operating costs.
So if I was limited to the criteria above what would I buy?
The Luscombe 8A
I have had the pleasure of flying one of these almost daily during my flight instructor days and it is a great little airplane. Ruggedly built, cheap to maintain, fun to fly – what else is there. Oh yeah, it will out run a Champ or Cub any day of the week. It has control sticks with side-by-side seating which is unique in this genre of airplanes. It is a true classic so the ramp appeal is a thousand times better than most contemporary factory-built two-seaters.
The ailerons have a lot of adverse yaw, so you have to work your feet - something I think makes you a better pilot.
The little bullet-proof 4 cylinder continental will sip 4 gallons an hour on an average day so cost is minimal. There are plenty of spare parts and the only thing I know that you should watch for when purchasing one is corrosion in the vertical stabilizer.
The price range of these birds goes between the low to high twenties depending on condition. A nice one can certainly be had for $20,000 – see examples below. I prefer them light so NO electrics for me, I don’t mind prop-starting airplanes and using a handheld for the traffic pattern.
Be careful some of the derivative models are too heavy for LSA, but if you want radios and a starter and don’t care about the weight, it’s still a great ship.
If you want a fun airplane that won’t break the bank that you can actually take on a cross-country and cruise at 100mph on 4gph, this is your machine.
- Crew: 1
- Capacity: 1 passenger
- Length: 20 ft 0 in (6.10 m)
- Wingspan: 35 ft 0 in (10.67 m)
- Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
- Wing area: 140 sq ft (13 m2)
- Empty weight: 870 lb (395 kg)
- Gross weight: 1,400 lb (635 kg)
- Fuel capacity: 25 US Gallons (95 L)
- Powerplant: 1 × Continental C90 air-cooled flat four, 90 hp (67 kW)
- Propellers: 2-bladed metal fixed pitch, 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) diameter
- Maximum speed: 128 mph (206 km/h; 111 kn)
- Cruise speed: 120 mph (104 kn; 193 km/h)
- Stall speed: 40 mph (35 kn; 64 km/h) (flaps down)
- Range: 500 mi (434 nmi; 805 km)
- Service ceiling: 17,000 ft (5,182 m)
- Rate of climb: 900 ft/min (4.6 m/s)
Honorable mentions in this category that I would give consideration to would be:
- C-120/C-140 series
- Taylorcraft BC-12D
- Pietenpol Air Camper
- C-150/C-152 (if I didn’t want a taildragger)
- Kitfox (probably could find below $20k)
For a different kind of machine, same price range (if you shop)
- Wittman Tailwind