What's the worst plane ever?

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by SixPapaCharlie, Jan 12, 2017.

  1. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    Like you got in a plane and took off and right away were like "Should I land or just roll and pull so I can end this?"

    For me, it was a tandem RV. I was in the back and it was just a bunch of bare metal and it was hot and loud and IMO an ergonomic disaster. There was a lot of aerobatics which didn't help matters.

    So what plane would you put on your "Oh a hamburger run? cool I am in... Oh in that??? Um, I got some sores that need tending to. Maybe next time." list?
     
  2. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    The Long Beach CA FBO where I worked in 1971 was the first dealer and school for the McCulloch J-2 Gyroplane.

    [​IMG]

    I'd had no prior rotor experience but the school trained me to instruct in them and I was among the first 25 or so to have soloed the beast. It was also the machine in which I have had my only aircraft accident. But more on that anon.

    Gyroplanes of that era, and the McCulloch J-2 in particular, were marketed as offering the best qualities of fixed wing and helicopters. The reality, however, is not so rosy.

    First, compare the stats on a McCulloch J-2 with the 1966 Cessna 150F I used to own:

    Engine: (J-2) Lyc. O-360, 180 hp; (C-150F) Cont. O-200, 100 hp
    Useful Load: (J-2) 456 lb; (C-150F) 491 lb
    Cruising Speed: (J-2) 95 mph TAS; (C-150F) 110 mph TAS
    Vne: (J-2) 109 mph CAS; (C-150F) 162 mph CAS
    Cargo area capacity: (J-2) 95 lb (under seat); (C-150F) 120 lb
    Fuel capacity: (J-2) 20 gallons; (C-150F) 22.5 gallons
    Range: (J-2) 150 statute miles; (C-150F) 300+ statute miles
    Takeoff over 50' obstacle: (J-2) 1,200 ft; (C-150F) 1,385 ft
    Approved operations: (J-2) Day VFR only; (C-150F) day & night, VFR & IFR.
    Max approved pressure altitude for takeoff: (J-2) 4,000'; (C-150F) no limit
    Max approved pressure altitude for flight: (J-2) 8,000'; (C-150F) no limit​

    A Super Cub would beat the J-2 just about all around. Even a 100-hp Sport Cub LSA would beat the J-2 in every category except landing distance.

    Yes, a J-2 touches down very slowly. In a moderate breeze I have touched down at zero ground speed. But though the manual doesn't prohibit it, crosswind landings and landings on other than paved surfaces were strongly discouraged. Witness the photo below, May 5, 1971, Compton, California. I was getting post-solo dual instruction in a 7-knot crosswind and the laws of physics with close-coupled landing gear and a high CG took over (yours truly on the left):

    [​IMG]

    That was the third such accident among the six J-2's that had been built up to that time. The first involved another CFI at my FBO, an experienced police helicopter pilot, who was also being trained in the J-2; the second was when a McCulloch factory pilot, a friend of mine, "duplicated the malfunction" four days later. The NTSB's probable cause for that one was "poor/inadequate design ... design deficiency in nosewheel self-centering device." The FAA grounded the fleet after my accident until the factory modified the nosegear (essentially adding an off-the-shelf Cessna shimmy dampener). A few months later I went out to the factory at Lake Havasu to fly a modified J-2, but I couldn't tell much difference.

    A J-2 can't hover, but you can reduce it to zero airspeed in flight, in which instance the aircraft goes straight down in autorotation. It does not stall. But, if you are low and slow and the engine quits you will not have enough energy to autorotate and flare to a safe landing. Just like a helicopter, the J-2's manual has a height-velocity curve showing altitude/airspeed combinations that must be avoided. For instance, it's a no-no to fly at 50 mph or less at 150' AGL -- where a Sport Cub with its 32-mph Vs0 might be perfectly happy.

    Then there's noise. The J-2 sounds like a DC-6 outside and a jackhammer inside. Back in 1971 headsets were rare, but we sure used 'em in the J-2. And then there's maintenance. Ugh.

    We were based at Long Beach, then the fourth busiest airport in the country. ATC hated us. When you take off in a J-2 you have to stop in position on the runway, engage the rotor clutch, then push the spring-loaded collective down slowly, which spins up the rotor. At about 450 rotor rpm you're good to go, but the process takes about 45 seconds -- tying up an active runway. Rotate at 47 mph and accelerate in ground effect to 65 mph, then climb (that's why a C-150 just about equals the J-2's takeoff performance). ATC eventually agreed to let us use a parallel taxiway for takeoffs in the J-2.

    A friend who was with the McCulloch company through development and production of the J-2 had this to say:

    All and all it was a really fun aircraft to fly but had so many limitations when it came to performance. One of the biggest problems was the noise it produced. This really plagued the engineering department and nothing seemed to help. We had to wear special David Clark headsets and still the noise level in the cockpit was deafening. We did experiment with a 200 HP Lycoming engine and also a 3 bladed constant speed Hartzell prop. These improvement helped a little but in the end, it still did not have the desired performance. It had a very limited range with a lot of unuseable fuel left. The required distance for takeoffs was far more than acceptable. We were able to land in off airport locations but with the wood props it was usually an invitation to some major damage. The landing gear struts would some times remain extended or be uneven and this will make landing sometimes very exciting if you didn't expect it.
 We did develop several techniques that would enhance both the take and landing performance but was never able to get them certified.
     
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  3. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    I am so glad I started this thread. That is an awesome story!
     
  4. slacktide

    slacktide Line Up and Wait

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    Amazing story Jeff - I only vaguely remember hearing about a McCulloch gyroplane before.
     
  5. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    The J-2 was built at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, in the same factory alongside McCulloch's chainsaws. It did have a good design pedigree, though -- it was designed by Drago Jovanovich, who also designed the popular Hughes/Schweizer 269 and 300 series helicopters. The J-2's rotor head was the same as the Hughes 269, with just a bit more rotor diameter.
     
  6. Art VanDelay

    Art VanDelay Pattern Altitude

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    I agree with Jeff about the J-2. The Air Space 18A was much more successful and a better all around platform. It had the ability to do near zero run jump takeoffs which made it much more helicopter-like.

    I almost bought one (18A) a year and half ago but it got away - oddly enough sold to China.
     
  7. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    I could totally get the RV complaint. They aren't very refined on the inside which is probably one of the reasons I've never been fond of them.

    For me the worst plane I've been in was a Piper Archer. I couldn't see out of it, felt like I was sitting in a hole. The elevator forces are stupid high. Don't think I'll ever get in another one of those.
     
  8. Getonit

    Getonit Pre-takeoff checklist

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    A Cirrus with a pulled chute and a broken AOA.....sorry had to be first.
     
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  9. Stingray Don

    Stingray Don En-Route

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    Gotta be this one...

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Acrodustertoo

    Acrodustertoo Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Cessna 162! What a pile of rubbish. No interior, no seats, no door handle, no payload and made in China. What the hell were they thinking? Bunch of morons.
     
  11. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    Here is mine:

    upload_2017-1-13_7-41-52.png

    But unlike Pilawt, I EVENTUALLY learned to love it. This picture is me, in the early 1990's, with my Tri-Q2.
    When I first bought it, I had about 90 hours. I bought it from the builder, Walt Halloran, who was a WWII/Korea/Vietnam vet, and had something like 30,000 hours. Walt had just lost his medical, and couldn't give me a checkout due to him having limited mobility from a stroke. Walt told me, "Don't worry, its a breeze to fly." This, of course, was coming from a guy that had flown piston / jet fighters his whole life. On a side note, I had no idea when I bought the plane about Walt's past. Months after buying the plane and meeting Walt, I looked on the cover of a EAA magazine, and there was Walt! The article talked about his history, his confirmed kills, and how he had flown with greats like Hoover and Yeager. I wish I would have known that when I met him.
    But back to the Tri-Q2...I took an Amtrak to Minnesota, to pick up the Tri-Q2. Although it only had 65 hp, it was extremely aerodynamically clean, and up to this point, my 90 hours of experience was in "aerodynamically dirty" trainers. But, with youthful bravado I never even considered that I might have a problem, handed Walt a check at the airport, fired up the Tri-Q2, and took off.
    At first, I thought, "Wow! This thing is so touchy, but I love it!" I think it had a roll rate about 10 times faster than a C150. I flew towards home with little concern, at 120 knots having a blast. All was good until I started descending for my first fuel stop in Wisconsin. I pulled the power back, pointed the nose down (like I've done many times in the C150), and glanced over at the airspeed...200 knots!!! Yikes! And, a Tri-Q2 has no flaps, no spoilers, no speed brakes, etc. Now I start to sweat.
    I at least had enough sense to realize that the 4000 foot field I was descending to was not going to cut it. The Tri-Q2 stalled at like 75 knots, but you NEVER fly a canard to stall on landing (Walt had drilled this in my head), so you touch down at like 85+ knots, flying onto the runway. I turned around, and diverted to Lacrosse, which had a runway double in length. It took me THREE attempts to get the Tri-Q2 landed on a 8000+ foot runway, and even then I wasn't sure I was gonna stop in time. I actually spent the rest of the day practicing landing at Lacrosse, but being a new pilot, hadn't perfected slips well enough to get the plane slowed down to land on less than 6000 feet.
    I got a hotel room and made an unexpected stay in Lacrosse, then the next morning, instead of flying home to my home airport with 4500 foot runways, I flew to my parent's, who live near a military base-turned-civilian airport with 11000+ foot runways. I actually left the plane at that airport for about a month, driving 3 hours each way each weekend to practice landing, until I finally got to a point that I could land in less than 4000 feet. Even then, just thinking about flying would make me break out in a cold sweat, no exaggeration!
    But, like I said in the beginning, I did eventually learn to fly, and love, the Tri-Q2. By the time I sold it a few years later, I could get it into 2000 foot strips no problem. It was cramped inside too (you flew it almost laying flat on your back), but I really miss the 45 to 60 mpg I would get with it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2017
  12. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Isn't that an Irish cargo plane, built by Short Brothers. Seen a few around at airports. Actually you could use that for a camper, fly somewhere, land, and camp.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_SC.7_Skyvan
     
  13. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    There are individual planes from my past I was not particularly fond of. A collection of hanger queens and other planes that, no matter what you did to them, wouldn't fly straight, or very long. But the only type that I thought had no redeeming value was the C-162.
    BTW: I rather liked the Short Brothers series of planes. They were rugged and solid cargo haulers. I also thought the Short SD3-30 would make a great flying recreational vehicle for air camping. :)
     
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  14. Acrodustertoo

    Acrodustertoo Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Buford T. Justice
    Lacrosse has a fun runway! Come in ove the Mississippi River and there she is. Great story. Thank you for sharing.
     
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  15. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    mnmmmm, pretty much any rental at my home field.
     
  16. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I honestly have to say none. Every plane I flew was fun in at least some way. Sure a few dogs but still fun. Now I used to cuss the ****ing EMB-120 Brasilia a lot, but it was a fun plane to fly regardless.
     
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  17. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Same boat, maybe I've never flown or flown in a really ratty bird. I've enjoyed them all. The only one that hurt was Steve's[1] IAR-823. As a military trainer the interior was all bare aluminum, and there was a raised box between the seats, it contained the nose gear when retracted. It was summer and I made the mistake of resting my lower leg against that box. INSTANT BACON LIKE SIZZLING! Holy schidt was that thing hot! Otherwise I enjoyed flying in that IAR, it was an interesting airplane.

    [1] Is Steve still here? Still flying?
     
  18. ARFlyer

    ARFlyer En-Route

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    A Beech Duke is up there on the list. Wacky engine design and horrible quality. We have one on the field that lives up to its hanger queen stereotype.
     
  19. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Not a lot of varied aircraft to consider in my limited flying time, but the 172RG "Gutless" was probably the worst I've flown. It was on the rental line, seemingly always had squawks, used it to do the complex endorsement. It didn't appear to have been updated since its manufacture date in the 70's with original panel with a few "inop" instruments. The girls at the rental counter generally didn't like to rent it out to anyone traveling more than 1-2 hours from the home base because of having to go retrieve it on several occasions, lol. So, aesthetics were poor, general condition was poor, and performance was a 172RG, so slightly above poor. All that said, it got us to KPNC for some Mexican food and back without any problems so it wasn't all bad. My CFI did take the controls for the takeoff out of KPNC to show me a "trick", but then got distracted with the checklist and forgot to raise the gear. A few minutes later he's trying to figure out why he can't get cruise speed up and then realized the gear was still down . . . oops. So, it's no wonder the 172RG was in that condition with so many people beating up on it all of the time.
     
  20. CC268

    CC268 Final Approach

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    Hmm I'm surprised to hear of people not liking RVs?? I've never flown in one but they seem like badass planes
     
  21. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Yeah, I'd love to get a ride in a 6 sometime, looks like a plane I'd really like.
     
  22. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    RVs are awesome. the 10 and (I think 6A whichever is side by side) are excellent IMO. That tandem one though was not my cup of tea at all.
     
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  23. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I've nevah done did that! :rolleyes:
     
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  24. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You need exposure to a Stearman to get over your distaste of tandems. Yup! :yesnod:
     
  25. tecprotb

    tecprotb Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Tim RV10
    Ouch...I don't know how anyone could complain about a plane that can get you off the ground in less then a 1000 ft., climb at 2000, and turn you upside down, and bring you back upright?
    If it resembles a tin can it's because the builder wanted to save weight, or money.
    I like all planes, I like the ones that are underpowered the least.
     
  26. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    Since RVs are homebuilt, I'm guessing there are many variations to the fit and finish.
     
  27. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I'd imagine if the builder/owner had installed some more upholstery (at the expense of weight/performance/cash), it may have deadened the sound and made it a bit more appealing. I believe that's the beauty of the experimental/homebuilts, you can have them as luxurious or as spartan as you desire. Some people like driving cars like AC Cobras, some people desire more than an engine and a windshield to be comfortable . . . different strokes.
     
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  28. Soldier64

    Soldier64 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not a specific type but a specific airframe. AH-64D tail #299 is a "Demonic Whore" as she tried to kill me on 4 separate occasions. A cracked nose gearbox causing single engine failure on short final into a FARP at 7,000 feet. A dual engine fire warning with only one engine on fire. I hope I don't see her again.
     
  29. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    Bullsnot.
     
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  30. jbDC9

    jbDC9 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Was it an RV-4 back seat? I can see the aversion to it, the back of a -4 is pretty snug, while the updated RV-8 is a bit roomier. To re-evaluate tandem RVs, try the front seat in an -8, it's a hoot! It's kinda funny, here in Houston we have a sort of "new RV mafia", 4-5 guys who have sold their Bonanza(gasp!), Baron, Cherokee 140, Cardinal RG and bought 2 RV-4s, 2 RV-8s and an RV-6. The RV-6 guy is ready to trade "up" to a tandem -8. Front seat in an -8 is roomier than squished side by side in a -6. Fun to fly, easy on gas, easy and inexpensive to maintain... but, I'm biased; I've got 10 years and almost 1400 hrs on my RV-8, it's a keeper!
     
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  31. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah why? Always liked that plane. Never flew one however.
     
  32. Joshuajayg

    Joshuajayg Line Up and Wait

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    I sat in the jump seat of an air tractor once. It was hot. It smelled like pesticide, Jet-A, and 5606. I had just eaten a 1/2 lb green chili cheese burger. I won't say there was any aerial application operations involved when I was sitting back there because that would have been illegal but I sure felt some bumps in-flight. I didn't spew my burger out but man, it wasn't enjoyable.

    Good airplane, bad experience.
     
  33. FlySince9

    FlySince9 En-Route

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    Piper Arrow IV//That T-Tail Geeze... looks cool but that's about it...
     
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  34. DrewG

    DrewG Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The plane I received my initial instruction in was horrible, but I learned of this after the fact. The interior was fine and had old radios and whatnot, but that wasn't the issue. Things started becoming suspicious to me when I kept getting voltage warning lights and having to reset the master switch. Nothing major, but it never seemed to get fixed and apparently, that was just the beginning.

    My initial instructor (and owner of the FBO from which I was training from) had medical issues and had to hand me off to the only other instructor there, who finished me off. That instructor (and now, close friend) left that FBO and opened up his own flight school on the same field shortly after I took my checkride because of issues he had with the planes there.

    Apparently, the engine on the 172 I was flying was about 2000 hours past TBO. It seemed to run fine for me, but things were starting to act up. They also had a Warrior that wasn't well-kept that I never did fly. After I took my checkride, the instructor had a student who had the 172 quit completely dead on the runway after returning from a flight. About a week after that, the Warrior threw a cylinder on the takeoff roll on a flight the instructor had with a student. Two weeks after that, the 172 was up and running (obviously no OH) and the instructor and student were about to leave the pattern, when the engine started shaking violently. They managed to get it back to the runway. The instructor basically walked in and told the owner of the FBO that if this is how he's going to keep the planes, he's out. Three or four months later, that instructor had bought a hangar, a very well-maintained plane and a flight school up and running at the same airport. Come to find out, the A&P that was doing work on the planes at the new school also came from the old FBO, after being told by the owner to take shortcuts on a repairs to the planes that he absolutely wasn't comfortable with and wouldn't sign off on. He walked out and told the FBO owner that he wants no part of having blood on his hands. Of course, that was all before the major engine troubles happened that I related above.
     
  35. tecprotb

    tecprotb Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I had a 8a before my 10, I sure do miss flying the centerline. The 8 is the funnest plane I have ever flown.
     
  36. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    Never had a problem with it.
     
  37. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    There are those that "know", and there are those that have "heard".
     
  38. labbadabba

    labbadabba Pattern Altitude

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    Really? I think they're a hoot. They could be better, but worst ever?
     
  39. labbadabba

    labbadabba Pattern Altitude

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    Was it a Q model? My experience is the Q model is grossly underpowered but the 172RG is actually a pretty good performer in cruise, I've found...
     
  40. labbadabba

    labbadabba Pattern Altitude

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    I kinda think Ercoupes are silly airplanes.