Thu, Mar 26, 2009
Ask ANN's Jim Campbell, a guy who may have flown more unique
aircraft types than anybody on Planet Earth, what some of his
favorite airplanes are and one name, in particular, will come up
quickly -- The Lockwood AirCam.
What's an AirCam?
The Air-Cam is a unique, twin-engine, light aircraft, with
impressive STOL capabilities (and even more impressive manners)
that include the ability to fly into short, unimproved airstrips or
operated safely over the most challenging terrain on the globe. Two
decades ago the National Geographic Society commissioned the design
and construction of the AirCam, and the serial #1 was shipped to
the Congo and flown for National Geographic by Phil Lockwood.
Phil then put the aircraft into production, though he eventually
went on to pursue other interests. In mid-2006 Lockwood regained
ownership of the AirCam design rights (previously years held by
Leza Aircraft). After Lockwood’s facility was expanded to
make room for the new venture, tooling and inventory was moved
across Sebring airport. In the deal, Phil and his staff took over
not only AirCam, but also the very popular Drifter series. Both
aircraft have re-entered serial production.
In the 200 HP (Rotax 912S) version, the AirCam boasts some
impressive stats. It has a gross weight of 1680 lbs, an empty
weight of 1040 lbs, and a stall speed of 39 mph. It has a wide
cruise range... from 50 mph to a bit over 100 mph, as well as a Vne
of 110 mph. The rate of climb is 1500 fpm, while 2000 fpm is
possible for lighter solo operations. The single engine ROC is a
solid (and VERY well-behaved) 300 fpm. On a 28 gallon tank, the
AirCam has a range of 340 miles (at 70 mph), though the long range
endurance mode offers flights as long as 6 hours. Takeoffs require
less than 200 feet and landings can be done in as little 300 feet.
Overall, though, the most amazing thing about the AirCam is the
truly inspired handling qualities boasted by this aircraft... even
in single-engine mode. It's easily one of the best handling
airplanes currently on the market.
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