Home of Wasabi Air Racing

Elliot Seguin and Jenn Whaley's Formula One class air race team based out of Mojave, California. Pylon racing at the National Championship Air Races in Reno Nevada. Eight airplanes racing head to head around telephone poles in the desert. Mojave is the best place on the planet to build and modify a race plane, and Wasabi is lucky to have the best support in the business.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hoey's BD-4 Taildragger

Elliot and Bob in the BD-4
Bob Hoey is a retired Airforce flight test engineer.  He has worked on so many awesome projects.  Bob did extensive work on the X-15 (Hoey X-15 Article), was a consultant for Scaled on Spaceshipone, and has done extensive work studying and modeling the flight of birds (RC Bird Video).  In the mid seventies Bob built a BD-4 for family trips to Oregon.  Jenn has been vocal about a sweet spot for this airplane for a long time, so a month ago Bob asked us if we would be interested in buying the airplane.  As a true slacker I was not able to buy Jenn the airplane, but I did get to fly it with Bob in late September. What a privilege

With two crew and ¾ tanks the airplane climbed at 1000 FPM and cruised (WOT) at 140 KTAS…so Grumman Tiger performance, it is prop limited in cruise so an engineer might enjoy fiddling with this aspect of the airplane.  It is docile with nice forces in all three axes.  Strong dihedral effect means that even though it has no lateral or directional trim you can boot it around with the rudder in cruise. 

This aircraft type was not initially designed as a taildragger and the tailwheel occupies the space that was an add-on ventral fin, as a result there is some hesitancy to spin the BD-4 tail draggers.  I stalled the airplane (60 MIAS clean 55 MIAS Full Flaps) and found the airplane lively directionally at these high alphas with a powerful rudder, therefore I would be confident getting uncoordinated and slow.

As a taildragger the airplane was honest but lively.  The short gear and good lateral visibility meant that the pilot could basically watch the wheel touch down (a rare privilege in taildraggers) and could see over the nose in three point.  The airplane has a steerable Scott Tailwheel, the springs for which were set up very well.  We used 100 MIAS for base to final turn with 85 MIAS over the numbers.  Raised the tail at 45MIAS, rotate at 70 MIAS.