Freshly overhauled O-320 with high compression pistons, powerflow exhaust and new paint my AA-5A gets 124 KTAS on 7.8 gph at 10,500. Will push 130 KTAS a little lower and around 10 gph. Gotta love the Cheetah!
(Oh, being maintained by a Grumman Guru assures perfect rigging ... a must for efficiency!)
Do the classic engine mods, Fix the plastic, Paint your plane, Renew the interior.
Of course your Cheetah is a run-out-dog if you neglect it.
There is no reason that your Cheetah is basic, slow and antiquated (except because of the owner).
Something is wrong if a stock Cheetah is 105kts and 10gph. Bad rigging, incorrect leaning technique, etc. Obviously if your fuel burn rate is like a 180hp engine and your speed is less than a Cessna 150, something is bot obviously and seriously wrong!
I along with many other Grumman owners read your recent article "When Cheetahs Were Fast." While the general aviation fleet is aging, many are able to match if not exceed the the efficiencies they saw when new. We'd like to help you bring your plane back to those prior performance numbers.
Bob Gibson, this year's AYA convention chair along with Bob Steward, one of our most respected Grumman "Gurus" have asked me to submit the following scenario for you, your plane and readers of Flying magazine. Fly your plane to our convention on St. Simons Island in May of this year where we offer you a COMPLIMENTARY 4-step "Cheetah Upgrade" process.
1. Flying your plane "as is" over a prescribed course to determine a reference speed/power setting.
2. Have "Grumman Experts" review the aircraft, and make the changes THAT WE CAN at the convention on the ramp or in the hanger. Rigging, baffles,etc at no cost to you.
3. Flying your plane "after adjustments" over the same prescribed course to note the improvement.
4. Give you a "Further Enhancement" list of items you can add later as well as flying techniques to improve your planes performance.
We'd ask that you visit us for our entire convention Monday PM-Thursday PM. If you care to speak to our group, we will waive your convention attendance fee as well. If our team is successful in bringing improvement to your plane, we'd also ask your consideration in writing an article which would highlight the "As found" condition of your aircraft and thus the "After" as well. You would also be able to write on your overall experience of coming to the convention. More than anything we'd like to highlight the value of resources such as our AYA, Grumman Gang, Bondline and Team Grumman.
There has been lots of discussion on the Grumman Gang email about this entry, mostly concerned that your plane isn't in good shape, possibly engine, likely rigging. I have a '72 Traveler which, when properly rigged (and after a great paint job by FletchAir), flies at 120.4 kts as demonstrated by a spot gps qualification flight (full throttle, properly leaned, at 4500', full tanks, two 'standard' pilots) for the 2010 Air Race Classic. Over the course of the ~2400 mile race and on the way back home to Texas, full throttle all the way, Lil Red averaged 8.2 gph. So for flight planning, I use 120 kts and 8.5 gph to be a bit conservative, with standard reserve. The Traveler has a great payload, but we are often alone together up there, so no worries about going over gross.
Our Gulfstream Grummans/American Grumman/... are great GA planes, giving excellent performance and gas economy. Even without spending $$$ on speed mods or fun electronics, with some attention to proper rigging from one of the above-mentioned Guru's your plane should come much closer to 'the numbers' than you currently use for flight planning (unless of course, you are being super-conservative for planning). Indeed, what were the results of your flight with Conner? Better than your conservative planning figures, I hope. If not, a visit to your nearest Grumman Guru is in order.
A Cirrus SR22 is $300,000 to $400,000.
For just $100,000 you can make your Cheetah into an outstanding cross country aircraft; new paint, new interior, bigger engine. better avionics. It will be a lot faster and more capable than it ever was in 1979 AND will be more economical than a Cirrus in every way (price, insurance, gas, annuals, maintenance, etc).
Every time I walk by a brand new Cirrus on the ramp, you can almost smell the money. I get back into my 130kt Cheetah and just smile.