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Can anyone give me a reason why I SHOULDN'T buy one?
This will be my first plane and I plan to use it for fam travel and to get my IFR.
this is my first post.
Good question. I cannot, though I've neither owned nor flown any member of this family, but have carefully researched it after recently selling my efficient but expensive Mooney 231. Before that I flew a fast Cherokee 180, with all available knots 2 U mods, that climbed out at 1000f/m, cruised easily at 130-135 knots TAS, depending on load, etc, and could climb to almost FL 180. Now for me, a family man and transportation pilot who hauls too much cargo everywhere I go, and often flies into short or high elevation fields on hot, humid, high DA days, with legs of 450NM or more, only the Tiger member of this family would be considered for safety reasons alone. It's too tempting to fill empty seats and baggage space when the power may not really be there to raise all that stuff fast enough to clear the tree tops climbing out. A bad scene. One curiosity I read about is the caster nose wheel with braked mainwheel steering, meaning that braking is necessary to steer while taking off - not good on short/soft fields. But I read that some pilots learn to cock the airplane just enough to offset torque and wind and accelerate quickly to bring in rudder control and minimize that factor. Also, getting in and out during rain soaks the cockpit, panel and all. And I would beware of any outlandish speed claims and would test fly the ship to verify peformance with my own handheld GPS (flying it in all 4 compass directions and averaging the observed ground speeds). If it was a heavy or sickly ship barely faster than an unmodified Cherokee 180, given the current asking prices, I might pass on it an maybe even just get a Cherokee and install the K2U mods. Also, I'd call at least two insurance brokers, give them the N number and my personal data, and get quotes before buying the plane. Finally, I'd contact a couple of reliable A&Ps in my area to see what their routine annual charge would be. I say routine with hesitation as that's the key word. Then I'd compare acquisition cost, maintenance and insurance costs, and performance of this ship to the alternatives (Cherokee, Cessna, ...). You might also try to negotiate a good price on a runout engine ship and factor the full overhaul cost into the equation. You probably know about the owners group website: http://www.aya.org/. There are also some Grumman reviews available online, but I've lost the links now. Good luck and keep us posted!
Thanks for all the great info. I have not looked at the 180's yet, I do have many hours in them, but all rental time. As for the 172's they seem to be a bit hight price wise to get into a 70's model.
Where can I find good info on AVG maintenance cost of the three birds?
Thanks again for the headsup!
All I know of are some good, but now dated, guides to used aircraft purchases advertised in places like Trade a Plane. There's a 2-volume set that I have found indispensable, but it's over 10 years old now, meaning that any recent ADs, etc, wouldn't be there.
Look at ADs for the ship here: http://www.airweb.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgAD.nsf/MainF.... To get the ship serial number from the N number, which may be needed, check out the FAA site here: http://registry.faa.gov/arquery.asp.
Another thing I recall reading is that this family tends to run hot due to poor air circulation, resulting in premature top overhauls, but that some things can be done to alleviate that issue. Good baffling under the cowl is part of the solution, but there may be more, e.g., one of Roy LoPresti's new speed cowls as shown here:
A top overhaul is one of those nonroutine things that can pop up anytime, but usually just when your're tight for money. A new jug kit was required at my first annual of the Cherokee 180, but it wasn't too expensive and the plane performed extremely reliably throughout my 5 years of ownership. Eventually, however, an overhaul and new prop were required and they, along with the full set of k2u mods at the same time, set me back $20,000 about 8 years ago. Course I'd only paid $24,900 for the 180, so it wasn't that bad a deal.
Thanks again! I'll look over those web sites tonight. I have been looking at the 172's but for the money I have to spend (45,000) I'd have to go back into the 60's to get one. The Grummans just look like they offer a faster top speed, newer craft, for less money. Plus I like the way they look. But, my kids will be in the plane with me... so looks are not the most important thing!
Here's another Question:
How much maintenance can I do myself? Is there a reg that covers this question?
Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware)! Some A&Ps won't like it, but a certificated pilot owner can do a lot as long as the aircraft is not used for commercial purposes. There are many benefits. In fact, while doing my own oil changes, I have identified problems missed and, in one case, probably caused by the A&Ps working on my aircraft. In one case they missed an alternator bolt stripped out of the aluminum engine case (or more likely, they caused the problem by overtightening the bolt and "forgot" to tell me about it). I was doing a lot of IFR at the time, with family, and was surprised to find the alternator hanging loose on one remaining bolt while doing my own oil change. (Always tug on the belt during preflight, if you can reach it.) In another case, a different A&P claimed to find and fix a landing-light short under the cowling on my "new" Mooney 231, but really never did - I did shortly thereafter, however, upon removing both the top AND bottom cowlings (which is tedious on the 231 due to many cowl screws and cowl flap connections) to change the oil. Taking off the bottom cowl, which the A&P obviously didn't bother to do, I immediately saw the short under my nose - it was a landing light power screw rubbing the wire in a piece of intake air duct. The heat had burned a large hole in the duct, covering it with black soot (which I smelled everytime I turned on the landing light, which would then throw the breaker) and arcing was visible on both the screw head and the duct wire. I had another A&P fix the problem, and never went back to the former one. There are good reasons for doing your own preventive maintenance as long as you have some mechanical aptitude and skill. Another is saving money and getting to know your plane. You must follow standard practices and thus get the correct manuals for your plane as well as general guides, APPROVED materials and supplies like safety wire, and tools.
FAR part 43 has several sections covering what an owner pilot can do, which is referred to as "preventive maintenance" not involving "complex assembly operations". I've always felt that any given mechanical operation is more complex for some than for others, depending on their knowledge and skill, so I'm uncomfortable with going beyond what is specified in the list.
A list of specified preventive maintenance items appears in the current FARS here:
Who can do it is covered here:
There are probably some other relevant sections, too, in part 43 or elsewehere. All the current FARS are here:
one advantage of the C172s and PA28-180 (or181) is that there is a big support network including parts, just given their numbers. There is very little difference in operating cost between these similar Cherokees and C172s, at least that I can see.
I considered buying a Yankeee for primary flight training. The Grummans do fly faster than their equivalents...
Have you checked the Aopa website for the Grummans?
The Grummans are fun to fly. Like little sports cars...responsive, great visability. If you buy one or rent one though, you will want to ask the CFI about the emergency hatch release - on the inside. One CAN get locked inside. I know, it happened to me. No one, including the folks I rented it from knew of the emergency latch release. It was a real experience getting out of the cockpit.
I like the aircraft, though.
I just purchased a 1979 Tiger, after having considered the Cherokee 180, Arrow, Mooney, and Cardinal as alternatives. I actually researched a lot of aircraft, but those were my top choices in the end, based on a combination of cost, value, and functionality. I quickly walked away from the Cessna market, even though I did all my flying in Cessnas prior to the Tiger. I just couldn't stomach paying for a 30-year-old airplane but getting a 40-year-old airplane. In other words, as reliable and ubiquitous as the Cessnas tend to be, the value just isn't there. You can get more plane for your money by choosing another brand. They are usually beaten, being used mostly as trainers. Just my two cents there.
I walked around my local airport (Palo Alto), and after talking with a couple of old hands, decided that a Mooney wouldn't be the best thing at my experience level. Having narrowed my choices to the Tiger and Arrow, I decided to fly each and see what they felt like. Reading about them is great, but the reality is that you have to fly a plane to find out if you like it or not. Luckily, there's a flying club in Palo Alto (West Valley Flying Club - http://www.wvfc.org) which has over 60 aircraft. They had both the Tiger and Arrow on the line. I arranged to fly them with an instructor, back-to-back.
I should mention that I had started leaning away from the Tiger by this point, primarily due to having read about some of the very faults which Craig so aptly pointed out: cooling, open canopy, castering nosewheel, etc. But, I decided to fly it anyway, feeling like I should at least do my due diligence. Fly it I did, and it was truly thrilling. I kept thinking, "This is really cool, but wait until I fly the Arrow. That'll probably be even better."
Next, I got my big chance to fly the Arrow (200hp, retractable, complex). I thought it would be the greatest experience. Actually, "truck-like" comes to mind. The Arrow feels like an SUV in the air. It lumbers, has a slow roll rate, and generally lacks pizzazz. It was a royal pain to steer on the ground, owing to the stiff linkage. I actually felt my thighs burning after taxiing for five minutes.
I went home and thought it over for a couple of days. I just couldn't get that Tiger out of my mind. Finally, I decided I just needed to buy one. I had wanted to build some complex time, but since this was my first plane, I thought I should make sure I actually enjoyed flying it! I began my search in earnest, while simultaneously getting some more training in the Tiger to feel more comfortable with it. The second time was as good as the first, and I still love the plane. Less than two weeks later, I was the proud owner of N45253.
It's only been a week now since I closed the purchase, and I've only had the chance to fly her once, due to the bad weather. Now I'm having the carburetor rebuilt, which I suspected going in. But I got a good deal, and everything else seems to work (fingers crossed).
Let me give you my observations, based on my still-somewhat-limited experience:
1) Castoring nosewheel - turned out to be a total non-issue. I always had to use some brakes making tight turns in Cessnas, so steering the Tiger wasn't foreign to me. On takeoff, you might need to pulse the brakes for a few feet, but only until the rudder comes into play. This is surprisingly quick (20 knots), and I even remarked to my instructor how fast it was. By my 6th takeoff or so, I wasn't using any brake whatsoever.
2) Sliding canopy - Ever tried to board an Arrow or Cherokee? Trust me, it's either the sliding canopy or at least two doors for me. Whoever decided that only one door was enough for four passengers should be shot. Oh, and how often do you really board your plane in the driving rain? If you want to stay dry, get a high-wing. Otherwise, you'll learn to get in quickly. That's harder to do in the Pipers.
3) Cooling - it's true, they run hot. But, it's not the major issue you might think. Get a good JPI 8-probe EGT/CHT gauge, and stay on top of your baffles. Thousands of owners manage to do it, and so can you. Also, this is the only "major" issue I see in the Grumman line, and other aircraft have many more. It seemed like a fair trade to me.
4) Handling - I read somewhere that the Tiger compared to the Cherokee/Arrow like a Mazda Miata to a Ford Excursion. Having flown both within an hour of each other, I'd say that's about right. The Tiger is light and nimble, and just plain fun to fly. It'll go fast when you want, and turn on a dime. Ok, I can't do spins, but when have I wanted to? (My wife would kill me for sure.)
5) Family - I have a 3-year-old daughter, and one more on the way. I shudder to think of putting two car seats in a Piper, whereas the Tiger just opens right up, and makes it easy to load the little ones in.
6) Visibility - Here's one I haven't read anywhere else, although it's important. I have more visibility in the Tiger than any other plane I've flown. The wings are short, and don't impede my vision. The way the windows are shaped make me feel like I can see anywhere. But most importantly, I can see over the panel with ease, and the cruise angle of the plane lets me see down over the cowling. I can actually see where I'm headed! Try that in a 172! It reminds me of my wife's VW New Beetle. It's like the front end is missing or something.
7) Engine Access - getting to the engine on the Tiger is a simple matter of popping two catches on either side. The cowl lifts like two gull wings, and everything is there for inspection. It's not a problem to do this as a part of the preflight, if you like.
8) Cargo - The useful load of the Tiger is maybe slightly less than that of the Arrow. However, you can fold down the rear seat of the Tiger, and stuff it full of cargo. That's a bonus for sure. It's hard to load it out of CG as well.
Did I mention it's fun to fly?
Some links. Here is the review Craig was mentioning, from Aviation Consumer:
I think the poster was dyslexic, as this was from the 1998 Aviation Consumer, not 1989. If you look at the graphs, they go almost to 2000. Crystal ball? I think not. Anyway, I have the 1998 Used Aircraft Guide, and this is the same article.
This is a letter a guy wrote for that article, in its entirety. They only used a portion of it, but the whole thing is valuable in its own right.
http://www.aya.org - The American Yankee Association
http://www.grumman.net - The Grumman Gang
http://www.airmodsnw.com - Air Mods NW (mods for your Grumman)
http://www.fletchair.com - Fletcher Aircraft (more mods and parts - invaluable)
Lastly, you can get a great deal on a Cheetah. It's similar to the Tiger, but with less engine and useful load. Beware, though, if you live in a mountainous area or at high density altitude. The climb performance really is lackluster. Still, they can be converted to a Tiger for a (hefty) price.
I'm sure there are some things I left out, but you're probably tired of reading this by now. I hope this helps. Good luck in your research. Go fly a Tiger or Cheetah if you can.
Thanks for all the great info! It sounds like we've been on the same path. I've also looked at about 5 diff models... 172, 177, Arrow, Tiger, M20, etc...
I keep coming back to the Grummans... Tigers and Cheetahs.
I would love to talk with you about your plane, How can I contact you?
One other thing that I ought to mention. PowerFlow Systems! They manufacture a ''tuned exhaust system'for the Grummans. On a test Cherokee 140, with a coule of other mods, they claim well over 140 mph. While you may not get that with the Grumman, you probably will see 15-25 more available horsepower due to the freer flowing exhaust.
As mentioned earlier in this thread, LoPresti has a new cowling with should cut drag, and I also saw in this months FLYING a new STC for an alternate air intake which should give you some ram air effect.
However, the Grummans always seem to be lower priced than anything else in their category for same age/time/condition aircraft, and Lane Wallace sure seems to like hers!
I like flying the Grummans. They are like sports cars - speedy, responsive and have great visability.
Check out this website for some good insight:
These posts provide a lot of useful info on the Grumman Tiger. From that info, I'd agree that the few minor negatives are easily offset both by value and easy fixes. For instrument approach stability, add an autopilot or wing leveler, be sure it works, and be able to use it blindfolded. For rain on entry/exit, which will occur often in serious transportation (ie, X/C IFR) flying, carry a big umbrella. I can't wait to fly one of these beauties.
From what I understand, the Grummans have an accident rate roughly 10X higher than the 172 or Cherokees but, this is for pilots with less than 200 hours in the plane. Once the pilots logs some good hours this drops off. From what I read this is due to having to keep the planes moving faster in the pattern, Pilots just don't want to run these planes at the speed they should especially with the little guy, the AA1A. I also considered a Grumman until I read this info. I am inches away from a good Cherokee 180. Good Luck!
Make it a habit to check your fuel gauges to ensure the tanks are even.
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