Beechcraft Skipper

Beech conceived the Skipper in 1973, and the first model flew in 1975. The earlier production models had conventional tails with a stabilator and flaperons (a combination of flaps and ailerons all in one piece). In 1978, the Skipper changed to a T-tail with an elevator and discarded the flaperons in favor of conventional flap and aileron systems. This later version was in production for three years (from 1979-1981). Only 312 Skippers were built. The Skipper was planned as Beech’s entry model for student training at the various Beech Aero Clubs and is comparable to the Cessna 152 and Piper Tomahawk in performance, system simplicity, and price.

The Beech Skipper is a low-wing, T-tail, fixed-gear, two-seat training aircraft. The wings use a tubular spar, NASA airfoil with two modifications: a strake on the leading edge of the wing near the fuselage to prevent airflow separation at the wing root and reduce the camber in the walkway of the wing. The flaps are electric and extend to 30 degrees. Entrance to the cabin is from two doors on either side of the fuselage. Pilot reports describe the cabin as "roomy" and the seats "comfortable and plush," though noting that armrests were left out. Pilots called the forward and side visibility "outstanding" for training operations because of large windows, a sloping nose, and seats that slide upward when moved forward. The sloped nose aids visibility during climb but makes teaching pitch attitudes more difficult. Rear visibility is reported restricted by headrests and lack of a rear window. Pilots also report ventilation is poor and big windows add to the greenhouse effect in the summertime. Noise inside the cabin was judged average, but an intercom system should be installed if the aircraft is used for training. Instrumentation in the cockpit is standard, with a carb heat lever between the throttle and mixture on the throttle quadrant, a setup some instructors say could cause problems for students progressing to more complex aircraft. The fuel system is either on or off and incorporates a light that illuminates when the fuel level is 2.5 gallons in either tank. The Skipper has the Lycoming O-235-L2C, 115-hp engine with an electric primer activated by the ignition switch. Cold starts in the winter may be difficult. The Skipper’s gear is fixed, with an oleo strut nose gear and a tubular spring attached to the fuselage for main gear. Pilots report prominent wheel vibration on takeoff and landings. Maintenance for the Skipper is normal; however, finding a mechanic or a maintenance manual might be difficult. Only 312 were built, so parts might be hard to find except through the Beech factory.

Skipper performance is comparable to other two-seat trainers, except for climb rate. The book calls for 720 fpm, but test flights show much less, especially on warm summer days; one pilot report said to expect 500 fpm on a 50° F day. Takeoff acceleration is noted as "leisurely" but steady. Cruise speed is a little slower than other two-seaters, but the Beech makes up for that in comfort. Flight controls are quick and responsive, and rudder trim makes long climbs to altitude and control of the excessive adverse yaw a little easier on the right leg. Ailerons have ground adjustable tabs, and the elevator is also equipped with a trim tab. When the proper trim is set, the Skipper tends to hold airspeed regardless of power or flap changes. The elevator is very responsive, even at slower speeds in the T-tail construction. Ailerons are effective but rapidly lose their effectiveness as the stall is approached. Lateral stability should be monitored, as bumps to the control yoke will start a slow roll. Ground and runway handling is good, other than the occasional wheel vibrations. The Skipper has reasonable useful load, but weight-and-balance limits can easily be exceeded by any combination of fuel, passengers, or cargo.

Beechcraft Skipper 77 Trainer
Brooks Whitney, AOPA’s Aircraft Reviews, December 1996

The airplane is a two-place, low wing, single engine airplane equipped with fixed tricycle landing gear.
This airplane is certified in the utility category. See the aircraft’s P.O.H for approved maneuvers when in the utility category. The airplane is approved for day and night VFR/IFR operations when equipped in accordance with F.A.R. 91 or F.A.R 135.

The aircraft is powered by a Lycoming O-235-L2C and is rated at 115 horsepower. It is a four cylinder, normally aspirated, direct drive, air cooled, horizontally opposed, carburetor equipped engine.

Fuel tanks are located in each wing and have a capacity of 15 gallons each for a total of 30 gallons. Fuel is fed from the fuel tanks through a fuel selector valve in the center floorboard and then through a strainer to the engine-driven fuel pump. An electric fuel boost pump is available for use when needed. Fuel quantity is measured by float-operated sensors located in each wing tank system.

The electrical system is powered by an alternator and a 12-volt 25 amp-hour battery. The system circuitry is a single-wire, ground-return type, with the airplane structure used as the ground return.

  1977 Beechcraft 77 Skipper
Engine:  
Model Lyc. O-235-L2C
No. Cylinders 4
Displacement 233 cu. in.
HP 115
Carbureted Or Fuel Injected Carbureted  
Fixed Pitch/ Constant Speed Propeller Fixed Pitch  
   
Fuel:  
Fuel Capacity 30  gallons
Min. Octane Fuel 100
Avg. Fuel Burn at 75% power in standard conditions per hour 7.4 gallons
   
Weights and Capacities:  
Takeoff/Landing Weight Normal Category N/A
Takeoff/Landing Weight Utility Category 1,675 lbs.
Standard Empty Weight 1,100
Max. Useful Load Normal Category N/A
Max. Useful Load Utility Category 575 lbs.
Baggage Capacity 120 lbs.
Oil Capacity 6 quarts
   
Performance
 
Do Not Exceed Speed 143 KIAS
Max. Structural Cruising Speed 119 KIAS
Stall Speed Clean 49 Knots
Stall Speed Landing Configuration 47 Knots
Climb Best Rate 720 FPM
Wing Loading 12.9 lbs./sq. ft.
Power Loading 14.6 lbs./ hp
Service Ceiling 12,900 ft.