When the Yankee first buzzed into town in the late 1960’s, it brought something new to the two-place, single-engine scene – something called pizzazz. This newcomer from nowhere achieved instant stardom thanks to its sliding canopy, rivetless finish and its 144-mph maximum, one of the best in its class. It still is.
But the bird had its problems too. Some pilots, used to more docile machines, found the Yankee a bit too quick and a bit too responsive for their liking. So they spread the word that the Yankee was a “hot” airplane, whatever that means. That word was enough to send American’s engineers back to their drawing boards. By redesigning the Yankee’s wing, they took out some of the “hot.” The altered plane’s stalling speed dropped from 65 mph to 62 mph and its slow-flight stability improved.
This new plane, introduced in 1971, was dubbed the Trainer. Given wheel pants, more paint and a cruise prop, it’s the TR-2.
All three models were offered in 1972, but only one Yankee was ordered. That was the last of the 485 Yankees ever made. Even though the Yankee is no longer, the TR-2 and the Trainer have retained their forebear’s rakish allure, and through them the spunky Yankee lives on.
The most distinctive feature about the Yankee was its sliding canopy. It’s still there but improved on the new TR-2 and Trainer. Hauling back the Plexiglas’s at 120 mph is an exhilarating experience, but Grumman American has improved the latch again in 1974 to ensure the exhilaration is not unexpected.
The 1974 TR-2 and Trainer also sport some modest interior changes, such as new upholstery, more panel-switch spaces and optional dual defrosters, but on the whole, the 74s are duplicates of the 73 line.
There are several peculiarities, which make the TR-2/Trainer distinct from its two-place fellows. These are apart from the canopy and flush finish.
One peculiarity you may encounter while eyeballing the gas tanks during preflight. The filler necks extend from the two wing tanks and course upward and outward from the tanks themselves. Lift the gas caps and look inside. You may see liquid or you may see nothing, even though the tanks are almost brimful of 80 octane. So check the gauges inside the cockpit before calling the line truck over.
Another peculiarity involves those very same gas gauges. There aren’t any. Instead, the TR-2/Trainer has transparent tubes fixed vertically to each side of the fuselage, where the doors would normally be found. It’s a novel arrangement, but I found the tubes difficult to read once knees and elbows were in the way.
The panel is fairly standard except for one surprise addition. The compass is located in the upper left-hand corner of the panel rather than in its time-honored position centered above the board. This positioning was done to improve visibility, which is superb in every phase of flight.
Lycoming’s 108 hp O-235-C2C engine powers both the TR-2 and the Trainer, but the propellers on the two models differ. The TR-2 is equipped with a McCauley blade suited for better cruise performance, while the Trainer’s McCauley prop favors climb performance.
The TR-2 flown for this flight check was loaded to 14.08 pounds shy of max gross. Despite that heavy loading, the plane performed well and matched almost every number its builders said it could. Climb and cruise checks were made on a flight out of Baltimore-Washington International on a 75ÂºF day.
Takeoff power was 2,600 rpm (redline) and we lifted off at 70-mph indicated, slightly faster that the recommended 65, and well within the 890 feet called for in the owner’s manual.
Trimmed for best climb at 90-mph, the TR-2 started climbing at 630 fpm. That rate slipped with altitude. Going through 3,000 ft, we were down to 550 fpm; at 7,000 ft the aircraft was laboring at 200 fpm. Switching the best climb speed to 84-mph gave much better results: a 350 fpm climb at 7,000 ft.
Cruise checks at 7,500 showed 108-mph indicated at 2,500 rpm. The air temperature was 54ÂºF so that airspeed worked out to 124-mph true, which is right on the money for about 70% power setting. Easing back to 2,400 rpm, the cruise dropped to 103 indicated, or 118 true.
The TR-2 also proved a good performer during slow flight and stalls. You get a lot of warning on stalls. The stall warning horn started screaming at 70-mph with power off, but the break didn’t come until 63-mph. The right wing dropped about 10 degrees, but no more. This mushing stall came through full-flap stalls as well. Power-on stalls were no different. They hit at about 57 mph.
The TR-2 responds quite well to control forces during slow flight. You can hold it with flaps retracted at 70-mph and 2,050 rpm. With full flaps it was steady at 65-mph and 2,100 rpm. Full flaps during landing give you slightly improved visibility of the landing area, but that’s about the only reason they’re used. Landing itself comes at 80 mph, right through the flare. The flare should be gentle; the elevator loves to fly, so any excessive back pressure on the yoke will put you right back in the sky.
The aircraft handles well, but it demands vigilance. It’s sensitive to any control pressure, and therefore any heavy-handedness will come through loud and clear. The pilot must compensate for torque and be exacting on his flare. In short, the pilot is forced to remain in control and think about what he is doing. That makes for a perfect learning machine.
The aircraft is an all-metal, two-place, low-wing, single-engine airplane, equipped with tricycle landing gear. This airplane is certificated in the utility category. See the airplane’s P.O.H. for approved maneuvers. The airplane is approved for day and night VFR operations when equipped in accordance with F.A.R. 91 or F.A.R 135.
The airplane is powered by a horizontally opposed, four cylinder, direct drive, normally aspirated, air cooled, carburetor equipped engine. The engine is a Lycoming Model O-235-C2C and is rated at 108 horsepower.
The fuel system consists of two tanks with a total capacity of 24 gallons, of which 22 gallons are usable, independent fuel sight gauges and a fuel selector valve. The usable fuel is managed by a fuel selector valve on the center consol. Fuel quantity is reliably indicated in vertical sight gauges on the left and right cabin walls. An auxiliary electric fuel pump supplements the engine-driven pump. The electrical system uses a 14-volt, 60-amp alternator and a battery.
1974 Grumman American AA-1B Trainer (With Climb Prop)
1974 Grumman American AA-1B TR-2 (With Cruise Prop)
233 cu. in.
Carbureted Or Fuel Injected
Fixed Pitch/ Constant Speed Propeller
Min. Octane Fuel
Avg. Fuel Burn at 75% power in standard conditions per hour
Weights and Capacities:
Takeoff/Landing Weight Normal Category
Takeoff/Landing Weight Utility Category
Standard Empty Weight
Max. Useful Load Normal Category
Max. Useful Load Utility Category
Do Not Exceed Speed
Max. Structural Cruising Speed
Stall Speed Clean
Stall Speed Landing Configuration
Climb Best Rate
15.5 lbs./sq. ft.
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