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All systems go

Major milestone reached

I finally received the email I had been waiting for. The subject line read, “Test Flight Time!”

J.A. Air Center had finished installing the new avionics, engine, and propeller on the AOPA Sweepstakes Grumman Tiger, tested their function on the ground, and declared “all systems go.” Now came my favorite part of the project: flying it with the new tech installed.

The circa-1978 instrument panel, once state of the art, has been replaced with a modern glass panel—which perfectly matches the advanced capability of this airplane. It’s as if they were always meant to be together.

Turning on the master switch energizes the Garmin G3X Touch flight displays so that you can see the engine instruments during startup. Starting the engine is different than before—the traditional keyed magneto/starter switch has been replaced by separate rocker switches for the magneto and electronic ignition, with a push button starter in between. After starting, all remaining avionics are turned on using a single avionics switch.

Engine runup is normal, except for the addition of the MT electric constant-speed propeller control unit. You perform several operational checks to confirm the automatic rpm control is functioning properly, and that the propeller is in “high rpm” for takeoff.

Applying full throttle, I can feel all 180 horses from the newly overhauled engine tenaciously pulling the airplane down the runway. The airplane quickly accelerates to its VY speed of 90 KIAS and I am climbing in excess of 850 fpm.

The digital engine instrumentation makes it easy to see that the cylinder head temps rapidly approach their 440-degree-Fahrenheit redline during a full-power climb with the original engine cowl. Perhaps the most member-recommended upgrade since we announced the Tiger as the next Sweeps is a low-drag cowl to help keep the engine cool in the tight engine compartment—and increase the airplane’s top speed. We’ll explore this option after fitting new wheel fairings and before giving the airplane a stunning new paint scheme.

My focus for the first several flights was on proper engine break-in and testing the many functions of the avionics and instruments. I followed Lycoming’s Service Instruction No. 1427C for engine break-in, and thanks to Air Power Inc. and Lycoming, the factory-overhauled engine has been flawless.

Garmin’s integration of the avionics and engine instrumentation on the two G3X flight displays is superb. The winner of the AOPA Sweepstakes is going to enjoy the high degree of customization possible on the displays, enabling you to view flight and engine data how you prefer between the two touch screens. I haven’t yet found my perfect setup, but it’s been fun moving items around the displays and discovering new views and shortcuts.

With the test flights behind us and all squawks addressed, the AOPA Sweepstakes Grumman Tiger is off to visit as many pilots as possible to showcase the amazing capabilities of GA airplanes—and get you dreaming about winning one of the most modernized Grumman Tigers in the world.

[email protected]

Alyssa J. Miller

Kollin Stagnito

Senior Vice President of Media and Marketing
Senior Vice President of Media and Marketing Kollin Stagnito is a commercial pilot, advanced and instrument ground instructor and a certificated remote pilot. He owns a 1947 Cessna 140.

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