AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 32

PILOT BRIEFING
SWEEPSTAKES |

Fast cat
Getting ready to mod the Tiger
B Y KO L L I N S TAG N I TO

ON A BRUTALLY COLD DAY in mid-February,
the AOPA Sweepstakes Grumman Tiger
taxied up to J.A. Air Center in Aurora,
Illinois. The 800-nautical-mile flight from
Boston was our first opportunity to see
how this 43-year-old airplane performs. It
flew exactly as it should-well, except for a
heavy right wing, high fuel burn, and weak
cabin heat. J.A. wasted no time removing
the Tiger's instruments, avionics, and interior-and soon a slew of modifications will
be bolted on that will significantly enhance
its performance.
Performance modifications are available for many airplanes that enable them
to fly faster-or slower; carry more; or be
more fuel efficient. Online forums can
provide some insight into mods others are
making to your type of airplane-along
with endless debates about their effectiveness. Perhaps the best source of knowledge
about performance modifications are aircraft type clubs. We called the experts at
the Grumman Owners & Pilots Association,
and they helped us sort through a bewildering array of modifications available for
the 1978 AA-5B Tiger. We'll bet the winner of this sweepstakes airplane is going to
love the engine, propeller, and drag reduction upgrades that will increase speed, and

32 | AOPA PILOT May 2021

the ignition and exhaust upgrades that will
increase efficiency.
Engine. This Tiger's engine was last
overhauled in 1993 and has just over 1,000
hours. We could install new cylinders and
it would likely run great for years to come.
However, to make sure all 180 horsepower
are available on the Tiger, we're installing
a factory rebuilt Lycoming O-360 engine,
contributed by Air Power Inc. A factory
rebuilt engine comes with a new logbook
and has zero time when it's installed on the
airplane. We're also ditching the vacuumdriven flight instruments, so the engine
will no longer need a vacuum pump; fewer
engine accessories means more power
available to spin the propeller. Granted,
it's a small difference-but it all adds up.
Exhaust. We found another way to
gain much more power-installing a tuned
exhaust system from Power Flow Systems
Inc. Less restrictive than stock systems,
a tuned exhaust enables the Tiger's
engine to produce an additional 10 to 15
horsepower right out of the box. As a
bonus, Power Flow says to expect up to a
1.5 gph reduction in fuel burn at equivalent cruise speeds.
Ignition. To further increase fuel
efficiency, we're swapping out the right

magneto for an Electroair
electronic ignition system.
Electronic ignition systems
maintain optimal spark timing
automatically by using a MAP
sensor; timing is also adjusted
with altitude. This level of
precision-compared to mags-
will improve fuel economy 10
to 15 percent.
Propeller. To maximize
the power and efficiency of the
engine, we'll install an electrically controlled constant speed propeller,
provided by MT-Propeller. The MTV-18
propeller features three composite wood
core blades wrapped in an epoxy fiberglass housing with stainless steel leading
edges. Simply turn a dial on the instrument-panel-mounted control unit to your
desired propeller rpm and you get automatic pitch control. The package offers a
shorter takeoff roll, higher climb rate, and
faster cruise speed-or increased fuel efficiency during cruise-compared to the
Tiger's original fixed-pitch propeller.
Fairings. The Tiger is already an aerodynamically clean airplane. Regardless, we'll
investigate various fairings and cowlings
that can further improve its cruise speed.
But obviously missing on our Tiger are its
wheel fairings (many call them wheelpants).
FletchAir Inc. makes its own Grummanstyle wheel fairings and will provide a set
for the AOPA Sweepstakes. This Tiger will
claw back the 5 to 7 knots of cruise speed it
lost when its pants were discarded.
Are there additional performance mods
you'd like to see on your sweepstakes airplane? We'd love to hear from you.
aopa.org/sweeps
EMAIL kollin.stagnito@aopa.org


http://www.aopa.org/sweeps

AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 4
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 6
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 7
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 8
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 9
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 11
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 15
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 16
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 17
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 18
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 19
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 20
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 32
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 33
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 34
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 35
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 36
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 37
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 40
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - Cover4
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