Hi everyone, hope all is well!
I have a friend who is selling his AA5 Traveler. It looks like an awesome aircraft. We currently operate a Tomahawk, and so far I’m quite happy with it. It steers like an absolute pig though! It’s also quite slow, and I can only carry one pax. We paid 8.5k for it, and since then I’ve flown it for about 70 hrs. The people we bought it from are willing to take it back for what we bought it, since it’s had it’s wings painted. The AA5 is going for about 16k. So we would make up the difference, about 7.5k. It has a mere 3500 airframe hours, only 1500 engine hours and she’s well equipped with GPS, vor’s, dme, adf, basic autopilot, etc.
Can anyone give a wee bit of advice? Has anyone flown an AA5 here? Did you like it? D’you think this is a good offer?
Thanks for any help :)
I fly an AA5A occasionally. Flies really nicely. Good visibiity. Makes up 125 to KTAS in high power cruise, less if saving fuel. Mogas capable. Decent range. Quite a poor short field performer, but if you compare two up in the Tomahawk with two up in the AA5A, it should be more or less a wash.
This is the pilot’s perspective, not the owner’s one. I guess like with every aircraft, there are good and bad examples, and type specific things to look out for. But I never owned one.
Aerodynamically the AA-5A is much more advanced than the Tomahawk. I have flown the AA-5B 180 hp Tiger a couple of times and that’s really fun. It flies very nicely and you can even leave the canopy (a bit) open. It was a role model when the SR20 was developed, by the way.
The AA-5 Traveler is the original four seat Grumman. It has the original tail which looks a bit cobbled together Link, I believe as a result of using the same tail vertical and horizontal surfaces, and it has draggier aerodynamics than an AA-5A Cheetah (or Tiger). All American Aviation-derived Grummans need runway length, and have relatively low ceilings. The Traveler also has a relatively low payload, but is inexpensive and fun, both good things. With 1500 hrs on the O-320 I’d want to look at the engine carefully, as an overhaul will be expensive relative to the cost of the plane. If the engine looks OK, I’d consider the plane considering the easy exchange that’s possible.
I fly an AA-5B Tiger, which is reasonably similar to the Traveler. From a pilot’s point of view, it is docile and forgiving, yet quite a bit more agile than, say, a C172, and a real pleasure to fly. The visibility is excellent. With the rear seats folded, you get a cargo hold big enough for a full-sized bicycle, or even as a place to sleep if you aren’t tall. With the avionics fit as you describe, you will be getting a reasonably IFR-capable aeroplane, so the price looks reasonable to me. The engine may either be the original 150 hp version that can use mogas, or a higher-compression 160 hp giving you somewhat better performance.
I used to rent an AA-5A and it is really a nice plane to fly. Much better than a comparable C-172 or a Cherokee, both feels heavy/stiff in comparison. A low time AA-5 at 16k € sounds a bit cheap in my opinion, but if it is on order, the engine is OK, no hidden damage etc, then it’s hard to find a better plane for that price.
My co-owner and me had a close look at the AA5 range (especially the Tiger) before settling for the ST10. We had prebuys done on 3 aircraft (all AA5B) in Great Britain and were very close to buying one that was based at Biggin Hill.
The Traveller/Cheetah/Tiger beat all their respective competitors (eg. PA28-150/160/180) when it comes to speed per horsepower. Some love their sprightly handling. Personally, I prefer a more solid ride. Your surely don’t want to to handfly a “Grumman” in IMC.
Further technical insight is here.
An important asset of this aircraft family is the closely-knit owners community. There is a mailing list (Grumman Gang) and the American Yankee Association, both of which are tremendous sources of knowledge. The people I got to know were all very welcoming and helpful – especially an English gentleman who inspected some aircraft for us at very low cost. I should still be able to find his contact details somewhere, if needed.
Two observations. The Traveler has a small tailplane and runs out of up elevator in the flare, so you need a trickle of power. This was fixed in the Cheetah which has a bigger tailplane. Other than that, the flaps are failry ineffective and you have to work on speed control as these are slippery aircraft.
Exchanging a Tomahawk for a AA5 seems like a pretty nice upgrade. The AA5 is a very nice airplane, fairly economical to operate and it has 4 seats as opposed to two.
The Traveller is the first of the AA5 series and therefore the pre- LoPresti airplane. It is about 10 kts slower than the Cheetah and has only 36 USG fuel capacity. It has a more than decent payload for the class with around 260 kgs with full tanks and will travel about 120 kts at 7.5 gph. It can be modified to use Mogas. Range is limited due to the small tanks, so I’d expect about 400 – 430 NM range with reserves. It will be happy to operate from 500 m hard surface or 600 m grass runways. Basically, it will do most of what a C172 or Warrior will but will fly considerably faster.
The AA5 and AA5A are not really airplanes for mountain flying, as they don’t climb very well and have a service ceiling of around 12000 ft.
The main difference between the AA5 Traveller and the AA5A Cheetah is that the latter was optimized by Roy LoPresti. The result was a very similar airplane than the traveller but one which would fly up to 130 kts and have an optional fuel capacity of 51 USG, with which it would gain a respectable range of up to 650 NM or 7 hours.
Compared to the Tomahawk, the AA5 is certainly the better tourer and it does have the option of taking more people or baggage. It is also faster. So if the airplane is all right, engine fine, pre-buy inspection ok and you are happy with what the Traveller can offer, I’d say go for it.
Thanks for all the advice and tips everyone, they will all be considered when making a decision!