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The Piper Aztec on floats page 2

Rich Hulina reports on Air Muskoka’s elegant Nomad

A fixed boarding ladder is used to reach the rear baggage storage. To reduce drag, Air Muskoka offers an optional removable ladder kept in the baggage compartment and used only when needed by attaching it to the baggage door sill. A right-side single-pole boarding step with two foot steps is also being designed.

There are two ways to enter the cabin. Either side can be boarded; the left side has a single step similar to the landplane. On both sides of the aircraft you can de-plane forward by using the two stirrup steps and then stepping onto the floats. If the dock clearance is too low, it’s just as easy to walk over the aircraft as to crawl under the wing.

The Nomad offers a quiet, comfortable ride with plenty of leg room. All the seats are removable to make the plane suitable as a cargo hauler. The interior is 8 feet 3 inches from the back wall of the baggage compartment to the back side of the main spar in the cabin. An additional two feet are available by removing the copilot seat. Eight-foot lumber sheets could fit inside; however, the Nomad is most practically configured as a passenger and baggage hauler.

Fuel tanks located in both wings are a pleasure to fill–standing on a dock with no ladder required. Standard tanks are 144 U.S. gallons, and long-range tanks have a 192-U.S.-gallon capacity, giving a seven-hour range at 65% power.

The conversion includes the installation of vortex generators by Micro Aerodynamics of Anacortes, Washington, to improve low-speed control, lower the stall speed, eliminate Vmc and generally stabilize the aircraft during landing approach.

There are no airworthiness directives that apply to the Nomad; a few can be found for the wheel-configured Aztec, but nothing major. The airframe is strong and easy to maintain. Both engine and airframe parts are available and fairly cheap. Unlike de Havilland products, parts do not have to be purchased from one specialized parts company. Being over the floats, the engines are easy to work on with the option of quick-release cowls.

On a 200-nm round trip, the Nomad would require 2.2 hours of fuel with 45-minutes reserve, giving a useful load of 1,450 pounds. A Beaver on the same trip would require 2.6 hours of fuel for a useful load of 1,280 pounds. Aside from better overall economy, you will arrive home 25 minutes earlier in the Nomad.

Operators’ opinions
Although the Nomad is somewhat of a rarity, the comments have been universally positive. Knobby Clark, former owner of Slate Falls Airways in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, ran CF-ASK for about seven years in the mid-’70s. “It was quiet, fast and hauled five people and their gear very well. If it hadn’t crashed on wheels, I’d still be operating the aircraft.”

Alexander Landolt, of Landair in Whitehorse, owns Nomad C-GFOB. He is also experienced on Cessnas, Beavers, Otters and the Grumman Goose, but affirms that the Nomad is the most performing floatplane he has ever flown. “Hauling a full Beaver load at 65% of the mileage costs of a Beaver–those are the numbers that count!” His Nomad has a loading capacity of almost 1,900 pounds. Landolt says that the Nomad’s takeoff run is longer than that of a Beaver, which is to be expected for an airplane designed for hard-surface runways. Landair operates its aircraft at 2,350 rpm, 23 inches, which delivers a 130 KIAS cruise speed and a fuel burn of 25 gallons per hour. It will cruise even faster at higher power settings.

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