Cockpit space in Tomahawk, Skipper, & Yankee?

DMD3.

Pre-takeoff checklist
Joined
Nov 8, 2014
Messages
451
Location
Tifton, Ga
Display Name

Display name:
DMD3.
As a 6’3” pilot who has logged around 50 hours in Cessna 150, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want to own one as the cockpit is just too small and uncomfortable, even when flying solo. Of course there are aircraft with even small cockpits. My dad co-owned a Luscombe 8E that I would ride in when I was growing up, and if you REALLY want an ungodly cockpit, you can ride in a Taylorcraft.

Piper Cherokees tend to be priced lower than later model Warriors/Archers and Skyhawks, and as I’d spend most of my time flying solo (with occasionally 1 passenger), I may remove the backseats for extra baggage space. Essentially, it would be a glorified 2-seater. Nevertheless, I have to ask about the Tomahawk, Beech Skipper, and the Grumman AA1. I’ve read that they are more spacious than the C150, but how do they compare to the head&leg room of the 4-seater Cherokee? I understand that while the AA1 can cruise about as fast as the Cherokee 140/150, it’s essentially a 1-seater aircraft if you top the fuel tanks.

While the ‘glorified 2-seater’ route would probably be best, as the fuel capacity is far greater for x-country flights, I’d still consider one of these 2-seaters if I thought it’d be easier on the wallet, not just in purchase price but maintenance and insurance as well (Cherokees are more plentiful and priced not much higher than some of the 2-seaters).


Edit: I should mention that as a VFR pilot with no plans to get instrument rated, I can live with an antique, 6-pack panel. I‘m also aware of 2-seat Vans RVs, such as the 6,7, or 9. I would LOVE to own an RV, but as I don’t have any mechanical knowledge, it wouldn’t be a good idea to buy one unless there was a Vans guru near my area, especially as a first-time aircraft owner.
 
Tomahawk is very large inside in all dimensions (I owned one for 5 years - loved it). Grummans, not as much, Skipper, dunno.

As an RV owner, I'd encourage you to explore that option if two seats are enough for you. The airplanes are stone simple - just like those trainers. Any local A&P or IA should be able to work on them. There's an RV specialist shop at Falcon Field/Peachtree City that could help you with a prebuy and ongoing maintenance if you get into specialty issues or needs.
 
You really need to 'try on' any of those (or any other similar aircraft you might consider). It all depends on your torso vs. leg length, different for everyone. and different in each plane model. For me, I'm 6-1, all legs, some small planes may be fine for someone with a long torso, but my knees won't fit under the panel. Others, that pilot may bump his head on the roof, where I might be OK.
 
I trained in a Tomahawk... at the time I was 6'0" and 200 lbs... My instructor was 6'2" and 180... we had no problems.

The issue with the Tomahawk, they have become a "cult plane" and those who own them suffer from Tomahawk Dementia Syndrome. Ergo, finding a good one at a fair price is going to be a tough proposition - if you do jump on it..

There are two at my airport... never flown, and the owners will not part with them... many have tried.. :)

Good luck on your journey..
 
Last edited:
Tomahawk is very large inside in all dimensions (I owned one for 5 years - loved it). Grummans, not as much, Skipper, dunno.

As an RV owner, I'd encourage you to explore that option if two seats are enough for you. The airplanes are stone simple - just like those trainers. Any local A&P or IA should be able to work on them. There's an RV specialist shop at Falcon Field/Peachtree City that could help you with a prebuy and ongoing maintenance if you get into specialty issues or needs.

I’ve heard of him, Vic. Peachtree City is 128nm from my location. And while that’s nothing more than a puddle jump for an RV as far as flying it there & back for maintenance, if something were to happen so that my RV was grounded at my home airport, would he be willing to come to me?

I’ve frequented the Vans forum, and while many of the folks there agree that you can be a non-builder owner, they would adamantly suggest ensuring an A&P who is able to work on them. And while I could see oil changes being a nonissue for a certified engine, I don’t think just any A&P would be willing to do work on the airframe, according to them. What are your thoughts?
 
Vic will come to you, but it shouldn't often come to that. You, any mechanically inclined friend, any A&P, or any IA can work on the airplane as long as an A&P , the IA, or the person with the Repairman's Certificate for that airplane is doing the condition (annual) inspection. Sure, you may be on the steep end of the learning curve early, but with a little coaching you should be able to do most if not all maintenance (not inspection) on the airplane. If I was you, I'd talk with the local shops, A&P's, and IA's and see if there are a couple who would be willing to take you and an RV on as a client.

At my home field, there are two semi-large pro shops and another independent IA, all of whom will work on experimentals. So, don't take water cooler talk as a certainty - go ask the locals. Tell them what you're considering and what your end goals are - for them to do all the maintenance and inspections, or maybe for them to work with you to build your skills so you can do some/most of the work.
 
I’ve heard of him, Vic. Peachtree City is 128nm from my location. And while that’s nothing more than a puddle jump for an RV as far as flying it there & back for maintenance, if something were to happen so that my RV was grounded at my home airport, would he be willing to come to me?

I’ve frequented the Vans forum, and while many of the folks there agree that you can be a non-builder owner, they would adamantly suggest ensuring an A&P who is able to work on them. And while I could see oil changes being a nonissue for a certified engine, I don’t think just any A&P would be willing to do work on the airframe, according to them. What are your thoughts?
If you find an A&P that is not capable of working on an RV they are not capable of working on any GA airplane.

Finding one willing to work on an RV is more about you and nothing to do with the airplane.
 
RVs have far less issues with A&Ps refusing to touch them, and insurance almost treats them like they are certified. It's worth considering.

I used to own an AA1C and I have rented 150s in the past. In my view, the Yankees feels smaller, but more comfortable. It's similar to the difference between a Chevy S10 and a Corvette. The 150 has more space, but the shape of that space feels a little more awkward to me. The Yankee has less space, but it feels more molded to the shape of a person. Neither of them I would suggest sitting in for 4 hours.

As for the Yankee being a 1 person plane, mine had a O-320 and extended range tanks, so if I filled it with fuel, I had to be careful with my baggage and a second person wasn't an option.
 
RVs have far less issues with A&Ps refusing to touch them, and insurance almost treats them like they are certified. It's worth considering.

I used to own an AA1C and I have rented 150s in the past. In my view, the Yankees feels smaller, but more comfortable. It's similar to the difference between a Chevy S10 and a Corvette. The 150 has more space, but the shape of that space feels a little more awkward to me. The Yankee has less space, but it feels more molded to the shape of a person. Neither of them I would suggest sitting in for 4 hours.

As for the Yankee being a 1 person plane, mine had a O-320 and extended range tanks, so if I filled it with fuel, I had to be careful with my baggage and a second person wasn't an option.
This is accurate. I’m 6’6” and found the yankee to be more comfortable than a 150. The original aa-1 was a fun little airplane.
 
Last edited:
tomahawk and skipper feel big inside and certainly wider feeling that aa1 (for reference; I'm 6'2 and fat...). the aa1 was more fun/sporty and felt like you're 'wearing' it but had no wiggle room on longish flights. Tomahawk was great and I would have bought one but needed a trifle more performance for operating out of Vegas (warm and hilly)
 
For spaciousness, you might consider one of the baby Beeches (Musketeer, Sundowner, Sierra). They're all pretty roomy. Regardless, you'll have to sit in some planes to learn whether they really do fit you. Don't go by book dimensions and SGOTI.

I used to rent a Sundowner, and it was a comfortable airplane in addition to having 2 doors (though some earlier models only had 1 like the Pipers). But I’m told parts are more expensive. I realize this means they’d be pricier for the Skipper, but it still may be affordable as it’s a 2-seater.
 
I used to rent a Sundowner, and it was a comfortable airplane in addition to having 2 doors (though some earlier models only had 1 like the Pipers). But I’m told parts are more expensive. I realize this means they’d be pricier for the Skipper, but it still may be affordable as it’s a 2-seater.

Nah, I don't think it's much worse than anything else. I have a B23, the Musketeer that preceded the Sundowner and has the 180hp engine. So far I've had no dramatic issues with parts. If you go that route, join the Beech Aero Club ( https://www.beechaeroclub.org/ ) and you'll find all sorts of helpful advice on parts and maintenance. Avoid the model with the Continental engine as it's a one-off orphan, but the Lycomings are popular engines with good part availability and high reliability.

The planes are solid with only a handful of recurrent ADs, none of which are arduous, and they fly great. I love mine.
 
I used to rent a Sundowner, and it was a comfortable airplane in addition to having 2 doors (though some earlier models only had 1 like the Pipers). But I’m told parts are more expensive. I realize this means they’d be pricier for the Skipper, but it still may be affordable as it’s a 2-seater.

I had a serious consideration for a Beach Sport (B-19). Rock solid aircraft with an indestructible Lycoming 0-320... but performance-wise in climb and speed it is a little dodgy.
 
... but performance-wise in climb and speed it is a little dodgy.

Yeah, that's a bit under-powered. The O-360 makes a world of difference in these planes. Sure, I'd like my Mouse to be a bit faster (TAS is around 120kts, plus or minus depending on load and CG), but it's really not too bad and the climb performance is perfectly acceptable. For trips of a few hundred miles the speed is adequate and it's very comfortable for SWMBO and me, plus there's plenty of room for all the crap we want to bring along.
 
Yeah, that's a bit under-powered. The O-360 makes a world of difference in these planes. Sure, I'd like my Mouse to be a bit faster (TAS is around 120kts, plus or minus depending on load and CG), but it's really not too bad and the climb performance is perfectly acceptable. For trips of a few hundred miles the speed is adequate and it's very comfortable for SWMBO and me, plus there's plenty of room for all the crap we want to bring along.

I remember the 180 hp C23 cruised slower than the 160 hp Skyhawk I’d also rent. However, it seemed that the difference between the two would diminish with altitude if I remember correctly. At 7,500 msl, the C23 was only marginally slower vs. putting around at 2,500 msl.
 
If the price of "sundowner parts" worries you, you should rent. Seriously. Every one of these things, allllll the way down to your little 2-seaters, can chew a 15K hole in your wallet if you are unlucky.
 
The skipper is quite roomy and comfortable- probably “nicest” two seater I’ve flown from a comfort standpoint (champs, 152s, aa-1, Vargha kachina are my points of comparison)

Cons are climb rate and runway required. I liked the one I flew.
 
First. I earned my private in a Tomahawk and love 'em. Just some thoughts...

As long as you are looking for a two-seater, have you thought about modern light sport? Obvious issues are higher buy-in and limited weight, but the latter is a potential issue with the others you are looking at. OTOH, size-wise, you'd be surprised. The SportCruiser, for example, is wide enough to fit a set of golf clubs horizontally behind the seats. You can't even do that in an A36 Bonanza.

Have you also considered speed in your calculations? If your mission is local, it probably doesn't make a difference, but if you want to go places, the Yankee is probably the fastest if the bunch.
 
I trained in a Tomahawk... at the time I was 6'0" and 200 lbs... My instructor was 6'2" and 180... we had no problems.
Similar story here, except that I was 5"10 and 210. One of my instructors was smaller overall but still thick through the middle, and we fit just fine. I really liked flying the Tomahawk. (The 125hp Sparrowhawk conversion probably helped, though I've never flown one without it to compare.)
 
The skipper is quite roomy and comfortable- probably “nicest” two seater I’ve flown from a comfort standpoint (champs, 152s, aa-1, Vargha kachina are my points of comparison)

Cons are climb rate and runway required. I liked the one I flew.

Funny, the biggest con I always heard was the 95kt cruise speed.

I miss our little skipper, that thing was great.

They are all useful load-challenged, some of them alarmingly so. Try to get 500# or better if you can. It's hard to do. I've seen some in the 300s which is pretty much useless load.
 
I was a CFI back in the’80s. My flight school had both 152s and Tomahawks. I’m 6’4” and the Tomahawk was significantly more comfortable for me. I also thought it was a better all around trainer. I’m not sure how many are left although I did see a nice looking Tomahawk at KFIN.
 
I had a Grumman Yankee and a Cessna 150. The Grumman was more comfortable in shoulder room but tight on head and leg room. My flight instructor was 6'1"-6'2" and barely fit. Never been in a Tomahawk but just looking at it, it seems much bigger than the other two.
 
I have an AA1A. You'll need to try one on. It is bigger than a 150, but different dimensions. The corvette analogy above fits.

It is indeed underpowered (with the standard O235) but is an absolute blast to fly. Very light controls.

On mine, I can put 330lbs split between the 2 seats with full fuel. So it works for 2 smallish people.

It is very comfortable for a short while, but should never be considered a cross country plane. Although IFR capable, it is not a good IFR platform.

As planes go, it is very affordable. 6gph. Simple systems and hardly anything unusual.

Also, from your post, I'd really include EAB. VANS, Zenith, something in wide production. Just because you can do your own maintenance, doesn't mean you have to. They are all very mainstream.
 
Last edited:
I did my primary training in Skippers back in the late 80s, awesome airplanes, but slow. The joke is that bird strikes happen from the rear. Lot's of room, not rubbing shoulders with the instructor. My instructor also taught in Tomahawks. He called them traumahawks and hated them. He came in one day and said a new student got them into an incipient spin in the pattern. He was a little pale that day. But I've never been in one.

I would recommend the Skipper to anyone, just understand that you are going to be the slowest airplane out there, at least in the trainer world.
 
A lot pilots called the Tomahawk a Taumahawk. I flew it with an open mind. It was fun to spin at a safe altitude, as long as you didn’t look at the tail. It had tendency to shake a little. The only negative compared to the 150/152 was the cockpit was a greenhouse in the summer, I taught in Florida.
 
My instructor also taught in Tomahawks. He called them traumahawks and hated them. He came in one day and said a new student got them into an incipient spin in the pattern.
Your ex instructor was doing a really bad job that day. No way that should happen in a Tomahawk, Cub, or Lancair IV.
 
Your ex instructor was doing a really bad job that day. No way that should happen in a Tomahawk, Cub, or Lancair IV.
Yeah, he was a good stick, but that one scared the crap out of him. I believe the guy locked up on him, not sure how you prevent that, but I'm not an instructor.
 
My instructor also taught in Tomahawks. He called them traumahawks and hated them. He came in one day and said a new student got them into an incipient spin in the pattern. He was a little pale that day.

Wowzers... One compliment I have from many of the instructors I have flown with is the precision I have in the pattern... guess it comes from not wanting to stall a Tomahawk that close to the ground...
 
I did all of my primary in the Tomahawk. Obviously getting into an incipient spin in the pattern is bad, but that can happen just as easily in a Cessna. Seems like maybe that instructor was letting the student get too close to the edge of the envelope. We did a number of stalls in my training and it was never "THAT" scary. I loved the Tomahawks I was flying.
 
As a 6’3” pilot who has logged around 50 hours in Cessna 150, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want to own one as the cockpit is just too small and uncomfortable, even when flying solo. Of course there are aircraft with even small cockpits. My dad co-owned a Luscombe 8E that I would ride in when I was growing up, and if you REALLY want an ungodly cockpit, you can ride in a Taylorcraft.

Piper Cherokees tend to be priced lower than later model Warriors/Archers and Skyhawks, and as I’d spend most of my time flying solo (with occasionally 1 passenger), I may remove the backseats for extra baggage space. Essentially, it would be a glorified 2-seater. Nevertheless, I have to ask about the Tomahawk, Beech Skipper, and the Grumman AA1. I’ve read that they are more spacious than the C150, but how do they compare to the head&leg room of the 4-seater Cherokee? I understand that while the AA1 can cruise about as fast as the Cherokee 140/150, it’s essentially a 1-seater aircraft if you top the fuel tanks.

While the ‘glorified 2-seater’ route would probably be best, as the fuel capacity is far greater for x-country flights, I’d still consider one of these 2-seaters if I thought it’d be easier on the wallet, not just in purchase price but maintenance and insurance as well (Cherokees are more plentiful and priced not much higher than some of the 2-seaters).


Edit: I should mention that as a VFR pilot with no plans to get instrument rated, I can live with an antique, 6-pack panel. I‘m also aware of 2-seat Vans RVs, such as the 6,7, or 9. I would LOVE to own an RV, but as I don’t have any mechanical knowledge, it wouldn’t be a good idea to buy one unless there was a Vans guru near my area, especially as a first-time aircraft owner.
Look at a Sportcruiser, you won’t be disappointed and likely will be very impressed.

I am 6ft. It has adjustable pedals that I have to move forward, 6’3” should not be an issue. 46.5 inch cabin width is the largest in the class, divided from your pax by a 4-inch center console. For comparison a Cessna 150 is 38.5 inches. It makes a huge difference…

29 ft white and 22 feet long makes it easy to find a corner of a hanger to put in if you need to. Even my analog panel feels more efficient and modern than most of the Cherokees or 150’s I have ever been in. And it has a sleek ramp presence. Most have a chute (HUGE selling point for the wife). Super-easy to install if they don’t, it was built with a chute in mind.

My list of planes to look at before I bought mine was Tomahawks, Skippers, Commander 100’s, Paradise, etc. No long list of AD’s, only a couple of the SB’s were “serious”, pertaining to a handful of 2006 or earlier that were built from Kits. Make sure the Rotax-required fuel return line SB is done, it requires a wing off to complete.

Cost of operation is comparatively very cheap. It is a simple airplane, pushrods instead of cabled flight controls. Pretty much everything is commonly available but specific airframe items, since it was put together using off-the-shelf common parts.

Modern Rotax engine that gives me a cruise of 104-110kts at 5-5.5 gallons an hour depending throttle setting and prop pitch. Around 114kts at 5.5-6 running at the top of the arc. It only takes about a week to get used to flying a Rotax, but be sure to read the operation manual before you do.

Older aircraft (2006-2009) have more useful load than the newer ones, but it was built to the older Eastern European Standard, not US light sport. The weights will supposedly change once Mosaic comes out. But I haven’t really had an issue with the weights, I am not flying it across the country every week.

Insanely stable airplane when properly rigged. Just make sure you fly it with someone that has flown a Sportcruiser before. It is very light on the controls, has very large control surfaces for control at VERY slow speeds, so the inputs will likely be much smaller than you are used to. If you try to horse it around like a 172 it will bite you.

The price I paid was reasonable but more expensive than the 150, Tomahawks, etc., but my cost of operation and ownership is DRAMATICALLY lower.

(PS - it is a Light Sport, so I don’t lose my investment if something happens and I lose my medical, which was a big selling point for me personally. I am not getting any younger…)
 
I remember the 180 hp C23 cruised slower than the 160 hp Skyhawk I’d also rent. However, it seemed that the difference between the two would diminish with altitude if I remember correctly. At 7,500 msl, the C23 was only marginally slower vs. putting around at 2,500 msl.
They don’t call it the Slowdowner for nothing….

LOVED the 180hp Sundowner. Comfortable and roomy, could still carry a good bit with full tanks, but you aren’t going to get there fast. Once you get the hang of landing one they are a fine airplane.

I was just damned glad I had 5 other partners to share expenses with. Parts were EXPENSIVE and are getting harder to find, not to mention the cost of overhauling a 360.
 
Look at a Sportcruiser, you won’t be disappointed and likely will be very impressed.

I am 6ft. It has adjustable pedals that I have to move forward, 6’3” should not be an issue. 46.5 inch cabin width is the largest in the class, divided from your pax by a 4-inch center console. For comparison a Cessna 150 is 38.5 inches. It makes a huge difference…

29 ft white and 22 feet long makes it easy to find a corner of a hanger to put in if you need to. Even my analog panel feels more efficient and modern than most of the Cherokees or 150’s I have ever been in. And it has a sleek ramp presence. Most have a chute (HUGE selling point for the wife). Super-easy to install if they don’t, it was built with a chute in mind.

My list of planes to look at before I bought mine was Tomahawks, Skippers, Commander 100’s, Paradise, etc. No long list of AD’s, only a couple of the SB’s were “serious”, pertaining to a handful of 2006 or earlier that were built from Kits. Make sure the Rotax-required fuel return line SB is done, it requires a wing off to complete.

Cost of operation is comparatively very cheap. It is a simple airplane, pushrods instead of cabled flight controls. Pretty much everything is commonly available but specific airframe items, since it was put together using off-the-shelf common parts.

Modern Rotax engine that gives me a cruise of 104-110kts at 5-5.5 gallons an hour depending throttle setting and prop pitch. Around 114kts at 5.5-6 running at the top of the arc. It only takes about a week to get used to flying a Rotax, but be sure to read the operation manual before you do.

Older aircraft (2006-2009) have more useful load than the newer ones, but it was built to the older Eastern European Standard, not US light sport. The weights will supposedly change once Mosaic comes out. But I haven’t really had an issue with the weights, I am not flying it across the country every week.

Insanely stable airplane when properly rigged. Just make sure you fly it with someone that has flown a Sportcruiser before. It is very light on the controls, has very large control surfaces for control at VERY slow speeds, so the inputs will likely be much smaller than you are used to. If you try to horse it around like a 172 it will bite you.

The price I paid was reasonable but more expensive than the 150, Tomahawks, etc., but my cost of operation and ownership is DRAMATICALLY lower.

(PS - it is a Light Sport, so I don’t lose my investment if something happens and I lose my medical, which was a big selling point for me personally. I am not getting any younger…)

Cool! I see the older models were originally built by Piper. One question I’d have is can it survive sitting on the ramp? I’d plan to invest in covers and wax jobs, but I plan to forgo hangaring, as they’re usually not available for several years of being on a wait list, and can be expensive once you do find one.
 
Also, I’ve never heard of a Commander 100. How do they compare?
 
Also, I’ve never heard of a Commander 100. How do they compare?
Aero Commander 100, a lower cost competitor to the Cessna 172 that outclassed it in many ways, especially off asphalt performance due to the type of gear and flaps. Slower, but more of a family truckster. Under-powered with the 150, fun to fly with a 180.

The airplane I solo’d in, oh so long ago.


Sold several hundred Commanders, and a couple hundred of the later, improved Commander Lark’s.
Steel framed cockpit, parts can be tough to find, especially gear legs. They were specially made fiberglass, not aluminum, to better take a bounce from students.

(edit: Really hate Apple icorrect)
 
Cool! I see the older models were originally built by Piper. One question I’d have is can it survive sitting on the ramp? I’d plan to invest in covers and wax jobs, but I plan to forgo hangaring, as they’re usually not available for several years of being on a wait list, and can be expensive once you do find one.
The canopy is clear, so if you live where it hails, get the padded canopy cover from Bruce’s. More expensive, but worth every penny when you consider how much a canopy replacement would cost. I would get the custom plugs as well.

(There is a video online about making the canopy from Cruiser. It takes 6 guys, and usually 4-5 tries to get one right.)

I see them outside in different places. Skywest/FLT Academy in SLC parks theirs on the ramps, but keeps the much more expensive Diamonds inside, if that says anything.

I however, am naturally paranoid (I prefer the term “Risk Averse”) and this is a sizable investment for me, so I would cringe at my bird being on a ramp long-term. Personal Preference, I guess.

Mine is currently tucked into the corner of a hangar with three large jets. The small footprint and low wings made it easy to find space where I am at now. The number one guy on the hangar waitlist here signed up in 2006.
 
I also have a Yankee(AA1B)My instructor was about 6’1-2” and 235,I’m 5’11 and 190.It was ok but weight limited,500 lb useful.It is for sale;)
 
I'm kind of in the same position as the OP so this is a good thread for me.

Sport cruiser guys, how do you like those? Real world cruise speed? And I had heard that company went through a few reorgs and all that so that parts availability for the older models (especially Piper sports) and authorizations for avionics without re-classing to ELSA were the infamous unobtainium, any truth to that or just hangar BS?
 
Back
Top