Beechcraft 77 Skipper
The Model 77 Skipper's development program was a result of the fourth Beech study of a two-place airplane in 10 years. The first three studies included input from noted engi-neers outside Beech, including Karl Bergey, Fred Weick and John Thorp. Howard "Pug" Piper was a consultant to Beech when the Skipper was in its early developmental stages, and Jim Bede provided some additional input as well. Originally developed as the PD 285, starting in late 1973, this single-engine trainer was first delivered in early 1979. The design for the first test-bed airplane was frozen in 1974, and the first experimental airplane flew in February 1975. The two seat prototype was powered by a Continental O-200 of 100 hp and had a gross weight of 1600 lbs. A slow and deliberate development program followed. The airplane flew with three different engines and with two different tails, one a conventional tail with a stabilator, the other a T tail with an elevator. The Skipper did have slightly better spin recovery with the T tail. Beech engineers experimented with different control sys-tems as well. They tried-and rejected-flaperons (combina-tion flaps and ailerons). Scale models were spin-tested, and a wind tunnel was used for the same purpose. The GAW-1 airfoil was used from the start. The Skipper was always designed as a two-place airplane, and there was no plan to stretch it to a four-place. The production design of the airplane was not frozen until early 1978.
A low-wing T-tail model, it was powered by a four-cylinder Lycoming engine rated at 115 hp at 2,700 RPM. The Skipper’s canopy-type cabin gives the instructor and student pilot optimum, all-around visibility, while both left and right doors provide for convenient entry. An external tunnel on the bottom of the fuselage houses primary controls and makes for additional cabin room, as well as allowing for easy maintenance. A new concept in airfoil design was utilized by the Skipper. Its airfoil section is an outgrowth of NASA’s high-speed, super-critical airfoil technology and provides a lower drag, higher lift capability. The T-tail configuration places the horizontal stabilizer above the slipstream in undisturbed air to give smoother flight and more positive control during landing maneuvers.
The Skipper is the third Beechcraft T-tail model, following the Super King Air and Duchess. A substantial portion of its construction is bonded metal, including the lower cabin section of the fuselage, the entire wing, the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer, the trim tabs, and the rudder. The landing gear is a low-maintenance, spring system designed for sturdiness and utility. Control response is superbly balanced, and the ailerons are quite frisky in all speed ranges right down to the stall. Stalling the Skipper is almost fun. The wings give lots of prestall buffetto let you know that it is about to quit flying. For cross-country flights, the 29 gallons of usable fuel combine with a 65% power setting to yield a 4.6-hour endurance. Only 312 of these two-place trainers were built before production was halted abruptly in 1981.
Engine: 1 x Lycoming O-235-L2C, 115 hp.
TBO: 2000 hrs.
Prop: McCauley 2 blade, fixed pitch 72in.
Length: 24 ft.
Height: 7.9 ft.
Wingspan: 30 ft.
Wing area: 129.8 sq.ft.
Wing aspect ratio: 6.9.
Max ramp wt: 1680 lbs.
Max take off wt: 1675 lbs.
Standard empty wt: 1100 lbs.
Max useful load: 580 lbs.
Max landing wt: 1675 lbs.
Wing loading: 12.9 lbs/sq.ft.
Power loading: 14.6 lbs/hp.
Max useable fuel: 29 USG/174 lbs.
Climb rate: 720 fpm @ 65 kts.
Climb gradient: 665 ft/nm.
Rate of climb @ 8000 ft: 340 fpm.
Service ceiling; 12,900 ft.
Max speed: 106 kts.
Cruise @ 65% power @ 8,000ft: 96 kts.
Fuel flow @ 65% power @ 8,000ft: 35 pph.
Endurance @ 65% power @ 8,000ft: 4.6 hr.
Stalling speed clean: 49 kts.
Stall speed flaps down: 47 kts.
Turbulent air penetration speed: 109 kts.
Takeoff distance (50') 1,280 ft
Landing distance (50') 1,313 ft