It’s been more than a year since the last update on the innovative prototype DoubleEnder. Ride along in the cockpit with designer Alec Wild as we’re treated to a demo ride in this forward-thinking twin-engine bush plane.
By Zane Jacobson
What is actually new these days in bush planes?
We have it good in the modern era of bush planes. As a student and historian of all things bush flying, I often wax philosophical about the state of technology and innovation in this particular niche of aviation. Traditionally, bush and STOL aircraft have been little more than modified certified trainers, with engine and prop upgrades, or the addition of fatter tires. The evolution of all modern bush aircraft can be traced back to the early 20th century and the origins of Cessna and Piper, and modern incarnations don’t fall far from those family trees. But if one were to step outside the box– the constraints of convention and tradition, and completely eschew the blueprint for the traditional bush plane that we all know and love— what would result?
Not possible. Or rather, not advisable. Aviation, like most applications of technology, is evolutionary and iterative. Innovations and inventions for the Super Cub (and many other bush planes) are rooted in real world experience. Most of the good stuff on the market was invented by the pilots who are out there actually landing in the highest, shortest, and roughest spots. The same guys who have broken their gear or needed a better prop are the ones who came home and invented better ones. And this is true for the inventor and pilot of the experimental “DoubleEnder” twin-engine bush plane, Alec Wild.
In my opinion, the DoubleEnder is one of the most innovative and creative designs in recent light aircraft history, and I was fortunate enough to go flying in the current prototype with Wild.
At this point the DoubleEnder is pretty well known, despite there being only a single flying prototype. A little over a year ago it was getting some heavy press, featured in EAA Sport Aviation magazine, AOPA.org, etc, and the video of Wild performing a “cliff dive” takeoff in Alaska went viral in social media (and it recently surfaced again last week on Reddit.)
There was a lot of excitement, and rightly so. It is unlike anything the aviation world has seen, with its twin Rotax 914 push-pull engine configuration, its unobscured view over the pilot’s feet from the bubble canopy, its active STOL wing design using slats on the leading edge and enormous double-slotted flaps, and its super-beefy landing gear with 35″ bushwheels. Or is it? None of these features alone is anything new— the SQ aircraft have been doing things with slats and slotted flaps for years, the inline twin configuration is an age-old design, and bubble canopies have been helicopter and ultralight pilots for decades. But Wild’s motivation for an improved bush plane had him asking the right questions when he dreamed this thing up, and that allowed him to draw from the wealth of innovation and invention previously accomplished by some of the great pilots and inventors who’ve already been here. The genius is in the painter, not the paint.
To Read the full article visit this link.
Zane Jacobson is the founder/editor of Backcountry Pilot and currently flies a variety of rental aircraft around his home area of Portland, Oregon while continuing construction of his Bearhawk.