First Impressions: A great looking and affordable backcountry plane if you can find one!
Background: The Husky has its roots in Frank Christensen’s company; Christen Industries (Afton, Wyoming), makers of both the Christen Eagle and Pitts aircraft. To diversify their aircraft sales market, the Husky was certified in 1987, bringing Christen aircraft to the backcountry. Aviat, Inc. purchased Christen in 1990, and the basic Husky airframe has progressed from the A-1 to the A-1A, A-1B and is currently on the A-1C, available in either 180 or 200 horsepower. The 160 horsepower Husky Pup was sold from 2003 to 2005, marketed as the more affordable and economical Husky.
Design Features / Powerplant: Yes, this Husky has a standard A-1B airframe, but with some subtle differences. A keen eye will notice that the cowling of the Pup is streamlined and has squared intakes instead of the standard Husky rounded intakes. The streamlined cowling is actually a Christen Eagle cowling. Additionally the Pup’s wingtips sweep upwards (not the normal droop tips). There were 6 Pups made without flaps and 6 made with flaps. The model I flew (and owned) was the last no-flap Husky Pup made. The hinge points for the flaps and flap handle are are still on the aircraft but not attached to anything. The wing fuel tanks hold an incredible 50 gallons of fuel, making for over 6.5 hours of flight time and a radius of over 700 nautical miles! Powerplant: The most obvious from the A-1B-160 designation is that the Pup does not have the standard 180 hp Lycoming O-360 with a constant speed Hartzell propeller. The Pup has an O-320 with a fixed pitch Sensenich propeller giving it 20 hp less than a standard Husky. The smaller engine means it has a lighter empty weight and greater useful load while maintaining the standard Husky 2,000 lb gross weight. Even with 20 horsepower less and a fixed pitch prop, the Pup cruises at the same speed as a standard Husky while burning 1 gph less!
Ergonomics: Regardless of your size, you can earn a nice scar across your forehead if you forget about the aileron spades when walking under the wings! Aviat finally dispensed with the spades on 2006 models, after enlarging the ailerons. The door is larger than a Super Cub’s and has a squared base, that makes it possible to sit on the door ledge as you swing both legs in. This technique makes getting in the front seat easy. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to get into the back seat unless the stick is removed. Since the Pup was marketed as an affordable Husky, let’s just call the seats “economy class.” I used a small cushion to supplement my padding in the front seat. The rear seat is wider and more comfortable overall. The headroom and visibility is great in all quadrants, including up, due to the skylight roof.
Taxi/ Takeoff: Even without flaps, the takeoff and landing performance is not much different from a standard Husky. The takeoff roll is short, and the climbout is impressive due to the large Hershey bar wings. Add full power, roll forward about 5 seconds, raise the tail slightly and the Pup will be ready to fly. Traffic pattern altitude is achievable by the end of many runways.
Cruise: The max range profile will have you cruising at about 105 mph while burning 7.4 gph One of the features that I enjoy best is the clam shell doors on the right that allow for the
semi-open cockpit feel on a hot summer day. The windows on the left slide open for even more air-conditioning. Keep in mind that if you’ve got a back-seater, they will get wind-blasted when the doors are open.
Landing: Since my particular Pup had no flaps, the success of the approach was directly related to slowing the aircraft down at altitude and rolling the spring-tension trim to nearly full aft. If high on your approach path, slip the Pup. If you lower the nose, the Pup will gain speed quickly and you’ll float and land long. The best approach is done with slight power on and carrying around 59 mph, while using a slip to control rate of descent. Slower approaches are possible but require a timely application of power to stop the sink as you flare. Rollout is relatively easy and the brakes are effective.
Wrap-up: The Husky Pup is a fantastic airplane if you can find one. They give respectable back country performance, are inexpensive and easy to maintain. Oh yeah, its great looking planes too! Let’s petition Aviat to bring back the Pup next year!