O-1 Bird Dog

Profile picture for user PhantomII

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19 years 9 months

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Anyone around here familiar with O-1's? Similar to another thread I was searching around for aircraft I could actually afford at some point and the Bird Dog is a very intriguing aircraft. It's always been one that appealed to me. I was wondering...what is maintenance like on them? Cost per flight hour? Financially Im not ready to own a plane now but I'd like to at some point. Any thoughts? I'm mainly curious if there is anyone around who has had experience with the O-1 or if they know people who have... (I saw a similar thread to this one, but I started my own as I didn't want to hijack the other thread with nothing but Bird Dog talk.
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Profile picture for user J Boyle

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14 years 11 months

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I haven't flown one (or even flown in one) but there was one at the local field and a well-qualified tail dragger friend loved it. It was the most fun he'd ever had in a Cessna. Costs... I see in Trade-A-Plane that freshly restored/rebuilt ones go for $120-135,000. I've seen others for sale for $80-100,000...not much less. You might be able to find a project though. There always seem to be several available. You're looking at 50-60 year-old aircraft, so a good inspection is in order...and watch out for ones (fairly) recently repatriated from Vietnam or Thailand after sitting out for a decade or two. I'd suspect they could have corrosion issues. Others have come from Europe (France) and Japan, so you might find some interesting logbooks and histories. Some were rebuilt from new or suplus parts by Ector and others.The CAP got rid of its O-1s in 1988, so most in the US will have been "toys" for awhile and probably hangared and reasonably well cared for and sorted out by now. Operating costs. I don't have a GHP figure but it has a 213 hp Continental, so I'd expect its gph figure to be above a 172 and below a 182. But remember, it's a two place aircraft, so the fuel burn is high for the 2 seat class. It's max speed is only 115 mph, whereas a 182 (albeit with its slightly larger 230 hp engine) will do 160-170 mph. So you're burning a fair amount of fuel for two people to fly slow...such is the price of owning a warbird. These folks at the International Bird Dog Association can answer all your questions. And check out their ads. http://www.ibdaweb.com/
Profile picture for user PhantomII

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19 years 9 months

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Many thanks for that link J Boyle! I knew there was a site out there like that one but couldn't find it. I bookmarked it and look forward to interaction with the members. Can you elaborate more on what your friend said about the plane? The more I think about it, the more I think that if I get financially sound enough to own an airplane, the Bird Dog is near the top of my list.
Profile picture for user Moggy C

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19 years 9 months

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You are lucky living in the land of cheap fuel. With Avgas here now at around $14 a (proper) gallon the operating costs of that aircraft are a serious consideration. I used to fly a Yak 52. The operating costs then, at a third of the current fuel rate still made you think long and hard before flying. But I can see why you are tempted. Of all the available 'warbirds', that one seems amongst the most accessible. Moggy
Profile picture for user J Boyle

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Sorry for the delay in answering, I just spoke to my friend. The aircraft he flew had a constant speed prop which he felt made a huge difference in performance, he thought it was better than his family's Super Cub which he has lots of time in. (Looking in my O-1 book, I see that the Cessna 305E/L-19D/O-1D had the prop. I don't know if there is an STC for a constant speed prop for the other models.) My friend says the plane has a bad ground reputation, he knows of some Stearman pilots who are afraid of it, but he liked it. He admits it has a softer gear and weighs more than a Cub, so if bad things start to happen on the ground, they could go wrong with a bit more force, but it’s not as “twitchy” as a Stearman or many other taildraggers. Again, my friend doesn't claim to be a Bird Dog expert, overall he has 6 hours in it..but he has lots of tailwheel time in his family's various aircraft, so he's well-qualified to rate the O-1s ground characteristics. When he flew it, on he advice of the owner, he used nothing beyond 40 degrees of flaps (Bird Dogs have a max 60 degree of flap travel). Overall, he thought it had good short field capability. At 40 degrees he got off ground and over obstacles without any problem. In his time flying it, he figured fuel consumption at 12-13 gph, compared to 14-16 ghp for his 185. He recommends the book The Lovable One-Niner, by Minard D. Thompson, Jr. It has everything you could want to know about flying the O-1 with sections of the Dash-1 reproduced as well as the FAA specifications. He said that Mr. Thompson is THE O-1 expert. Thompson works at a FAA FSDO and can be contacted if you need to reach him. Send me a PM for contact details. Hope this helps.
Profile picture for user PhantomII

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19 years 9 months

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Thanks for the info man! I'll make sure to get a hold of that book. All of my flight hours are tricycle gear so the Bird Dog would be a challenge for me. I guess my first step is to find a way to get some tail dragger time. Your friend certainly is way more of an expert than I am so the info you've provided me is all great J Boyle. Thanks again!