In the air the T- 6 has surprisingly low control forces and good
control harmony for an airplane that has a beastly look, and
beastly behavior on the runway. There is, of course, lots of
adverse yaw from the ailerons, but what else would you expect?
The T- 6 needs every one of its 600 hp. Weights vary with
individual models of the airplane, but empty weight is somewhere around 4,200 pounds, with a max takeoff weight of 5,600
pounds, or maybe a little more. Combine that much weight with
a pretty draggy airframe and cowling, and the T- 6 just doesn’t
snap your neck with acceleration.
The power-to-weight-to-drag characteristics of the T- 6 teach
any pilot, particularly a budding fighter pilot, that there is
always a trade between airspeed and altitude. Stuff the nose over
and the airspeed builds to 170 or so pretty quickly, and then you
can pull up to the vertical for a few seconds before needing to
devise a way to get headed back down again. Sean showed me a
nice wing-over type maneuver with near perfect airspeed control. I tried one and fell over the top, went a little negative, and
that made for some big belches and stutters—but no flames—
from the R-1340. Carburetors just don’t like negative g.
Straight-ahead stalls—what we call 1g stalls in the certification world—are no big deal in the T- 6. Load the wing up a little
and you can’t be sure what will happen when the T- 6 departs,
except to say that it won’t be straight ahead.
The T- 6 is approved for most positive g aerobatic maneuvers,
and most of us have watched many performers such as the
AeroShell team put the airplane through
the paces. But if I owned one I would go
easy on the yanking and banking out of
respect for the old girl’s close to 70, or
even more, years of age. Riding around on
a nice day with the canopy slid back as far
as is comfortable is great fun. And the for-
mation flying that many T- 6 owners enjoy
is a fun way to learn precision flying and
spend time with pilots who have been bit-
ten by the same T- 6 bug. Sean and I
shared the formation flying duties for the
air-to-air photos you see here, and on the
cover, and that was the most fun I’ve had
in an airplane.
J. Mac McClellan, EAA 747337, has been a pilot for more
than 40 years, holds an ATP certificate, and owns a