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Thread: Flying a Chief

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2012

    Flying a Chief

    Looking into the possibility of purchasing an Aeronca Chief 11AC. I've heard many good things about them, but one owner was telling me how unreliable the 65HP Continential is. He said that it could ice up at any moment (he would periodically pull carb heat in cruise) and it was also not a good idea to land with no power (I usually cut power on downwind abeam the numbers and glide in). He said that this could cause the engine to quit, and not enough altitude and speed in the pattern to allow for a restart.
    Is there any merit to these comments, or was he a little paranoid?
    Thanks for any insight...

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Marietta, GA
    Small Continentals are notorious for carb ice. Not so much at cruise, though.

    If the engine quits on final, something is wrong. However, you do need to advance the throttle slowly from idle, or it may stumble or quit.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Clarklake, MI
    Quote Originally Posted by mjr View Post
    Looking into the possibility of purchasing an Aeronca Chief 11AC. I've heard many good things about them, but one owner was telling me how unreliable the 65HP Continential is. He said that it could ice up at any moment
    Is this one of those "my wife is making me sell the plane so I'll discourage potential buyers" stories?

    Small continentals can ice up but that doesn't mean they are unreliable. You'll just have to learn the various operating idiosycracies of the aircraft while slipping the surly bonds.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Quote Originally Posted by martymayes View Post
    Is this one of those "my wife is making me sell the plane so I'll discourage potential buyers"
    Ha! Couldn't say for sure, but I've experienced that ice issue during cruise in a C150 once during the winter.I've been looking at Cardinals for the longest time, but I'm starting to become more attracted to the older taildraggers and I like the fact that the Chief doesn't have tandem seating.

  5. #5
    The A-65 with the Stromberg carb had some problems with the engine quiting on final. Once I put a Marvel carb on and tossed the Strombrg, it never happened again. A little less drastic is to send your Stromberg in to Don Swords and have him overhaul it.If the carb is a Stromberg and it is many years old, it should be overhauled anyway. There were several different carb fuel float parts which were blessed and then unblessed. The pointed part which shut off the fuel when the bowl was full went from something I don't remember, to stainless steel, to delrin. Give Don a call and let him make you smart before you spend any money.Google Don's Dream Machines...Sorry about the formatting. This site is not IPAD friendly.Pete

  6. #6
    One other thing you might consider - a wood propeller on a 65HP Chief doesn't have the mass of a metal propeller. If the carb does ice up and the engine quits, and you are in the pattern flying slow, the propeller may not windmill making restart impossible. As stated above, liberal use of carburetor heat at or below 2000 RPM usually takes care of carb ice. Good luck.
    -Joel Marketello

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jan 2012

    Flying a Chief


    I don't want to sway you against the sage counsel of all of the nightmares you have been warned, but as an owner of a beautiful Chief for about two months now, I can advise you to not lie awake nights with horror stories beating on your common sense. Carb Ice is a very real thing but is not an exclusive property of the A-65 Continental and engine failures on final are also not the kind of bug-a-boo you should sweat in your aircraft selection. I don't know what kind of aircraft you have flown before but certainly finding one close to you and working out a ride with a competent pilot or ,better yet a tailwheel instructor, will give you a much better idea of what you are considering than any other approach. This type of aircraft has been successfully flown for more than a 1/2 century and they haven't all crashed and burned! My proof of this is that there are still some nice looking ones on Barnstormers and Trade-a-Plane or even the NAA site. Check out your flying mission and see if it matches up with a Chief. If so, take that trial ride. Soon enough, you may become one of those folks looking for more and more detailed info on its' parts and pieces.
    Good Luck.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Circle Pines MN
    OK, lets take a close look at some of these comments about small Continentals and Aeroncas.

    I don't think the small Continentals are unreliable by any means. They are as reliable or unreliable as the quality of parts and regular maintenance they receive, meaning, if they get good maintenance they should be a very reliable engine. Of course you have to remember that these engines and airframes are around 60 some years old too.

    About carb ice, given the right conditions, like cool damp days, the little Continentals love to make ice. Is that a problem, not if your aware of it and deal with it. If your in cruise flight and given the conditions, you think there might be a chance for carb ice, you use carb heat for about 30 seconds to make sure there is none, then you turn it off, is that a big deal, not really. When flying behind these engines you should be aware of your surroundings and conditions and fly appropriately, that's being an good pilot.
    It's the same thing when you pull the power back for a long time in the air, you have to "clear the engine" on occasion so you maintain some heat in the engine for carb heat. You don't just pull the power all the way back and leave it there.

    Another thing, you should be flying your patterns close enough (in any plane) that if you lose an engine you can still make the runway. In something as slow as a Chief or Champ you don't fly big jet plane type of patterns. If you have to fly a long extended downwind, then stay at near cruise power and pattern altitude and then reduce power when you get closer to the runway. These planes will slow down and come down out of the sky very easily in the pattern, it's what they do best.

    These are reliable engines and great planes to fly. Remember also that they have no electrical systems, no starter, lights or radio, except a handheld. Those may be factors in your decision to buy one. If your still interested, check out the Aeronca web site, in the forum section. There are very few AD's on the airframe and engine, which most have been taken care of years ago. Get someone who's knowledgeable about Aeroncas to look at the plane your interested in before you pay any money, it could save you lots of time and money in the long run.

    Aeronca Chiefs and Champs are fun to fly and relatively affordable.
    I've owned my Champ for about 28 years now and I love it, currently it's under restoration.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Thank you everyone for all the great insight - I appreciate it!It's funny: years ago I restored a 1934 Sanford fire engine. It was powered by a 6 cylinder Continental engine with a Stromberg carb. I had more problems than I could remember with the float sticking on it. These stories are all too familiar!

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    hey may have Continental confused with Lycoming. my advice to anyone considering a Lycoming powered Chief is to run away.

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