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Thread: Challenger II

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2016

    Challenger II

    I am considering purchasing a used Challenger II. Has anyone sage advice for an experimental novice?

    A little about me -
    approx 300hrs PIC, SEL license
    98% in C-150,152,172
    Last regular flying time - 15 yrs ago - prior to 9/11

    Any input is greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Chris In Marshfield's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Germantown, WI
    I wholeheartedly suggest you check out the FlyChallenger forum on Yahoo! Groups. The most amazing collection of experienced Challenger pilots, owners, and builders anywhere:

    While I don't own or fly one, I'm a big fan of the Challenger

    Best regards,
    Christopher Owens (EAA #808438, VAA #723276)
    Germantown, WI
    Bearhawk Plans #991, Bearhawk Patrol Plans #P313

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Not a fan. Some dogs out there. Becarefull and get advice from others.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    They are fun little planes! I had a C-II CWS and had a blast with it! Get someone experienced with Challengers to inspect anything you get serious about. Start to become very educated on the care and feeding of a Rotax 503 and the nuances of 2 stroke engines. Get some dual instruction before you attempt to fly. They are very easy to fly but they are different than what you used to fly.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Had one, loved it. Build quality is everything. The lighter the better. Adding a bunch of stuff to make it more like a 'real' airplane will make your light airplane fly terrible. I had a light one 390# empty. And the difference between two up with full fuel and me and 10 gals was amazing. The full up was not dangerous, but lethargic. With just me, the thing was a sports car.

    You have to use your feet. It is a rudder needed airplane. You can add rear winglets on the horizontal stab and that helped, IMO. Others say different. Putting doors on makes it more rudder sensitive. I rarely flew with the doors on, but unless you were actively controlling the yaw the plane would settle into a FWD slip.

    Only thing I added was a transponder so I could fly to visit a buddy under the mode C veil. I wish I had not really bothered, only went there once. And I added the taller belt drive so I could go from the 54" prop to the 60" prop. Worth doing.

    The 503 is maybe the best two stroke engine out there. I had the 503, but even then it is a two stroke. After I sold the Challenger I bought a certified plane with a certified engine. I flew the 503 for 113 hours and so far one of my certified planes for 200 hours and another for 90 hours and had more engine fussing and issues in the 113 hours than the 300 since. I surveyed all the people in my flying circle and every single person who flew two strokes had at least one engine out and several guys had multiple dead sticks. The guys flying certified engines an engine out was rare, worst was a blown jug and they were able to bring it around and land it. I participated in a few two stroke dead stick plane recovery jobs in the one year I owned my plane.

    Mine came with the back 40 gear (fiberglass mains). They were awesome. You have to protect the nose gear a bit. Don't let it slam into the ground you gently let it lower and keep back stick when taxiing on grass and it is not an issue. You do need to make that an inspection point. I had to do the repair once and it was not a big deal, just replace some pop rivets.

    In the end I sold the plane for a few reasons:
    1. I wanted to do acro.
    2. I wanted a tail dragger to prep me for owning a pitts.
    3. I never trusted the two stroke engine.

    This is a good site to look around

    And as someone else said the yahoo challenger group is fantastic.

    Still, I wish I had it every once in a while:
    Last edited by ssmdive; 02-08-2016 at 11:18 AM.
    1996 Quad City Challenger CWS w/503 - Sold
    1974 7ECA Citabria - Sold
    1986 Pitts S1S

  6. #6

    Join Date
    May 2013
    Lots of good info given above. Challengers are very popular, with over 4000 sold, and so there is lots of experience out there, lots of guys to ask, and lots of them to choose from if buying used. Do your homework and fly in one before you buy. Keep it light for good performance! Be prepared to learn to use your feet more than in a Cessna, but be impressed by its slip capability! I bought one with another guy, so we split expenses even further, and we added skis so we fly it year round. It burns less than four gallons per hour of car gas. Good cheap fun!!!

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    2-strokes burn dirty, need de-carboning every so often (heads off, etc.). Chevron premium has Techron additive (can also be found at the auto parts store) that really helps carbon burn much more completely. It proved itself to me in both car & Rotax 503. Much cleaner, no problems.

    Make sure the cooling fan belt is tight (done with shims). Mine had no problems on 100 degree days.

    2 strokes are LOUD. You & passngr want noise-cancelling headsets.

    Make sure that bird has an N-number, registered Experimental.

    ***ALL CHALLENGER FLIERS*** I don't know if it was factory or the guy who built my Challenger, but I found out that the gas tank pickup tube had a serious flaw. Where the tube goes into the top-of-tank brass fitting, they assembled it out of tank, sitting on table upside down, jammed the tube into the hole in the fitting, AND DRIPPED SUPERGLUE (or some such) INTO THAT JOINT!! After several years of gas sloshing around in the tank, the glue broke. So you are taking the tank out, removing fitting & tube, making a real compression fitting there, and cleaning out the bottom of the tank (where I found bits of brittle broken glue).

    As said above, the Challenger is a nice flying airplane. A bit of gymnastics to get in & out of it, but once in it's very roomy (shoulders & head). There are spiffy after-market kits to make the windscreen open out for much easier entry/exit.

  8. #8
    I can't stress the N number enough, too many people think a fat UL is just a fat UL, its still a felony.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Thank you to all who provided very good advice. I decided to do the 3rd class Med and back into a small group with 152, 172, & Archer. Only have .6 solo but going up for a few hours this weekend. The Challenger i was looking at had a multitude of issue beginning with no "N" number so thankfully with the help of other EAA members and you I decided to stay regular SEL... though I can hear the Sport Class calling my name!

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