Comp Air 7
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COMP AIR 7 - "Performance That Knocks Your Socks Off"
Text by Norm Goyer -- Photos by Bill Fedorko

WHEN I FIRST saw the Comp Air 7, I exclaimed, 'What a schnozz!" The Comp Air 7 has such a big nose, it's got to be the Pinocchio of homebuilts. But no lie -- it delivers truly impressive performance. The Comp Air 7 got that way when Aerocomp replaced the big Continental with a 600-hp Walter 601 D turbine engine. It didn't gain any weight, but to cover that large engine, the cowling had to be lengthened considerably. Even those who don't think it's all that attractive will quickly forget about its looks once they pour on the coals (in this case, kerosene). It goes so fast that it can take off before you get to the end of a hangar, and it goes faster almost straight up!

The Comp Air 7 is constructed entirely of composite materials and uses much of the same aerodynamic design used by the outstanding Merlin aircraft. It retained the high-lift airfoil (which looks to me like a good old Clark Y). Its fuselage is large and wide, and could easily seat three across, if it weren't for the control sticks and power quadrant in the middle. Yes, the Comp Air 7 comes with control sticks rather than a control wheel, and the instruments are calibrated in mph rather than in knots. The Comp Air 7 has graduated from being an airplane with home-built characteristics and has found its place in the world of fast, executive-type aircraft.

It's quite capable of flying IFR and is so stable that it would be an ideal instrument platform. I've logged thousands of hours flying airplanes with control sticks, and while I do enjoy them, the majority of today's personal executive transport aircraft are equipped with control wheels and instruments calibrated in knots not mph. I don't know why the company took the other route. I attempted to foist my ideas on anybody at the company who'd listen, but I got shot down. Everyone loved the sticks, and having the instruments marked in mph didn't bother them.

The interior of the aircraft was rather spartan, except for the seats and carpets that were very comfortable and plush. They reminded me of the accommodations in some modern SUVS. The instrument panel had all the normal flight instruments, plus some new ones, to monitor the progress and temperatures of the Walter engine. The throttle quadrant had a prop control including beta, a start andcut-off fuel knob and, of course, the turbine fuel-feed throttle. Any pilot will find it easy to switch from operating a reciprocating engine to running a turbine. If you're wondering how to fire-up these blow-torches, follow me as we prepare to take the Comp Air 7 with a Walter engine package for a test flight.

There are some very different rules to be strictly followed when starting a turbine engine vs. a reciprocating one. First, be sure to turn the plane into the wind (if there's any of a significant velocity) to prevent the wind from blowing into the plane's huge exhaust stack. Next, to prevent any possible damage from the prop-blast and turbine heat, make a careful visual check to be sure there's nostructure or another aircraft behind your plane. Start by checking the position of the fuel-tank valve. Move the indicator to "both" or to the correct tank.

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Text by Norm Goyer
Photos by Bill Fedorko

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