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Alaska Bushwheels -- cheaper than a new gearbox

  • Author: Matt Keller
  • Updated: June 30, 2016
  • Published March 19, 2012

I own two airplanes. Well, let's be honest -- the bank and I own two airplanes. These two birds are my old faithful 1962 Piper Super Cub (160 horsepower engine, with stock wings), and a 1961 Cessna 185 (265 horsepower, with stock wings).

I fly the Super Cub at a ratio of more than 3 hours to 1 in the 185, but I still managed to put 200 hours on the "blue streak" this past year. It cruises at approximately 155 mph on 29-inch Bushwheels and has a 1400-pound useful load without a gross-weight increase kit. I did not take any video with with the 185 until the very end of the season, but eventually I strapped the camera on, and got a few shots. I've attached them in the form of a YouTube video for your viewing pleasure.

I think the 185 is superior to the Cub for filming from because it is so much faster and the camera is mounted more solidly. I did not play much with the 185 this summer because it is really expensive to just fly around for fun when the 1,700 hour engine costs $45,000 to replace.

As long as we are talking money, I upgraded my 8.50x10 tires and wheels with 29-inch Alaskan Bushwheels, and there is absolutely no comparison. Bushwheels are as fine of a mod as you will ever put on a Cessna product if you plan to use it off-field. The gear boxes on the 185 have a tendancy to wear out when used over rough ground, and the grey-haired guys who have flown these things way more than me say the Bushwheels will save both your gear boxes and your wallet. You can't always look at the initial investment as the end-all, because new gear boxes will cost you $30,000 and a set of Bushwheels costs you $5,500. There's really no comparison.

Well, enjoy the video.

Matthew Keller is the owner and operator of Blue Ice Aviation. He was born and raised in Alaska and his office is the cockpit of his Super Cub. His goal is to transport everyone into Alaska's vast wilderness. See more of his videos and writing at Blue Ice Aviation.

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