Bracebridge: When I arrived at Spence Lake, about ½ NM from Muskoka Airport
Runway, I could immediately see the Aztec Nomad was no small plane!
It was a hot hot day in July of 1999 with temps over 30C.
The Edo model 4930 floats had been installed on the Aztec under the
applicable STC's, making it a very impressive looking seaplane with
extremely masculine lines.
After an initial orientation and a preflight on the plane, Dave Gronfors
and I climbed aboard. The top of the Edo floats are flat, which makes
it an easy step up to the wing of the Aztec.
The big Cargo and Boarding Ladder on the right side, made entry very
easy. Another of the noticeable features of Air Muskoka's installation
kit is the left door, which makes it much simpler to dock the Aztec
With both engines started, we pulled away from the
wharf easily. It had been a long time since I had flown Twin Engine
Sea and Dave Gronfors, President of Air Muskoka (the conversion facility
company) assisted me with first time orientation and operation of the
standard levers. Out on Lake Spence with Flaps about ½, Props
in high pitch, throttles up to the firewall, and slight back-pressure
brought the floats right up on the step in about four or five seconds,
and then the Aztec Nomad accelerated rapidly. In about nine seconds
more, we were airborne. In a normal climb of 26 inches and 2400 rpm,
this gave us over 1000 fpm R.O.C.
We flew around the small lake and then headed towards the famed Muskoka
Lakes area for airwork and landing practice. After about ½ hour
of upper airwork and single engine drills complete, we began some landings
on beautiful Lake Muskoka.
With a stabilized pattern speed of 100 MPH and an approach speed of
80-90 MPH on long final, the Aztec Nomad trimmed up well for hands-off
control. Entering the flare zone (across the fence for you landplane
folks), I reduced power to about 10-12" MP and 75-80 MPH reducing
speed more as we flared for touch down and there it was, a perfect landing.
Taxiing back to takeoff position, Dave Gronfors said, "Watch this,
I want to show you something," and killed the port engine. Even
with the dead engine on one side, we were able to turn into the starboard
engine with full control, and we made several circles in both directions,
demonstrating the complete control afforded with these retractable float
rudders. You can fly without water rudders and dock the plane too if
I took the controls once again, and after lining up for takeoff without
the use of the rudders, I checked water rudders were still retracted
onto their simple fuel quadrant pylon location. Fuel Boosters on, Flaps
½, Props in high pitch, Throttles full power with slight but
positive back pressure on the control wheel brought the Nomad up onto
the step. Then, easing the wheel a bit forward to establish optimum
planing angle for a few seconds, I again brought the wheel back with
a little more pressure, and the Aztec flew right off the water.
You might call this Aztec the King of the Twin Floatplanes. It has a
very regal, solid feeling with power to spare.
I pulled the 250-horse engines back to climb power, 75 per cent. Total
time for getting off the water was about 14 or 15 seconds. With nearly
full standard fuel (144 USG) and two male adults, and a survival kit
of about 50 lbs. In the large rear baggage hold, we were about 450 pounds
under the gross weight of 5200 lbs.
While undergoing some airwork I took the following notes:
Demonstrated Top Speed - which was
achieved at 80 percent power, yielding 166 indicated mph and using 26
inches and 2575 rpm. (Gronfors mentioned that, with a full gross load,
top speed would be only about four mph less. This converted to a true
airspeed of 170 mph. )
During Slow-flight - Setting up the
power for 15 inches at 2400 rpm, with the nose up quite a bit, we held
altitude at 80 mph. We reduced power still further and flew the plane
right on down to 63 mph with no flaps. The plane was steady as a rock
with no problem in control. To find out where the Aztec would really
stall, I kept pulling the wheel back further and trimming further back,
and there it was - about 50mph. For this size aircraft with those Edo
floats underneath, I think this is fantastic. We went even further with
flaps full down, brought it back into stall position again, and were
able to hold the stall off with good lateral control until nothing read
on the ASI, which impressed me.
Best Glide Speed - 85 MPH Indicated
Single Engine Rate of Climb - 260
fpm climb demonstrated at approx. 4000"ASL at 24C, 400 lbs under
Original Single Engine Vmc Speed
is 80 MPH on the Aztec. Converted to the Nomad, and sporting the new
MicroVortex Generators the Aztec Nomad Vmc speed is now below the stall
speed of the aircraft! What a revelation not to have to worry about
Vmc. The added safety of the Vortex Generators is very comforting and
both amazing at the same time, what the plane now performs like. The
only relevant* V Speed to remember now is a suggested Single Engine
Best Rate of Angle/Climb Speed of just 93 MPH. This verses 102 MPH from
POH. (* The Vortex generator manufacturer has, to avoid product liability,
not changed any V Speeds in the POH for the Aztec so modified. It is
up to the individual operator to operate the aircraft in a safe manner.
The writer found the aircraft performed on average, better with the
Vortex Generators and recorded speeds about averaged 10 MPH (Indicated)
less through the climb and single engine performance speeds mentioned
in the POH.)
One thing is sure; I never assumed the Piper Aztec Nomad Twin Engine
Floatplane would be so easy to fly, operate, dock and to service. And
No Vmc, just made my summer one to remember. Stay tuned for more Pilot
Reports in Upcoming Issues of NOMAD PILOT REPORTS.
Author; Peter R.Hanna, Commercial Pilot, 10,000 Hour Multi Land &
Sea Pilot from British Columbia.