A question today on the Facebook Monocoupe Aircraft Group, posted by Brent Taylor of the Antique Airplane Association, got me looking for info on The Healey Special. It’s a cold snowy day here in Northern AZ, so I had the time to do some internet sleuthing.
The Healey Special was built by Lawrence Healey of Muscatine, Iowa, in the early 60’s. Here’s a picture that appeared in Sport Aviation’s “What Our Members Are Building”:
There was a reference in The Monocoupe Flyer that the plane was built from NC38907, Serial Number AF-830. A few years later, the same section of Sport Aviation included a photo of the completed plane:
Here is a picture from The Monocoupe Flyer:
The plane is now registered as N18RM and is owned by Richard Montague of NC. Below is a picture grabbed from Airport-Data.com (the picture links to the web site where I found the photo).
Richard wrote a letter about his experience with The Healey Special, which appeared in the June 1978 issue of The Monocoupe Flyer:
The editor is always requesting information from Club Members to help make the Newsletter more interesting to the readers. The following was received in a letter from Richard Montague of Spruce Pine, North Carolina. The Montague’s own a Clipwing with a 185 Lycoming. So the following is direct from his pen.
Technically mine is the Healey Special, supposedly a ll0 Special Replica, but really is a 90A much modified. You probably know as much about the plane as Healey built it as I do. Basically he cut down a model 90 wing, replaced the engine with a 108 hp Lycoming and humped the back (I saw a picture of it with the hump, it was awful). Apparently Healey didn’t trust the airframe. He beefed up almost everything, thick tubing, spars, ribs etc. The plane is as strong as a bridge but heavy.
After Red Nichols got the plane he put in a 150 Lycoming and returned the fuselage to its proper shape. He also cut down the tail but not as much as the 110 Specials. After a couple of years Red put the bigger engine in it. He said that was a mistake, that it ruined a good airplane, it cut the range, added to the weight and caused handling to deteriorate. Climb of course was great but it didn’t help the cruise a whole lot. With the 150 engine and a C/S prop Red cruised about 150 mph, with the present engine I don’t cruise much faster. At over about 160 mph the noise gets much louder and fuel consumption is high. The fat wing also begins to get so much lift it is necessary to hold the nose down quite a bit. I am seriously considering dropping back to a 160 horse engine with c/s prop. Buddy Anderson had a 160 in a 90AL with the standard wing and I really think that is the best engine for it (unless of course you can put a radial on it). If my current effort to cure my cooling problem (which has cost me an engine major) doesn’t work I’ll go back to a smaller engine. Of course,that will make me miss the fun of that extra power.
Now for the sweaty palms art of flying. On take off full throttle requires full rudder but its off so quick its no problem, unless you have a crosswind in which case you can use less throttle. Climb with two, 200 lb. people is a bit better than 2000 fpm. Alone with light fuel, I have timed it at 3000+ fpm, but thats bad for the cooling, I usually use 110 mph-120mph at about 2000 fpm.
Normal cruise at low power is 155 indicated, (my airspeed indicator seems to be reasonably accurate) with the top speed a shade less than 180 indicated at 7,500′ ft. The fastest I’ve had it is 240 while passing a Beech Baron, well yes, I did use a bit of a downhill run. The plane is naturally unstable and must be flown constantly. When I let go of the controls it wanders off at random into leisurely aerobatics. The ailerons are stiff but the rudder and elevators are light. Controls are very sensitive and aerobatics are easy, at least my limited act of loops,rolls and hammerheads. It does a very poor snap, it seems to go almost flat in the air, whip around the nose and the recovery is awkward. Power off stalls are sudden but straight if all controls are centered, any control deflection means dropping a wing. Power on stalls are fun, the entry is almost like the entry to a hammerhead, the break is a sudden snap to the left and a quick rudder is needed to avert a spin. I’m quite hesitant about spins, no one advises them in the 110 Specials with the 185 Warners and although mine has been spun I’m a bit leery of going more than one turn.
On the approach I use power and hold about 100 mph (power off at 100 yields a sink rate of a lead wedge) and 90 across the fence. Touchdown is at 75-80 mph. Below 100 the ailerons are wishful thinking, it takes a quick shot of power to get a decent response. On grass the rollout is fairly easy, but on pavement it is quite exciting. The brakes are totally inadequate.
The plane is a lot of fun but you must stay on it constantly, you never get to the point that you feel casual with the plane. Every time I line up to take off, there is always a slight tightness in the chest and a dryness in the mouth (kind of like when you steal the hub caps off a police car). A Clipwing Monocoupe is a whole different breed of plane, a joy full terror. I agree with John McCullough, I’d never suggest anyone to get a Clipwing Monocoupe but I wouldn’t take anything for mine.
Mary Montague posted the following picture of N18RM on the Monocoupe Aircraft group on Facebook on 3/26/2014 and mentioned that the airplane was at 7A8.