Dave Dollarhide flew the Panther Sport a few days ago, and we asked him to do a write-up for us. We asked him to please just tell his honest opinion of the Panther Sport.
Here is a little about Dave Dollarhide:
Dave Dollarhide has accumulated 20,000 hours in 50 years of flying mostly Navy and airline jets. He has 1,700 hours in a variety of RVs and flies with the “Dreamland Squadron” from Haller Air Park, FL. He also pilots an A-4C Skyhawk warbird for the Valiant Air Command Museum.
Here is what he had to say about Woolley’s Panther Sport:
Flying Woolley’s Panther Sport
Bob “Aggressor” Wooley’s “Sport” version of the Panther is unique. As the first customer to receive an air worthiness certificate, he built his airplane with limited plans and with his many years of homebuilt experience, made some unique changes. He chose the clipped wing version of SPA’s Panther design, called the Panther Sport.
Recently, Bob and I launched as a flight of two to compare the performance of my RV-4 with his newly completed airplane. The RV is powered by a 180 HP O-360, turning a Sensenich fixed pitch metal prop while the lighter Panther is equipped with a 150 HP O-320 and a ground adjustable Whirlwind composite. Our fuel loads were similar.
With Bob leading the formation takeoff, the Panther immediately pulled ahead, but the separation stabilized before liftoff with roughly 100’ between us. During the climb, the Panther out performed my RV slightly until our speed reached 125 to 130 MPH, where the climb rate evened out. Level at 3,500’ he accelerated to 180 MPH IAS at 2,700 RPM. (It’s a bit over 190 at sea level.) A few feet away, my standard pitched prop was turning 2,650 RPM, which then allowed me to pull ahead very slowly when I increased RPM to 2,700. Tail chase was next with me in trail 30 to 50 feet from the Panther. Woolley set his power at 2,500 RPM and began aggressive dives, climbs, rolls and 4G turns. Bearing in mind that it’s much easier to stay behind than to get behind the other airplane, I remained in position, but the Panther seemed to perform as well as Bob’s 180 HP, constant speed propped RV-4. I was very impressed.
Back on the ground, Bob surprised me by asking that I fly his Panther. There’s no turning down a gratuitous offer like that, so following a cockpit brief, I fired up the Lycoming and blasted off. This ten minute flight had no straight and level time, as I wanted to explore the envelope a bit. After a zoom climb and tight turn abeam the airport, I climbed to an area for aerobatics and began a constant series of overhead maneuvers, rolls and turns.
The flight controls were very responsive in both pitch and yaw and the 150 horse engine provided good power and climb rates. With the large ailerons, roll control stick force was a bit stiff, especially at higher speeds, so I pitched up a bit more than usual before executing rolls to account for a roll rate that seemed a bit slower than an RV. On the back side of a loop at 80 to 100 MPH and during other G loaded turns, I stalled the wing a few times as I looked for the best turn rate “sweet spot”. Like the RV, 100 MPH and 3 Gs seemed to be a close number. The airplane was very stable on final approach, requiring just a bit of power to maintain 75 mph. Flare and touch down on the grass was easy to control. Bob had warned me that the rudder and tailwheel steering were sensitive, so with small corrections, I found directional control to be a snap. The Cleveland brakes and 500 X 5 tires were very effective. It was a short hop, but flying the Panther was a HOOT and I thoroughly enjoyed this very maneuverable machine. Thanks, Aggressor!
Thank you, Dave for the experienced and honest review of Woolley’s Panther Sport – We appreciate it!