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When the first 5-place Sherpa prototype, 1415B, landed at the EAA Fly-In at Oshkosh, Wisconsin the reception that followed turned out to be a truly emotional experience. Dozens of aviation enthusiasts surrounded the new Sherpa the minute it pulled onto the taxiway. It was as though the aircraft became the Pied Piper as it led the followers all the way to the location where it was to be displayed. When the show was over the foot traffic from the thousands of viewers turned the original lush grassy surface to dust. The year was 1994. Although the EAA show officials found it difficult to judge this new Sherpa relative to restoration, plans built, or new design, etc, they did present a special award for outstanding quality construction. It is that quality construction that has become the trademark of the Sherpa products.
In 1995 the EAA Sport Aviation monthly publication featured a special test flight article about the new Sherpa. The author of the article, Budd Davisson, spent several days flight testing the big jumbo tired tail dragger prototype with the aircrafts principal designer, Byron Root, in the rugged canyons of the Oregon Idaho border. In the article Budd Davisson nicknamed the Sherpa “A Super Cub on steriods”. The nickname remains in effect to this date. A second single front seat 5-place prototype, N711SA, was displayed on amphibious Edo floats in 1995. Together N1415B and N711SA accumulated more than 3000 hours of bush flying in some of the roughest terrain.
The 5-place Sherpas created so much interest that the company decided to undertake the FAA Part 23 certification process. That process was later cancelled when the company decided to upgrade the model to an 8-place 450hp, turbo charged Lycoming powered version with two seats up front. In an effort to ensure the maximum Sherpa performance in a bush flying environment, Byron Root and Glen Gordon, Company principals, once again decided to upgrade the aircraft by changing the power plant to a turbine engine.
The company then froze the design and began the production of twelve K-650T turbine powered Sherpas which are in production today.
Well! Since this is the aircraft business we are sure that any interested aviation enthusiast is aware that freezing the design of an aircraft is a fantasy that we hope for but always seem to find ways to make it better. Our new turbine 650T is a prime example of that situation because we are still experiencing issues to improve after eight years of redesign and flight testing. AS a result we are in the process of redesigning the structure of the wing and fuselage to increase the gross weight to 7000 pounds. In addition, new air foil design changes will produce speeds that range from the mid 30’s to 200 MPH. Because of this incredible range of speed for such a large aircraft we are also redesigning the tail surfaces and elevator placement to increase elevator effectiveness.
All spec sheet numbers shown were taken from flight test performed on the original prototype and improved numbers won’t be upgraded until we have completed official flight tests.
Four important design features essential to the Sherpa’s amazing unmatched short field performance and range of speeds are:
- Maximum propulsion provided by Hartzell’s 116 inch 3 blade propeller and Honeywell’s 331- 5/10 direct coupled powerful Turbine engine that give instant power when needed.
- A special high lift wing that can maintain directional control at incredible low speeds and out climb any other aircraft in its class.
- A heavy duty tail dragger landing gear structure designed to take the worst abuse in the roughest off airport conditions
- Unequaled pilot visibility when landing and taking off those extreme short off airport environments. “You can’t land short if you can see where you are going.”