Amateur built aircraft differences
No two Bearhawks are likely to be the same. In addition to the differences between models, discuss the differences between various Bearhawks of the same model due to engine power and weight, fuel systems, CG range, tire size, cruise speeds, VG's, instrumentation, pitot static location, aircraft total weight, etc.
Pre-flight inspection differences would include a close look at areas on the Bearhawk that are perhaps more prone to damage than other aircraft:
Horizontal Stabilizer Struts for integrity
Rear Longerons for integrity
Tail-wheel springs for deformation
Pitch trim tabs for hinge play
Pitch trim tab push rod arms for play in the front bushing
Fuel caps present, secure, and vents clear, and facing forward
During a normal pre-flight inspection, point out the above areas in addition to other pertinent items on the aircraft being flown.
The Bearhawk steers well on the ground primarily using differential braking. This may vary between individual Bearhawks dependent on the strength of the tail-wheel springs.
In practice, a combination of rudder pedal (tail-wheel) steering and differential braking works well. To initiate a tight turn, pressing a rudder pedal to full travel first, followed by brake application, should allow the tail-wheel to easily unlock and become full castoring.
Allow the candidate to become familiar and develop muscle memory through a number of taxying maneuvers.
The visibility over the nose is restricted on many Bearhawks. In addition, like many other high wing aircraft, the wings of the Bearhawk obstruct visibility in some areas.
This is particularly noticeable when at a runway holding point at 90 degrees to a runway. Having a clear view of the approach path may require the aircraft to be turned towards the approach path. Also due to the wing sloping down towards the trailing edge when in the 3-point attitude, visibility towards the rear can be restricted when on the ground.
When turning from base leg to final, the downward wing can often obscure the view towards the runway.
Demonstrate and practice the above situations to emphasize the importance of turning the aircraft toward the direction that the lookout is required.
When turning from base leg to final, suggest picking a ground feature prior to commencing the turn to aid with the roll-out onto final.
Tight ground turns off-airport
When performing a tight turn on rough ground, the tail is particularly susceptible to damage. Consider using forward (down) elevator (with caution) to lighten the weight on the tail.
Demonstrate a tight turn whilst lightening the weight on the tail-wheel.
Discuss the difference between IAS and TAS as it applies to an amateur category aircraft, and the fact that unlike certified aircraft where they should all be identical, in an amateur built aircraft there may be differences.
Discuss the fact that many modern EFIS systems derive the TAS from IAS and that the displayed TAS is not accurate unless the IAS is accurate, particularly at very low speeds.