ID #1100

I am interested in purchasing a Micco aircraft...



I'm thinking of buying a Micco 26 -- not many out there -- and would like to know your impression of their flying characteristics and any maintanence problems.


Micco SP26 / SP26A -- Interesting birds. Paragon has had two different ones in the fleet: SP26 N149MA and SP26A N585SK.


I leased a Cessna R182 from an owner who wanted to upgrade to a certificated aircraft with more speed, aerobatic capabilities, yet still useful for IFR cross countries. Very few aircraft fit the bill.

Once he settled on the Micco, a big issue was its near-orphan status. Two facts went a long way to closing the deal: The factory was still answering the phone (2007) and the president had dreams of restarting the line. Our first airframe was N149MA. DeWitt Beckett, president of Micco, assured us that the factory could install the additional acro tanks and make this SP26 a SP26A. After the purchase, the reality of that made it look impractical. Instead, Micco Aircraft had a 26A demonstrator available, so after a few months of ownership, we traded '9MA for N585SK.

Good points --
+Great lines.

+Fun to fly.

+Relatively economical (up here we plan around 12.5 gph in XC at 10,000').

+Credible light positive G aerobatic platform.

+Good visibility on taxi.

+Good manners with ground handling.

+Very light responsive controls. Especially sensitive to pitch.

Bad points --
- Inadequate (as if No) heater. Freeze your tail if temps are around 35 F with no sun. Add to that, poor design of the selector switches - very flimsy and difficult to slide. I've seen one aircraft where one of these metal slides had broken off completely.

- Poor AFM/POH. No real guidance for performance. Aerobatic versions get a supplement to the main manual = difficult to follow.

- Odd limitations -- ZFW and max DA takeoff ceiling of 6500' makes it very difficult to fly legally.

- Heavy bird (boarding on "gutless pig" at high DAs) -- must watch weight of occupants when doing acro.

- Overbuilt - retractable tailwheel, fussy adjustable seat, impractical grip trigger switch for landing light on/off.

- Underbuilt - some items flimsy or poorly designed.

- Design -- other. For a commercial use aircraft, not as rugged or user friendly as desired. For a boutique pleasure craft, not as finely crafted as a Cirrus or Decathalon against which it hoped to compete.

- Fuel system uses 4 tanks - 2 acro and 2 mains. Fuel select valve design makes it easy to miss the detent = glider and wide eyes until corrected.

- Gear - similar to Piper's design. Known to lose pressure when parked, resulting in collapsed gear during taxi. Factory included procedure to deselect gear pressure during ground ops. Horn added to remind pilots during shutdown. None of this documented in POH.

- Gear pump pressurizes system every 5 or 10 seconds. Our mechanic checked the system and it isn't losing pressure. Oddity of switch or something. Annoying with potential to burn pump motor prematurely. And, checking the hydraulic fluid level requires removing a 3-foot x 3-foot belly skin panel to access the reservoir.

- Tailwheel - Hard rubber Maule-type. Tends to wear to one side.

- Tailwheel - We had a spring mounting bracket crack. We thought this might be attributed to a hard landing, but the factory had seen this happen before and believes the retract mechanism is over-exerting the mount when at the extreme of its cycle. Fortunately, they had an extra part in stock.

- Canopy - fussy slides.

- Canopy - design / manufacture questionable. We have had cracks in both canopy and windscreen. Perhaps the result of being parked in the sun in the winter with large differential between inside and outside temps.

- Canopy - latch. Sometimes stubborn. Between the slides and the latch, some question in my mind as to how easily one could get it opened in case of emergency bailout.

- Poor design - The front vents at the base of the windscreen are practically unreachable when in flight, unless you  release the harnesses and reach way forward of the glareshield. My checklist included setting these to the desired position before strapping in.

- Poor design - The magnetic compass is so far forward of the glareshild that it is almost unreadable.

- Poor design - Seat belts. The seat belts and retractable shoulder harnesses are a nice idea, but impractical for this aircraft with aerobatic aspirations. Shoulder harnesses do not keep you secure enough when inverted, and the lap belts have a tendency to loosen. VERY annoying! I regularly flew aerobatics with one hand against the overhead canopy handle for support.

Other points (you be the judge) --
> Nose heavy - must be careful to keep the stick back during taxi.

> Older digital engine instrumentation difficult to interpret.

> There is no way to lock the canopy nor the controls if on an overnight.

> To board, large step up to the wing flaps with no exterior handhold.

> Poor factory checklist -- I built my own to address / train systems and speeds.

> XC speed. Per book, I flight plan 160 ktas. This is closer to 150 - 155. And for whatever reason, the wing does not seem to perform well above 10,000'

> IFR - challenging. Less stable than typical platforms. Stick makes cockpit management critical.

> Night - There is considerable glare and reflection from the large canopy. Not unlike the problems encountered with an F-16 or so.

The bird flies like a cabin class twin or light jet. Be careful on landing not to get speeds below or 80 kias or you can be in a behind-the-curve high sink before you know it.

The a/c can accelerate stall instantly. One must be very attentive to stick input or the sensitivity of elevator input can change pitch before direction. For example, I could talk anyone through their first takeoff in the R182. I stopped doing this in the Micco. It will fly into ground effect from the 3-point attitude at 65, but will be behind the power curve until 80+. I've seen clients get us into a PIO because of the speed / overcorrection. Fun stuff when low level.

It likes to wheel-land with full flaps. For 3-point I use 1/2 flaps. If one tries to do a true full-stall 3-point, you land tailwheel first and slam the mains. These flap settings work best for the speed / stability desired with these particular landings. Wheel landings keep the speed up and eliminate risk of tailwheel first arrivals.

It is a fun / scary / educational deadstick trainer. Flaps up, gear down, 95 kias, power back, it sinks around 1200+ fpm. Must finesse around the 180 turn or will stall out. Don't flare too soon or too high or you lose energy rapidly. Local FAA FSDO agent uses it for recurrency and loves its handling for "big airplane" skills.

The Micco is a hard aircraft to fly aerobatic well. It is a great platform for introducing pilots to aerobatics and upset recovery. At our operating altitudes (8,000' to 11,000' msl), it can barely hold altitude during the inverted portion of a slow roll, making it a challenge to use for obtaining a IAC Primary badge.


The Micco is not an aircraft in which you can legally interrupt a long XC with spontaneous aerobatics. Aerobatic flights require fuel in inboard (auxiliary) tanks only, with the outer mains dry. Flight with fuel in Aux tanks only will give you about two hours endurance. And, baggage area must be empty for aerobatics.

Having noted all of the above, I enjoyed every (warm weather) flight in the Micco. I think every aspiring professional / commercial pilot should fly it to really learn about energy management, angle-of-attack, accelerated stalls, and system finesse.


Finally: For Rich Stowell's impression of spinning the Micco, CLICK HERE .


Have experience in a Micco? Feel free to leave a comment.


-- Tom Nagorski

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