Lancair 235 Guide and Specs – Is This the Right Monoplane for You?

Designed by Lance Neibauer- founder of the United States Lancair aviation company (pronounced LANSE-air), the Lancair 235 is an easy-to-fly, two-seated light aircraft. In 1981, Neibauer founded his company as a producer of amateur-built airplane kits. Neibauer first produced the Lancair 200 in December of 1984, after working earlier with Al Meyers to produce his Meyer 200. It was constructed with a 100 HP Continental O-200 engine. Soon, however, the 200 was exchanged with the Lancair 235 in 1985- in which was placed a stronger engine, namely, the 100- 150 HP Lycoming O-235. Thus, the later models were based upon the gradually faster engines each succeeding one was equipped with.

In 2017, Lancair was sold and renamed Lancair International, LLC, now owned by Mark, and his currently 26-year-old son Conrad, Huffstutler who operate it as a private business in Uvalde, Texas.

At the beginning of production to the late ’90s, it was quite simple for experienced hands to build a Lancair 235 at home with a kit and was enjoyable for many amateur airplane architects. That being said, it is highly unsafe for anyone who can is unused to building airplanes to undertake this job alone. With an experienced helping hand, however, your dreams of becoming advanced someday can be realized! Not with this Lancair model, however, for production of the kits are discontinued and are seldom seen unfinished anymore. If you would like to build a Lancair from a kit, try the Lancair IV-PT, Evolution, Mako, Barracuda, 320, or 360.

Some beautiful aspects of this cross-country monoplane are the side-by-side configuration of its two seats, the low, cantilevered wings, the bubble-canopied cockpit, and the roomy baggage area behind the seats.

According to Wikipedia, at least 59 plane kits of this model were produced.

Uses

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A non-commercial, amateur-built, touring aircraft, the Lancair 235 is the perfect choice for beginner aviators and those who appreciate the smooth-flying, compactness, and affordability of a lovely two-seater Lancair. Whether you fly alone or fly with a passenger, you are sure to feel a thrill that the only thing between you and space is the metal bird’s lightweight sides and window.

Specifications

Crew#: one

Maximum # of Passengers: one passenger

Engine: 1 × Lycoming O-235 Four-Cylinder, Air-Cooled, Four-Stroke 100- 115 HP Engine

Or 1 x Lycoming O-290 125-140 HP Engine

Length: 20 Feet, 0 Inches

Height: 6 Feet, 1 Inch

Wingspan: 23 Feet 6 Inches

Empty Weight: 650 Pounds

Fuel Capacity: 43 Gallons

Maximum Gross Weight: 1,275 Pounds

Airfoil: NASA NLF(1)-0215F

Propellers: 2-bladed fixed pitch (some are 3-bladed, according to the constructor’s wishes.)

Performance

Maximum speed: 160 Knots (180 MPH)

Cruise speed: 140 Knots (160 MPH)

Stall speed: 55 Knots (63 MPH)

Never exceed speed: 235 Knots (270 MPH)

Service Ceiling: 20,000 Feet

Rate of climb: 1,300 Feet/Minute

Range: 1,000 Miles

g limits: +9/-4.5 G ultimate load

Beautiful Features of the Lancair 235

Lancair

  • Retractable Undercarriage
  • Three-Wheel Landing Gear
  • Two Seats
  • 8 Cubit Feet Baggage Hold Behind Seats
  • Single Piston-Engined
  • Composite Fiberglass Wings and Fuselage with Nomex Honeycomb
  • Forward-Opening Bubble Canopy
  • Sleek, Streamlined Design
  • High wing Configuration

Pricing Guide For Lancair 235s

Depending on whether you decide to purchase an unfinished kit plane or an already built model, the prices will be different. Base prices for a kit were around $20,000 in 1988- which, by the way, are now out of production because of the modern models that have replaced the 235.

Used, finished Lancair 235 models are still being sold today and can be purchased from around $50,000 to $70,000. Usually, they are rare to find, and I highly expect the listings below to be sold quickly.

Performance and Handling

Handling a Lancair 235 differs from plane to plane, as they are built to suit each amateur builder’s whims. Generally, their avionics are simple to understand, and flying can be simple for either beginner or expert. However, according to the AOPA,

“Lancairs make up just over 3% of the amateur-built (AB) fleet yet have over 10% of the fatal AB accidents. Keep in mind, however, that they also tend to fly significantly more than the typical AB local flights. These are cross-country machines.”

That being said, with an eager, willing-to-learn amateur pilot, or an experienced and level-headed aviator, this craft can be flown both safely and very fast. As the slogan once was at the peak of the Lancair kit line production,” You can get into a new Lancair, the Lamborghini of the skies, for far, far less than a slower aircraft.”

A couple of things to keep in mind while handling your Lancair 235:

  1. Loss of control can happen easily when the aircraft stalls or falls into a spin. These planes are “experimental,” which means the avionics and handling are designed and decided upon by whomever it was who built each one. Some were very experienced and good at building, resulting in their aircraft having fewer instances of accidents due to poor construction. However, some were not. Keeping this in mind, be sure to thoroughly have your plane gone over by an expert (or examine it yourself if you are an expert) to find faulty details which may be detrimental to both plane and occupants. Factory-built aircraft are all required to be FAA certified for compliance, and kit planes are not- the difference results in a great cost deduction for kit planes, which are less dependable on the whole.
  2. Weather can adversely affect your 235, so make sure to fly when the weather is right, and a storm is not on the horizon.

Below is a lovely video of a pilot taking off, flying, and landing his wonderful Lancair 235.

Maintenance

According to the official Lancair website, many of the parts of your personal Lancair craft should be checked before each takeoff. These include the fluid reservoirs, brakes, tires, landing gear, flight controls, fittings, lines, and anything that you can see. Quoting them, they write, saying, “Lancair’s professional flight engineer… says, ‘If it’s on the aircraft and visible, it needs to be checked before flight.'”

Make a good habit of giving your 235 the once-over before embarking on it. It may save your life and the plane’s life as well.

A thorough wash-down and wax should also be given the 235 every so often- depending upon how dirty your plane gets and how long the wax you use holds- to keep the luster and beautiful paint looking its best.

Lancair also suggests making a checklist for regular maintenance and always sticking to that list. It will make you sleep better at night just knowing that you have written and kept a log of taking care of your plane and that it will safely carry you and your loved ones in it for a long while.

Make sure you get the original FAA certificates (Airworthiness Certificate and Operating Limitations) from whomever you are purchasing this aircraft from, for it may be very hard to get a duplicate issued, and without them, your 235 is not airworthy. All Lancair 235s are classified as Experimental-Amateur Built (E-AB) aircraft.

Also, ask for all builders’ operating, maintenance, and construction manuals the seller has regarding the aircraft you are purchasing.

Modifications and Upgrades

lancair 235

Each designer no doubt put their own touches in or on their Lancair 235 whilst building it, and some of those modifications can be readily seen in some of the used 235s for sale. One upgrade that could be purchased at the time of building by the company was the Lycoming O-290 125-140 HP Engine- an advancement to the former engine capable of 110-115 HP.

Common Problems

Many of the common problems lie in the lightness and lack of sturdiness of this cross-country touring craft, and also issues with landing. As stated below in the statement made by a veteran pilot, even experienced aviators can have difficulty landing this light plane.

“Chris: Lancair used to teach this by having students fly down the length of the runway at 6” in the landing configuration with minimum power. Another problem I’ve observed is starting to round out too early and bleeding off speed too early. Jay: To sum up this long discussion, in my opinion, the Lancair 2- and 3- series airplanes are different from most light airplanes.

Landings, in particular, demand a skill set that many first-time (and non-current) Lancair pilots do not possess. Gusts and crosswinds can make it difficult for even an experienced pilot to make good landings. Again, in my opinion, flying the Lancair 2- and 3-series should be treated like flying a military airplane, training before the first flight, and regular currency. If a pilot is going to spend the money to own one he should be willing to spend the money to get training and fly fairly regularly.”

-Lancair Owners and Builders Organization, Inc.

Insurance Options

Aviation Insurance Resources has affordable insurance options, as does Ladd Gardner Aviation Insurance and Gallagher Aircraft Insurance. Since 2019, 2007, and 1927(amazingly!), respectively, each of these firms is legitimate and trustworthy, though I would recommend Gallagher above them all. And, for that matter, so does the Lancair Owners and Builders Organization (LOBO).

Resale Value

Lancair Jet

For resale, you can probably get a good price out of your 235 if it is in good condition and airworthy. Depending upon location, condition, and appearance, you should probably get around to what the other good 235s are selling for. Check out sold listings on the online marketplaces from which you can buy aircraft.

Owner Reviews

Most people love their 235s and rarely will give them up. Nevertheless, because of their lightweight frame and small size, many will choose a more dependable aircraft that will withstand crashes much more safely.

Here are a few owners’ reviews- some positive and some negative.

“I owned one from 1998 until 2001.

Pros

  • Cruised at 172kts at 9gph
  • Fast, agile, responsive
  • Fully aerobatic – Snap rolls, barrel rolls, loops, and a few others.
  • +7g/-3g (non sustained negative due to no inverted fuel or oil)
  • Mine had an O-290-D2 that was STC’d for car gas
  • ~1,000fpm climb w/ 2 people and fuel.
  • Overhead canopy – AWESOME view

Cons

  • Electric gear without a mechanical or blow-down option
  • Castering nose gear can be problematic
  • Super clean airplane, so descents need to be planned way ahead
  • Negative faired (reflexed) flaps for cruise
  • Only a 2 place
  • Mooney donut mains – (Can you say “boing, boing”?) Miss a greased landing, and it has a propensity to bounce. Best way to land it is nose high, pushing a little bit of power, and assertive corrections with rudder (had good rudder authority, even at slow speed).
  • Sloppy, mechanical, friction-based trim slider – In bumpy air, the trim could work its way out.
  • Overhead canopy – AWESOME roasting oven in the heat.
  • Not a ton of headroom – At 6’2″, 185lbs, I had to pull the original seat lining and have new ones made that were 1/5 as thick so I could get my noggin in the airplane.”

-Reddit Commenter

“I’ve got maybe 10 hours in the 235. Awesome airplane. It’s a lot to handle if you have no experience flying faster than 100 knots in the pattern.”

-Reddit Commenter

“Bill: This paragraph contains what I believe to be one of the most important and useful pieces of information that a new Lancair pilot needs. The geometry of the airplane is simply different from any other civilian airplane with regard to eye position in the fuselage. In a Cessna 182, for example, the pilot’s eye is about 25% back from the nose and considerably higher than the top of the cowling.

A fairly nose-high attitude can be held without compromising over-the-nose visibility. The 235/320/360 airframes have the pilot’s eye at the 50% point and, due to the semi-reclining posture, are just a few inches above the cowling. Even a “normal” flare attitude compromises the pilot’s over-the-nose visibility of the runway. Visibility can likewise be compromised when rotating for takeoff, especially with early rotation, such as with a soft-field takeoff. I always teach that the pilot needs to consciously redirect his vision to the left of the nose before rotation and before flare. I suspect that several of the landing accidents that I have reviewed might have been avoided with this technique.”

-Lancair Owners and Builders Organization, Inc.

Similar Aircraft

BRISTELL – B23

BRISTELL – B23

The Czech-produced Bristell B23 is also low-winged, has a 3-bladed propeller as is found in some 235s, is formed with three landing wheels, is equipped with autopilot ability, steerable nose wheel, its cockpit canopy opens upward toward the nose, and- unlike the 235- is VFR night certified. It is a lovely model and has pleased many owners around the world.

Aerospool – WT9 Dynamic LSA

Aerospool – WT9 Dynamic LSA

Designed and produced in Slovakia, Aerospool’s lovely low-wing light sport plane combines safety with fast speeds and glamourous aesthetic detailing. Some extra benefits of the WT9 Dynamic which are not found in the Lancair 2354 are its low noise emission, emergency parachute system, and low operating costs.

Diamond – DA20 C1 Eclipse

Diamond – DA20 C1 Eclipse

According to GlobalAir, “The C1 can climb at impressive speeds of 1,000 fpm from 1,000 feet MSL, 800 fpm from 3,500 feet MSL, and 500 fpm from 5,000 feet MSL.” It’s a beautiful sport aircraft similar to the Lancair 235 in its 2-bladed fixed-pitch prop, steerable nose wheel, three-wheel landing gear, bubble canopy, low wing configuration, and two-occupant seating. It is a variant of the Diamond DA20 Katana.

Clubs You Can Join

A few good Lancair clubs are available, but as the 235 is out of production, it may be difficult or impossible to find an online club revolving around 235s alone. Here are the ones I recommend and am sure you will enjoy them!

FAQs

Question: How Fast is the Lancair 235?

Answer: At top speed, the 235 can reach 186 safely, and in some instances, all the way up to 200- which is generally not recommended.

Question: Is the Lancair 235 Aerobatic?

Answer: No. The Lancair 235 is not aerobatic. It has not even been rated as an aircraft capable of spins. This is an experimental kit plane and should not be relied upon for any unusual or strenuous flying.

Question: How Much Does a Used 235 Cost?

Answer: Depending upon the year, condition of the airplane, and how much the seller is asking for it, a Lancair 235 can generally be purchased for a reasonable price- between $40,000 to $70,000.

If there is anything else you may require as a Lancair pilot and owner, you may find all the official advice and resources you need on this page of the LOBO website.

Conclusion

Lancair 235s are wonderful little high-performance planes and, in the right, skillful hands, will bring the owner much joy! If your passion is collecting many experimental aircraft or owning one alone, I am sure you would love to check this little beauty out. Be careful, and may only fair winds blow upon your airship and bring you safely down.

Recommended Reads:

References

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