The Marquart MA-5 Charger is a simple tandem seat, open cockpit biplane. It was designed by Ed Marquart in the late 1960s, who drew inspiration from the Stampe SV4 and Bucker Jungmann. Size-wise, she sits somewhere between a Pitts and a Stearman so the taller and “wider” owners and pilots slot into either cockpit without too much of a squeeze.

The Charger purchased by The Barnstormers (G-BVJX) is fitted with a 180hp Lycoming O-360 and fixed pitch prop, which has enough grunt to overcome a fair proportion of that biplane drag. Bearing in mind this aircraft is for basic aerobatics instruction, and isn’t in the league of an Extra, the numbers are pretty good. Cruise is around 100KIAS at 2,350rpm and 35litres/hr. The full power solo climb rate is around 1,400fpm and at an amusingly steep angle. Trying to confirm the published stall speed of 35kt is good fun – the number is believable but the ASIs aren’t at such a high pitch attitude. Doing aerobatics uses around 40 litres/hr.

Handling-wise, the MA-5 is comparable to the well-loved Stampe. It has been described in various magazine reviews as “The Happiness Machine“, and it certainly brings a smile to the face of all that have flown her.

The flying controls are nicely balanced, and having four ailerons gives a fairly decent roll rate. They also seem to be tuned for “fun” – the responsiveness and feel means the temptation to deviate from straight and level flight is just too much!

It will get through a Sport level sequence , but it takes a skilled pilot to do so without losing height – a characteristic that is desirable at this level of aerobatic training before Barnstormers students progress on to hotter ships.

Landings are a piece of cake, either setting up from a sideslipped approach or a constant curved descent if traffic allows. Three-pointers and wheelers are equally acceptable, the wide-tracked undercarriage being strong, forgiving and helpfully, for a training aircraft, not too springy. The book approach speed of 60kt gives a nice smooth touchdown after a short hold-off.

The Charger is available for both instruction and solo hire, after a suitable checkout period. Our current rate is £180 per hour for both dual and solo hire – all of our instructions are professional pilots and so do not charge for instruction as a way in encourage our students to have as much as they need to feel comfortable. Landing fees are also chargeable at the applicable rate.