Category Archives: Aviation

A Brief History of the Cessna Caravan

The development and early years of a legendary aircraft.

The Cessna Caravan business turboprop aircraft seems like it’s been around forever- but surprisingly- it’s only 33 years since the first aircraft rolled off Wichita’s production line in August 1984. Now this multi-role aircraft- which operates in 68 countries around the world- has become indispensable. It was conceived at just the right time and has never looked back since that first Federal Express order. In fact, as of this writing- aircraft number 1-522 had just rolled off the Wichita production line.

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PT6A-35 Powered JetProp DLX: No Mirage Of Power In This Malibu Conversion

Piper’s sleek Malibu/Mirage pressurized singles have always been good performers once they get up to altitude. It’s the takeoff and climb phases that leave a little to be desired. JetProp LLC’s DL and DLX conversions solve that with an infusion of an extra few hundred horsepower.

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A Look at the Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior Beechcraft D18S Twin Beech

On January 15, 1937, the Beechcraft Model 18 made its first demonstration flight at the factory in Wichita, Kansas, and it continued in production for thirty-two years. This low-wing, all-metal, twin-engine monoplane was originally intended as a six-to-eight-passenger executive or feeder airline transport. As the years passed, however, the Model 18 was adapted to many uses and, in all, thirty-two different versions were produced.

This post is from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

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Inside the Wasp Shop with the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team & Covington Aircraft

Gene McNeely started flying airshows in 1986 and has been a stalwart presence on the AeroShell aerobatic team, flying a Wasp-powered North American T-6. He can only guess at his total flying time behind the engine: “I would say 15,000 hours…probably more than that.” He does remember exactly how he got there, though. “I got out of the Navy and…started cropdusting, and the first engine I sat behind was the [Pratt &Whitney] R-985, which we’d adapted to the Stearman,” he recalls.

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The History & Story of the R-985 Powered Boeing PT-17 Stearman

Climbing over the narrow, wing-root walkway and stepping on to the cushioned seat of the tandem, two-place, blue and yellow fabric-covered open-cockpit Boeing PT-17 Stearman registered N55171 in Stow, Massachusetts, I lowered myself into position with the aid of the two upper wing trailing edge hand grips and fastened the olive-green waist and shoulder harnesses.  Donning era-prerequisite goggles and helmet, I surveyed the fully duplicated instrumentation before me and prepared myself both for an aerial sightseeing fight of Massachusetts and a brief, although temporary, return to World War II primary flight training skies.

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Maintaining Floatplanes

As one might intuitively guess, maintaining floatplanes and amphibians – particularly those which routinely operate commercial charters or scheduled services and need to provide very high levels of operational reliability – is a rather more specialized and MRO-intensive business than is maintaining aircraft which fly only from runways on land.

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