Category Archives: Aviation

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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Vultee BT-13 aircraft profile

The Vultee Aircraft Corp. BT-13 “Valiant” was a single-engine, tandem-seat trainer produced for the U.S. Army Air Corps, U.S. Navy and foreign allies prior to and during World War II. The aircraft was selected and produced as a primary and follow-on intermediary trainer due to its ruggedness, forgiving flight characteristics and stability. Most of the pilots produced in the early years of World War II conducted initial training, or Basic Training, hence the BT name, on the BT-13.

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A Longer Look at the PT6A-34 Powered Viking 400

An airplane that can go virtually anywhere, do anything, and operate in the most extreme weather—and that could sell for twice what you paid for it after 30 years—might sound like a fantasy. But the iconic DHC-6 Twin Otter, which de Havilland Canada ­produced, fits that description. It helped launch the commuter and regional airline industry in North America, remains the backbone of maritime coastal patrols for many navies, and serves the mining and oil industries worldwide. It lands on wheels, big tundra tires, straight floats, amphibious floats, and skis. Runways are optional. Nice flat surfaces of any kind are kid stuff. When it’s 60 below in Antarctica and some scientist needs to be medevaced, this is the airplane they send.

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A Thrush is “Reborn” with Upgrades & a PT6A-41

It was in 2010 that Thrush Aircraft introduced a new engine mount design for the 510 series Thrush, specifically the then newly certified H80 GE turboprop engine. The extension was approximately 18 inches forward of the hopper, creating a mini-storage area and eliminating the lead-shot ballast ring. Not only did this improve flight characteristics by moving the CG, but removed nearly 300 pounds of “dead” weight.

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