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One of a kind (almost) page 2

Story and photos by Rich hulina

Over the first winter with the aircraft we acquired a U-shaped dock, which enabled us to load from either side. Fuelling could be quickly accomplished with the use of a ladder at the outboard fuel caps. Once the airplane was in the slip it was simply backed out with a little assistance from a dockhand working the tail. The U-shaped dock also allowed us to start the aircraft with an APU cart.

The seats in the 208 are comfortable, but lack the utility of easy installation. They can’t be folded up, so you are often left with a big, bulky bench seat and no place to put it. If you can afford them, after-market, collapsible bush seats are available. The Caravan’s individual seats are easy to put in but the double bench is another nuisance. We’ve learned to live with it, and have found it easier to install by one person rather than have two people fighting each other. Recently, Aerotwin’s baggage extension behind the rear bulkhead was added. It can accommodate one double seat or the long shipping tubes used to carry fishing rods, leaving more room for up-front cargo.

Drivin’ the 208 in the bush
Loading the Caravan is generally done through the two-part, 49-inch-wide by 50-inch-high, left side cargo door. The airplane is wide enough to lay 4 x 8 sheets of plywood on the floor. The interior doorsill is not much higher than the top of the dock. Instead of having to lift cargo up as you would with an Otter, you can pull it across and inside. Now, 45-gallon drums can be loaded by one person because the ramp angle is so much lower. The aircraft is capable of carrying nine passengers plus pilot loaded through any of the four doors. Transporting passengers (typically six) and their gear, we find that placing them near the front and cargo in the rear makes for easy loading. In this arrangement, the seats don’t have to be removed and can be easily worked around. The interior layout includes a single seat located directly behind the pilot on the left side. On the right are two benches (four people) placed one behind the other. The aisle is retained and one passenger can sit in the copilot’s seat. Coolers are stacked behind the single left seat and tied into position. The remaining cargo is placed behind the last bench seat and prevented from shifting with cargo nets. One advantage of this modern bushplane is plenty of tiedowns. Cargo rings rated for 100 pounds each can be placed at several locations in the aircraft. The seats are installed in brown line tracks and the cargo rings attach to them as well as to individual points 360 degrees around the aircraft at different stations.

Most bush pilots have seen the enormous amounts of tackle fishermen bring, let alone the size of their tackle boxes–a bit ridiculous, since the first drawer is usually the only one that gets opened. Wipaire was prepared for this. In each float are two extremely large hatches located just forward of the step and capable of handling any tackle box that comes their way. Each compartment is limited to 100 pounds and, when in use, offers the side benefit of helping to keep overall weight forward. These compartments are also perfect for hauling jerry cans of gas and cases of beer. When docking on the left side, the right-hand float compartments are seldom used, as it is inconvenient to unload through the cockpit doors or to have to walk freight down the float to the air stair door.

Starting is straightforward. I set everything before untying. Fuel on, bleed air off, emergency power lever normal, power lever in beta range, prop lever full forward, battery on, volt/ammeter check 24 volts minimum. After those checks are complete, I simply push off the dock, jump in and light it up like any other PT6. Fuel boost on, starter on and watch the Ng (gas generator rpm)–12% is minimum, but our company policy is 15% minimum. Once minimum Ng has been obtained, the fuel condition lever is set to low idle and ITT (inter turbine temperature) is watched for a possible hot start or hung start. Ng should stabilize at 52%. About 10 seconds have passed, and in beta mode you now have control; it takes about another 5 to 7 seconds if the propeller is feathered.

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