Wednesday 19 June 2013 09:31 UTC
Where have you been? What have you seen?
I don't often post on here but know a few of you like to follow my life out here in Indonesia and a couple have asked my thoughts on this aircraft now that I'm flying it. So here we go...
First, a little history (feel free to skip this bit). I learnt to fly in the UK back in 2006. Got my JAA CPL/IR/ME in 2009 with aspirations of flying big jets. Not exactly a good time to try and get a job but 6 months later found out about a company based out in Indonesia flying Cessna C208B Grand Caravans. I applied, got an interview and eventually the job; a week after my 30th birthday! So, I rented out the flat, sold one of the cars and moved from soggy old Somerset to hot (and at times soggy) Indonesia.
It didn't take me long to realise this bush flying was bloody good fun and why on earth would I want to fly a big shiny jet. A couple of tours in Papua were all I needed to realise this was the sort of flying I want to do. Luckily for me, the company I work for also has a fleet of PC-6 Porters and it wasn't until I was posted to Papua that I got to have a couple of flights in one. I was smitten. I knew I had to get flying these one day. After two years flying the C208 my chance finally came and I was offered the position on the Porter fleet with one catch. I had to go and do some tailwheel time. No problem, as I had a holiday booked back in the UK so booked up a Supercub course at Clacton who were fantastic.
Upon my return I then went back out to Papua to begin training with our in-house instructor and PC-6 god. The training mostly comprised of lots and lots of circuits:
It was very hot work in the 30 degree heat and humidity of Papua but obviously vital to ensure I could land and take-off in all configurations safely. Other parts of the training involved general handling, emergencies, loading and securing the aircraft (the elevator and rudder lock is a work of insanity!).
Training complete, I was treated to a few of the local airstrips with my instructor in the right seat.
(more on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/indo_pilot/)
So to the Porter and my thoughts of it.
Firstly, it's pretty basic; which is a good thing for a bush aircraft. If it doesn't need it, it doesn't have it which makes for an airframe that can carry nearly it's own weight in payload out of pretty much anything you want to call an airstrip. Our aircraft come with 2x bench seats capable of carrying 3 pax and 2x single seats (which can be stowed in the tail section) giving us up to 9 pax seats if you take one up front along side. There's also a trapdoor built into the floor which you can open via a handle in the cockpit. It's mainly used for survey/camera equipment.
The engine is a de-rated Pratt & Whitney PT6A-27 turboprop providing 550 SHP. It has both beta and reverse thrust capability which allow for very rapid rates of descent as it's one of the few aircraft in the world certified to use beta in the air. Reverse thrust is handy to help slow you up on muddy airstrips although you have to be quick with the rudder to catch the yaw.
The ailerons and rudder are linked to aid coordinated turns but you still need a fair bit of rudder to keep them coordinated (this is not an aircraft for those with lazy feet). The tailwheel is steerable up to 25 degrees either side after which it'll swivel. It's also lockable for take-off and landing. All control surfaces are trimable via the electric trim system. There is no manual trim system. The elevator has a backup system in-case the primary fails and there's also an interrupt switch should you get a trim runaway. If this isn't working in your pre-flight, you don't go flying.
Take-offs are a fairly straight forward affair. Smoothly add power whilst adding in right rudder to keep it straight, maybe even a dab of right toe brake too. The locked tailwheel really helps keep things tidy here compared to say the Supercub where it seems to be a small battle to keep straight. The other thing is to ensure before take-off is that you have the trims set correctly. Failure to do this has resulted in pilots loosing control shortly after take-off. Pilatus consider it so important that the elevator trim is set correctly, that there's an audio warning if you go out of the t/o trim range whilst on the ground.
Flying is a delight. You can really throw it about with the lovely, harmonised controls. And I really enjoy flying with a stick. It makes total sense for this sort of aircraft. Even at full weight (2800kg) you can achieve 1000ft/min rates of climb. And with beta, the rate of descent is incredible. I've not actually looked down yet to see what it is but the fact the ROD indicator's calibrated to 6000ft/min is obviously an indicator as to how fast you can go down.
Landings are again not too tricky for such a large tailwheel aircraft. We always aim for a three pointer landing and provided you land straight, the roll-out is pretty uneventful. If you do land a little skew you do have to be quick with the rudder pedals and toe brakes to keep things straight. Those huge oleos and low pressure main wheels (20psi) can smooth out even the most bumpy airstrip (or dodgy landing )
So there you go. Hope my rambling prove interesting for some of you and I'll happily answer any questions anyone might have about the Porter or about flying out in Indonesia in general (and possibly the C208 if I cast my memory back a bit).
I'll leave you with this photo of the PC-6 in it's natural environment:
So you want to fly an Airbus?
Last edited by Moose on Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Yeah, I wasn't sure where was best really as I figured I'm always a student
If a mod thinks this is better elsewhere on the forums, please feel free to move it
All the trims have a small take-off range (shown in green) which you set using the indicators:
Note the power is off in this photo so indications are incorrect!
The elevator trim is set depending on the C of G. If it's in the middle, set it to 0 degrees. Forward set up to 2 degrees nose up and aft set nose up to 2 degrees down. It ends up being a personal preference in reality. I prefer load with a forward C of G and thus have a little nose up trim set for take-off. Set-up like this, the aircraft will just fly when it wants to fly without too much input from me. It's that sort of aircraft really; flown by feel rather than numbers. The AFM (POH) is under 40 pages not including the supplements
Many thanks for your post and don't think for any second people are not interested because you give an insight into a totally different world to what most people are used to.
I have to commend your attitude about getting work and state without hesitation I wish I had the balls to do what you have done.
If your ever passing through Breighton pop in. I'll see if I can rustle up enough work to offer you a job instructing I could do with someone with your attitude and CV. I'm sick of seeing muppets with 4 hours of PA28 time wondering why I'm not over impressed with their CV.
The work is out there. You just have to go where the work is! And if you stay in your comfort zone, you could be missing out on the best flying you've ever done (or will ever do).
A lot of people ask me how I managed it (leaving the UK) but it's really not that difficult. I was very settled before I left. I had a very stable 9-5 office job in IT which paid pretty well, two cars, a mortgage etc. To give it all up for $600 a month was a hard decision but I knew if it didn't work out I could always come home. I'm now earning more than when I was in IT and doing a job I totally love.
I'll upload some more photos soon from my flying around the jungles of Borneo where I'm currently based. I'm actually heading back to the UK for Christmas in a couple of days so will probably do it over the holidays some time.
PS Bathman - thanks for the offer! I've never held an instructor's rating and really do admire those with the patience to instruct others. Aviation needs good instructors and I'm eternally grateful to all those instructors I've had over the years to help me get to where I am now. Maybe one day I'll consider it but for now I'll keep on learning out here on the job
There's a Porter here for paradropping, it was nosed over when they landed long apparently... 'New' half time engine fitted and an expensive new propeller, and when parts arrive it should be flying.
In BC wondering wandering
Those are some inspirational words
I'm going to print them out and stick them on my monitor while I do my boring 9-5 IT job
Excellent report. That airplane has always attracted my for its capabilities.
How many gals an hour ?
Gosh I would not like to go down in Borneo... they still have cannibals there.
"You know, I've personally flown over 194 missions and I was shot down on every one. Come to think of it, I've never landed a plane in my life." Admiral Benson
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