Caravan Nation Articles

Cessna Caravan Training at FlightSafety International, Ahead of the Class! By Chris Rosenfelt

Flying the Mighty Cessna Caravan! By Scott Humphries

Caravan Confessions by Marcel Benoit, Program Manager S3/KBFS Crestview, Florida

Across the Atlantic in a Caravan by Raunaq Singh Panwar

Caravan Flying for MAF by Jim Vanderburg

How to Properly Fly Skydivers in the Cessna Caravan by Chris Rosenfelt

How to Become a Jungle Pilot by Louise (

cessna caravan

Cessna Caravan Training at FlightSafety International, Ahead of the Class!

By Chris Rosenfelt

Dating back to the early 1980s, when the Cessna Caravan first took to the air, FlightSafety International was there training pilots how to safely fly this wonderful aircraft, and to this day has trained more pilots in the Caravan than any other company in the world. In 2018, FlightSafety International joined forces with TRU Simulation + Training and created FlightSafety Textron Aviation Training. Of note, Textron Aviation is the parent company of TRU Simulation + Training. On a recent visit to the Wichita East Learning Center in Wichita, Kansas, I was reminded why FlightSafety has such a great reputation worldwide for high quality training.

The Caravan was born and raised in the “Air Capital of the World” which is Wichita, Kansas. The very first Caravan, N208LP, took to the air for the first time from McConnell Air Force Base which is located just a couple miles from where Caravan pilot training is offered. Also, maintenance training for the Caravan is offered at the Wichita Maintenance Learning Center in Wichita, Kansas. Both pilot and maintenance training are available for the Caravan including Cessna Caravan I/G600/G1000. The Wichita East Learning Center has 23 multi-million-dollar simulators including the three Caravan simulators – Caravan G1000, Caravan G600 and Caravan I.

Prior to my arrival, the FlightSafety Textron Aviation Training team sent me a welcome email and access to their MyFlightSafety website and FlightBag app. Both are wonderful training resources, and from my many years of experiences and training, I have learned that you must do as much studying as you can prior to any formal training. Just as we “stay ahead of the airplane” must stay ahead of the class.

Upon my arrival to the Wichita East Learning Center, I received a warm welcome from the Center Manager, Scott Politte and the Center Sales Manager, Mike Croitoru. This was my second time visiting a FlightSafety Center. In 2016, I went through training at the FlightSafety LaGuardia Learning Center where I received my Shorts 360 Initial Type Rating and then attended my Recurrent one year later. On this third visit to a FlightSafety Learning Center, I was reminded yet again of how dedicated FlightSafety is to my success and to making pilots feel comfortable.

After the pleasant initial greeting, they gave me a tour of the impressive Center, escorted me to the Caravan classroom and introduced me to one of the Caravan instructors, Jerry Sheehy. He was very nice and incredibly knowledgeable about the Caravan. Jerry has been an instructor for many years and I quickly learned that all of the instructors have been there for many years, which tells me a lot – that they are dedicated, passionate and happy.

As a client, you can choose the in-person classroom learning or their LiveLearning which is conducted via the internet. Both options have their benefits. I am a hands-on learner, so I chose the traditional classroom option. Speaking of hands-on, they have a Caravan Garmin G1000 training kiosk which is a great learning tool especially for those of us who have flown “steam gauge” equipped aircraft. My instructors for the G1000 kiosk were Brad Amstutz and John Scott. They were very patient with me and answered all of my questions. The kiosk is brilliant for learning everything that the Garmin G1000 can do and for “muscle memory.”

I was enrolled in the Recent Flight Experience course in the Caravan G1000. My ground and simulator instructor for this course was John Scott. He is highly knowledgeable on all aspects of the Caravan Garmin G1000 and has a great sense of humor! After my ground lesson, we relocated to the full-motion level D Caravan G1000 simulator. Over the years, I have utilized full-motion simulators for training on multiple type ratings, so believe me when I tell you that this simulator is the most advanced that I have ever trained in and the graphics are by far the best that I have ever seen in both jet and turboprop simulators.

To be the Factory authorized training provider for Cessna (Textron Aviation) for over four decades, you must be the best… and they definitely proved that to me. When you combine the most-experienced and knowledgeable Caravan instructors with the newest state of the art full-motion simulators on the planet, you have FlightSafety Textron Aviation Training…. hands down the best simulator training experience that I have ever had!

Thank you to the entire Wichita Team! With a special thank you to Rich High, Scott Politte, Mike Croitoru, Brad Amstutz, John Scott, Jerry Sheehy, and Trent Corcia.

For more information on Cessna Caravan Pilot Training and Maintenance Training, contact FlightSafety Textron Aviation Training at 201-528-0170, or email

Caravan Nation

About Chris Rosenfelt

Chris Rosenfelt is an ATP certificated private jet pilot, Top 20 Aviation Blogger, and is the Founder and President of Caravan Nation and the Air Nation Group of websites. 

Caravan Nation

Flying the Mighty Cessna Caravan! 

By Scott Humphries 

The legendary Cessna Caravan (C208 for short) is arguably the most versatile plane ever built. Commuter airline? Sure. Military? 31 different air forces fly them. Island-hopping? Indeed, in the Caribbean, the Hawaiian Islands, the Greek Isles, Indonesia and more. Bush flying? Yep, in the Serengeti, the Australian Outback, the Amazon jungle, you name it. Cargo? Fedex has 239 of them. Air ambulance? Good to go. Arctic Circle in your travel plans? No sweat. If you’re on an Alaskan glacier lake tour, chances are you’re in a Caravan outfitted with floats. 

And skydive operations routinely rank the Caravan as one of the best jump planes around. The Caravan is the “Swiss Army Knife with Wings,” and you can find them literally all over the world. Fortunately, every once in a while Cessna brings a brand new one to Houston to show it off…

I first got excited about the Caravan a few years ago when I met Chris Rosenfelt (my ATOP B-737 sim partner), who runs Caravan Nation (and its fantastic Instagram page) — he’s dropped countless skydivers out of Caravans and is a huge advocate for the plane. Then over lunch, Cessna’s Derek Moore explained that Cessna was seeing increasing interest in the Caravan as personal transport, with orders for the optional “executive” interior ticking up. About the same time, my email to the legal community announcing my law retirement in favor of flying generated a surprising number of “Can you fly me to out-of-town hearings?” responses. I wondered, could the Caravan serve as an all-in-one charter business and family plane?

I jumped at Derek’s offer to test-fly the Caravan. First, I downloaded and studied Flight Safety’s 298-page Caravan-flying manual. Normally when researching a plane I’d also tinker with its weight-and-balance limitations (i.e. what can it carry and how far?), but that seemed silly here: the Caravan has a whopping 3300-lb. useful load. Even with 4 hours of fuel on board, it’ll launch 7 passengers and their luggage. Basically, if you can fit it in the door, the C208 can carry it. And it has some (four!) sizeable doors.

I met Derek at Sugar Land Airport, and we did a hands-on walk-through of the highlights. The first thing you notice about the Caravan is that it’s BIG — the tarmac shaded by its high, 52’ wingspan was perfect for a preflight chat. And at 14’ tall, it dominates the ramp. The plane’s new — 150 hours on it — and sported the most popular options: a creamy executive interior, purposeful underbelly cargo pod, and 29” (mountain-bike sized!) tires, to name a few.

Time to fly! I climbed the tall steps and slid into the pilot’s seat through the only pilot-specific door I’ve ever used (the co-pilot has his own door). Guiding me from the right seat was Terry Allenbaugh, Cessna’s Caravan guru whose pedigree stretches back to flying C208 serial no. 8 all over Ethiopia in the 1980s. Terry’s colleague Austin Bally and Derek relaxed in the spacious cabin, with Derek helpfully adding C208 bells-and-whistles commentary along the way.

Unlike all the smaller planes I’ve typically flown (except the Piper Meridian), the Caravan is a turboprop: a propeller-driven plane powered not by a piston engine but a turbine, in this case the ultra-reliable 675-hp Pratt & Whitney PT6A. So while the Garmin G1000 panel looked familiar, I welcomed Terry’s advice on the turboprop-specific aspects of the throttle quadrant.

On its simple start-up, the Caravan delivered the sweet whine of a turbine spool-up. No piston catch-and-fire here! A call to Sugar Land ground control, and we were taxing to the runway. After a short take-off briefing, I set the standard 20-degrees of flaps for take-off and advanced the power. Rotation speed is 70kts (70, in this giant bird!) and with nothing more than a slight release of the yoke, the plane flew itself off the runway after an astonishingly short (1500’) ground run. Terry had warned me that all that power required solid right rudder on climb-out, and he was right.

In no time, we were cruising smoothly southwest at 1700’ in this iconic airplane! Under the Caravan’s giant wing, the view from the cockpit is panoramic. No wonder whale-watching, bear-seeking, and safari photo-shooters love this plane. 

A smaller craft might have been pushed around by Houston’s summer thermals, but not the Caravan — it’s heft seemed to smooth out the otherwise bumpy air. So too, its robust A/C mocked the soaring mid-August heat. As stout as it is, I expected the C208 to handle ponderously. Not so: it rolled in and out of steep turns surprisingly lightly (although I had to override its envelope protection — with Terry’s permission — to roll it more than 45 degrees). I ignored the Garmin autopilot and hand-flew it the whole time, enjoying every minute. It’s a hoot to fly!

Time to land came too soon, but landing the Caravan was the highlight for me. There’s no need to really flare it — again, Bruce Bohannon’s mantra worked well: “Glide it down, round it out, let it settle, hold it back.” But on touchdown the Caravan’s turbine engine allows a “beta” mode, which basically reverses the propeller pitch to create backwards thrust. So immediately after the wheels were down — again on Terry’s advice — I yanked the power lever from idle to max beta, and a dramatic whoosh signaled the prop was actively slowing us. As a result, our landing roll was over by the first exit on SGR’s Runway 17, 1800’ tops. That’s short field performance! I taxied in with a Caravan-sized grin!

I owe a huge thanks to the Cessna team. I learned a great deal from Terry’s steady guidance. And Derek makes a compelling case for the Caravan. It remains to be seen whether it’s the right plane to take Humphries Aviation to the next level. But, the Caravan’s fun to fly, and it’s good enough for Jimmy Buffett. So it’s a strong contender!

Caravan Nation

Caravan Confessions

By Marcel Benoit, Program Manager S3/KBFS Crestview, Florida

I have a couple of Caravan confessions. The first confession is that we at System Studies and Simulation / Kachemak Bay Flying Service (S3/KBFS) are relative newcomers to the Cessna Caravan in that we have only been flying this venerable aircraft since the beginning of 2018. I can say that in that short time, we have learned a fair bit about operating this incredible aircraft. 

Second—and open disclosure here—we have developed a bit of a school-kid crush for the teacher’s…teaching-aid Caravans that we use here in Crestview, Florida. Let us dive into confession number one a little bit. Why is this even a confession? Well, I read the Facebook Cessna Caravan group posts a fair bit and I recently saw an announcement on there that someone had been flying the Caravan for 30+ years.

If that does not make you feel like a “wet-behindthe-ears punk,” then nothing will. In the harsh light of that deep experience, our claim of expert Caravan flying services might seem disingenuous at first glance. Details matter however, and the resumes of our (all) former military aircrew are quite robust, especially considering the complexity of the aircraft they flew. Combine that expertise with a very healthy dose of professionalism and discipline, add in a couple of intense years flying the Caravan and you quickly begin to appreciate this claim. These pros have consolidated their experience to develop a truly one-of-a-kind learning environment. As one might imagine, a steep learning curve is a natural consequence when flying missions like ISR, airdrop, mountainous flying and other special tasks; metaphorically speaking, like drinking from a fire hose.

As all of them are victims of the firehose learning themselves, they have chopped these missions into bite-sized pieces to make the learning curve manageable. Further, they employ sound risk identification and mitigation strategies in the mission planning process, then back that up with sound Crew Resource Management (CRM) in the aircraft. The best indicator of success is that all of our students have all come home every time in some very dangerous environments. Given the places they are flying and the things that they are doing, this is saying something. So how do we handle situations beyond the scope of our expertise (particularly with maintenance)?

I already mentioned one online resource; the Caravan forum on Facebook is great when we need to employ the ‘hive’ mindset to solve interesting questions or when we are looking for aircraft to lease in addition to the three Caravans our company owns (one can never really have enough Caravans). There is a wealth of knowledge there and such sources of information can really help to expedite solutions to Caravan issues. Further, we have benefitted from the knowledge of Caravan whisperers like Philip Esdaile at Davis Air Repair and the Emerald Coast Aviation maintenance team. Build friendships with— and take care of—these types of folks and you will save yourself many headaches. Despite these great resources and previous experience, there remain new experiences with this unique aircraft.

Yes indeed, experience is a powerful teacher, like the time when someone I know crashed his bicycle into an electric fence gate on the farm, perhaps inspired by a Knight Rider episode. Take for example, adding oil to the PT6A. After our years of experience with the PC-12NG, we thought that we were somewhat practiced at this task. Simply stated: no, we were not. Caravan oil filling still makes me feel like a circus contortionist, and if you haven’t yet spilled some on the back of the engine and accessory drive belts yet, give it time. There may actually be a gremlin in there whose sole task is to cause the oil filler neck to burp oil during filling and for your co-workers to point and laugh at you. Another thing: the exhaust deflector is something you REALLY need if you have a cargo pod, $1100+ USD price tag be damned. Without it, the exhaust staining on the side of the aircraft is horrific, almost like you flew through a coalmine. With it, it is tolerably atrocious; I am still rethinking the company decision to not buy matte black airplanes. Repeated, bent door lock pins will induce trust issues with your hangar mates or more specifically, that they are having secret pull-up competitions on your door handles. We are still looking for the covert fuel pumps (installed by a saboteur at the factory) whose exclusive
purpose was to cause fuel imbalances. It may be that the fuel quantity indicators are a backup, supersensitive slip indicator designed by that former flight instructor whose mental image of your coordination was that of a pig on roller skates. Their constant refrain was “STEP ON THE BALL!” Some  lessons are learned best through experience, then trying not to repeat them.  

Lest a factory rep read these above points and think I am besmirching the reputation of the Caravan, I can assure them that I am not. My second confession is that despite my description of the minor idiosyncrasies of the aircraft, this is in truth, a sort of twisted love letter to the Caravan. With the proper care and feeding, the aircraft has proven itself extremely reliable. We follow the rigorous 100-hour and annual inspection process, and beyond that, we have had to do very little in the way of out-of-cycle maintenance.

Tires, brakes, the aforementioned oil additions and a couple of new batteries have been the main expenses. While parts for the Caravan are NOT cheap, the overall reliability is incredible. The forgiving nature of the aircraft combined with the ability to integrate sensors, radios, airdrop equipment etc. to the aircraft, make this versatile platform worthy of our admiration. The ‘Van takes it all in stride and still gets the mission done.

Now that I have unburdened my soul of these confessions, maybe I know what a Caravan “feels” like when it has dropped its cargo pod, or gotten rid of its floats. Ready to climb like a B-model with a bigger engine…4- and 5-bladed prop? You betcha! Wing-mounted munitions? Yes, please! Well done, Cessna. I can’t pass this note to you in class like that aforementioned school kid, but know that I have confessed my admiration for you and your airplane.

Caravan Nation

Across the Atlantic in a Caravan

By Raunaq Singh Panwar

To some, 5 days and 51 hours of flying across half of the globe in a single engine aircraft seemed like a silly idea. But it was an exciting journey flying across the Atlantic Ocean, diverse land forms and even more diverse countries.

Ferrying a new aircraft is one thing which most pilots would love to do, but when you tell them that you are crossing the Atlantic in a single engine aircraft, then they start asking, “Are you okay? How will you manage to fly a Caravan for 12 hours?” But we are talking about a brand new aircraft, the latest addition to Auric Air’s fleet, here in Mwanza, Tanzania. I was fortunate to get this chance of ferrying a new aircraft from Wichita to Nairobi, Kenya, and I didn’t want to lose the opportunity.

So here we were in Wichita, Kansas, the ‘Air Capital’ of the World. Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft, Learjet, you name it and Wichita has it. I could see new, shiny planes, all over at Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita. Our journey to Nairobi would take us through Cincinnati and Bangor in USA, Santa Maria Island and Azores in Portugal, Luqa,Malta, and Luxor, Egypt. That sounded exciting! Let me first familiarize you with our aircraft, which was a Cessna Caravan, model C208B. It is a single engine turboprop airplane, which can fly non-stop for six-and a-half hours and can cover 1,800kms. It is the most successful single engine turboprop ever made. It can land and take off from short airstrips, especially in the bush.

I was at Wichita with Alex Haynes, my fellow ferry pilot, who would accompany me till Nairobi. We departed at 0900 hrs for Cincinnati, Kentucky, which would take us 4 hours. We over flew a lot of cities and small towns and each one of them had an airport or at least an airstrip. No wonder aviation is way ahead in the USA than India. While overflying St Louis, Missouri, I could see the Gateway Arch, and it looked beautiful from above. A couple of hours later we landed at Northern Kentucky International Airport. We had a quick bite and then after an hour we took off for Bangor, Maine, our final U.S. destination.

This leg takes about 5 1/2 hours. Some bad weather was forecast enroute, so it was going to be interesting. Instead of flying straight to Bangor, we diverted a bit towards Washington DC and then north towards Maine. We were about 150 km away from New York City and I was amazed to see the city lights so far at night. I knew New York was a huge city, but truly felt it at that moment. The day was coming to an end and finally we landed at Bangor, a small town with a population of about 35,000,but an important refueling stop for planes flying across the Atlantic. The next two days we stayed in Bangor to get our ferry tanks installed inside the aircraft, with them we could fly for 14-1/2 hours nonstop.

The D-Day came and Alex briefed me about our trip across the Atlantic, and showed me our survival kit and the raft – “in case weneed it!” He told me that once he was ferrying a C172, and had to ditch in the Atlantic due to engine trouble. He was obviously preparing me for such a situation. We departed before sunset so as to reach the middle of North Atlantic Ocean – Santa Maria Islandour next stop in the Azores, Portugal, in the morning. This leg would take us 11 hours.

​An hour after departure we crossed into Canada and then a few islands later we were over the Atlantic Ocean. I was ecstatic, after all I was flying over the Atlantic! I saw a sunset over the Atlantic and that was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever witnessed. We flew over the middle of the ocean at night. There was no one around – just me and the other pilot – and I was enjoying every bit of it. Once in a while, we heard an airliner talking to New York Control over the radio; other than that, it was quiet. We got into the clouds and now and then through the break in the cloud cover we saw a ship or two.

As we were cruising at13,000 feet, which is not very high, we could make out the ships. It was a long flight but exciting. The excitement mounted when we were about to reach Santa Maria Islanding the Azores, 1,500 km west of Lisbon and 3,900 km from the east coast of North America. And then we saw it in the horizon, breaking the vast expanse of water all-around. It was a welcome sight as it meant landing after a long trip and getting to refuel! Ours was the only plane at this tiny airport, which usually sees private jets of various businessmen and aircraft of heads of states, flying between Europe and North America.

We got the plane refueled and decided to sleep for 5 hours to get enough rest for our next leg of 12 hours of flying. We headed out to Vila do Porto town to take the much-needed nap. The island was extremely scenic with a population of around 6,000.Their main occupation is fishing and agriculture.

​After the much needed rest we were back at the airport for another evening departure to Malta. The flight plan we had filed from Santa Maria to Malta was routed through Lisbon, Madrid, Valencia, Palma, Cagliari, and Palermo to Malta. Instead of what Brussels gave us – via South Portugal, Seville, Malaga, Algiers, and Tunis to Malta. This route was shorter but would have meant flying over Algeria. Any country you overfly in Africa, you have to get prior permission. Alex was not too comfortable with this route as we didn't have the permit. One of his friends who did the same route without the permit was intercepted by Algerian fighter jets and had to stay 2 days in jail in Algiers. But he said, “Let’s try it as it is shorter and if the control asks us, we say we didn't ask for this route but was given to us by Brussels.” Already this leg of our trip was becoming interesting for me.

Finally, we took-off from Santa Maria after a lot of debate. The island was so beautiful that Couldn't stop taking pictures. Soon it got dark and I was communicating with Lisbon Control. After around 5 hours we successfully crossed the Atlantic. Alex shook my hand and said:" Buddy, we made it across!” I was excited and could see lights all over south Portugal. We continued and entered Spain and first flew over Seville and then Malaga.

The name Malaga had always sounded exotic to me, and then I heard an Iberia plane communicating on the radio with Malaga Control. I just loved the pilot’s Spanish accent. After an hour we were over the Algerian Sea and were with Algiers Control. Before entering their airspace they asked us a few questions but cleared us to enter Algeria." That was smooth” said Alex. Algiers was another huge city and looked pretty at night. 

After Algiers, it was quiet and by the time we were over Tunis it was almost dawn. Tunis was looking extremely beautiful and one thing you can clearly see while flying are the stadiums. Soon it was time to descend into Malta. We flew a bit over Valetta, the capital city, and took some pictures. The landing at Malta International Airport ended our longest leg of 12 hours of flying. After 2 hours, we were back in the air for our next leg of 8 hours to Luxor, Egypt. Just after takeoff saw the Rotunda of Mosta(The Mosta Dome). It is the third largest unsupported dome in the world. Over the Mediterranean Sea now, we saw a lot of ships and could make out how busy the Suez Canal route is. On this leg, I heard major airlines of the world communicating.

Emirates, Qatar, Turkish, Lufthansa, Scandinavian, Continental and Saudi Arabian. But the best was American Airlines; their call sign is' Cowboy’, which sounded refreshing on the radio! There were not many small aircraft on this route and once even the controller made fun of us: “Traffic, Lufthansa Airbus340, 25,000 feet above you.” I replied, “Will look out for the traffic, as if we can see 25,000 ft above us.” We all were laughing on the radio. High humour indeed!

Now we entered Africa via Egypt, and as soon as we were over land there was sand, sand and mores and! I had never flown over sand before in my life. Some may find it boring, but I found the sight very beautiful. At Asyut, we crossed the Nile and this was my first look at the river that had given rise to an ancient civilization. We landed at Luxor after sunset and during our descent, Alex showed me the Valley of the Kings. We planned to go there the next day, surely another high point in my journey. The next morning we visited the Valley of the Kings and the Karnak Temple. I was awed by the immensity of the monuments that gave me a true sense of the ability and power of the Egyptian civilization.

At night we started the final leg of our journey to Nairobi which would take us about 11 hours. We flew over Aswan and Audible and I wished it was a daylight. Soon we entered Sudan and it was pretty quiet there, other than the odd Kenya Airways or Egypt Air flight on the radio. Over Sudan, Alex switched off all navigation lights. “Idon’t want a new plane to be the target of a teenager’s rocket launcher,” he said. We chatted about the situation in Sudan anyhow the people are going to vote for the referendum. Surprisingly, maybe because of our threat perception, Sudan seemed like a never-ending country!

We entered Kenya at dawn over the highlands. The towns of Eldoret and Nakuru seemed like flying over Indian hill stations of Mussourie or Ooty.Soon after, we got in touch with Nairobi Control. I didn’t want this flight to end, but then as they say, all good things must come to an end! While descending into Nairobi Wilson Airport I saw the giraffes in Nairobi National Park. I was back in Swahili land after 5 days and 51 hours of flying!

Caravan Nation

Caravan Flying for MAF

by Jim Vanderburg

In the early 90’s I had the pleasure of flying a Cessna Caravan around the country of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). I was there to support the many humanitarian, medical and missionary efforts in the eastern region of the country. The Caravan I flew was 9Q-CAU, serial number 10.

Our home base was the village of Nyankude, located about 1000nm from the country's capital, Kinshasa and around 400nm from Nairobi Kenya. Nyankude was a prime location, with a fully equipped hospital and two hangers to service and repair the aircraft based there. We had a fleet of around three 206’s and the one Cessna Caravan.
Around once a week I would make the trip to Nairobi in the Caravan to pick up the mail for everyone in our village. We worked over there before either telephones or the Internet were accessible. Mail usually took about four weeks for it to be delivered or received. If there was ever and emergency we had the option of using an HF radio in the Caravan to patch a call to the United States via Switzerland. 
Many hours were spent flying over the Ituri rain forest, where the upper canopies would reach heights of 200ft. In the event an airplane did go down out in the rain forest; there would be little to no chance of it ever being found. Although I avoided thinking about it too much, looking back I realize how much my life and the lives of everyone I flew depended on the reliability and safety of the Caravan and PT-6.
Occasionally I would make the trip to the country's capital of Kinshasa. I could usually make the trip to Kinshasa non-stop due to the winds being out of the east; but on the return trip I would have to stop for fuel. The fuel stop would depend on the route taken, it would sometimes be a city like Kisangani, or at a remote out-station we had set up with stockpiles of fuel barrels.
I recall a particular incident on this route when I was to deliver a family with all of their belongings from Kinshasa to a remote village on the eastern side of the country. The trip would require a fuel stop at an outstation that was carved out of the forest. We arrived at the outstation without incident, and I started the tedious task of refueling the Caravan at the fuel stockpile. It required filling 5 gallon jerry cans from barrels using a hand pump, I then had to stand on the wing while someone passed me the can and I would poor it into the fuel tank with a funnel. 
After successfully refueling the plane, seating the family back in the plane and preforming the pre-flight, I went to crank the PT-6. To my dismay there was no light off. I realized that the familiar ticking of the igniter, that we take for granted, wasn’t there. After checking and re-checking, sure enough the igniter box had failed, and in the worst place. I succeeded in contacting our base in Nyankunde on the HF radio, and unfortunately we didn’t have another box in stock. The closest one they could locate was at Wilson Field in Nairobi.
We then made ourselves comfortable in a couple of vacant homes in a nearby village, while waiting for help. I have memories of eating lots of bananas during those days, as well as taking tour on the river in a dug-out canoe. Two days later, one of our 206’s arrived with a new igniter box and I proceeded with the simple installation of bolting the new one in place. Since that time, I believe that Cessna has added a second igniter box for just that type of circumstance.
The Caravan was an amazing plane to be able to, not only work on as an A&P but also, fly as a pilot. I am grateful for the opportunities that I had at that time to use it to its full potential serving the people in Congo. 
For more information about MAF, please visit their site
Caravan Nation

How to Properly Fly Skydivers in the Cessna Caravan

by Chris Rosenfelt

The Cessna 208A Caravan and 208B Grand Caravan are by far the most common turbine jump airplanes in the world. From Skydive Switzerland to Skydive Andes, from Skydive Sydney to Skydive Dubai and everything in between you will find Caravans hard at work flying skydivers. Jump pilots love how fun and easy it is to fly, owners love its lower operating costs compared to other turbine aircraft and skydivers love the high wing and large exit door.

 There are many versions of the Caravan: 208A, 208B, 208B EX, Black Hawk upgrade Aero Twin upgrade and Texas Turbines upgrade. The 208A Caravan aka “Mini Van” climbs fair, the 208B Grand Caravan aka “Grand Van” climbs good and the Black Hawk (850hp), Aero Twin (1000hp) and Texas Turbines (1000hp) conversions climb great! The version that you will see at most drop zones around the world is the 208B Grand Caravan, and is why I will mostly refer to this model.
For most of the jump pilots that will transition from a piston to a turbine, this will be your airplane. Most of us pilots did our training in a high wing single engine Cessna which makes the Caravan the easiest turbine to transition to and another reason why DZOs love it.   

The Numbers  
    Capacity - 17 skydivers
    Empty Weight - 4570 lbs
    Maximum Take Off Weight - 8750 lbs
    Useful Load - 4180 lbs
    Fuel Capacity - 332 gallons / 2224 lbs
    Powerplant - Pratt & Whitney PT6A-114A 675hp
    TBO - 3600 hrs
    Time to Climb - approx. 15 mins

 Before Take Off

The loading of the Caravan is similar to most other turbine jump airplanes. There are 2 benches that the skydivers straddle and face the back of the airplane. Make sure that no one sits in the very back near the back wall, and trust me, they will try and sit there no matter how many times you tell them not to. It’s not quite as big of a deal if you have a light load. But I have definitely noticed some CG issues on that with heavier loads.   

One of the most critical parts of any Caravan pilots day is avoiding a “hot start”. A hot start is when temperatures rise above 1090 degrees Celsius in the combustion section and cause internal damage to the engine on start up. You may have a hot start if you have a weak battery, if the emergency power lever is not stowed or if the bleed air switch was left on. Most hot starts are the fault of the pilot, it is very rare for a Caravan to have a true hot start. If you cause one, you more than likely will be looking for another job in the near future. The engine will need to be removed and tore down for a complete internal inspection at the very least.   
After start up, be sure and check to see that you do not have a fuel imbalance greater than 200lbs. If you do, turn the lighter tank switch off, in order to burn off fuel from the heavier side. You should burn enough fuel during your taxi and run up to equal things out a little. Monitor that fuel imbalance in the air as well. I’ve flown a Caravan that liked to drink from one tank more than the other and I had to constantly monitor that.   
I know a lot of us jump pilots fly from rough airstrips, so be sure and make use of the Inertial Separator while taxiing. It will minimize ingestion of foreign matter into the compressor. Just be sure and stow it before take off or you will notice a great reduction in take off power and it is very hard to stow with full throttle.

 Take Off
As part of your GUMPSFITS check, add 20 degrees of flaps for take off. Advance the throttle slow and steady. As with most airplanes, it will let you know when its ready to rotate, but it’s usually around 70 KIAS because we’re usually heavy. Obviously, when we’re lighter, it will want to get off the ground sooner or at a lower airspeed. Climb out initially at around 90 KIAS and then lower the nose to 100 KIAS, which is slightly less than Vy (104 KIAS). That speed seems to work the best for the C208B. As with any jump plane you fly, initially you should experiment with different airspeeds while timing yourself. Your torque should be Max. until ITT or Ng limit. Retract flaps 10 degrees at a time starting at 1000 ft AGL. Check in with ATC. 
Jump Run  
Once on jump run your airspeed should be at 85 KIAS, your flaps at 10 degrees, torque between 600-900ft-lbs and prop RPM at 1850. It will be possible to lower that airspeed and RPM slightly as you get more comfortable flying this airplane. At about 2 miles out turn the red door light on. Make your 2 minute call to ATC and then a 1 minute call on CTAF. Turn on the green jump light. While the jumpers are exiting, make sure that your tail never gets low. I have personally never had a skydiver strike the horizontal stabilizer of the Caravan, but I have heard of it happening.
It is important to note that a lot of Grand Vans have a front float step and you will notice that if someone is on it they will be very close to the left flap trailing edge. I have had inexperienced jumpers on that front float step bend the corner of the flap with their rig. Brief your video and fun jumpers not to lean up against the flap. Luckily most DZs will only allow experienced jumpers to use the front float step but even some of them do not realize how easily they can bend it. 
We jump pilots are basically doing an emergency descent on every flight. As soon as the last skydiver exits, put the flaps up, power to idle and jump light off while simultaniously lowering the nose. Constantly scan for other air traffic that might be in the area and/or any skydivers that might have pulled high. The maximum cargo door open airspeed is 155 KIAS. Your descent rate will be around 5000 ft/min. If it’s your last load of the day, be sure and thank ATC for all their help. They appreciate it and it’s the least we can do, considering that they look out for us every day. For landing, use full flaps unless it’s windy. After landing, again, if you’re on a dirt or similar airstrip, use the inertial separator.
If your’re a new turbine pilot be sure and read the book The Turbine Pilot’s Flight Manual. Most pilot’s that have moved up to the turbine world have read it and highly recommend it. Also, for the new Caravan pilots, be sure and read Caravan - Cessna’s Swiss Army Knife with Wings.

Caravan Nation

How to Become a Jungle Pilot

By Louise (

“The village was engulfed in flames. I circled overhead and saw there was a battle going on at the landing strip. I realized that I was just about to land in a war zone!” How did Swedish born Elin Larsson end up as a jungle pilot in Indonesia?"

She spent four years flying passengers and all sorts of cargo (literally all sorts) in her Cessna C208B Grand Caravan. Recently she published a book about her adventures in the wild and remote jungles of Indonesia. I talked to her about living an extraordinary life.  Sometimes Elin Larsson felt like flying back in time 

If Indiana Jones was a woman he would be Elin Larsson. Swedish born adventuress, who besides being the sweetest person you ever met is also a surfing enthusiast and a hard core hiker. She furthermore is one of the few people in the world qualified to fly in the dangerous jungles of Indonesia.
Flying Back in Time
In Indonesia the storms are violent, the mountains are enormous and most landing sites are also the village main street. Landing here means avoiding running pigs and flying chickens. And of course keeping the airplane steady on the uneven, bumpy gravel airstrips. Everything there was so different that sometimes Elin Larsson felt like flying back in time. “Some of the villages had no connection with the rest of the world. One time the locals provided a bowl of water to my plane. Assuming it must be thirsty after the long flight. Adventures like these make me feel alive. It makes me feel that I am using my precious time in a good way.” 

No doubt jungle pilot Elin Larsson has chosen an exceptional life. “I always feel much better after doing something a little bit adventurous rather than wasting time watching TV. My goal is to have at least one small adventure every day.”
A Broken Foot   
As a result of her desire for adventure she found herself with a broken foot in Samarida, a small airport in Indonesia. It was during her first year at Susi Air.

She was about to exit the airplane when she stumbled and fell hard onto the tarmac. She felt stupid but even worse was her foot, it was broken. The pain was almost blinding. However she did not want to expose her injury. Because she was afraid that the guys at Susi Air would think that she was a cry baby who could not handle the tough assignment as a jungle pilot.

So she swallowed the pain, boarded the passengers and flew co-pilot back to Bali. “Throughout the landing it was almost impossible for me to use the foot-pedals. Every time I moved the foot I felt a gruesome pain.”

During her years at Susi Air she often heard the story about a crazy co-pilot who flew with a broken foot. Never revealing that it was actually her.
Failure is Part of the Process
About the same time that Elin Larsson got her pilot license, an Icelandic volcano with a name that no one can pronounce (Eyjafjallajökul) started erupting. This natural disaster affected many airlines and suddenly a lot of experienced pilots were out looking for new employment. This, of course, made the competition harder for anyone newly licensed.

Living in Stockholm at the time, she never gave up her dream of becoming a pilot. She would even work for free as long as it got her closer to her goal. “When I find something that I really want to do I devote all of my energy towards that goal. It is a matter of doing what I am passionate about and avoid wasting energy on things that I don’t want to do.”
Finally, one tired afternoon, Elin Larsson found the job of her dreams; Flying as a jungle pilot for Susi Air in Indonesia. 
Following a Dream 

But going was not a simple choice. Family and friends advised her not to leave the safety of Sweden. Nevertheless, she decided against them all, packed her flip flops and chose the adventure.

“People were giving me advice based on their own fears. Everyone, who knew nothing about Indonesia, gave me the advice to not go. All this negativity surely made me doubt my decision to go. I started to question if this was actually what I really wanted.”   
A sad truth is that most people don't fulfill their dreams because they are scared of the opinion of others. Luckily she had the guts not to care that much about other people’s opinions. And this soon to be jungle pilot was determined not to waste her life.   
“I read somewhere what other people think of you is none of your business. Just accept that not everyone around you is going to be supportive of your ideas. Especially if your ideas are a bit out of the ordinary.”
Base Your Decision on Facts
Elin Larsson recommends that you base your decisions on facts 

She strongly recommends that everyone spend some time alone every now and then. Doing this has often helped Elin to distinguish between her own dreams and what other people want her to do.  Secondly, she recommends that you base your decisions on facts. 
“I find that once I sit down with a pen and paper and actually do the math, I am usually closer to my dreams than I thought. Maybe you are not quite there yet but once you have it on a piece of paper you have something to work towards. If you really want to make it happen - make a plan! “Says Elin Larsson. 

What the Hell was I Thinking?

What the hell was I thinking leaving the safety of Sweden? 
Reading her book I understand some of her experiences must have been challenging both mentally and emotionally. I asked her if she had moments when she thought, ‘What the hell was I thinking leaving the safety of Sweden?' 

“Absolutely. I found that happening quite a bit while flying in the mountains. The weather and the general conditions changed so fast. Some days it was hard to be on top of everything at all times. We never flew ourselves into any situation unless we had a plan a, b and c to get ourselves out of there.”
"No matter how experienced you are, you can never control everything flying out there; the terrain, the weather, the insane amount of other planes, the crazy landing strips and the political instability."
“I am extremely happy and proud that I am one of the very few mountain pilots in the world. It was magnificent flying but I am really happy that I made it out safely.”
Crossing Comfort Zones
Elin Larsson often flew to villages in the mountains that used to be isolated from civilization.
As a jungle pilot Elin Larsson often flew to villages in the mountains that were isolated from civilization. It was an unforgiving environment to fly in, with no room for guessing or being too relaxed about any situation. 

“I very seldomly find myself outside of my comfort zone. I am a coward that actually doesn't like taking risks. That might sound weird, but it is true." 

"I didn’t start out landing on the craziest runways, hiking the steepest route or surfing the biggest waves. It took a lot of time building my experience, knowledge and confidence. You don't have to be an adrenaline junkie to live an adventurous life.”
  Clash of Cultures 
Being a tall blond from the other side of the Planet did some times result in a clash of cultures. “It is the passion that keeps me going and sometimes I don’t even realize that I fail along the way. I just see failure as a natural part of the process to get to where I want to be. Sometimes I almost think it is fun when it is hard to get what I want. I like to fight for things, so failures don't bother me that much." 

I like to fight for things so failures don’t bother me that much
"When I was younger it was sometimes hard to distinguish between what I wanted to do and what 'society' wanted me to do. Now I am much better at identifying what I am passionate about and I just focus on that.”


All Content ©2024, Caravan Nation  |   Maintained by TruDesign

An Air Nation Group Company