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 (brainandsoul.org)
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 aide...er…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)?
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
By Louise (brainandsoul.org)
“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?"