All photos me too, copyrighted
Given that a number of my topics of late – Dash 8 flight simulators, 80s airport charts and the like – have strayed quite a bit into “commercial airspace”, I felt it would be about time to dip back into the little world of Croatian general aviation :). Even though the flying season has been slow to start this year – with aerial activities still sporadic at best – I’ve nevertheless quickly managed to find the perfect ticket for the job: a short, but pleasant afternoon shoot with one of the newest lighties on the country’s register, Cessna U206G 9A-ADV…
While a 206 in itself is (rarity-wise) nothing to write home about, this particular machine represents by far and away the most complete and best-equipped piston skydive platform in the country, which all on its own warrants some additional scrutiny :). Owned by local operator Adventure Driven Vacations (which pretty much does what its says on the tin), ADV is also a prime example of the last of the “old generation” Stationairs, having rolled off the production line in 1983 – just a short while before all piston single production at Cessna would go into a decade-long remission. Bestowed with serial U206-06796, it had actually been a seaplane in its original form, and would be known as N9986Z until 1988. Sold on to Norway in August that year, it would quickly become LN-AEZ and would – still on floats – continue to fly with a slew of local operators right up until its acquisition by ADV in March of 2013.
Before its move south, AEZ would first be converted into a conventional land-plane model, and then dispatched to Portugal (under its own power) to be re-fitted and equipped into a dedicated jump plane. Once the works were completed in July 2014, it would make its way (again with no “outside assistance”) across half the Mediterranean to Croatia, where it would then become only the fourth 206 currently on the register 🙂 (interestingly, this little group also contains a “new gen” 2006 U206H… as well as a fantastic 1966 P206B Super Skylane, the progenitor of the modern Stationair).
Even though it had been in-country and operational for close to nine months now, its normal base at Zemunik Airport (LDZD) – serving the coastal town of Zadar – had meant that it was generally out of range of my camera. However, the current dearth of skydive machines here at Zagreb had forced it inland, proving once more that if the photographer can’t go to the plane, the plane will come to the photographer… 😀
Looking splendid (and quite eye-catching) in its new colors as it cools down following the last flight of the day. A significant capacity increase for the Croatian skydive scene, the 206 is quite a step up from the more usual 182s and occasional 185…
Central to ADV’s successful use as a skydive platform, the mods installed in Portugal include a sliding cargo door for easier egress, as well as several handles and steps to facilitate group jumps or tandems.
The interior is – by necessity – pretty spartan, since skydive ops are not really kind to fancy upholstery! Note also the two black panels (one set against the copilot’s station and one folded down behind the pilot’s seat) which permit skydivers to leisurely lean back during long climbs without fear of interfering with any of the aircraft’s controls.
Like virtually all other skydive 206s, ADV accommodates six skydivers in addition to the pilot. Their sitting locations determine the sequence for jumping, which is further indicated by the note on the aft bulkhead.
In addition to a full IFR suite w/ autopilot, the nicely equipped panel also includes several useful features for skydive ops, including a moving-map GPS (great for putting the jumpers right on target), EGT and CHT gauges (to avoid overheating the engine during prolonged high-power climbs in hot weather) – as well as a stormscope for avoiding summer CBs common in the region. An interesting detail are the two windshield crossbeams, a leftover from ADV’s seaplane days (also my apologies for the glare, the sun was low and I couldn’t bear to nag with re-orientating the aircraft).
Another remnant from ADV’s seafaring days are the vortex generators, located along the upper leading edge of the wing and just in front of the rudder on the vertical stabilizer. By creating a turbulent flow of air just along the surface, they cause the flow to stick to said surface for longer than it normally would, enhancing its aerodynamic properties (at the expense of increased drag). On a seaplane they counter the various pitch and roll moments created by the floats (located well below the CG); on a landplane, they translate into reduced take-off and landing rolls, a lower stall speed and better stall response – and generally improved handling at high Angles of Attack (during low speed and/or high weight conditions).
Also frequently seen on seaplanes, wing fences prevent the horizontal spill of air across the span of the wing, making the airfoil far more efficient. Interestingly, ADV’s seem modified, since on all 206 floatplanes that I’ve seen they extend forward across the wing for at least half its chord…
Repainted into the operator’s “house colors” in December 2014, ADV certainly stands out on the apron. The more eagle-eyed readers will also have noticed that the aircraft now sports the U206’s standard cargo doors; with the skydive version not being the most thief-proof option, the standard set is installed for each over-night stay out in the open.
Always a brutish looking thing, ADV’s high-contrast scheme makes it look even more purposeful and powerful.
I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to my flying colleague Mario Car – one of ADV’s pilots – who had given me a heads up and spent some time answering my nerdy Achtung, Skyhawk! questions!
- Seabee.info – Norwegian seaplane database (LN-AEZ service history)