By me All photos me too, copyrighted
While going through my photo database in search of material for my previous
, I discovered that there’s plenty of stuff in there for a follow-up post as well – but this time focusing solely on foreign visitors to Croatia’s many coastal airports (+ Lučko of course). Like our own birds, these too could not be scared off that easily, arriving into the country in quantity and quality rarely seen even in years past. And since it would be rude of me to keep them all for myself, another summer time Photo File is obviously in order! (to build on the two bonus Cessna 172RGs already featured in Flying In The Time Of Corona photo file ) their own post
Before they can learn how to fly, young gliders must first learn how to taxi. To make that big step easier, their owners often fit them with training wheels and take them for short strolls around the apron. With time, they will progress to longer walks all the way to the runway – and eventually, when they feel more comfortable at the airport, they will finally be able to spread their wings and start flying all on their own…
A 210 on a hill… in the middle of an airport… next to a fire trainer… by a fuel farm… in the shade of an olive grove… well, that’s this week taken care of! What may eventually become the new static exhibit at Split Airport (SPU/LDSP), OK-TKN had arrived into town unexpectedly following an in-flight engine failure, and is now caught up in the financial and logistical nightmare of getting it going again…
Another skydive PC-6 – and another drive to see it right after the night shift. What makes this 2006 example a little bit more special is that it sports the 680 HP PT6A-34 engine instead of the stock 550 HP 27 series – and is seen carrying the type’s somewhat uncommon external fuel tanks. Carrying another 200 liters each, they give the PC-6 an impressive seven hour endurance – itself quite a neat trick on workdays when F-HBSF is used as an aerial imaging platform (for skydive ops they’re empty, but to simplify handling they’re usually left on the wing, since their performance penalty is quite small all things considered)
One of only 30 or so ever made (and the second one to end up in front of my camera), this beautiful Ruschmeyer R90 is one of those fantastic “what could have been” machines that make GA so special. Designed by Horst Ruschmeyer of Hannover in Germany, the R90 was an attempt to bring together all the cutting edge tech of the late 80s and combine it into a high-performance four-seat touring aircraft made squarely to European – rather than American – measure. Built entirely out of fiberglass (which was tested to destruction) and sporting a speedy laminar flow wing, it could touch 300 km/h in the cruise on just 230 HP – making it faster than pretty much every other aircraft of its power class. Its real party piece, however, was its noise signature: at full chat, it could do just 66 dB – roughly equivalent to the noise level of a typical office, and some 8 dB below the strictest level required by law. To do this, it was fitted with specially-designed exhaust stacks and a bespoke short-span four-blade composite prop – while the engine itself, a Lycoming IO-540, was actually derated down to 230 HP from its default 260 to cut down on all the yelling. Beautifully finished and with handling characteristics that were described as “a real treat”, the 230RG was supposed to launch an entire family of aircraft, including everything from a 190 HP fixed-gear “budget” model to a 470 HP Rolls-Royce 250 powered speed machine. Unfortunately, the design took until 1990 to sufficiently mature, by which time the market had slumped so hard that even Cessna had to throw in the towel. The results were depressingly predictable: after just five years of production and a single variant, the Ruschmeyer works filed for bankruptcy – and, despite attempts by other companies to revive the design, that was that for the sleek little R90…
So similar, yet so different: two “budget speedsters” that show just what can be done with some clever engineering and a bit of compromise. An aircraft that had set new standards for efficiency in its class, the Mooney M-20J (on top) was rebranded as the “201” when it became the first four-seat touring aircraft to reach 201 miles per hour (175 kts; 320 km/h) on just 200 HP. Though it had paid the price in payload and interior space – and required an extensive aerodynamic cleanup by the legendary Roy LoPresti – the J had set the stage for today’s M-20V, which needs only 280 HP and a turbocharger to cruise at 242 kts (450 km/h)… two thirds of the Q400’s maximum speed // But the more interesting machine is the Duruble RD.03 Edelweiss, an aircraft that needs only 180 HP and a fixed-pitch prop to do 147 kts (270 km/h) while sipping just 8.7 gallons an hour – roughly what a Cessna 172 would drink, using exactly the same engine and prop, to do 110 kts (204 km/h). What’s even more fascinating is that the RD.03 is actually a homebuilt, and was designed in the 70s by Roland Duruble, a marine engineer by trade. Other interesting bits include hydraulically operated landing gear and flaps, the latter extending automatically to the desired setting in response to airspeed – stuff unheard of even on turboprop twins. Another neat trick is that the horizontal stabilizer has a slight dihedral – it is mounted at an upward angle – so that it remains clear of the turbulence coming off the flaps (an effect that is quite pronounced on the Q400 at Flaps 35, and results in noticeable airframe vibration). This particular machine had been completed in 2003, and aside from the uprated 180 HP engine (the type standard is 160), it also sports a Lancair-style air intake that gives an additional performance and efficiency boost. In fact, the build is so sweet that it had featured in several GA magazines – often with the tagline “France’s homebuilt Mooney”
I may be small – but at least I’m weird. An aircraft whose elegance immediately belies its Italian origins, the Partenavia P.68 boasts quite an unusual cocktail of characteristics for a “serious six-seat touring aircraft”: a high cantilever wing, a pair of “small” IO-360 engines and – most interesting of all – fixed landing gear. But, while this may raise eyebrows, there’s quite a lot of method to its madness: from the outset, the P.68 was designed to be an efficient, affordable and user-friendly alternative to conventional twins of the 1970s, using sleek lines and clever aerodynamics to cruise at 300 km/h on just 2x 200 HP – and calculating that the drag penalty of the gear is a lesser evil than the weight, cost and complexity of retractable units (an approach later also taken by Cirrus). And it worked: in continuous production since 1971, more than 430 have been sold so far – including 20 of its glass-nosed patrol & observation models, the P.68 Observer & Observer 2 – making it one of Italy’s most successful GA designs. And if it reminds you somewhat of Tecnam’s new P.2012 Traveler, rest assured that the resemblance is NOT coincidental: the P.68 was in fact penned by the brothers Luigi and Giovanni Pascale, who would in 1986 go on to found the same “Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam”…
Another speedy Italian Job – but with an unusual address (in Latvia no less). One of the many LSA designs to come out of Italy during the late 80s homebuilt boom, the Century 04 is a fixed-gear derivative of the earlier Century RG, featuring a 100 HP Rotax 912 w/ a constant speed prop – both of which are good for a solid 200 km/h in the cruise while sipping just 10-15 liters per hour. With space for a proper 2+2 config – but sporting only two seats to give more baggage space – YL-ARV will likely become a Lučko native soon…
By me All photos me too, copyrighted
While the summer season of 2018 was not really my most productive one (and is far below the bar set by 2017, which gave us classics such as
and this and particularly this ), it nevertheless was not a total bust photography-wise. While I’m still smarting from having missed a couple of proper this Achtung, Skyhawk! classics by mere minutes (including a Dash 7), I’ve still managed to hoard enough quality material for one jolly Photo File, to at least keep the ball rolling until something else comes up… 🙂
Silver Eagle is silvery! Easily the most popular aftermarket conversion for any Cessna piston single, the Silver Eagle mod entails a major rework of the classic 210 powerplant, substituting its original 310 HP Continental TSIO-520 six cylinder boxer for a 450 HP Allison/Rolls-Royce 250-B17 turboprop – the same type of engine fitted to the most popular helicopter in the West, Bell’s JetRanger. While just the power increase sounds worth the trouble (and cost), the conversion’s real party piece is the engine’s high mass flow, a trait inherent to all turboprop engines. The classic P210 had made its name for its 23,000 ft ceiling, full cabin pressurization and a pneumatic de-ice system for the wing and tail surfaces – all services that require a tremendous amount of compressed air. To cater for all of them, the turbocharger had to massive, which increased weight, maintenance complexity – and occasionally made the engine tricky to operate (especially with regards to shock cooling). Since half of a turboprop is essentially just a large compressor, it handles so much air that it can keep everything sufficiently supplied while still providing a care-free high performance experience – and all for a 158 kg wright reduction (the 250 tips the scales at 96 kg dry vs. the 254 of the TSIO). N700RS also features a frequent optional extra, a weather radar housed in a streamlined dome below the right wing.
Just when I thought it would be G400/G500/G600s or nothing for me here in Europe, into the mix comes this immaculate classic G-III. While you do have to stare at it for awhile to recognize it as an older model, its dead giveaway are the engines, old Rolls-Royce Spey units that are sufficiently loud to warrant the addition of “hush kits” – aftermarket (but certified) silencers that improve mixing between the exhaust gasses and ambient air and reduce the shearing forces between than that are the main “source” of jet engine noise.
Another meeting with the very colorful LY-DSK, which I already had the chance to snap – and elaborate on! – in a
previous post . Thankfully, Split Airport (SPU/LDSP) had recently decided to park most of its surplus aircraft steps right on the edge of the GA apron, affording plenty of opportunity to go elevated!
Got contrast? The only proper way to end a working day – with a beautiful GA classic! One of the last mass-produced touring types developed by Italy’s traditional large manufacturers, the original S.205 was conceived in the mid 60s along similar lines as the contemporary Piper PA-28: a simple but versatile aircraft that could be developed into a diverse product family with comparatively little effort. To this end, the basic four-seat fixed-gear S.205F was quickly followed by the retractable S.205R and the more powerful five-seat S.208 – with the top of the range dominated by the planned six-seat S.206 and the S.210 twin. Unfortunately, despite the type’s undoubted qualities and robust build, it would nevertheless never fulfill its potential, SIAI-Marchetti having always lacked the production capacity, support and market reach of its Big Three rivals across the Pond…
The primary towplane of the Celje Flying Club intimidating ants as it awaits the start of the afternoon soaring session at Slovenia’s Celje Airfield (LJCL). An aircraft with a history dating all the way back to 70s Yugoslavia, TNC had during the early 2000s been a resident of my base airfield of Lučko (LDZL), where it had intrigued me – a green student pilot – with its unwieldy and lumpy looks. Despite not being easy on the eye, the Pawnee had far outlived its original role of cropduster, becoming the staple of glider clubs all over the world.
“Molki” throwing out the anchor as it decelerates after a training flight round the Celje Airfield (LJCL) circuit. Developed in the late 80s based on operational experience from the original L-13 Blanik, the L-23 came equipped with a completely new swept T-tail, a slightly larger cabin with new high-vis canopy (one piece on later models, such as this one) – and a revised wing that did away with the 13’s large flaps. Though it had bettered its dad in almost all respects, the Super Blanik would nevertheless fail to replicate its market success, with only limited numbers having been sold in Europe. Interestingly, the type had made somewhat of a name for itself overseas, with 12 examples used by the US Civil Air Patrol as trainers under the designation TG-10B Merlin.
Mirror mirror on the apron, which Learjet should I escape on? The 55 Longhorn you say? No problem! The first of the so-called “large cabin” Learjets, the model 55 was intended to be the starting point for a whole series of “premium” models (such as the shortened 54 and lengthened 56), but a tough market and lots of competition in the early 80s meant that the 55/55A/55B and 55C was as far as it ever made it. Even though the family would later serve as the basis for the very successful 60 series, the 55 was nevertheless a total sales flop, with just 147 having been sold during an eight year production run. Of particular interest is its Longhorn nickname – after a breed of Texas bull – which actually has a long association with the LJ line. The first model to carry it was the mid 70s 28, which had swapped the original 23’s characteristic tip tanks for a pair of imposing, NASA-designed winglets – becoming the first production bizjet to be so equipped. As they became a standard feature on all future Learjets, the Longhorn name was left to slowly fade, eventually dying out with the 55…
For most, a bunch of useless old relics… for Learjet fans, pure pornography! Winglets vs tip tanks as the very attractive fleet of Munich (MUC/EDDM)-based Jet Executive catches some rays on a beautiful summer afternoon. A round of beer for the folks responsible for keeping these machines in the air!
No horizons in the future for Future Horizon as it continues to deteriorate for another year in a remote corner of Dubrovnik Airport (DBV/LDDU). Not a stranger to my camera, DGS was the odd man out in the fleet of MD-80s operated by Air Adriatic, one of Croatia’s first post-independence private airlines (though it was actually owned by a local investment company). Formed in 2001 and well known locally for giving its aircraft names that bordered on the cheesy, Air Adriatic would eventually fold in 2007 when its finances were exhausted, leaving the fleet stranded at various airports in the Balkans. While some of its MDs did survive in some form or another (as fire trainers of museum exhibits), DSG today remains pretty much the last visible example of the carrier’s existence…
I go and visit Lučko for the first time in a month and straight out of the gate have this to see: 280 HP, 350 km/h, 20,000 ft – and a bucketload of charisma characteristic of all Mooney designs. Ever since the original single-seat M18 Mite, all of the company’s aircraft could boast impressive speeds for their power, outstanding performance and flight characteristics all round – and dragging tails with “flipped” vertical stabilizers (which Al Mooney claimed improved yaw control in a stall). Even though it had been under Chinese ownership for some time now, today’s Mooney remains true to its origins, with the top-of-the-line Acclaim Type S pushing a jaw-dropping 470 km/h with a turbocharged version of the Ovation’s engine… (and for those interested, the small mosquito at the top of the screen is actually Mi-8MTV-1 “215” of the Croatian Air Force)
EDIT: and a bit of video as well… when you need a break from boring a hole in the sky, you can rent a Skyhawk and go get in the way at a neighboring airbase. The guy up in the tower must have died laughing: PC-9s regularly fly high speed breaks down the runway, occasionally even F-16s “request permission for flyby”… and into the mix comes me with a 40 year old 172 doing a blistering 125 knots…
By me All photos me too, copyrighted
Even though autumn is in full swing here in SE Europe – with “formal” winter only a month away – the weather had apparently not been informed of this development, with constantly clear & sunny skies, light winds and 20 degrees Centigrade at noon being pretty much the norm. Not wanting to let this beautiful opportunity go to waste – and having been away from GA for most of the summer – I’d decided to use my free time productively and drive around looking for lighties to photograph 😀 . While most of the stuff in my immediate vicinity had already been featured here ( ad nauseam in some cases), a research drive for an upcoming article had seen me visit Novo Mesto Airfield (LJNM) in neighboring Slovenia, bringing some fresh material to table. Combined with a few snaps left over from the summer, this should be enough to bring my readers a fresh dose of light aviation on the Balkans… 🙂
A small, odd airplane + parked on grass with muddy tires + a background of rolling hills and autumn colors = love at first sight. The irreplaceable magic of light aviation in one photo as “Alpendohle” warms up its engine for departure from Novo Mesto. A design that tends to raise some eyebrows, the BO-208 is actually a German-built version of the Swedish MFI-9, created at the end of the 50s as a light touring aircraft with utility potential. Even though it is pretty obscure today, the MFI-9 was also the basis for the larger and more powerful SAAB MFI-15 Supporter, which is still used for training duties by several Scandinavian air forces…
Even though it already boasts aircraft from the USA, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, France and former Yugoslavia, Lučko had recently also become home to a little bird (emu?) from Australia. One of the most well known products of Australia’s present-day aviation industry, the Jabiru line of two- and four-seaters is still a rarity in Europe, and are sometimes hard to find even at specialized GA shows. Even though it carries a Slovak registration, OM-M902 – manufactured in 2008 and powered by Jabiru’s own 2200 cc engine developing 80 HP – is actually a former resident of Vinkovac Airfield (LDOV) in the extreme east of Croatia.
An airfield by the coast, clear blue skies, pleasant summer temperatures – and three Cessnas soaking up the afternoon sun… a scene that just begs one to go flying! Even though it still wears its original German colors, D-EBXS (mfd. 1977) is nowadays a permanent resident of Medulin Airfield (LDPM) in Istria, and is frequently seen flying panorama flights up and down the peninsula.
Something that any proper airfield should be: a cafe and restaurant, good company, a full hangar and and interesting little aircraft parked outside (a Robin DR-400-180 Remorqueur, D-EOSR in this case).
C210 Squadron. The only two operational Centurions in Croatia together on the Lučko apron. However, even though they are only two letters apart, the 210L and P210N are actually significantly different machines: DZP is a simple, basic model whose equipment levels do not differ much from other single-engine Cessnas – while N50DD is a top-of-the-line version, equipped with a turbocharger, de-icing systems… and a pressurized fuselage.
One of the newest gliders on the Croatian register waiting for its turn to be put to bed in the field’s main hangar. Restored and assembled by hand, GKB wears this simple – but eye-catching – scheme, which is in fact a copy of a similar paint job seen on another Schleicher in the Netherlands.
And finally, one of those gems that can only be found by careful hangar trawling. Even though, from a numerical perspective, the L-13 Blanik is to gliders what the Cessna 172 is to piston singles, its younger brother – the L-23 Super Blanik seen here – is a somewhat different story. Designed on the basis of operational experiences with the L-13, the L-23 had received a completely new T-tail with swept fin, a slightly larger cabin with a two-piece canopy – and had lost its flaps as a weight-saving measure. Despite noticeably increased performance in all areas, the L-23 had not achieved the popularity of the original – but had nevertheless noted significant success in the USA, where it was also used in the Civil Air Patrol.