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
While the imminent arrival of fine(r) flying weather has been met with much enthusiasm here at Achtung, Skyhawk!, it will nevertheless take awhile for operations to return to levels sufficient to provide a continuous stream of quality material. In the mean time, I have once again been able to put together a small feature from photos taken over the autumn and winter, enough to (hopefully) set the stage for the fresh stuff coming in with the spring 🙂 .
Since most of the machines I’d picked for this piece have a bit of history behind them in one way or another, their stories have had a tendency to become long-winded – even more so than usual 😀 – resulting in a post that had quickly outgrown its intended role as filler… hopefully to the satisfaction of my readers!
Fog, low cloud, rain – all daily realities of autumn in Zagreb. But when everything disperses, clears and dries up, what remains is beautiful sunshine, crisp air and a full palette of fall colors… perfect conditions for a bit of photography at your local airfield! A relative newcomer to the Croatian register, 9A-KVY – formerly OE-KYV of Austria – is normally based at Pisarovina Airfield south of town, Croatia’s only truly private airstrip.
A bit of color on a dreary, rainy day at Sarajevo (SJJ/LQSA). Even though it is not really interesting per se compared with other aircraft of its class, the little Hawker perfectly epitomizes the complicated family tree common to many British aircraft. Starting out in life as the de Havilland DH.125 Jet Dragon of the early 60s, it would enter production as the Hawker Siddeley HS.125, after this mighty conglomerate – itself formed by the merger of Hawker and half a dozen other companies – took de Havilland under its wing. This turn of affairs would last until 1977, when HS would be nationalized and melted into an even larger entity, British Aerospace – in the course of which the HS.125 would be renamed into the BAe-125. To keep people on their toes, BAe would in 1993 sell off their bizjet division to Raytheon, which had already back in 1980 bought Beechcraft. To make managing these two companies easier, Raytheon had formed a separate company called Hawker Beechcraft, where the BAe-125 would become known as the Hawker Family. Of course, this is not the end of the story; HB would go bankrupt in 2012, leading to the formation of the Beechcraft Corporation out of its ashes. This would in turn be bought in 2014 by Textron – who already had Cessna in its portfolio. Thankfully, the heirs of the Jet Dragon (including the Hawker 800) had gone out of production in 2013, signalling the end of the Mexican soap opera that was its production life!
A bit of winter wonderland at Sarajevo as JIP and its “shadow” await their evening freight run to Ljubljana (LJU/LJLJ). One of several Metroliners operated by Spanish carrier Flightline, JIP is a mid-production example, being an improved version of the original Metro – itself a commuter stretch of the short-body SA-26 Merlin bizprop (which in turn is a radical modification of the Beech Queen Air piston twin).
A tight fit as Croatia’s only G-2 takes shelter from the rain incoming to Čakovec Airfield (LDVC). In many ways the defining product of ex-Yugoslavia’s aeronautical industry, the Galeb (“seagull”) intermediate trainer is nowadays a popular warbird, with almost a dozen – out of the 248 produced – flying in civilian hands. Even though its looks and absolute performance leave something to be desired, the G-2 boasts very pleasant, predictable and enjoyable handling, and is still well regarded locally for its robust and durable airframe and nearly-bulletproof systems (if maintained properly). Of interest, the type also features removable tiptanks – stowed along the hangar wall on the left – almost always carried in normal operations, but occasionally removed to save on hangar space during long-term storage.
A lack of symmetry that immediately attracts the eye… another indigenous Yugoslav design, the Soko 522 was one of the country’s first post-war mass-produced military types, intended primarily for the advanced training/light attack roles. Quite an ugly machine from most angles – one only a mother could love – the 522 would cling on in service until the late 70s, when it would be replaced (along with a slew of other 50s designs) by the UTVA U-75, which would go on to become Yugoslavia’s second most produced design. This particular example – coded 60206 – had been re-purposed as a gate guard following its withdrawal from use, located from the outset at Čakovec Airfield. One of the bases of the nascent Croatian Air Force during the 90s civil war, it would in the summer of 1991 be subjected to several air strikes by Yugoslav MiG-21s, with 60206 ending up on the receiving end. Recently taken down off its pylon for partial restoration, it will soon get a rebuilt wing from another 522, hopefully an overture into a complete rework… interestingly, the damage had also revealed an unusual feature of the 522, its folding wings. A simple affair reminiscent of early carrier aircraft, the folding mechanism is located just outboard of the main gear – but had likely been little used in actual service.
An all too common sight at Lučko in winter: a bare apron, an empty circuit – and a gorgeous fiery sunset behind the Žumberak Hills as yet another storm system approaches from the north, blown in by a bitterly cold and piercing wind…
A suitably sombre shot as the sun sets once again on poor old BDR. One of the oldest light aircraft in Croatia (manufactured back in 1967), BDR has quite a local history, having been attached throughout its life to the AK Zagreb flying club – one of Croatia’s oldest and (once) most respected aviation institutions. Having seen off generations and generations of young pilots – many of which had become the backbone of Yugoslavia’s national carrier JAT – BDR had since become collateral damage of the club’s financial woes and general infighting of the early 2000s, flying for the last time in 2003. Moved about from time to time (mostly when it gets in the way), it had been left neglected ever since, having been washed and TLC’d only once in 2009 by your’s truly. Most of the time it has been left to die by weather, useful now only as a prop in an apocalyptic movie…
The newest resident of Lučko catching some air under its wing on this pretty windy and gloomy day. If I’m not mistaken the first Rolladen-Schneider glider in Croatia, D-0138 was manufactured in 1980, and still looks crisp despite the 37 years of flying behind it. When sporting a 15-meter wingspan (as is the case here), the LS3 has a lot of similarities to the home-grown 15-meter Vuk-T (featured previously): both are tough, robust and long-lived machines whose designers had sacrificed some of the performance seen in competing models for more pleasant handling and more predictable characteristics. Another interesting tidbit is that the LS3 is considered to be the first glider to introduce wingtip extensions (to 18 meters), which had allowed it to be used in several competition classes without much (factory) effort – an approach used today by almost all European manufacturers.
One of two AIS Airlines machines on service in Croatia soaking up the last light of day shortly after its arrival from Osijek (OSI/LDOS). Developed at the beginning of the 80s from the very similar Handley-Page HP.137 (itself designed in the 60s), the Jetstream is one of the UK’s bestselling airliners, and can even today be found in service all over Europe and the Americas. Despite its deficiencies (a high interior noise level and a lack of sophistication in the nose), the Jetstream had proven itself in service with its flight performance, durability – and the fact that it had been designed to demanding airline specs right from the outset (which could not be said of its main rivals, the Swearingen Metro and Beech 1900, both developed from smaller corporate twins). Even though it has been withdrawn from intensive line operations, it can still be found in the fleets of smaller operators – while in the States it had latterly found a new lease of life as a large bizprop. An interesting detail on almost all Jetstreams – apart from the fact that most have no autopilot – is the so called “baggage pod”, a removable streamlined compartment under the fuselage that can accommodate approximately 200 kg of bags. Even though early Jetstreams (like the HP.137) had a dedicated space for luggage in the aft fuselage, on later models it had been taken up by the toilet, requiring a bit of improvisation with a solution most often seen on Cessna singles. Another feature – seen on almost all multi-engine turboprops – is the additional plating behind the cockpit, intended to protect the fuselage from ice being thrown off the propellers.
The allure of Pacific adventure – and another sad reminder of the fickle airline fortunes on the Balkans. Today already part of the landscape of Skopje Airport (SKP/LWSK), Z3-AAM had been the only aircraft of MAT Airways, formed in 2009 by Kon Tiki Travel – one of neighboring Serbia’s biggest tour operators. Intended to both bring foreign tourists into Macedonia and create something of a national airline serving key cities abroad (a field where many had failed previously), the company had never managed to reach profitability in its two years of existence, in some parts due to local politicking, in others due to a lack of experience – but mostly because a simple lack of demand abroad, financially capable travelers among the small 2.1 million population at home, and constant competition from foreign airlines. Exacerbated by the imminent need to change the number 2 engine due to its dwindling service life – and pressure from foreign banks and investment funds that had financed the aircraft – the company had declared bankruptcy in 2011, bringing to an end another chapter in post-Yugoslav air transport history. Z3-AAM itself – manufactured in 1991 for the equally extinct Sabena – had thus ended up parked in front of Skopje’s disused old terminal. Previously known as Z3-AAH (also with MAT), this machine doesn’t have the rich history of other 737 Classics, having mostly been handed down from one investment fund to another following its departure from Belgian service. However, as a type, the 500 series was always something of an oddball in the 737 line, a shrunk 737-400 intended to appeal to operators of the equally-sized 737-200. Small and light – but sporting the same wing, engines and fuel capacity of the much larger 400 – the 500 was always a stellar performer in both climb and range, characteristics that had eventually led to its demise. Like today’s A318, the 500 was always too heavy for its passenger capacity (its structure being optimized for a larger aircraft), making it more expensive to operate. This had come to a head when fuel prices picked up by the mid 2000s, forcing many operators to ditch them en masse. Interestingly, their large numbers and low prices on the used market had attracted a lot of interest from the CIS, where operators scooped them up in handfuls to replace their aging and similarly-sized Tupolev Tu-134s. Indeed, if you want to see a 500 without waiting too long, Russia is the place to go!