Tag Archives: Cessna 208B

Some of My Rides on Safari

We took three internal flights while we were in Kenya and Tanzania and all three were interesting aircraft.  Better still, they were all different types.  One was a new one for me to fly on, but you might be surprised as to which that was.  Our first trip was on a Let 410.  It took us from the Serengeti to a short strip just short of the border with Kenya.  This wasn’t my first ride in a 410 but it was my first landing.  Previously I jumped out of one as part of a tandem skydive.  This one had far more comfortable seating.

Once we crossed the border, we took another flight into the Maasai Mara.  This was on a type that is ubiquitous in the area – the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan.  I have never been on one of these.  They were very densely configured and getting through the cabin to a seat was quite an effort.  I don’t care to think what getting out in a hurry might be like!  We saw so many of these with different operators over the course of our visit.

The last type we flew was a Dash 8 100 Series.  A far larger type than the others, this flies some heavier routes, and these might involve multiple stops along the way picking up and dropping off customers.  Ours picked us up in the Mara and took us direct to Nairobi.  No intermediate stops for us.  It has been a long time since I flew in an early generation Dash 8, and I hadn’t thought of them as doing rough field ops.  However, supporting remote communities is part of their history so of course they are fine on these strips.  Unfortunately, heavy rains at the strip 90 seconds from our camp meant we had to drive for forty minutes to another strip to make this flight.  It was a good trip, though.  This part of the world was great for people like me that like close up encounters with aviation!

Wichita’s Finest is Everywhere in the Parks

Kenya and Tanzania have many small airstrips scattered around the countryside including in the national parks.  These provide quick transfers between locations if you are willing or able to pay and don’t want the long and bumpy road trips.  There are a variety of types that are used for these services and I shall show some others in upcoming posts.  However, one type does dominate.

The Cessna Grand Caravan is everywhere in the region.  It has the right size for many of the trips, it has sufficient capacity for luggage with the baggage pod beneath he fuselage, it is fine with the rough surface strips that are in most places and it is PT-6 powered so very reliable.  We saw tons of them during the trip and also got to experience a flight on one.  I was surprised to find it was a 1×2 configuration.  I had assumed that they were 1×1 but not in this case.  It got a lot of us in there but getting in and out was not an easy process.  The aisle was minimal!

I have no idea how many Grand Caravans there are in use in rural Africa but I imagine that Cessna has delivered a ton of aircraft from Wichita to the region.  I suspect that the best replacement is another Caravan.  The Islander might once have been this sort of workhorse but the efficiency and reliability of the Caravan must be what has made it so ubiquitous.

Skydive Snohomish’s Jump Ship

I was heading home from Arlington and passing Snohomish when it occurred to me that there might be an opportunity to shoot the Skydive Snohomish jump ship.  They operate a Blackhawk conversion of the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan.  The conversion adds a more powerful engine which is useful for a jump ship that is focused on getting loads to altitude fast and then returning to do it all again.  I turned off to the airport and saw that operations where on a southerly flow which means towards the road.

As I drove around, the plane took off directly over me, but I had no time to stop and get a shop.  I parked up and watched it climbing above me and then disgorging its load of what my friend Bob calls meat bombs.  The descent was pretty rapid, and the plane was landing as the jumpers were making their approaches.  It pulled off the runway and then held on a taxiway for a while.  It appeared that they waited until the next lift was ready to board at which point, they pulled up to the skydive facility and got everyone on board.

It was a short taxi to the hold point and then they were lined up and powering towards me.  It is a short runway at Harvey Field, but they were rapidly airborne and climbing above me and on their way to the drop point.  Once they were gone, I packed up my stuff and headed home.

Experimental Grand Caravan That Was Lost

I was down at Renton and drove around the back of the ramp.  There was a Cessna Grand Caravan parked up and I was tempted to get a shot.  They have made that area a lot harder to see recently and I didn’t bother.  However, I was up on the other side of the field at the overlook when it taxied out for departure.  I heard the call sign was experimental which caught my interest and I grabbed some shots as it took off.

A few days later I heard of a plane crash up near Snohomish.  I had seen this plane flying patterns up there when I was looking earlier in the day and, when I saw pictures on the news sites of the crash, I could see the registration was the same plane.  I understand they were trialing something new – perhaps a baggage pod – but I have no idea what happened.  It looked as if the wing had separated in flight since it was a long way away.  The test pilot was one of the Kenmore Air staff.  He died along with one other person on board.  A very sad story.

Cirrus and Grand Caravan Getting In Each Other’s Way

Boeing Field is constantly operating from both runways at the same time.  The light aircraft traffic on the short runway can co-exist with whatever is underway on the main, long runway.  However, despite the clear ATC instructions, there are occasional when things don’t quite go to plan.  We had a Cirrus and a Grand caravan on approach to the parallel runways.  I am not certain who was at fault, but from my angle, it appeared that the Cirrus was drifting off towards the wrong runway.  It corrected its path but not before the pilot of the Grand Caravan decided that things were not looking good and went around.  It didn’t take them long to get back around the pattern and the second approach was incident free.  I don’t know whether the controllers ended up talking to either crew or not.

Fill Of FedEx Freighters

Portland is a big base for FedEx it seems.  (I think, at this point, I should called it FedEx Express but, since I am old enough to remember when they were called Federal Express, having Federal Express Express seems a bit redundant.  I know, I am grumpy old git!  Back on topic…) They had a ton of movements when Mark and I were there.  On our first day, it was the afternoon and the southern runway was not ideal for photography given the light angles.  Still, it was not terrible and the freighters provide a fair bit of variety.

The following morning, the light was move favorable for a while so we were able to get plenty of shots.  The freighter traffic is usually busy at the beginning and end of the day for the express parcel business so we had enough to shoot.  The big jets were operating with plenty of 767s on the move.  They also had the feeder services with a steady stream of Super Cargomasters (Grand Caravans) and ATR72s to handle the local distribution.  Good to take advantage of them before the replacement for the Cargomasters arrives.