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Thread: Best affordable STOL light piston twin?

  1. #1

    Best affordable STOL light piston twin?

    Outside of my homebuilt aircraft interests and related to my professional life, I am looking to identify some appropriate light piston twins for day and night law enforcement patrols, sometimes from dirt strips at high density altitudes. I am not talking about new aircraft, just good used aircraft that would be overhauled and refurbished for this purpose.

    So far the candidates I have come up with are the Cessna 337 Skymaster and the Piper PA-23 Apache/Aztec, the former for its visibility and single engine handling and the latter for its low takeoff and landing speeds and STOL performance, especially with the Geronimo conversion.

    Does anyone have any strong feelings about either of these options or have others to suggest?

    Cheers,

    Matthew
    *******
    Matthew Long, Editor
    cluttonfred.info
    A site for builders, owners and fans of Eric Clutton's FRED

    Voici ce que j'ai fait...vous pouvez en faire autant!
    "This is what I have done...you can do the same!"
    --Henri Mignet (1893-1965)

  2. #2

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    Apache's are terrible airplanes. If one engine packs up the other one won't take you home. And a hydraulic pump on both engines so that you can extend the gear was an option. I would not wish hand lumping the gear down while doing a single engine IFR approach on anyone. Aztec's are much better, but are still just OK. If you are at high density altitudes and have to have a Piper twin, look at a Chieftain. But I'm not opinionated or anything....

    With the Robertson STOL kit, the Skymasters will give you the performance that you want. Not so sure about regular Skymasters or O-2's on one engine at high density altitudes.

    No one else is using recip twins for the type of work that you are alluding to. For instance, the CAP bought a bunch of GA8 Airvan's to carry their surveillance gear.

    If you think that two engines gets you more reliability at high density altitudes, I would suggest looking at the older Caravans. Turbine reliability and as easy to fly as a C-182.

    Best of luck,

    Wes
    N78PS

  3. #3
    Mayhemxpc's Avatar
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    Agree with WLIU. If patrol is what you need, visibility is what you want. C-337's are great for that. Good load carrying, excellent visibility (especially with the O-2 door), gets off and down in reasonably short strips (although I wouldn't do it in anything less than the accelerate/stop distance of 2500 feet.) Stable, fun to fly.

    Now for the, "on the other hand."

    None made since 1978. They will all be old, with a fair amount of wear and tear. There are very nice ones out there, but they stay nice as a labor of love. There are probably less than 50 O-2A's actually flying, but I know where you can get a couple of nice ones. (And I am not getting any commission for saying that.) There was/is an organization, TF HAWK, that was going to sell rebuilt 337's with diesel engines, state of the art avionics, and all kinds of nice things. The market was foreign military sales. Unfortunately, the plan depended on the diesel engines being available. The engines turned out to be a lot of promises and wishful thinking on the part of that particular manufacturer.

    If you need new and reliable, good visibility, short field performance, coupled with heavy lifting and cross country performance -- and your budget can afford the fuel burn -- go with the caravan. (That is, unless TF HAWK can find those diesel engines and get running.)

    -- Chris

  4. #4

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    A Caravan jump pilot told me it's just a big 172 but easier to fly, no mixture or prop control

  5. #5

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    Some good ideas but no one mentioned a budget. Got time in both Apache and 337 and Apache not for high density altitude and not good to see down out of but good short field and they are cheep. 337 has great visibility down and very good short field performance if not at gross weight but for high altitude performance stick with a turboed T337. Both Apache and 337 and for that matter most if not all light twins are heavy on maintenance.

    If cost doesn't matter get a new Caravan!!!

    Steve Soper

  6. #6
    Mayhemxpc's Avatar
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    Of course there is a prop control lever on the Caravan. There is also a "condition lever" which performs a function analogous to a mixture control. The throttle is called a "Power lever." (On turbine engines, you are not opening a throttle valve to control power -- so it is just called a power lever.) So maybe it is more like a big 182 that sucks a lot more fuel and takes a few seconds between any power adjustment and noticeable effect.

    My recommendations above are unchanged, just with the caveat that you have to UNDERSTAND that it is a prop-jet airplane. There are good and not so good things that come with that.
    Last edited by Mayhemxpc; 02-07-2013 at 07:27 PM.

  7. #7

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    One airplane that I have ridden on into a short field on north Kauai and and IFR steep approach to an small mountain airport in the Alps at Innsbruck, Austria, it a DeHavilland Twin Otter, DHC-6.
    I have also seen it takeoff and land many times at Longmont, Col for skydivers. It needs well less than half the runway, it goes and comes back from an intersection.
    I don't know the specific approach speed, but is looks to be no more than 50 at the numbers.
    Rocky Mt, Airlines used to operate regular airline flights to and from a small strip at Avon, Colo at about 6500 altitude for skiers going to Vail, This is not the large airport at Eagle that Vail calls Eagle-Vail but is nowhere near Eagle, rather Avon is near what is now Beaver Creek.
    There is an airline that operates one into what is called the shortest airline runway in the world, on Saba in the Caribbean.

    As to why anyone, any skier, would fly into Vail when you could go to Aspen is a matter I can't answer.

    I am not twin rated and don't know the price of a Twin Otter, but it probably is not too high if the jump operation uses them.
    The sure will do the job and the high wing makes for good sightseeing.
    Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 02-11-2013 at 02:32 PM.

  8. #8
    Flyfalcons's Avatar
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    Air Cam would probably do the job.
    Ryan Winslow
    EAA 525529
    Stinson 108-1 "Big Red", RV-7 under construction

  9. #9
    Thanks, all, for the suggestions. I suppose I shold have mentioned a budget, which would be in the $200-250k range, freshly and completely overhauled and refurbished including updated avionics. The 337 and the Geronimo could be done within those numbers. I am quite familiar with the Caravan, and they are operated by the law enforcement agency in question, but both purchase and operating cost would be awfully high for this mission and most other turboprop singles would not have the needed short/rough field performance. But then again, how comfortable would you be flying at relatively low altitude over the savannah, at night, one one engine regardless of type?
    *******
    Matthew Long, Editor
    cluttonfred.info
    A site for builders, owners and fans of Eric Clutton's FRED

    Voici ce que j'ai fait...vous pouvez en faire autant!
    "This is what I have done...you can do the same!"
    --Henri Mignet (1893-1965)

  10. #10
    Kiwi ZK-CKE's Avatar
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    Pilatus Britten Norman BN2 Islander - good vis, plenty of cubic space inside and awesome short strip performance. very rugged and easy to maintain machine. Not the prettiest machine around, but we've got plenty of them working hard off short, high strips here in New Zealand.... May be a bit noisy if operating over towns however...
    "If it was supposed to be easy, everybody would be doing it...."

    Proud designer / builder of Avian Adventurer ZK-CKE.

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