27 November 2012

Kodiak Training - USA

Mercy Air has recently taken delivery of a Kodiak aircraft. It was flown back from Germany to the USA for upgrades and is now in Michigan waiting for it's ferry flight to South Africa.

Ron and Barbara Wayner with the Mercy Air Kodiak
Being bigger than anything we currently operate as well as having a turbine engine, some specialised training was required. There are only 80 other Kodiaks worldwide and only three in Africa and so the best place to get training is near where they are made in the US. Two of Mercy Air's pilots, John and Paul, therefore recently spent some time at Spokane Turbine Centre in Spokane, Washington to learn some of the intracasies of the aircraft. This documents the trip from Paul's perspective.
It took almost two days to get there including a 16 hour flight from Jhb to Atlanta. Paul first went to Dayton, Ohio to visit some friends and get his head around the time difference.
It just so happens that not too far further on from where they live is the largest military aviation museam in the world - so he went two days running. They have lots of historical stuff including the B29 that dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki which ended the Pacific war.
Bockscar
They also have a hanger with a load of presidential planes as well as one filled with research and development aircraft including the XB70 Valkyrie which must be one of the most intimidating planes ever built...
When it's not cooped up in a hangar with lots of other X planes it looks something like this...
He also got to dress up as an astronaught.
Ground control to Major Paul.
At the end of the week he flew on to Spokane to start the training. The first week was all about the PT6 engine and how it works. There was a cutout engine and lots of bits and pieces to pass round.

This bit of the engine apparently goes round very fast and gets quite hot. If you break it it costs a lot of money.
There was also an engine outside on a test stand that they ran.
The following week was a mixture of cockpit Garmin G1000, aircraft systems and simulator training.
G1000 class
The sim was a bit box like from the outside...
but being 'full motion' was very realistic on the inside.
At the end of the week they drove up to Sandpoint, Idaho, where they make the plane to have a factory tour.
The last week was more G1000, systems and sim, and then a chance to join all the dots together and see if they could actually fly the thing.
Turns out they didn't do too bad...
Although it probably helps to have a slightly goofey instructor...
Even though the weather tried its best to intervene they finished off with some mountain flying in the hills of Idaho.
Quite a bit of mist lingered in the back country areas.
But very pretty.

Terrain Terrain. Pull up. Pull up.
This one place was a bit dogey to get into so we just flew round it a bit and took some pictures.
A few mug shots to finish...





There are a few bridges to cross before the Kodiak can be flown to Africa, not the least of which is raising the money for the ferry flight - $40,000!

Thank you.

The Mercy Air team