Now I finally have some time to write a new blog-entry.
The thing I was about to do when I wrote my last post was to fly one of the most legendary aircraft out there, the De-Havilland of Canada DHC-2 Beaver.
Originally designed around 1946 they were built to be the workhorse for all the bush pilots up north. They were sturdy, had a huge wing to take the weight and fitted with a 450hp radial engine to get the plane out of even the shortest airfields. But they found their real purpose as seaplanes, fitted with floats. And over the years an uncountable number of modifications turned them into the finest floatplanes ever built, making them still the first choice for seaplaneoperators around the globe, especially where rough terrain and small lakes are an issue.
For years I wanted to fly one of these immortal Beavers. And last Wednesday I finally got to fly one.
All I can say is WOW. What a fantastic airplane. The one I flew got amphibian floats enabling it to land on water and hard surface runways. So when you walk up to them they appear quite massive and kind of intimidating.
Standing next to them the floats reach all the way up to my hips making it a bit challenging to get on top of them. Once up on the floats you got a big door allowing easy access to the spacious rear cabin. The Cockpit door is not as large but still allows for easy access to the pilot’s seat. The cockpit itself also is really spacious with quite a lot of levers and switches.
Getting the big 9-cylinder radial engine running was pretty easy, just pressurize the fuel lines, prime the engine, switch on the boost pump, engage the starter and it’s running in no time with this typical sound only this engine can produce. Taxiing again is a bit tricky as the nose wheels are not steerable and the rudder only has a limited effect at low speeds. So all you got is differential braking which takes some practice to precisely direct the plane. The take off run is shorter than you would expect of an airplane of that size. The 450hp pull the plane into the air within seconds and once airborne you don’t feel anything of the airplanes weight. The controls are unbelievably light, you hardly feel any pressure. Almost like they where hydraulically powered which they are not. It’s incredible. Every plane I’ve flown so far had much higher control loads than the beaver, even the mighty Piper Cub.
On the approach you reduce the power and lower the flaps to 35° which produces a ton of extra lift. On final approach power comes back to idle and when getting close to the surface you flare it to touch the water with the correct pitch attitude. Once decelerating on the water you hold the elevator pulled and wait for the speed to further drop until the plane falls off the step. Then you lower the water rudder to have better directional control on the water. The water rudders are quite big and are quite effective and you can turn the Beaver in tight spots but this time you really can feel the load the water is putting on them.
It really is an amazing airplane and I surely would love to have one myself but unfortunately they are more on the pricy side of the scale and so I only got one hour of flight time in this beautifully maintained 1953 Beaver.
Now I know why all the bush pilots love the Beaver, it’s absolutely marvelous. I can’t wait to fly it again, someday.
Last thing I gotta say is that this article is for entertainment and informational purpose only and does not substitute any formal training.