Monday, September 1, 2008
For Town & Country
A hybrid lands in the bush
We’re on an Expedition. Two of them, actually. Four of us are aboard the Expedition E350, the new tricycle-gear bush plane from Found Aircraft (www.expedition
aircraft.com). The others in our party are aboard the Expedition E350XC, the conventional-gear variant—this one outfitted with amphibious floats—flying barely 20 yards off our right wingtip. We’re making a short hop to Ontario’s Muskoka Airport, a mere 27 nm southeast of Found Aircraft’s headquarters at Parry Sound Area Municipal Airport, also in Ontario.
Andrew Hamblin, the company’s director of marketing and sales, wants to show off the Expedition’s unimproved-field performance, and Muskoka’s turf strip, with its 6,000-foot primary runway, will be the testing ground. I assume the Expedition will handle the turf with aplomb. After all, the Expedition is a direct descendant of one of Canada’s most legendary bush planes, the FBA-2, which earned its stripes working in the country’s unforgiving north over the last four decades. But at the moment, my attention is directed downward, at the small swath of wooded rocky islands and the shoreline of Ontario’s Georgian Bay region, sprinkled with its genteel vacation homes. That’s the kind of place where the ultimate test of the Expedition’s capabilities will be conducted: whether it’s able to build a market for a new kind of bush plane, one as suited to hauling 55-gallon drums in the wilds as to hauling a family to an upscale resort. A hybrid, if you will.
“The concept of what we’ve done,” explained Andrew, in the back seat of the E350, “is taking the strength of the aircraft and its bush applications, and then refining it and moving it forward. People are expecting a certain level of quality and options in an aircraft for their own personal use, and the Expedition offers all that. The analogy is the Land Rover to the Range Rover.”
|Doors can open 180 degrees, making for easy loading of cargo or people (like Found’s chief pilot Ted Dirstein).|
|Vortex generators on the wings improve the E350’s performance as a STOL aircraft.|
Page 1 of 3
Labels: Piston Singles