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Old 02-04-2020, 03:01 AM   #51
Icelander
 
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Default Grumman Geese

As noted earlier, J.R. Kessler's first seaplane and his personal transport throughout 1961-1978(?) was the 'Dominique', a Grumman Goose JRF-5, formerly flown by the French Navy in Indochina and Algeria. Kessler obtained a private pilot license and enjoyed flying his own plane when he had time, although he'd have employed a pilot as well.

Now, in 1975-1979 or so (approximate years, subject to change if appropriate), Kessler wanted/needed a faster and longer-ranged seaplane for his personal use and to shuttle around the members of his inner circle. I thought that a McKinnon conversion of a Grumman Goose to a turboprop plane might be appropriate.

First of all, was McKinnon still doing new conversions in the 1970s or would Kessler have needed to look for a second-hand turboprop plane converted in the sixties?

Second, what is the most plausible variant that Kessler would opt for in the mid- to late-seventies; a McKinnon G21C (likely 'hybrids'), a G21G or some alternative conversion?

Third, if Kessler was certified to fly a piston JRF-5 Goose, how much trouble would it have been to become familiar with a turboprop conversion of the same aircraft and certified to fly it as a private pilot?*

Fourth, Dominique's interior is decorated in a very Swinging Sixties way, but more lavish and decadent boudoir than carefree hippie playground. I'm not very au fait with styles of interior decoration during the sixties (or any decade), but I'm thinking something mostly red and black, in any combination of leather, silk, satin or velvet most appropriate for the period.

Obviously, I want the newer 'Turbo Goose' to be decorated in an iconic 70s fashion, albeit the middle-aged libertine version. Any suggestions for colours, materials, special touches to make it more reflective of the period?

Kessler wasn't technically a billionaire when he had his new 'Turbo Goose' built, but he still owned hundreds of millions of dollars and he hadn't bought a new toy since the end of the Sixties (the early 70s weren't good for his various business affairs). So there's no need to stint on the decor.

Left to his own devices, Kessler probably preferred somewhat more old-fashioned surroundings (his personal style is best described as 'elegant decadence'), but for this plane, his new personal secretary, Mary Abigail Marchant (b. January 27, 1948; Austin, TX), so aged thirty or slightly less at the time, would have been influential in making it 'fab', 'fun' and 'far out'.

Oh, and I'm thinking of naming the 'Turbo Goose' Angélique. Comments? Alternate suggestions?

Edit: Also, in the mid-80s, Kessler started to set up the logistics for his occult research and investigations. In 1987-1988, he would therefore have obtained several Grumman Geese from the defunct airline Antilles Air Boats, which were put into storage in 1981, when the airline ceased operations.

I imagine that the aircraft required some refurbishing before being flown again, after at least five years and possibly seven, in mothballs. During that process, the possibility existed of sprucing up the cabins and interiors. Any ideas as to what these less-luxurious Grumman Geese might be furnished in, starting from the appointments for an airline that operated the planes from 1974-1981?

Edit Again: Several notes. First of all, it's apparently some kind of aviation nerd faux pas to refer to more than one Grumman Goose as 'Geese'. They prefer 'Gooses', strange as that is.

Second, while I couldn't find an exact source for operation costs for Grumman Gooses in the 2010s, I did find out that a rare Grumman G-111 Albatross averages out to a $1,200/hour operating cost, including having to custom-build spares. As the JRF-5 or G-21A Goose expends half the fuel the larger plane does and Kessler will own a fleet of five, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that his operating costs will be lower, maybe around $1,000/hour.

This is very high compared to modern propeller aircraft, like Beechcraft and Cessnas, so the Gooses are mostly pampered hangar queens, flown fairly rarely and only used for transport when absolutely necessary (e.g. when transporting occultists afraid of modern technology).

*At the time Kessler got his new seaplane, he'd have been around sixty, vigorous and adventurous, nowhere near considering retirement, and still fond of sporting pursuits as his relaxation. But if it's a bureaucratic nuisance or involves a lot of make-work to be certified for the turboprop conversion, Kessler would likely have been happy enough to continue flying Dominique from time to time and have a hired pilot shuttle him around in the newer aircraft when needed.
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Old 02-04-2020, 05:11 AM   #52
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Default Re: Grumman Geese

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
First of all, was McKinnon still doing new conversions in the 1970s or would Kessler have needed to look for a second-hand turboprop plane converted in the sixties?
Well, the last type (the G-21G) was FAA approved in 1969. I don't have reregistration dates, though; if one could get at the history of type certificate 4A24 that ought to have the best information on manufacturing dates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Second, what is the most plausible variant that Kessler would opt for in the mid- to late-seventies; a McKinnon G21C (likely 'hybrids'), a G21G or some alternative conversion?
G-21G has the most powerful engines…

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Third, if Kessler was certified to fly a piston JRF-5 Goose, how much trouble would it have been to become familiar with a turboprop conversion of the same aircraft and certified to fly it as a private pilot?*
It's a separate type certificate so legally it's a separate aircraft to qualify on. I understand there's some additional power lag (i.e. you can't get out of trouble with a quick blip on the throttle the way you can with a piston engine) but in terms of cockpit activities only the engine management will be very different. I would imagine a week or two of conversion course would be sufficient.
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Old 02-04-2020, 07:25 AM   #53
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Default Re: Grumman Geese

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Originally Posted by RogerBW View Post
Well, the last type (the G-21G) was FAA approved in 1969. I don't have reregistration dates, though; if one could get at the history of type certificate 4A24 that ought to have the best information on manufacturing dates.
Last McKinnon conversion of a Grumman Goose was completed in May, 1970.

McKinnon Enterprises Inc. was declared bankrupt on December 28, 1971, and its assets, including N558, a G21G 'Turbo Goose' which McKinnon had until then used as a personal airplane, were sold at auction in Oregon on January 3, 1972.

So, we're either looking at Kessler acquiring one of the eight or so turboprop conversions that had been made up to then from a previous buyer or him finding someone else to perform a functionally identical conversion as the McKinnon one. Of course, it's not implausible that Kessler bought it from Peyton Hawes in 1977 or so, as in real life, he did sell it before 1980.

Yeah, you know, I think I'll declare it so. Kessler buys N558 in 1977 or thereabouts.

Bonus points for all four of my grandparents actually having flown on that actual plane...

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G-21G has the most powerful engines…
Well, technically, the N780 (which despite being type registered as a G21G and referred to as a McKinnon Goose, was actually neither) had the most powerful engines. Modified by the Fish and Wildlife Service to match the many aspects of the McKinnon conversion, it had two Garrett/Honeywell TPE331 engines (715-shp) instead of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-27 engines (680-shp). It should have been type certified as a G21F, but the FWS actually told the FAA that it was a G21G and nobody bothered to check up on it for the entire service life of the aircraft.

However, the N780 was, in reality, not declared surplus to requirements until 1992 and thus Kessler could not have obtained it any earlier than that. As he as looking for a 'Turbo Goose' in the latter part of the 70s, he'd have had to look elsewhere than with the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The History of the Aleutian Goose, Part 1
The History of the Aleutian Goose, Part 2
The History of the Aleutian Goose, Part 3

Whether Kessler, for sentimental reasons or practical ones, decided to add yet another Goose to his fleet at some point in 1992-2011, however, is an open question. Kessler would have known of it, as it was owned by Texans from 1998, and its last owner was even part of the Commemorative Air Force in Texas, which I had already decided is an organization which Kessler belongs to, supports and uses as cover for some of his more anachronistic aircraft. As the 'Aleutian Goose' went down in the UAE in 2011 in real life (carrying its last owner and three others), it seems like it would be a nice gesture for our fictional billionaire to rescue the old girl before it came to that untimely end and perhaps use it for an entirely different kind of 'wildlife management'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerBW View Post
It's a separate type certificate so legally it's a separate aircraft to qualify on. I understand there's some additional power lag (i.e. you can't get out of trouble with a quick blip on the throttle the way you can with a piston engine) but in terms of cockpit activities only the engine management will be very different. I would imagine a week or two of conversion course would be sufficient.
In that case, Kessler was certainly certified to fly Angélique and Dominique both, at least in the 70s and 80s. As he's literally a hundred years old in 2018, it's possible that he has not maintained currency, which I understand he'd have to do biannually.

If he had, it would make him the oldest licensed pilot in the US (by two years), which seems undesirable.
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Old 02-04-2020, 03:21 PM   #54
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Default Mounting Weapons to Old Warbirds

Something tells me that US and Caribbean laws, as well as FAA regulations, probably prohibit mounting rifles or machine guns to turrets of WWII aircraft, even if you may legally own the weapons.

I must confess, though, that I don't exactly know the state of the law on the matter.

Does anyone know what the rules are for flying WWII vintage aircraft with their period accurate defensive armaments, assuming you happen to own registered machine guns of WWII vintage as well?

My guess is that FAA regulations require a pretty comprehensive listing of what parts constitute the aircraft and you most likely would get funny looks and polite refusals if you tried to include two .30 cal and two .50 cal Browning machine guns.

But I figure I better have good answers for my PCs, because if I feature a WWII warplane for them to use, they'll want to know what obstacles exist in the way of them arming it...

Edit: Apparently you can mount the guns, as this guy did, but the FAA takes a real dim view of civilian aircraft leaving the ground with anything designed to drop from it (e.g. cartridge cases) without the appropriate waivers. Which they are somewhat reluctant to grant for warbirds armed with machine guns.
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Old 02-04-2020, 06:21 PM   #55
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Default Re: Mounting Weapons to Old Warbirds

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Does anyone know what the rules are for flying WWII vintage aircraft with their period accurate defensive armaments, assuming you happen to own registered machine guns of WWII vintage as well?

My guess is that FAA regulations require a pretty comprehensive listing of what parts constitute the aircraft and you most likely would get funny looks and polite refusals if you tried to include two .30 cal and two .50 cal Browning machine guns.

But I figure I better have good answers for my PCs, because if I feature a WWII warplane for them to use, they'll want to know what obstacles exist in the way of them arming it...

Edit: Apparently you can mount the guns, as this guy did, but the FAA takes a real dim view of civilian aircraft leaving the ground with anything designed to drop from it (e.g. cartridge cases) without the appropriate waivers. Which they are somewhat reluctant to grant for warbirds armed with machine guns.
Well, if the guns are inboard, like a Catalina's (for example), the shell casing s will stay in the aircraft. Just to make sure you might have to mount a collection bag or chute on the gun, which would undoubtedly be a minor annoyance when using the gun.
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Old 02-05-2020, 01:32 AM   #56
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Default Re: Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics

Falling shell casings from 20,000 feet should be as harmless as fallen coins from a skyscraper and for the same reason (low mass, low sectional density). The linked article does not say that Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco's issue is with falling shell casings though, and knife and firearms regulations are definitely a subject where its wise to consult a lawyer not strangers on the Internet.
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Old 02-05-2020, 02:25 AM   #57
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Default Armed Aircraft

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Originally Posted by Rupert View Post
Well, if the guns are inboard, like a Catalina's (for example), the shell casing s will stay in the aircraft. Just to make sure you might have to mount a collection bag or chute on the gun, which would undoubtedly be a minor annoyance when using the gun.
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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
Falling shell casings from 20,000 feet should be as harmless as fallen coins from a skyscraper and for the same reason (low mass, low sectional density). The linked article does not say that Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco's issue is with falling shell casings though, and knife and firearms regulations are definitely a subject where its wise to consult a lawyer not strangers on the Internet.
The ATF has no jurisdiction over aircraft equipment (if the guns are otherwise legal). It's the FAA that has been concerned with the issue. Until October 5, 2018, there was no law that specifically forbade mounting a weapon to a drone, for example, which caused the FAA much heartache when people started doing that.

From reading various Warbird forum discussions on this subject*, I get the feeling that this is an area where legislation is weak and the FAA is using its particular interpretation so that they have something to use to control armed airplanes. No one actually worries about the shell casings being dangerous, it's just an effective legal pretext to regulate a field where adequate legislation doesn't really exist.

That being said, I can find Texas companies selling tours where you shoot at wild hogs from helicopters, with NVDs, and can even use an M60, so for a given value of 'mounting', there is some wiggle room. And, fortunately, I've already established Kessler as being a silent partner in such a company (to explain buying lots of ITAR-controlled NVDs) and even have one part-time PC acting as CEO of the company as his cover job.

I can be pretty sure that the FAA wouldn't like it if the PCs ever armed a historically-correct PBY-5A with real machine guns in place of the mock-ups, but assuming that the weapons were only used for 'self-defence', the legal grey areas involved allow for their billionaire Patron possibly preventing them from going to prison.

Still, best not to get into a multi-year legal battle with the federal government if it can be avoided.

*Blank-adapted machine guns are still legally machine guns, so this happens more often than you'd think, for movies and air shows. It's far from impossible to get the waiver, but it's not general-purpose, it seems to be state-specific and might even be more specific than that. Specifically, this would be the FAA 'Restricted' category (which I believe is a sub-category of the 'Experimental' aircraft category, which all Warbirds fall under): "Operation of restricted category aircraft is limited to special purposes identified in the applicable type design." Hollywood and some influential or persistent pilots that show off Warbirds at air shows do get these, but it's subject to an FAA inspector approving the specific set-up.
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Old 02-05-2020, 03:09 AM   #58
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Default Re: Armed Aircraft

Note that if they only mount the weapon when outside the US, the FAA has no jurisdiction anyway. On the other hand, if they fly round international waters so armed, and then go and annoy some FAA (or other law enforcement) official, they might find themselves labelled 'pirates' and locked up. Getting permission to have guns mounted in the Antilles in general will be a nightmare, given how many different countries' hold territory there.
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Old 02-05-2020, 03:29 AM   #59
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Default PBY Catalina

Assuming that Kessler has access to a Short S.25 Sandringham*, what, if anything, would be the utility of a Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina aircraft for him?

The Sandringham has a faster cruising speed than the PBY-5A and both have enough range to fly directly between the island of Dominica and Galveston. Of course, both also cruise slowly enough so that this would take forever, around 14 hours for the Sandringham and around 20 hours for the Catalina.

Are there any tasks which Kessler might need which the PBY-5A will handle better than the Sandringham?

Does the Catalina require less upkeep or can it operate with less infrastructure?

How about operating in poor weather conditions? Would the Catalina be in any way superior for that?

I understand the Sandringham is not economical for passenger service even in the 1980s, let alone the 2010s, and I very much doubt that the PBY-5A is competitive with modern airliners either. The only reason to use these ancient aircraft for transport would be because you are transporting magicians or supernatural beings/objects that either refuse to get on a proper TL7 aircraft, let alone TL8 designs, or genuinely could pose a risk if they did (because they'd reduce the Malf. of most technological devices aboard, including, in a more modern aircraft, computer chips that are necessary for the engines to function).

With that being said, if Kessler opted to own a PBY-5A Catalina instead of or in addition to a Sandringham, what should he do with it?

I can see two fun things he might do. One would be to keep it as close to the historical WWII configuration as legally possible and exhibit it at the Lone Star Flight Museum and/or as part of the Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force.

The second would be to spend quite a lot of money (at least $2 million in addition to buying the plane) to replicate the feel of a Landseaire luxury Flying Yacht.

Which sounds more interesting and more likely to find the PCs aboard the aircraft at some point?

*He could buy a Sandringham 4 or Sandringham 5, according to preference, from the estate of the defunct airline Antilles Air Boats, in 1981. The price would likely be very reasonable, given that in real life, they were sold to enthusiasts that apparently had no thought of profiting from them and ended up in a museum and private collection, respectively.
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Old 02-05-2020, 03:55 AM   #60
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Default Re: PBY Catalina

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Assuming that Kessler has access to a Short S.25 Sandringham*, what, if anything, would be the utility of a Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina aircraft for him?

The Sandringham has a faster cruising speed than the PBY-5A and both have enough range to fly directly between the island of Dominica and Galveston. Of course, both also cruise slowly enough so that this would take forever, around 14 hours for the Sandringham and around 20 hours for the Catalina.

Are there any tasks which Kessler might need which the PBY-5A will handle better than the Sandringham?

Does the Catalina require less upkeep or can it operate with less infrastructure?

How about operating in poor weather conditions? Would the Catalina be in any way superior for that?
I doubt it would in be better for much of anything, except where the Short is too big (and then you'd use a Goose or Otter or some such) unless a large amphibious flying boat was needed. I just mentioned it because it has those big, obvious gun blisters.

The thing about the Sandringham is that it's spacious enough that lots of kit can be carried (it's weight, not bulk limited), and it could be fitted out with bunks and kitchen facilities allowing both very long flights in some comfort and using it as a base when exploring remote locations. On the other hand, having one of those things pull up to the island you've put your secret cultists' temple on is going to be a fairly unmissable event, as they are not at all subtle (though neither is a Catalina).
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