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Old 02-02-2020, 08:40 AM   #41
johndallman
 
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Default Re: Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
What about a couple DHC-2 Beavers bought in the 80s and two An-2V or An-2M/W acquired dirt cheap in the early 90s as the smaller short-range transports?

Would it seem too odd compared to just buying the most common Beechcrafts, Cessnas or Pipers on the market at the time and fitting them with floats?

How about a DHC-6 Twin Otter as a medium amphibious transport bought in 1987-1988 or so? Is that a mundane purchase, something a person unaware of the supernatural might consider a good corporate plane for shuttling people involved in offshore oil between Caribbean islands lacking airports?
It's necessary to think about the image you're projecting by the apparent purpose of the aircraft. DHCs and Antonovs are supremely practical aircraft for getting people to places with equipment. But they aren't what a typical corporate executive would want to be seen in: they're aircraft as industrial equipment.

Float-equipped Beechcraft, Cessnas or Pipers aren't so industrial. They're more the aircraft equivalent of nice saloon cars.
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Old 02-02-2020, 09:27 AM   #42
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Default Re: Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics

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It's necessary to think about the image you're projecting by the apparent purpose of the aircraft. DHCs and Antonovs are supremely practical aircraft for getting people to places with equipment. But they aren't what a typical corporate executive would want to be seen in: they're aircraft as industrial equipment.

Float-equipped Beechcraft, Cessnas or Pipers aren't so industrial. They're more the aircraft equivalent of nice saloon cars.
Quite right.

Let's say that corporate jets and appropriately appointed Cessna-adjacent utility craft, chartered, leased or owned as was most economical, handled and continue to handle the actual transport of executives and VIPs connected to Kessler's legitimate businesses.

The two DHC-2s and An-2Vs would be owned and operated by apparent fly-by-night charter companies, skillfully concealing any overt connection to Kessler through the use of numerous shell corporations, offshore holdings and/or actual proxy owners, such as trusted 'ex' employees given funds to start these cover companies.

They'd pretend their business model was transporting a variety of scientific expeditions, middle-class tourists, offshore oil geologists and oceanographers and the like, while actually exclusively serving Kessler's network of occult investigators.

The DHC-2s and An-2Vs should be economical enough aircraft that Kessler can afford to essentially fund them out of the 'expenses' for his clandestine activities and not need to use the resources of a larger legitimate corporation to own and operate them, where accountants unaware of the supernatural would question their unprofitable and unprestigious natures.

Edit: Holy *beep*, there is a significant price difference between even well-used DHC-2s and perfectly operational An-2Vs or other float-equipped An-2s. As in, you can get the An-2s for $30,000-$50,000, while the DHC-2 Beavers tend to cost $500,000+. This tells me that while Kessler is happy to arrange for as many fly-by-night operators flying An-2s as the logistics require, even if he'll have to finance it personally out of pocket, he'll want to have some ostensibly legitimate reason for a slightly more legitimate company to own the DHC-2s, so they count as business expenses and don't drain his personal assets.

In the same way, the DHC-6 Twin Otter is a fairly pricey plane and not one Kessler wants to have draining his clandestine cash reserves if he can have a legitimate business fund it or an equivalent, without mundane accountants picking at it.

Are the DHC-2s and the DHC-6 hopelessly utilitarian and gauche for roles as planes that take engineers, oceanographers, geologists and other employees of a Texas-based offshore oil and gas company around the Caribbean, as well as being available for VIP and executive junkets, and adventure vacations combining boating, parachuting and diving, etc.?

While offshore oil and gas wasn't huge in the Caribbean in the 1980s or 1990s (it's mostly just Trinidad and Tobago), it's not that implausible that oil companies might prospect there, especially given that in the last few years (in real life as well as the campaign), there have been major discoveries of offshore oil and gas in the Caribbean and oil companies are setting up shop on many islands there.

I imagine that this Texas oil and gas company might have some legitimate business interests in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as maybe set up a small regional office somewhere in the Greater Antilles, e.g. Bahamas or anywhere nearby that offshore prospecting might seem plausible in the 1990s.

If the DHC-6 seems weird for this role, what could be a good plane that could do what Kessler wants, but which unaware accountants wouldn't question as a luxury adventure seaplane for senior staff and VIPs being courted, with space for more people than a small plane and at least 850 miles of range?

To be bought in 1987-1994 sometime, ideally not over $5 million and not requiring obscene upkeep costs.
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Old 02-02-2020, 03:01 PM   #43
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Default Re: Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics

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Edit: Holy *beep*, there is a significant price difference between even well-used DHC-2s and perfectly operational An-2Vs or other float-equipped An-2s. As in, you can get the An-2s for $30,000-$50,000, while the DHC-2 Beavers tend to cost $500,000+. This tells me that while Kessler is happy to arrange for as many fly-by-night operators flying An-2s as the logistics require, even if he'll have to finance it personally out of pocket, he'll want to have some ostensibly legitimate reason for a slightly more legitimate company to own the DHC-2s, so they count as business expenses and don't drain his personal assets.
The DHC-2 is/was well-known as being an extremely reliable and capable plane in its class, and it's pretty much the plane everyone had or wanted for wilderness work in places like Canada. While there were a fair number made, it's nothing like the number of An-2s of all kinds that were made and are still flying. FWIW, a DHC-2 probably has lower operational costs, but the repair bills if it breaks will be higher. An-2s are not particularly economical on fuel (or oil, for that matter). Also, the An-2 is not a quiet aircraft - you're never going to be selling luxury rides in it, no matter how nice the seating is.

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Are the DHC-2s and the DHC-6 hopelessly utilitarian and gauche for roles as planes that take engineers, oceanographers, geologists and other employees of a Texas-based offshore oil and gas company around the Caribbean, as well as being available for VIP and executive junkets, and adventure vacations combining boating, parachuting and diving, etc.?
The DHC-6 is probably good for all of that, the DPC-2 might look a bit low-rent for the VIP junkets. It depends on what the interior decor is, I expect - real leather seats, nice carpet, and a mini-bar go a long way in selling an aircraft as 'executive' rather than 'bush plane'.
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Old 02-02-2020, 03:54 PM   #44
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Default Re: Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics

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The DHC-2 is/was well-known as being an extremely reliable and capable plane in its class, and it's pretty much the plane everyone had or wanted for wilderness work in places like Canada. While there were a fair number made, it's nothing like the number of An-2s of all kinds that were made and are still flying. FWIW, a DHC-2 probably has lower operational costs, but the repair bills if it breaks will be higher. An-2s are not particularly economical on fuel (or oil, for that matter). Also, the An-2 is not a quiet aircraft - you're never going to be selling luxury rides in it, no matter how nice the seating is.
From a real-world economics point of view, Kessler's requirements are low on flying time and work, high on time spent being on call for an immediate alert (well, within an hour / six hours). They won't be doing anything close to a regular passenger service; in the air all day for as many days a year as possible.

So it's probably fine if the An-2s are wasteful of fuel when they are in actual use, as the low cost of surplus aircraft allows keeping several spare craft near potential trouble spots, which seems like a fair tradeoff.

From a scene-setting RPG point of view, the loud and primitive nature of the An-2 is truly excellent.

Edit: Ballpark figures for operating costs; ca $400/hour for An-2s and ca $725/ hour for DHC-2 Beavers. Yeah, the Beavers are really expensive and also more expensive to operate... but, on the other hand, can be certified for commercial operation by the FAA, unlike the An-2.

Now, I'm not going to state outright that pressure from US aircraft manufacturers led to the An-2 being restricted to 'Experimental' FAA certification in the US, to avoid flooding the market in the 90s with dirt-cheap competition, but I'll just note that I found a lot of discussion on that subject online and a lot of people who do believe it.

In any case, for registration as a charter aircraft in a Caribbean nation where An-2s can be certified for that sort of thing, the An-2 seems hard to beat. But as Kessler needs to base some shoort-range amphibious transport planes in the US, without having them be easily tracable to him, he also needs the DHC-2 Beavers.

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The DHC-6 is probably good for all of that, the DPC-2 might look a bit low-rent for the VIP junkets. It depends on what the interior decor is, I expect - real leather seats, nice carpet, and a mini-bar go a long way in selling an aircraft as 'executive' rather than 'bush plane'.
Again, this makes sense both in in-setting terms and RPG meta terms. If you're spending $500,000+ on a DHC-6 Twin Otter, leather seats, nice carpets and a swanky bar aren't all that expensive extras in comparison. And for me as a GM, I want the available aircrafts to be as distinct and full of character as possible.

The loud Soviet transport vs. the Golden Age of Travel old-school elegance of a well-appointed DHC-6 suits me just fine.

That being said, the aircraft fleet of Antilles Air Boats was in storage in the mid-80s, just as Kessler was setting up his logistics. A few Grumman Goose G21As or JRFs and even potentially a Short S.25 Sandringham 4 might have been available cheap from a failing airline operating on the islands where Kessler spent at least a third of the year.

So I think he'd have purchased a couple, at least.
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Old 02-02-2020, 11:31 PM   #45
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Default Re: Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics

FWIW, there's mention that the big Short flying boats were phased out of service in the Pacific because they were incredibly expensive to run (presumably compared to the new modern liners of the post-war period) in the 50s. While think they're a great plane and would look awesome, etc., I think that if Kessler was to have bought one it would have to have been as a talking point. However, he might have leased it for a while.
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Old 02-03-2020, 05:41 AM   #46
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Default Re: Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics

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FWIW, there's mention that the big Short flying boats were phased out of service in the Pacific because they were incredibly expensive to run (presumably compared to the new modern liners of the post-war period) in the 50s. While think they're a great plane and would look awesome, etc., I think that if Kessler was to have bought one it would have to have been as a talking point. However, he might have leased it for a while.
It was a combination of bigger is better (more economical) and airport building with tarmac, concrete, and terminals. Without the infrastructure the heaviest aircraft could realistically only use water. World War 2 also produced heavier aircraft (Lancaster and B-17) and developed purpose built airfields that required the land to allow these aircraft to take off and land.
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Old 02-03-2020, 06:49 AM   #47
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Default Re: Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics

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It was a combination of bigger is better (more economical) and airport building with tarmac, concrete, and terminals. Without the infrastructure the heaviest aircraft could realistically only use water.
I know they were used for the Sydney-London route. Both ends probably had good airports at the time, but they had to make lots of intermediate stops to get there.
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Old 02-03-2020, 01:57 PM   #48
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Default Re: Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics

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Originally Posted by Rupert View Post
FWIW, there's mention that the big Short flying boats were phased out of service in the Pacific because they were incredibly expensive to run (presumably compared to the new modern liners of the post-war period) in the 50s. While think they're a great plane and would look awesome, etc., I think that if Kessler was to have bought one it would have to have been as a talking point. However, he might have leased it for a while.
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Originally Posted by smurf View Post
It was a combination of bigger is better (more economical) and airport building with tarmac, concrete, and terminals. Without the infrastructure the heaviest aircraft could realistically only use water. World War 2 also produced heavier aircraft (Lancaster and B-17) and developed purpose built airfields that required the land to allow these aircraft to take off and land.
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I know they were used for the Sydney-London route. Both ends probably had good airports at the time, but they had to make lots of intermediate stops to get there.
Well, in 1981, Antilles Air Boats ceased operations and their fleet of aircraft, including numerous Grumman Goose G21A and JRF-5 models, a Beechcraft RC-45J and one or both of a Short S.25 Sandringham 4 and Mk5, were put into inadequate storage.

In real life, the company failed to sell more than a couple of Grumman Goose models and the fleet of aircraft deteriorated slowly until most of them were destroyed in Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

In my campaign, even if Kessler has no interest in buying the aircraft in 1981*, as by that time he is 'merely' an ordinary billionaire, without knowing about the supernatural, that fleet would still be available dirt cheap in 1986, just as Kessler decides to set up an organization to investigate the paranormal, which includes sending expeditions to places where reports of oddness originate.

As Kessler probably doesn't know that the Soviet Union will fall in a couple of years, he doesn't know that soon he'll have the opportunity to purchase more surplus aircraft than he could ever use, and the Antilles Air Boat fleet would appear a quite convenient windfall.

That is, if there is any utility in them. Obtaining them would be as close to 'free' as buying an aircraft could be, but while they were airworthy in 1981, they might require some refurbishing in 1987 if they are to be accepted as playthings for tourists.

We know from real life that by this time, they were no longer economical to run as commercial passenger aircraft. Indeed, the 1970s were the decade where many of the airlines that ran regular passenger service between Caribbean islands with seaplanes switched to other types of aircraft or went bankrupt.**

I'm assuming that Kessler bought a DHC-6 Twin Otter or two for his purposes at this time, but given the special circumstances of a defunct airline unable to find buyers for their aircraft, Kessler could probably get the entire grounded fleet of Antilles Air Boats for what it would cost him to buy a second Twin Otter. Edit: Scratch 'probably', the entire fleet of Grumman Geese + a Short S.25 Sandringham bought from the defunct airline would most likely cost him under a million dollars, while a DHC-6 Twin Otter is from $3 million to $6.5 million, depending on whether you get the 300 or the 400 model.

Even if he didn't ultimately end up using them heavily, due to better options becoming available after 1990 (I'm having him obtain a Be-12 Chayka and Il-76TD after the Soviet Union fell), they remain owned by him as interesting options for anachronistic aircraft, in case he's transporting tech-averse occultists or sending another expedition into a heavily magical area.

*Not entirely a foregone conclusion, as at that time he already owns two Grumman Goose aircraft, enjoys piloting his personally owned one and may safely be considered an enthusiast of WWII vintage airplanes.
**Interesting aversions are the operations of Air Antilles, Carib Aviation, LIAT and Winair, all of which operated de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters to some degree, some apparently still doing so, in pretty much the exact area where Kessler needed to move his people around. From which I gather that in the 1980s, DHC-6 Twin Otters were still economical for passenger service in that area, but that older seaplane designs were probably not.
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Old 02-03-2020, 02:35 PM   #49
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Default Re: Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics

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Edit: Holy *beep*, there is a significant price difference between even well-used DHC-2s and perfectly operational An-2Vs or other float-equipped An-2s. As in, you can get the An-2s for $30,000-$50,000, while the DHC-2 Beavers tend to cost $500,000+.
I presume that's the price in the present day? In the 1980s, DHC-2s might well have been cheaper, and An-2s were certainly less available. An-2s are very cheap now because they're being replaced in many of their former uses, but that doesn't seem to have been the case until about the turn of the century.

Indeed, if you were flying an An-2 in the Western hemisphere before 1990, swapping the engine for an American-made one would have been a good idea simply so that you could get parts.
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Old 02-03-2020, 03:21 PM   #50
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Default A) Short-Range Transports

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I presume that's the price in the present day? In the 1980s, DHC-2s might well have been cheaper, and An-2s were certainly less available. An-2s are very cheap now because they're being replaced in many of their former uses, but that doesn't seem to have been the case until about the turn of the century.

Indeed, if you were flying an An-2 in the Western hemisphere before 1990, swapping the engine for an American-made one would have been a good idea simply so that you could get parts.
Well, those are modern prices for a heavily used DHC-2. However, the Internet assures me that they were $575,000 new in 1953 and that they would be $1.5 to $2 million if sold new now.

Which is ridiculous for this size range, certainly, at least compared to the older aircraft which Kessler could obtain instead. A couple of hundred thousand for a small seaplane in good condition is reasonable (the An-2 and their dirt cheap price being somewhat of an exception), but Kessler is not going to be paying millions for the smallest size range when fairly capable older planes that are bigger and suit his purposes just fine are available for $500,000 or less.

Edit: I can find several 1950s vintage DHC-2 Beavers without expensive upgrades and with heavily used airframes available for sale at $200,000 to $350,000, which is at least more acceptable than $500,000+. As DHC-2 production ended in the late sixties, I have no idea whether used aircraft of the type would have been relatively more or less expensive in 1987-1989 than they are now. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I'll assume that their value has held pretty steady if well maintained and periodically refurbished. So, it makes sense to me that Kessler might have acquired two DHC-2 Beavers before 1990, in order to clandestinely handle logistics for some of his occult researchers.

/endEdit

---

I realize that An-2s and other Soviet aircraft will not be among the first aircraft Kessler buys in 1987-1990, but his operation didn't just spring into being fully made. He didn't really have enough trusted agents, investigators, scientists or paramilitary operators in 1987 to require as many aircraft as he'd be using in 1995 or 2018.

So he bought a few planes in 1987, maybe a couple in 1988-1989 and then took advantage of the enormous stockpiles of ex-Soviet stuff when they became available after that, probably because he recognized the value for the next few years, rather than him actually having a need for so many aircraft immediately.

It looks like Kessler will own several Grumman Geese, both JRF-5, G21A and a newer McKinnon turboprop conversion. One bought in the 60s, one in the 70s and a couple to a few acquired from the defunct Antilles Air Boats in the 1980s. Of course, these will not be all that clandestine, in that many local people will know these planes and know that they are owned by J.R. Kessler (technically a holding company owned by him, but not important).

This means that the Grumman Geese are probably used to shuttle his household and important employees around the Antilles, but it would be pretty bad operational security to use them for any op which was not meant to be traced to Kessler.

So when 'research into the paranormal' turned in the early 1990s to 'covert investigations of occult crimes' and even later, around 1994 or so, to 'paramilitary hunting of supernatural threats', Kessler would have required other aircraft not associated with him or any company publicly linked to him.

Particularly important for the smallest transport type, as that would be the ones most often carrying operatives to places where law enforcement might later on be asking questions. Best for them to be registered to fly-by-night charter operators, in such situations.
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