Saturday, November 28, 2020

The DC-9 at Skydive Perris will take to the skies!

The DC-9 at Skydive Perris will take to the skies!

As reported by Airways Magazine
Perris, California is a small town just 71 miles from Los Angeles. Many residents of the metroplex move there for the additional space and the relaxed atmosphere.

However, it is well-known as a city famous for its skydiving operations. Skydive Perris is the main skydive company in the area, using their own airport, Perris Valley Airport (L65), for their jumps. With its proximity to Hollywood, Skydive Perris has had a number of celebrity clients, like Tom Cruise, James Corden, magician David Blaine, and Daniel Craig as James Bond in Quantum of Solace.

Skydive Perris has many aircraft in its fleet, including traditional jump planes, like the Cessna 182 and DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otter. They also have the rare Shorts SC7 Skyvan (only 149 ever made) as well as a Douglas DC-3.

All of these aircraft are used throughout the world for skydiving operations, but there is one aircraft that is extremely unique to Skydive Perris: the McDonnell Douglas DC-9-21. The aircraft, N127NK, has been with Skydive Perris since 2003, but it has not flown since 2013. However, it is now being prepared to be returned to regular service.

A Historic Past

The DC-9-21 was initially requested by Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) for use on short runways in Northern Europe. The -21 model combined the large wing and slats from the -30 with the small body of the -10. The order was only for 10 aircraft, but McDonnell Douglas obliged in its creation.

The final DC-9-21, line number 488, rolled out of the McDonnell Douglas factory in Long Beach, CA in April of 1969, registered as SE-DBO. It made its first flight on April 15th and flew east to Stockholm, Sweden on May 1 to begin its career with SAS with the name “Siger Viking” SAS had its first 3 DC-9-21s registered in Denmark with “OY” registration prefixes, its next 3 in Norway with “LN” registration prefixes, and its final 4 in Sweden with “SE” registration prefixes.

The aircraft spent 26 years flying throughout northern Europe. In October 1990, all of SAS’s DC-9-21s were re-registered as aircraft based in Denmark. The registration of SE-DBO was changed to OY-KIC. However, while the rest remained in Denmark, this aircraft was taken back to Sweden and re-registered back to SE-DBO in June of 1991.

This was in anticipation of it being wet-leased to the Swedish start-up charter airline, Nordic East Airlines, based in Stockholm. The aircraft flew with Nordic East from August of 1991 to May of 1992, when it was replaced with MD-82s, also wet-leased from SAS.

SE-DBO continued its journey with SAS until March of 1995, when it was retired from its fleet. Shortly after, it was acquired by Spirit Airlines in May of 1995, and flown to its new base in Detroit (DTW). Two other DC-9-21s from SAS also joined Spirit at the same time. Once the aircraft came to the US, it was re-registered as N127NK, the same one which it wears today. It flew passengers from Detroit to various destinations Florida and the northeast for just six months, when it was sold to ValuJet Airlines out of Atlanta (ATL) in December of 1995 along with Spirit’s other two DC-9-21s.

ValuJet connected ATL and Orlando (MCO) with the entire Eastern Coast of the USA. From 1995, ValuJet had been the focus of many FAA investigations into aircraft safety. Many accused the airline of not properly maintaining their aircraft, including the Atlanta FAA office, when they  sent an official report to their headquarters to force the airline to recertify themselves as an airline. They had 57 emergency landings in both 1995 and 1996, a scaled rate that was 14x more than legacy airlines of the time. This all built up to the famous ValuJet 592 crash on May 11, 1996. The investigation into the crash revealed many safety issues with the fleet that were not being addressed.

A month after the crash, the FAA grounded the entire airline. At this time, N127NK was stored in Lake City, FL and never flew again for ValuJet. The airline later merged with AirTran Airways, but ValuJet’s CEO, Maurice Gallagher, left to build a new airline, Allegiant Air, out of Las Vegas (LAS).

The airline only had two scheduled routes, from Fresno (FAT) and Colorado Springs (COS) to LAS, but was regularly doing casino charters to LAS and various other cities like Reno (RNO), South Lake Tahoe (TVL), and Laughlin (IFP). N127NK was the first aircraft in Allegiant’s fleet, and flew with them until the end of 2002, when it was stored in Victorville (VCV). It spent one year in VCV before Skydive Perris’ owner Ben Conaster had a wild idea. He wanted to use a commercial jetliner for skydiving.

Skydiving from an Airliner

Jumping from large aircraft isn’t necessarily a new idea. The military has been deploying paratroopers for many years. However, the most famous case of this happened on November 24, 1971, when a man going by the alias “D.B. Cooper” boarded a Northwest Orient Airlines Boeing 727-100 from Portland (PDX) to Seattle (SEA). He demanded that he receive $200,000 upon landing in SEA, and that he would like to flee to Mexico City via Reno (RNO).

He also requested that the aircraft remain at 10,000 ft. with the landing gear down, the flaps set at 15°, and the cabin to remain unpressurized. D.B. Cooper jumped from the aircraft via the rear airstairs commonly found on large T-tail aircraft while the they flew over the Washington-Oregon border. The case was never solved, but not for a lack of trying. Now, Skydive Perris is giving the everyday person the opportunity to experience the same thrill that D.B. Cooper had, without the large payout.

The DC-9-21 was destined for the scrapper when it was purchased in 2003 for just $50,000. It took three years to get the aircraft back to flying conditions and get it prepared for skydiving operations. The FAA made Skydive Perris go through many legal and safety-oriented hurdles to make sure that the aircraft would be fit for its new missions. While they were waiting for approval, the aircraft carried supplies to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and evacuated people to Houston as well.

Finally, on December 30, 2006, N127NK took to the skies to drop people from the rear air-stairs, thus becoming the only former commercial jet certified for skydiving operations in the world, a title it still holds today. It can carry divers up to 13,000 ft. in just four minutes, a quarter of the time needed for a Twin Otter to do it. To accommodate the large aircraft, Perris Valley Airport’s runway was lengthened from 3,000 ft. to 5,100 ft. Of all commercial jets, the DC-9-21 is likely to be the best possible one due to its short field performance and the ability to jump out of a pre-existing rear door on the back of the aircraft.

Skydive Perris operated the DC-9 from 2006 to 2013. However, they had issues with its reliability and the ability to find spare parts. This was especially trying with the largest DC-9 operator in the world, Delta Air Lines, retiring their fleet in early 2013. The DC-9 sat derelict with hope for it to take to the skies again, but without a clear-cut plan.

However, in September, after seven years, Skydive Perris announced that the aircraft was undergoing its final repairs, and would take to the skies once again. Engine checks have been completed, and the aircraft has even done taxing tests at L65. Earlier this week, Skydive Perris opened up a job opportunity for some lucky pilots to have the chance to fly the aircraft for them, truly marking the fact that the aircraft will soon take to the skies.

The DC-9 was a stalwart in the aviation industry for many years, but has now been almost completely removed from passenger operations. Only 35 of the 976 DC-9s that have been produced are currently flying, with just one aircraft still flying civilian passengers.

Enthusiasts have requested that Skydive Perris offer flights to aviation enthusiasts without requiring them to jump out of the aircraft. The company has not been accepting to such an idea in the past, but do seem to be a bit more open to the idea this time around. This would truly be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience a small part of history, whether you land on the DC-9 or you jump out of it during the flight. Either way, it will be great to see this old bird fly once again.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

New AD Proposal for Continental Engines

New AD Proposal for Continental Engines

The FAA proposes to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all Continental Aerospace Technologies, Inc. model GTSIO-520-C, GTSIO-520-D, GTSIO-520-H, GTSIO-520-K, GTSIO-520-L, GTSIO-520-M, GTSIO-520-N, IO-550-G, IO-550-N, IO-550-P, IO-550-R, IOF-550-N, IOF-550-P, IOF-550-R, TSIO-520-BE, TSIO-550-A, TSIO-550-B, TSIO-550-C, TSIO-550-E, TSIO-550-G, TSIO-550-K, TSIO-550-N, TSIOF-550-D, TSIOF-550-J, TSIOF-550-K, and TSIOF-550-P reciprocating aviation gasoline (AvGas) engines with a certain cross-flow cylinder assembly installed. 

This proposed AD was prompted by reports of in-flight engine failures due to fractured cross-flow cylinder assemblies. This proposed AD would require visual inspection and, depending on the results of the inspection, modification or replacement of the cross-flow cylinder assembly. The FAA is proposing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

Required Actions

If the engine has fewer than 500 engine operating hours on the effective date of this AD, no later than the next scheduled 100-hour/annual inspection after the effective date of this AD, perform a visual inspection of the cross-flow cylinder assembly in accordance with paragraphs III.1 through III.3, Action Required, of Continental Aerospace Technologies, Inc. Mandatory Service Bulletin (MSB) 18-08, Revision B, dated January 13, 2020 (“Continental Aerospace Technologies MSB18-08B”).

If the radius corner angle of the cross-flow cylinder assembly shows casting flash build-up or a sharp radius edge, modify the cross-flow cylinder assembly in accordance with paragraphs III.4 through III.8, Action Required, of Continental Aerospace Technologies MSB 18-08B; or

If a fissure, crack or physical damage is identified, remove the cross-flow cylinder assembly and replace with a part eligible for installation.

If the engine has 500 engine operating hours or greater on the effective date of this AD, at the next maintenance event after the effective date of this AD, not to exceed 50 engine operating hours after the effective date of this AD, perform a visual inspection of the cross-flow cylinder assembly in accordance with paragraphs III.1 through III.3, Action Required, of Continental Aerospace Technologies MSB18-08B.

If the radius corner angle of the cross-flow cylinder assembly shows casting flash build-up or a sharp radius edge, modify the cross-flow cylinder assembly in accordance with paragraphs III.4 through III.8, Action Required, of Continental Aerospace Technologies MSB 18-08B; or

If a fissure, crack or physical damage is identified, remove the cross-flow cylinder assembly and replace with a part eligible for installation.

More Information

For more information about this AD, contact Boyce Jones, Aerospace Engineer, Atlanta ACO Branch, FAA, 1701 Columbia Avenue, College Park, Georgia 30337; phone: 404-474-5535; fax: 404-474-5606; email:

For service information identified in this AD, contact Continental Aerospace Technologies, Inc., 2039 South Broad Street, Mobile, Alabama, 36615, United States; phone: 251-436-8299; website: You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Engine and Propeller Standards Branch, 1200 District Avenue, Burlington, MA, 01803. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7759.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The USPA Professional - Jump Pilot Section

Starting today we will be re-posting some interesting articles found in the Jump Pilot section of the USPA newsletter titled The USPA Professional. For those of you that have not read any of the articles, we are going to jump back to the March 5th 2020 article titled "Safety Day with Jump Pilots". 

We thought that would be a good place to start because some of you were hired after Safety Day and need to know what's involved with it and the importance of it. As us pilots know, safety is paramount!

Safety Day with Jump Pilots

Safety Day presents the perfect opportunity to strengthen the relationship between jump pilots and skydivers. Your pilots can participate in DZ safety culture by presenting a “skydiving from a pilot’s perspective” seminar, which will likely include segments on aircraft weight and balance and aircraft emergencies. Most jump pilots have scouted and planned alternate landing areas near the airport that they would use in the event of a forced landing at low altitude. Have them describe what emergencies would require the use of an off-airport landing area.

Aircraft like the Cessna 182 and Cessna 206 have Federal Aviation Administration approvals that require the jump pilot to wear a pilot emergency parachute while flying skydivers. If your pilot isn’t a skydiver, consider teaching your pilot how to egress and clear the aircraft, then use the parachute. Experienced skydivers and instructors should ensure that the pilot is wearing their parachute properly. Though skydivers seldom ride down with the plane, remind pilots of turbine aircraft that there is a risk of automatic activation device activation during a rapid descent. And have a plan to escort skydivers or observers to the rear of the aircraft, away from propellers, in the event they land with the aircraft.

Jump pilots and skydivers should communicate prior to beginning a flight. That conversation—or DZ policy—may address minimum exit altitude in emergencies for tandems or for skydivers with low experience. The goal of good dialogue between skydivers and jump pilots is to brief the essentials before action becomes necessary during an in-flight emergency.

Friday, February 14, 2020

All Hail the Pratt & Whitney PT6 Turboprop Engine!

All Hail the Pratt & Whitney PT6!

Below you will see one of the first photos of the famous Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop aircraft engine and its designers. This engine is THE rockstar of the turboprop engine world! 

Important Dates:

  • 1958 - Design started
  • 1960 Feb. - First ran
  • 1961 May - First flew
  • 1964 - Entered service
  • 2011 - 50th Anniversary 
On its first flight it was mounted as a third engine on the nose of a Beech 18. That would have been an interesting sight! The test aircraft was switched to a Beech King Air in 1980. The first production model was the PT6A-6 and used on the Beech Queen Air.

The original designers of the PT6

According to the manufacturer over 51,000 units have been produced (as of 2015) and the engine has flown over 400 million hours! Considering that it only has an in-flight engine shut-down once every 651,126 hours, it is one of the most reliable aircraft engines ever. There have been over 69 different versions built. Not all of the versions have been for aircraft, some variants have been used for helicopters, boats, hovercraft, land vehicles and auxiliary power units.

TBO (time between overhauls) ranges between 3600 to 9000 hours and hot section inspections are done between 1800 and 2000 hours.

The PT6-114A in the Cessna Caravan only weighs 350lbs and yet puts out almost 700hp! The PT6 engine is found in most of the turbo-prop airplanes in the United States, including the Cessna Caravan, de Havilland Twin Otter, Air Tractor, Beech 1900, Beech King Air, Beech 99, PAC 750, Quest Kodiak, Pilatus PC-12, Piaggio Avanti, Shorts 360, AgustaWestland AW139 and many more. ALL great aircraft mainly because of their heart.... the PT6. Keep up the great work Pratt & Whitney!

Be sure and check out our friends at

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Review - AIM 3-5-4 Parachute Jump Aircraft Operations

A good Jump Pilot is always reviewing and never gets complacent. I've flown at drop zones that are located at public airports and at some that are located at private airports. Although there may be less air traffic at private airports, that does not mean that there isn't any. At private airport DZs I always had more enroute aircraft nearby, most of which are not talking to ATC. Always look and listen for any traffic that might be in the area. When you do see or hear any traffic, expect them to not pay attention and to make a mistake. The day that you don't expect them to make a mistake, they will!

It is also a good idea to inform FBOs at nearby airports with a phone call or visit that you are conducting skydiving operations, your location and your normal operating hours. Anytime that I have done this it was much appreciated and even led to a few tandems being sold. Now let's review AIM Chapter 3, Section 5, Paragraph 4, Sub-Chapter C.

3−5−4. Parachute Jump Aircraft Operations

c. Parachute operations in the vicinity of an airport without an operating control tower − there is no substitute for alertness while in the vicinity of an airport. It is essential that pilots conducting parachute operations be alert, look for other traffic, and exchange traffic information as recommended in paragraph 4−1−9, Traffic Advisory Practices at Airports Without Operating Control Towers. In addition, pilots should avoid releasing parachutes while in an airport traffic pattern when there are other aircraft in that pattern. Pilots should make appropriate broadcasts on the designated Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF), and monitor that CTAF until all parachute activity has terminated or the aircraft has left the area. Prior to commencing a jump operation, the pilot should broadcast the aircraft’s altitude and position in relation to the airport, the approximate relative time when the jump will commence and terminate, and listen to the position reports of other aircraft in the area.

My fellow Jump Pilots, please remember to review often and fly safe so that you can continue to have fun!