Cessna 208

Flying Catamaran

The Cessna 208 caravan amphibian is one of the most recent exhibits to be shown at the hangar-7. The white-blue water bird was launched in 1996 in wichita, kansas and has been a member of the flying bulls since 2001.

The Cessna Caravan at Hangar-7 was not built for water, but was actually equipped with floats several years after its maiden voyage. Now it's the ideal plane for pilots who have a romantic affinity to water, for nature lovers and lone wolves in search of tranquillity, solitude and their own souls. Described this way, the Caravan can be regarded as a romantic aircraft, a transcendent lord of the elements water and air, capable of fusing them emotionally and mastering them technologically.

With this plane it is possible to come within reach of distant lakes and discover enchanted fjords or pleasurably hop from island to island. It can, in fact, take off and land on water - this being its speciality. Two hydrodynamic aluminium floats enable the plane to take off on a water runway even at low speeds. “Sea-” or “hydroplanes” are often deployed in areas studded with islands such as the Greek islands or the Caribbean in addition to being used for cargo and passenger transport to inaccessible interiors. The concept of an amphibian aircraft could already be found in Leonardo da Vinci's sketchbooks. The maiden flight of the first hydroplane - almost - took place in 1901, not as one might expect over some distant ocean, but in Lower Austria. Wilhelm Kress was the name of the daredevil in his flying jalopy, which was in fact little more than a hang-glider construction with a four cylinder Daimler engine that he spectacularly crashed on the surface of the Wienerwald Lake whilst trying to avoid a collision with a rowing boat.

Nevertheless, it was a remarkable feat of pioneering considering that the Wright brothers' Kitty Hawk flew to make aviation history two whole years later. Nine years on, the French engineer Henri Fabre accomplished the first successful water landing with his Hydravion near Marseille. The earliest scheduled hydroplane airline was based in Pula at the imperial marine headquarters in 1915 and transatlantic air traffic during the 30ies was mainly operated with hydroplanes. Until today the model with the double floats has asserted itself with sustained success and during the course of the 20th century numerous variants were tried and tested: the boatshaped seaplane, for instance, and the model with 3 floats. Both models were soon put out of action due to the high aerodynamic resistance. What’s more, hydro wings and ski bases were unable to truly establish themselves in the long run. The Cessna Caravan was designed for passenger and freight transport at the beginning of the 80s in Wichita, Kansas. It is 11.46 meters in length and its wingspan is just short of 16 meters, it is 4.32 meters high and has fuel capacity for 1,700 kilometers. It has a Pratt & Whitney 600 HP engine and a three-blade, variable Hartzell propeller. The bold venture of crossing the Atlantic with a single-engine plane, which means travelling a distance of 5,500 kilometers, challenging and hazardous endeavor. There is always the possibility that the engine could fail, a precarious situation even with a twin-engined craft, but with a single engine, one that is likely to end fatally. The right man for such long-distance ventures is Sigi Angerer.

He actually flew across the pond twice with the Caravan. Not necessarily for the sake of fun, but because the previous owner had the bird flown to the Tyrol during the summer holidays in 1999. That its permanent home base would soon be Salzburg was (almost) anyone's guess at the time. Nevertheless, practice makes perfect and considering the over one hundred North Atlantic crossings that Angerer had already undertaken, these two extra excursions hardly mattered. In reality, a plane this size is only a lucrative investment when flown commercially and is rarely suitable for private purposes. Other exceptional features of the Caravan: its beautifully designed body and paintwork and the pleasant, subdued sound of its engine. In a word: romantic.

Sigi Angerer's Logbook

Cessna CE 208 Amphibian - Caravan

How did I stumble across the Caravan? My friend Christian Schwemberger had an idea: feasible and not too expensive. A Cessna Caravan, a single engine plane with space for 12 persons, but with floats! At that time, true luxury. Especially in mountainous Tyrol, but we did have Lake Garda close by. Didi Mateschitz and I just so happened to be in the USA at that time, so we made a quick detour to Toronto just to have a go at flying one of these. The Caravan flew surprisingly smoothly, after all. Some of the float's weight was compensated for by the missing alighting gear, even though the floats did cost us about 25 knots cruising speed.

But we weren't in a hurry, so we flew north to an island with a restaurant. We were served excellent fish and I had trouble enough preventing both restaurant and island changing to Austrian hands that very day. Naturally, I was fervently enthusiastic about the Caravan too, so C.S. ordered one. A year later we picked up the newest model in Wichita and flew it to Minneapolis, where it was fitted out with floats that also have wheels. Then, a few weeks later, we took over our amphibian and after getting some good initial training, flew to Florida making a few detours on the way. There West Palm Beach became its new port of registry. We landed on rivers and lakes - whatever took our fancy, spent the night on the plane wherever we wanted, (happily we could be certain that it has a good anchor) and simply enjoyed an absolutely glorious aviator's life. The hangar was ready too.

I had given the plane's measurements to the master builder who had added a safety leeway, and moreover C.S. had also specified somewhat greater dimensions to be sure we wouldn't hit anything. Anyway, in the end it had enough room for a DC-3. Didi and I could borrow the aircraft any time we wanted, so we spent a great deal of our leisure time in exploring Florida and its surroundings. We always started punctually at 8am. People began to ask us “what kind of operation” we were actually involved in. Months later at lunch on Walkers Cay, in the Bahamas, C.S. asked, “Well, when are you gonna buy yourself a Caravan?” Didi answered, “In two years’ time. Yours!” C.S., “Nonsense. I'll never sell!” We actually got it a year later, after we had crossed the Atlantic three times. One day, whilst I was driving along the Südring in Innsbruck, C.S. called, “I'd like to have the Caravan in Tyrol in the summer, could you get a pro to transfer it?” Without hesitating I responded, “ I'm the pro. I'll give myself the assignment…” After the telephone call I thought, I only know of Lindbergh, who'd done the same with a single engine before me, but definitely not with floats over the Atlantic. Well, I thougt, we'll see!

But that'll be the story about how Red Bull stumbled across the Caravan.

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