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Pastel-Painted Parrot Porter Pleases Patrons Perusing Parked Planes

By Frederick A. Johnsen

July 24, 2016 - It’s a Pilatus Turbo Porter that served in the Austrian air force from 1976 to 2013. And it’s a brightly painted flying parrot that knows a few tricks. In 2007, Austria commemorated the 50th anniversary of its air force by giving this gangly utility aircraft a colorful paint job far from the military norm. A.J. Silva of Legacy Warbirds, from Raleigh, North Carolina, says his company flies the pastel Porter for tasks ranging from infrared crop imaging to sky diving to military aircrew training.

When the Austrians flew it, this Porter could carry a fire-retardant tank in its boxy fuselage. The drop doors remain, and Silva says this facilitates the use of downward-facing cameras. Silva says the Porter is “basically how we found it.” This Swiss-army-knife of an airplane can quickly adapt to its various functional missions. Its single PT6 turboprop generates 680 hp and pulls the Porter at 120 knots indicated airspeed, with a useful payload of up to 2,700 pounds. Silva says the bird clears the benchmark 50-foot obstacle with a 450-foot takeoff roll, landing in only 350 feet.

The Porter is parked in the Warbirds area at AirVenture 2016.

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