Herpa 1/72nd scale 580472 Herpa U.S. Army Pilatus UV-20A (PC-6) „Chiricahua“ Aviation Detachment, Berlin Brigade, Tempelhof (1981). Buy now online at Flying Tigers.
The Swiss-built PC6 Porter is very popular among skydivers, and the four aerial acrobats of the Red Bull Skydive Team are no exception. The eye-catching color scheme of the plane emphasizes the spectacular stunts and choreographies of the team at numerous events anew each year.
The Pilatus PC-6 Porter is a single-engined STOL utility aircraft designed by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland. First flown in 1959, the PC-6 continues in production at Pilatus Flugzeugwerke in Stans, Switzerland. It has been built in both piston engine- and turboprop-powered versions and was produced under licence for a time by Fairchild Hiller in the United States.
The PC-6 is noted for its Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) performance on almost any type of terrain – it can take off within a distance of 640 feet (195 m) and land within a distance of 427 feet (130 m) while carrying a payload of 2,646 lbs (1,200 kg). Thanks to its STOL performance, the PC-6 holds the world record for highest landing by a fixed-wing aircraft, at 18,865 feet (5,750 m), on the Dhaulagiri glacier in Nepal.
Due to the type’s favourable STOL characteristics, described by Flying Magazine as being “one of the most helicopter-like airplanes in terms of takeoff performance”, Pilatus has deliberately marketed the PC-6 towards helicopter operators at times, feeling the type to be complimentary to their typical mode of operation. According to Pilatus, the PC-6 can provide very similar surveillance capabilities to a rotorcraft at a significantly lower cost to operate and procure
During its early service, the PC-6 Porter was noted for its high level of comfort and usability against competing aircraft. The type has also proven to have a long service life; by 1993, roughly 440 of the 500 PC-6 Turbo Porters completed by that point were still in service.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-controlled airline Air America operated up to 23 PC-6s at a time. Many of these were operated in the South-East Asia region, including South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The type was used for various missions including paradropping supplies to troops, passenger transport, psy ops, reconnaissance, prisoner conveyance, airborne radio relay, and other intelligence operations.
Since 1976, the Austrian Air Force has operated a fleet of 12 PC-6 Porters as the mainstay of their fixed-wing transport fleet; the type has been used in various support roles, including transport, Search and Rescue, firefighting, observation, target-towing and paradropping.
According to Flying Magazine, around 40 per cent of all PC-6s in use in Europe during the early 1990s were being used by skydivers.