The Mystery Airplane
The Swiss firm Pilatus has designed and manufactured military training aircraft since the Argus engined P-2 of 1945. The 1953 P-3, with a Lycoming O-435, was developed into the PT6A powered PC-7, which was popular with many air forces from the late 1970's. The more refined and more powerful PC-9 first flew on 7 May 1984. With a 1150 hp Pratt & Whitney PT6A de-rated to 950 hp, it entered service with Australia, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, and other Asian and Middle Eastern nations. Pilatus is currently producing a still more refined and powerful trainer, the PC-21.
With a top speed of over 360 mph and a range of 955 miles, the PC-9 has served as a basic and advanced trainer. It has a wingspan of 33 feet 5 inches and weighs in a bit over 7,000 pounds for take off. Top ceiling is 37,900 feet, with a rate of climb of 4,090 feet per minute. The Royal Australian Air Force's "Roulettes" aerobatic team uses the PC-9, as does the Croatian Air Force's "Wings of Storm" team.
The subject of this Oshkosh 2016 photo, N69XC, was built in 1990 and registered HB-HQO in Switzerland. It served with the U.S. Army, serial number 91-0073, as a chase plane from 1991. After the Army declared it surplus in 1995, it was refurbished by Pilatus and delivered to Slovenia as a trainer with light ground attack capabilities. Serialed "L9-53" with the Slovenian Air Force, N69XC was retired and sold in August 2015. It was registered in the United States to X-ray Charlie LLC of San Amselmo, CA, in July 2016. A second ex-Slovenian PC-9, registered N69LW, also appeared at Oshkosh last year.
A bit tricky, as it looks like the Tucano, and morphed into the Raytheon T-6A Texan II, the PC-9 still was easy for a number of readers.
Blue Skies and tail winds.
Wade Fradenburgh of New Prague is December’s contest winner. Graydon Carlson, Michael Johnson, Joe Connell, and Dave Lundgren weren’t fooled. Ed Wells and Suzanne Tschida thought it was the Texan II, and Walt Ray knew it was a Pilatus. All good!