Guy Stevenson, a New Zealander who operates a fleet of Pacific Aerospace P-750 XSTOL aircraft under the name Kiwi Air Ltd, decided to perform an intersection takeoff at the Tipton airport (KFME) in Maryland this morning.
I was riding right seat in the 750shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34-powered single-engine low wing 10-seater for a jump or two around the pattern, the best we could do with 1,200ft ceilings blanketing the region.
No sooner had we turned on the taxiway for the intersection takeoff that the guy running the Unicom radio at the field called us to say, "We don't allow back-taxiing here at Tipton." He had assumed, that because we were flying in a 7,500lb MTOW single, that we would NEED all that 3,000ft runway. A pretty good assumption...
Stevenson, though a bit annoyed, complied, throwing the three-bladed Hartzell propeller into reverse pitch and backing us up in order to taxi to the end of the runway via the parallel taxiway.
That this was no ordinary aircraft began to dawn on the Unicom operator. "You've got an aircraft that can back up??"
That wasn't the half of it.
The P-750, in town with L-3 as part of a strategy to get the aircraft known in the US as well as to market it to the US military for special niche missions, is well deserving of its "XSTOL" title, which stands for Super Short Takeoff and Landing.
On today's flight, with 70 degree F outside temp, three on board and normal fuel load, Stevenson estimated we'd need 150ft of runway for takeoff. If we were to be at MTOW of 7,500lb, we'd have needed only twice that. Landing was not much different, given the reverse thrust capability of this machine.
See for yourself. In the first video, I filmed several pattern circuits from the right seat. In the second video, I recorded the same circuits from the ground. Wow!