When you think of business aviation, a fleet of a plush leather cabins and twin turbofans pushing you through the sky come to mind, now picture Skydive Las Vegas and its single PAC 750XL and its hard-working Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A.
There's not a lot of spice in a half-century-old engine design, just a whirring certainty for SLV, which can fly as many as four flights an hour, each climbing to 15,000ft and dropping as many as 17 skydivers. The aircraft's thick camber wing and its 750hp engine can carry more than 4,000lb, a payload in excess of the 750XL's own empty weight.
After its human-payload is headed for Earth, it's a race to the ground. A 3,000 feet per minute descent puts the PT6-powered prop back on the ground before the last jumper's heels hit dirt.
Flight Evening News reporter Jon Ostrower was invited by Pratt & Whitney Canada to see the aircraft, the engine and the constant force of gravity up close with a jump from the skies over Las Vegas.
The 750XL and its PT6 engine, said SLV owner Brent Buckner, was a natural choice for the job, as the New Zealand-built aircraft is custom designed for skydiving, equipped with a factory-fitted aft door closing mechanism, reducing the need for an extra crew member to fly along to close the door after jumpers have departed.