From the Cockpit Part 28: Dornier Do 28

Ryan Flies


Editor's Note: This is part 28 of an ongoing series documenting the flights of active-duty US Navy Pilot Ryan Rankin on his journey to fly 52 planes in 52 weeks through the year 2017.

Rankin’s flown near 40 planes so far this year (some to be covered in future installments) but it’s perhaps the Dornier Do 28 that has left the most lasting impression. “When people ask how this year has been,” says Rankin, “this is one of the three or four that I think of immediately.” With a storied past and an unusual design, the Do 28 proved “trickier” than most but well worth the challenge.

A German aircraft, the Do 28 first appeared in the late 1950s as a twin-engine variant of the Do 27 and proved to be an incredibly rugged and versatile craft, eventually being utilized in the armed forces of more than 30 countries. Equipped with two 290-horsepower Lycoming engines mounted on stub wings, the Do 28 sports short takeoff and landing capabilities and great handling at low speeds, making it optimal for inhospitable terrain with limited landing opportunity.

The stub wings—little engine mounts on either side of the fuselage—lend to the charm of the plane, giving it an atypical appeal. “Airplanes ultimately all look the same, but not this one,” says Rankin, making note of the gullwing doors and large stance (for a tailwheel craft) as well. “This all collectively contributes to an unusual creature,” he says. But while the stub wings are unconventional (the pilot has to actually step on and over them to climb in), Rankin suspects the element helps preserve the design of the wing, when converting the Do 27 to a twin-engine craft.

The Do 28 has a reputation for being trick to fly, but incredibly versatile once mastered, and Rankin does not dispute this. Flying with Eric Hayes out of St. Elmo, AL, Rankin flies the craft for about 35 minutes in the air, but it’s Hayes who performs the takeoff and landing. A plane that requires significant pilotage, movements are broad and large; even when landing, when other planes call for small and precise adjustments, the pilot of a Do 28 will be wrestling the stick. “This plane is a handful,” says Rankin. “It has some personality.”

And that personality seems almost the opposite of the helicopters he’s been flying in previous weeks, trying to master the tiny movements necessary for the perfect hover. “Not even the same ballpark,” he says with a laugh. “Other than flying, there’s nothing in common here.”

For more about the flight in Rankin's own words and a video of the flight, follow the link below.

Pictured: Ryan Rankin and Eric Hayes fly the Dornier Do 28.

Ryan Flies

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