Skyfarmer

An Airtruk by any other name…Skyfarmer Hox aThis is the prototype Transavia Skyfarmer – an upgraded T-300 Airtruk – being test flown at Hoxton Park aerodrome in September 1984. There is some confusion about the “Skyfarmer” name. When I worked at Transavia the first Lycoming T-300 was being built, and it was simply referred to as an Airtruk. When the structurally modified aircraft in these photos was built (after I had left the company), it was commonly known as the Skyfarmer, whether fitted with the 300hp or 400hp engine. But I don’t really know whether the name was related to the engine or the modified airframe.
Skyfarmer Hoxton bThe Skyfarmer had a new oleo nosewheel, longer tailbooms and extended stub wings; and of course later versions had the 400hp Lycoming O-720 instead of the original O-540.Skyfarmer Hoxton cThe 400hp engine gave better performance, but with no useful increase in disposable load the aeroplane couldn’t really succeed in a market that increasingly favoured larger aircraft.Skyfarmer Hoxton d1Above:- Pilot Neil MacDonald performing a preflight check.
Below:- the Skyfarmer taking off, with Beech Sundowner VH-UMT in the foreground. Skyfarmer Hoxton e

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More Trukking

This Airtruk is VH-BPR, visiting Hoxton Park in August 1984. In April 1986 the aircraft was substantially damaged when it encountered severe turbulence on takeoff in Victoria, stalled and force-landed. I believe the pilot fortunately escaped with only minor injuries.

Hox PL12 VH BPR aazThe next two are of T-300 Skyfarmer VH-BOU, taking part in the first Australian Aerial Agriculture Championship at Hoxton Park, May 19th – 20th, 1984. This was Brendan Kelly of Leongatha, Victoria, winning the fire bombing competition. (Thanks to Arthur R. and Australian Flying magazine for details).

pl12 Hox aa1a pl12 Hox bbaCertainly one of the more unusual silhouettes to be seen in the skies.

Trukking Onward

Fellow aero-nut Arthur R. has contacted me, looking for more Airtruk information. So I’ve decided to sort through my photo collection and see what I can dig up.

pl12u aa pl12u caaa pl12u baaaThese photos were taken with an Agfa Rapid 1c camera at Hoxton Park aerodrome, NSW, in 1971. At the time there were great hopes for the PL-12U utility aircraft as an inexpensive light transport for the undeveloped areas of the world.