Cessna 206 Skydiving Aircraft

Flying the C-206 is very nice as a jump aircraft. To be honest, I only ever flew the “U” models. The U-206 has the cargo doors. The “P” model has the door in the front over the step like the C-182. So I’m sort of biased for the U-206. I like it when the CG shift goes forward after jumpers leave. The P-206 and Cessna 205 have the CG shift aft after jumper exit.

Pilots will find most 206s with fuel injection. No more Carburetor ice! Yeah!! But the drawback is that it can get a little tricky starting the engine if not done properly or the fuel injection system isn’t working correctly. Remember, flying jumpers in Cessnas usually means shutting down the engine a lot. So when the engine is still hot and restarted it can get tricky. Check your POH for proper starting procedures. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched a pilot crank and crank until the battery was worn down. It had to be recharged before trying again. It’s comical and frustrating at the same time.

Make sure to check your weight and balance for your particular 206 very closely and measure exactly to where you will have jumpers sit. With all the seats out it is possible to put too much weight in the aft loading area where bags or cargo usually goes. To overcome this problem it is common to have all jumpers face aft during takeoff and climb. This should keep your balance well forward of the aft cg envelope.

The 206 may also have something you are not used to while flying jumpers: cowl flaps. They need to open for ground ops, takeoff, and climb. They will be closed for descent and landing. Make sure you incorporate them into your procedures. You will be flying a more powerful engine that requires more care and thought about its cooling and heating.

Takeoff and Climb

Takeoff and Climb should be done right by the book. It’s nice to care for the engine and bring in the power smoothly but don’t let it roll down the runway while you baby it. A new gauge you may need to incorporate in your scan will be the fuel flow indicator. It’s nice to check it to see if you are truly producing the correct power on the engine but also you want to make sure that you aren’t running too lean. Some of that fuel is actually being used for cooling during high power settings.

There are not a lot of things the jumpers can do to mess you up in this aircraft. The controls and fuel selector seem to be in better positions than the 182. There’s less chance (not zero but less chance) that the fuel selector can be turned off.

Warning! Most 206s have a fuel selector that is either left or right fuel selected. There is NO “BOTH”!! And if you stall a fuel-injected engine it could get tricky at 400 feet trying to restart it. Make sure you have enough fuel for that load with reserve!! My typical fueling would be for three loads (about 40 gallons). Remember, fuel usage is based on many atmospheric conditions and how high you climb. Check your POH and compare it to your actual fuel usage. I would run the first load on the left tank. This would create and imbalance to the right that would help counteract the need for right rudder during climb. Most 206s have a nice rudder trim. Always trim the aircraft for hands off flying. I would take off on the second load with the fuel selected to the left and then half way up I would switch to the right. If you are ever unsure of your fuel status then shut down and stick the dang tanks or add fuel! There’s no excuse.

Jump Run

Plan to level off a couple of miles early to set up properly for your jump run. Reduce power to maintain altitude at about 80 knots. Leave the cowl flaps open for a bit. This will begin the cooling of the cylinders but not at a fast rate. The reduced airflow in the thin air will not cool the engine too quickly. Keeping reduce power on will keep the engine pleasantly toasty. I typically saw the CHT (cylinder head temperature) stay at 300 the entire jump run and descent. When you give the command or permission to exit should be your clue to close the cowl flaps. Tying these events together will help you remember to close the cowl. Power to the bottom of the green arc on the Manifold Pressure. This will still allow the jumpers to climb out if necessary.

In the U-206 the jumpers will climb out further back than the 182. Make sure you keep flying speed. Don’t shove the stick forward. Just apply forward pressure as needed to maintain a steady floor. If you float someone off the tail because you shoved the stick forward you will run the risk of having a jumper hit the horizontal stabilizer. Keep it steady and you won’t have a problem.

Some U-206s have a forward step. The jumpers will pull themselves forward from the rear door to the step. I’ve had four on the step, one on rear float, and one in the door. Not hard to do at all. They launched a six-way.


After the last jumper is out, ensure the cowl flaps are closed and bring the MP (manifold pressure) to the bottom of the green arc. Typically this will be 15″ of MP. I let the pressure build up a couple of inches before retarding it again. Bring the prop RPM back to the bottom of the green arc also. This will help reduce all the rotations the engine will do during the descent and will keep it from back lashing too much. Back lashing is where the airspeed starts driving the engine instead of the engine driving the propeller. Airspeed can be at or just below the top of the green arc. Fuel flow should be reduced to a point just above engine cut out. This will help keep the engine toasty. You don’t want to run the engine too rich also because you don’t want carbon fouling or buildup. Too lean or too rich are bad things. Find the middle road.


You will now be landing a nose heavy aircraft empty. Use of flaps should be limited to what is required for the conditions. If you are on a real short runway you will want to use full flaps anyway. You may need to learn a technique that will bring you at power off or near power off and just before touchdown you will add a touch of power. This will give the elevator more authority and can raise the nose so that the touchdown is on the main landing gear first and only and then you can lower the nose gear. Many nose struts have been bent or broken off on 206 jump aircraft. Be kind to your aircraft and it will be kind to you. The 206 is a real truck. But that doesn’t mean you can beat it up and expect it to last forever.

Also with landing, the 206 will have the possibility of catching any high pullers (tandems, students) under canopy. DO NOT FLY OVER THE AREA YOU JUST DROPPED! Be on the look out for other canopies. The 206 will descend faster than the 182 typically.

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