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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 27, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesTurboprop Fly-In Jams Hangar at Rohlsen Airport

Turboprop Fly-In Jams Hangar at Rohlsen Airport

Pilots and owners take a close look at MU-2s to choose the "Queen of the Fleet."The Bohlke International Airways hangar on St. Croix was so jammed with remarkably similar-looking turboprop airplanes, there was barely enough room to walk. The occasion was the first fly-in in the U.S. Virgin Islands for owner/operators of Mitsubishi MU-2 twin-engine turboprops, and some 15 MU-2s and 80 visitors converged on the island from around the country.

“I’m exuberant — this is the first time in aviation history that we’ve had a manufacturer come to the Virgin Islands,” William Bohlke, president of BIA, who hosted the event, said Saturday. “Ninety percent of these people have never been to St. Croix – this is just wonderful.”

The MU-2 was the first postwar design by the venerable Japanese aircraft builder and flew for the first time in 1963. It was designed as a high-performance turboprop from the ground up, with a cruising speed of 300 mph and a ceiling of 28,000 feet; the cabin is pressurized.

The MU-2 Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association are a small group of people who meet at different locations throughout the U.S. every other year for a fly-in, where their planes are judged by the pilots on the best paint, interior and avionics for a “Queen of the Fleet” award.

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This year, the winners were Rob and Suzanne Brooks, who flew in from Keswick, Virginia. They are owners of a refurbished MU-2 that was plush with leather seats, shiny wood paneling, and a state-of-the art cockpit equipped with ipads for charting purposes. Sunday night they were presented with a special plate designed by local artist Jan Mitchell at the St. Croix Country Club.

“I am absolutely thrilled,” Suzanne Brooks said. “We’ve only had the plane a couple of months so it’s pretty impressive that people like it so much.”

Pilot Rob Ford said “I love flying it – it’s very comfortable and stable, and the avionics are absolutely fantastic.”

In 1986 the MU-2 went out of production; currently, there are only 319 MU-2s left in the U.S., and they are used mostly for corporate and personal travel. Bohlke said the turboprop planes are the fastest in the world, with a range of about 1,500 miles.

“There are more MU-2s here in one location than anywhere throughout the world,” Bohlke said. “I’m so happy that they decided to have the fly-in on St. Croix.”

There are two styles of MU-2s: the “solitaire” and “marquis,” seating from 7 to 11 passengers. Most of the planes that flew in were the short-body, “solitaire” models, which are lighter and faster. According to Bohlke, most private owners prefer the short-body models because they are narrow and fast.

Pat Cannon, president of Turban Aircraft Services, a contractor of Mitsubishi, was on hand to support the MU-2s. and owners. Throughout the morning Saturday, Cannon smiled happily as he walked around to view the different planes.

“I love St. Croix. I’ve never been here, much less flown my own aircraft to the Virgin Islands, and it’s just a fitting place for us to have the event,” Cannon said. “I’m glad Bohlke decided to host the fly-in here – it’s been great.”

The planes arrived Thursday and Friday from Florida, and the group is staying at the Palms at Pelican Cove and Hibiscus Resort where they have a full schedule of sightseeing planned. Most of the MU-2s will fly out on Monday.

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Pilots and owners take a close look at MU-2s to choose the "Queen of the Fleet."The Bohlke International Airways hangar on St. Croix was so jammed with remarkably similar-looking turboprop airplanes, there was barely enough room to walk. The occasion was the first fly-in in the U.S. Virgin Islands for owner/operators of Mitsubishi MU-2 twin-engine turboprops, and some 15 MU-2s and 80 visitors converged on the island from around the country.

“I’m exuberant -- this is the first time in aviation history that we’ve had a manufacturer come to the Virgin Islands,” William Bohlke, president of BIA, who hosted the event, said Saturday. “Ninety percent of these people have never been to St. Croix – this is just wonderful.”

The MU-2 was the first postwar design by the venerable Japanese aircraft builder and flew for the first time in 1963. It was designed as a high-performance turboprop from the ground up, with a cruising speed of 300 mph and a ceiling of 28,000 feet; the cabin is pressurized.

The MU-2 Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association are a small group of people who meet at different locations throughout the U.S. every other year for a fly-in, where their planes are judged by the pilots on the best paint, interior and avionics for a “Queen of the Fleet” award.

This year, the winners were Rob and Suzanne Brooks, who flew in from Keswick, Virginia. They are owners of a refurbished MU-2 that was plush with leather seats, shiny wood paneling, and a state-of-the art cockpit equipped with ipads for charting purposes. Sunday night they were presented with a special plate designed by local artist Jan Mitchell at the St. Croix Country Club.

“I am absolutely thrilled,” Suzanne Brooks said. “We’ve only had the plane a couple of months so it’s pretty impressive that people like it so much.”

Pilot Rob Ford said “I love flying it – it’s very comfortable and stable, and the avionics are absolutely fantastic.”

In 1986 the MU-2 went out of production; currently, there are only 319 MU-2s left in the U.S., and they are used mostly for corporate and personal travel. Bohlke said the turboprop planes are the fastest in the world, with a range of about 1,500 miles.

“There are more MU-2s here in one location than anywhere throughout the world,” Bohlke said. “I’m so happy that they decided to have the fly-in on St. Croix.”

There are two styles of MU-2s: the “solitaire” and “marquis,” seating from 7 to 11 passengers. Most of the planes that flew in were the short-body, “solitaire” models, which are lighter and faster. According to Bohlke, most private owners prefer the short-body models because they are narrow and fast.

Pat Cannon, president of Turban Aircraft Services, a contractor of Mitsubishi, was on hand to support the MU-2s. and owners. Throughout the morning Saturday, Cannon smiled happily as he walked around to view the different planes.

“I love St. Croix. I’ve never been here, much less flown my own aircraft to the Virgin Islands, and it’s just a fitting place for us to have the event,” Cannon said. “I’m glad Bohlke decided to host the fly-in here – it’s been great.”

The planes arrived Thursday and Friday from Florida, and the group is staying at the Palms at Pelican Cove and Hibiscus Resort where they have a full schedule of sightseeing planned. Most of the MU-2s will fly out on Monday.