An Oasis in Back
With more than 1,500 airplanes sold over the years, the big single-turboprop Caravan is a phenomenally successful airplane, but it's only been in the past few years that Cessna realized the potential of the big PT-6-powered single as an executive transport. Through an STC arrangement with Cessna, Yingling Aviation, located across the field from the airplane maker at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport, installs custom executive interiors that rival those in many bizjets. Customers make their order for the interior directly with Cessna. Since 2003, Yingling has completed 38 Oasis Caravans for customers in several different countries in North America, Europe and Africa. The standard Oasis Interior adds about $250,000 to the cost of the Caravan.
The Oasis interior is clean and tasteful. Reclining top grain leather seats slide forward and side-to-side to maximize comfort and cabin space, and hi-gloss wood veneer cabinets, including a three-drawer refreshment center, give the look of luxury. Two folding writing tables, one on either side, with leather surfaces provide a solid work area. And there's a belted potty seat (a nice feature for a 180-knot airplane with a nearly-1,000-nm range).
Hendricks' airplane has a number of options, including, as you can see in the accompanying photographs, gold-plated hardware. There are vinyl runners to protect the carpet during ski season, plug-in LCDs for watching a DVD or catching up on the progress of the trip, and a Bose Aviation Headset X for each seat. The seats themselves are next-generation models, with a lower profile at the top and around the sides, which adds up to a more spacious looking and feeling cabin.
While the Oasis interior for the Grand Caravan can be outfitted with as many as 10 seats (including the two up front), Hendricks' airplane has just eight total seats. The seat alongside the potty has been omitted in favor of a storage area, and one of the front-facing forward seats has been left out, too, to provide room for a couple of very important non-belted passengers, the Hendricks' hounds, who are regular travelers in the 208B.
Other options not likely to be noticed by the passengers but appreciated by the pilot include leather-wrapped yokes, a two-channel Pulselite recognition kit, an exhaust deflector and single-point refueling for those quick turnarounds. What you don't see is a cargo pod bolted to the bottom of the airplane. While a pod does provide a lot of extra cargo space, it's hard to love the look. Hendricks early on decided he didn't need the extra capacity and he hasn't been sorry.