Barbados Tiger Shark Seldom Seen In Daylight
SHE is a Swearingen C-26 twin turboprop aircraft, painted flat dark green – almost black. The red mouth and white shark teeth painted under the cockpit hint at her mission – or more accurately, give a clue to the attitude of the men who fly her.
Unusual antennas protrude from the top and bottom of the fuselage. She is not that fast – the book says about 238 knots top end for the version flown by Barbados – but for her mission, the pilots of the Barbados Defense Force favour her more for her range and loiter time than speed.
The crew is a mixed bag – always BDF personnel in command, but her passengers can be from anywhere: CIA, DEA or FBI from America, SAS or NIS from the UK. We understand that a few South African friends took a ride last year during the workup for Cricket World Cup… or so the rumour goes on the flightline at Grantley Adams Airport.
Like all Swearingens she handles well in the air – a bit heavy on the roll axis as the ailerons are inset from the wingtips – but the pilot had better be awake on the landing during any sort of crosswind. Her narrow landing gear has embarassed more than one over-confident young lad.
Our Tiger Shark operates mostly at night, and the equipment allows the pilots and crew to see as well at night as in the day – maybe even better than during the day as the infrared cameras can pick up hot engines against the cold sea or sky many miles away. (See photo above) When she is throttled back at fifteen thousand feet at night, drug runners on the sea and in the air can’t hear or see her – but she is there… or, maybe not.
Besides being stupid, drug runners must have nerves of steel as it’s a crap shoot and the druggies never know if someone is watching or not until it is too late.
If you want to know what she’s all about, you can visit the US State Department link here. This is a photo of one of her look-a-like cousins from Panama …
Thanks to Airliners.Net for the photo and BFP reader “P” for finding it.