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Piaggio P.166
Kearney and Trecker Royal Gull

Piaggio P.166

The P.166 first flew in 1957. Introduced in 1959 for executive use, the P.166 had a rear baggage compart with a capacity of 300 lb.


Thirty-two examples of the P.166 twin-engined light transport were produced together with 51 P.166M general-purpose military counterparts (for the Italian Air Force); five P.166B Portofinos; two P.166Cs; 20 P.166S radar-equipped search, surveillance and coastal-patrol aircraft (for the South African Air Force as the Albatross).

Production of the Piaggio P.166 in its several piston-engined variants ended in 1973.

The last version was the ten-seat P.166-DL3. A first flight was recorded by the Piaggio P.166-DL3 prototype (I-PJAG) on 3 July 1976. It differed from earlier versions by introducing 438kW Avco Lycoming LTP 101-600 turboprop engines, but these were still mounted in pusher configuration, and was produced for service in the transport role with the Somali Air Force. Four P.166DL-3SFMs were delivered to the Italian Ministry of Merchant Marine to serve as maritime and ecological research aircraft, carrying radar in a 360-deg scan installation under the nose, plus other sensors. The 1987 production version of the P.166, the DL3 can be configured for light tactical transport, medevac, multi engine training, armed counter-insurgency with four underwing pylons, SAR, and maritime reconnaissance with an integrated search/detection / identification / plotting / reporting system.

Kearney and Trecker Royal Gull

The Royal Gull, a twin-engine pusher amphib (nee Piaggio P.166) was assembled and distributed by Kearney and Trecker during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Two models offered a choice of a 270-hp or a supercharged 340-hp Lycoming.




A personal Account:

Kearney & Trecker Milling Machine Company was — probably still is — located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the 1950’s and 60’s they leased 2 hangers on the west side of General Billy Mitchell Field in Milwaukee next to the Air National Guard with it’s F-86’s. The north hanger housed the business aviation division of the milling machine company. They had a DC-3, a Cessna 182, a Piaggio Royal Gull, and an aero-coupe. Hope I got the names right.

I was 10 years old in 1958 and my dad was the mechanic for the operation, co-pilot on the DC-3, and pilot on the others. They flew milling machine sales people and maintenance people around the eastern U.S. And they often flew the company owners and brass on vacations and fishing trips.

The south hanger housed Kearney & Trecker’s other business investment — a contract with Piaggio in Italy to assemble and sell Royal Gulls. Later the P-166 executive plane was added. My recollection is that the first P-166 at Mitchell Field was a prototype. It was the only one I ever saw, but I did ride in it several times. While the two businesses were legally separate, the mechanics/pilots often consulted with each other.

I recall being there one day when a lively discussion was held between 4 or 5 people about the length of the main forward hull that floats. Mid ship there was a step, and the rear part of the fuselage was not in the water. Some of them, including dad, thought the plane would take off and land better if the floating part of the hull extended back a foot or so. Not everyone agreed, but there was a consensus to try the idea by building a block (out of wood, I think) that would extend the floating hull back. They did that and tried it out. It worked and I think that Piaggio accepted the idea and modified the design.

I went to the airport with dad when there was a vague hope of getting a plane ride. Perhaps he was going to do a short test flight after doing some work. Or perhaps he was flying a low level company person that he knew would not mind a kid on the trip. Sometimes he had to deliver a milling machine part to a customer in, say, New York. On some of those trips I got the right hand seat — several times on the Gull.

I believe it was in the early 60’s that Kearney & Trecker sold a dozen or so of the Royal Gulls to Peru’s air force. They were looking for pilots to deliver the planes and for someone to teach Peru’s pilots and mechanics how to fly and maintain them. Dad volunteered and was selected to fly one plane from Milwaukee to Peru, and then spend a month or so teaching before returning. No, I was not invited. But I thought that what he did was cool. They bought the supercharged engines for going over mountain passes and landing on mountain lakes at over 12,000 feet. Neat planes. Sounds like Kearney & Trecker got out of the airplane business shortly after dad left.

Brian Heath

28 Jul 13


Engines: 2 x Lycoming LTP 101-600, 600 shp / 447kW.
Props: Hartzell 3-blade, 95-in.
Seats: 6/12
Length: 39 ft 4 in
Height: 16 ft 5 in / 5 m
Wingspan: 48 ft 2 in / 14.69 m
Wing area: 285.9 sq.ft / 26.56 sq.m
Wing aspect ratio: 7.3
Maximum ramp weight: 9480 lb
Maximum takeoff weight: 9480 lb
Standard empty weight: 4960 lb
Maximum useful load: 4520 lb
Zero-fuel weight: 8377 lb
Maximum landing weight: 8377 lb
Wing loading: 33.2 lbs/sq.ft
Power loading: 7.9 lbs/hp
Maximum usable fuel: 1698 lb
Best rate of climb: 2100 fpm
Certificated ceiling: 20,000 ft
Maximum single-engine rate of climb: 650 fpm @ 95 kt
Single-engine climb gradient: 411 ft/nm
Single-engine ceiling: 12,500 ft
Maximum speed: 225 kt
Normal cruise @ 10,000ft: 212 kt
Fuel flow @ normal cruise: 530 pph
Endurance at normal cruise: 2.7 hr
Stalling speed clean: 79 kt
Stalling speed gear/flaps down: 66 kt
Turbulent-air penetration speed: 157 kt


Piaggio P.166



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