Thanks again to everyone who responded to the question at the end of my last post about which aircraft template I should next. I’ve had a lot of requests recently to to both the Saab 340 and Dornier 328, and like a deer frozen by the oncoming headlights of a speeding car, I just didn’t know which one to tackle first. I had an idea that the Saab 340 was the one that the majority wanted, but it wasn’t until I tallied the votes that I realized that some of you are really enthusiastic Saab aircraft fans. What’s the deal with that?
Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of the Saab 340. I don’t consider it to be a very nice looking aircraft, but that normally isn’t enough for me to hold my nose and go “eewwwww!” whenever I see something I don’t like. My dislike for this noisy little turboprop goes much deeper than that – all the way back to the early 2000’s actually, when South Bend, IN (SBN) was my home airport. Back then, I was flying American Trans Air (ATA) a lot since I was poor and they were the cheapest airline in town. They served SBN with 36-seat Saab 340’s operated by Chicago Express (their regional partner), and I hated those things with a passion. They were tiny and cramped, smelly, and nauseatingly bouncy. And they were my only option if I wanted to get the hell out of South Bend for a decent price.
The pinnacle of my hatred for the Saab 340 came on the morning of January 19th, 2002. We were barreling down runway 27L at SBN on our way to MDW, when the engine right outside my window backfired with a bang and spit flames in a way that implied “**** this, I ain’t going to Chicago today!” The plane veered wildly from side to side as the pilots fought to regain control, and thankfully they were able to bring us to a stop before we all died a horrific death in a frozen cornfield just west of the airport.
Maybe that’s why I had a look of disgust on my face the entire time I was drawing this template? Perhaps. Although that little near-death experience back in Indiana many years ago still lives vividly in my mind to this very day, there was actually another reason why I was struggling with this illustration: scale.
I’ve talked before about how much more difficult it is to draw smaller airplanes (which you can read about in my post about the Cessna 208 Grand Caravan). Smaller aircraft tend to fill the page more, therefore revealing an additional layer of detail that is invisible on some of my templates for larger aircraft (such as the A380 and 747-400). This extra layer of detail tends to lead me down an migrane-inducing path of trying to decide what kind of detail I need to include and what can be left out. After all, consistency is one of my primary goals with the Norebbo Airliner Template Collection, and it wouldn’t be right to have super-detailed turboprop illustrations that are way more complex than my mainline aircraft drawings. As much as I wanted to draw every dang rivet on this Saab 340 side view, it wasn’t the right thing to do.
Even though I’m not much of a fan of this bird, there’s no denying how important of a role it has played in the world of commercial aviation. Officially launched with Crossair in June 1984, it sold very well until the late 1990s (when competition from newer regional jets was heating up). According to my research, there have been 135 total operators of the Saab 340, with 36 still active at the time of this writing. As of July of 2018, there were still 240 in active service. That’s not an insignificant amount!
Oh – and If you’re curious, Chicago Express had 16 at the time of their liquidation in 2006. N308CE was the specific aircraft that left me forever hating this particular aircraft type forever, and it appears to be with Colgan Air now as N210CJ. Do yourself a favor and avoid that airplane if you value your life (as well as the cornfields adjacent to the airports it flies out of).
Finally, I’d like to let all you who voted for the Dornier 328 in this competition know that I am going to do that template next – as a matter of fact it’s going to be my last template of 2018 and my plan is to have it complete by Christmas. It’s not a guarantee considering how busy the holidays usually are for me and my family, but I’m going to give it an honest Norebbo try. The only question is: should I do the jet version first, or the prop?