Aire 156 for fly outs
Hello raft experts....Love my new Aire156E I purchased from ARK last summer. Got it out a few times on the Kenai to get used to the sticks before tackling more technical skinny rivers. Some of the Western streams are in my future for both float hunts and trout pursuits; however, when I deflated my raft for winter storage I was a bit disappointed that it did not roll up as tight as I thought. I did not use a vac to get all the air out though. Curious to know what size aircraft have you guys used for transport? I'm thinking a 185 will not have a large enough cargo door and perhaps a Goose or Otter will be required. Really don't want to "unlace" the floor and then redo in the field.
Thanks for any input...
Though I've never tried it, I think you could get a 15' Aire in a 185. You might have to fold it in half, but I believe it's doable. I have the 14' version, and you're right, they don't fold down very compact with the bailing floor. I tried packing mine solo just for kicks and I know it's more than I can carry any distance. I'm curious how much size you would save removing the floor? I did see a video from Aire explaining the lacing of the floor, but it seemed like a long process.
I've put 16' Aire self bailers in a 206 and a 6 place Maul. They can't be much larger than a 185, but I'm not sure about the door size. For whatever reason it seemed easier stuffing it in the Maul.
Aire uses PVC, which does not roll as tight as Hypalon or Neoprene, especially when it's cold. A couple things you can do: 1) Pump all the air out before rolling. 2) Do the rolling inside, or on a hot sunny day. 3) Work at it really hard to get it tight, and use ratcheting straps for compression. 4) Start by folding in half instead of thirds, as mentioned above.
De-lacing the floor would be a real pain, and re-lacing would be worse.
I routinely have my AIRE 156 in a Beaver. Keep in mind that at 175 pounds for the boat alone, it is an awkward two man lift into the aircraft.
The deflating and packing advice, above from Jim, is perfect.
Can be Done! Spot on Jim as always great advise. Oh my Back! Bend at the knees!
Yes - easily fits in a C-185!
Deflated and rolled properly won't be an issue. Most will have difficulty lifting it single-handed up into a float plane.
I've had it happen where I'm running along, climb atop the float, hand it to even two guys, and they darn near fall out of the plane as I've handed it up... Then - I get that look like what the heck??? It's not a really strength thing --- it's more about mental familiarity, balance, and lift sequencing.
156E is a great boat... not much fun to tote around, yet a gem design on water.
The 'ratcheting strap' compression practice... that's not expert advice - at all!
Helpful tip - try to avoid putting this much raft weight and size in a bag... makes it way tougher to load into a plane by yourself, with a second, or third hand.
Thanks for the info fellas. Thought long and hard between Cat and self bailer with many hours of reading on this forum. Very pleased with my purchase and glad to hear "it can be done". Do you guys manually pump the air out or have some sort of shop vac fitting for the valves? Brian, I'm not quite sure if you're for or against ratchet straps...please clarify.
Hello Bob -
Originally Posted by fish-n-fur
The AIRE 156E is an exceptional raft... one of my very favorites in design - everybody that uses or rents it is super pleased to say the least. It's highest card is that it pivots from natural feeling center and transitions turns 'quietly/efficiently with conservation of movement.
Fastest way to inflate your raft is with a Leaf-Blower. In shop, I use 192 MPH electric leaf blower - faster, better, cheaper, and more multi-use than boat pumps - tho' somewhat noisy for a minute. Also less chances of particle residues spewing in and out of a shop vac. I do use a compact shop vac often for maximum deflation to get that vacuum effect.
The 'Ratchet Strap' compression is a bad mechanical practice on a few fronts:
a.) Much higher probability of damaging the boat like high-friction abrasion or burning (boat strap interfaces, metal ratchet walking and digging into the fabric coating.)
b.) The mechanical advantage/leverage of a sharp buckle can be too much to feel some of the damage that is possibly occurring like permanent creasing/stressing or cutting on a plastic-based fabric, zipper assemblies, seams handles d-rings, chamber bulk heads, and so on.
c.) When loading into tight spots or aircraft cargo netting... the last thing you want hanging up is a ratchet buckle.
d.) Higher potential to tear or catch on other things around it.
e.) Do not do well in sand or freezing wet conditions.
f.) Extra weight you do not want having very little utility on a float trip
G.) Folks leavin' 'em on at high compression for way too long periods of non-use in all sorts of temps and environments.
NO NO using Ratchet straps on inflatable boats.
not expert by any means, but I did spend some time wrestling with a 4-tube cataraft on my lawn last summer, then air-cargo'd the whole package out and back. Notes possibly useful with your 156E, or others with similar interests:
1. Warm, sunny days as Jim suggested, made the tubes more pliable.
2. Pumping air out reduced the volume noticably.
3. Water too: orienting the tubes up/down the slope of my lawn allowed water inside (no idea how that happens - condensation over the years maybe?) to drain to the valve - and quite a bit pumped out with the air (2-way hand pumps).
4. Tarp-wrap: suggested by Mike Strahan provided extra outer protection
5. Ratchet straps: effectively reduced package volume slightly, but somehow (forklift?) one of the buckles was twisted up when we unloaded the Beaver. That ratchet was unserviceable for the return flight. Cam strap worked fine.
Best wishes with that new raft!
Interesting Pump Question
Now that the I have to ship tight question and what can be done at home you might want to consider the return flight as well.
Years ago I started carrying a 12V ATV battery with my electric pump to inflate and deflate in the field. I have a waterproof box and a solar trickle charger and use the deflate option on my electric pump.
I know more weight but oh the time savings gained when you have more than one boat or need to wrap tight.
Just food for thought.
water in tubes
water inside the tubes usually comes from using an air compressor. if you use a compressor instead of a electric pump or blower, you should be sure to drain the compressor tank(s) daily. the best way to remove the water is to tip it over on some saw horses and suck it out with a shop vac
Originally Posted by 6XLeech