By Garth Calitz
Ten young Police Commercial pilot licence holders were taken back to basics when they started their tail-wheel training at Taildragger Academy based at Petit Airfield. As far as instructors these newly baptised Taildragger pilots could not have asked for better, they were guided through the experience by Andy Kaspersen and Johan van Zyl. Both Andy and Johan are very experienced instructors and passionate about imparting knowledge rather than teaching only what the student needs to know to get the qualification.
In a small informal ceremony held at the home of the Bushcat at Springs Airfield, the nine ladies and one gentleman were awarded a certificate to mark the successful completion of their tail-wheel training. The pilots will now start their training on heavier more complex tail-wheel like the Pilatus PC-6 Porter which they will ultimately be flying operationally in the future.
Once the formalities were out of the way it was time to relax and enjoy a cooldrink and a borrie roll. Andy and Etelka Paxton from Rainbow Skyreach pleaded with with the graduates to not only see flying as a job but also join in the social flying community by joining rallies, fly-ins and other aviation events, Andy also encouraged them to keep their taildragger hours up as dragging is a skill that needs constant practice.
The BushCat was chosen for their training initial tail-wheel training as it is an extremely docile taildragger yet rugged enough to land almost anywhere. The BushCat is a side-by-side two-seater, strut-braced, high-wing aircraft developed from the Rainbow Aircraft Cheetah by Vladimir Chechin. The main upgrades from the earlier Cheetah XLS are the use of sprung aluminium landing gear, cockpit ergonomic changes to the location of the stick and throttle and hydraulic disc brakes in place of mechanical drum brakes.
The BushCat's structure is fabric-covered aluminium tube construction. The standard engines used are the 80 hp Rotax 912UL and the 100 hp Rotax 912ULS power plants. The plane features dual throttles, a single centre-mounted control stick and flaps controlled by a ceiling-mounted bar.