Scully Levin flies “The Best Kept Secret”


On a sweltering Wednesday morning, Scully Levin accepted a long-standing offer from Hilton Wolff’s to fly his PAC MFI-17 Mushshak at Brakpan Airfield. Hilton fell in love with the Mushshak when he first saw it in 2006, when it was displayed at Africa Aerospace and Defence Expo.

Scully Lavin, Tony Kent and Hilton Wolff

The Aircraft was brought into the country as a demonstration model in an attempt to persuade the South African Airforce to purchase these fixed-gear basic trainers. Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) shipped the aircraft to Wonderboom Airport where it was assembled by a team of technicians that accompanied the aircraft from Pakistan. The intended sale of the Mushshak to the SAAF never materialised and the aircraft remained in South Africa. In 2016 Hilton decided to locate the aircraft in the hope of persuading the owner to part with it, after an extensive search the aircraft was located in a hangar at Wonderboom where it finally ended up after spending some time at Fisantekraal in the Western Cape.

Hilton finally took ownership of his dream aircraft in 2017, which incidentally is the only MIF-17 Mushshak in private hands in the world. One of Hilton’s biggest concerns about owning this former military trainer was parts availability, a concern that was quickly resolved when he contacted the factory in Pakistan and they assured him that anything he needed they were willing to supply. The aircraft is built under licence from SAAB who originally released the military version as the SAAB MFI-17 Supporter. Hilton also made contact with SAAB and they too assured him parts would not be a challenge.

In 1968 Saab began work on the MFI-15, based on the MFI-9 but with some design changes. Foremost of the changes in the Saab built MFI-15 prototype was the 120 kW (160shp) Lycoming IO-320 piston engine. Like the MFI-9, the MFI-15 retained the unusual braced, mid-mounted and slightly forward-swept wing and rearward-hinged canopy, offering good all-around vision. The prototype made its maiden flight on June 11, 1969. Follow-up testing of the MFI-15 resulted in a more powerful IO-360 engine, while the horizontal tail was relocated to prevent it being damaged by thrown up debris. The first flight of this modified form was in February 1971.

Original MIF-15 (note the low set horizontal stabiliser)

Pakistan originally took delivery of 18 MIF-17 Supporters, while 92 have been assembled locally by PAC from knocked-down kits and a further 149 were built locally by PAC. In 1981, Pakistan acquired sole manufacturing rights of the Supporter. The development of the MFI-395 in 1995 initiated by the then-managing director of AMF, Air Cdr Muhammad Younas. The aircraft was built by upgrading the MFI-17 with an advanced 260 hp engine, electrical instruments, dual flight control systems and a Bendix RSA fuel injection system.

Super Mushshak

Scully took to the air accompanied by instructor Tony Kent to put this remarkable aircraft through its paces. Scully must have been in his element flying a machine that is fully aerobatic, rated for +6 and -3 G’s, and probably the best visibility in its class. On their return from the GF, Scully treated everyone on the ground to a few flypasts including the odd roll.

Scully and Tony taking off

As the canopy opened Scully intermediately commented that the Mushshak is “the best kept secret” in general aviation. He said it was one of the most pleasant aircraft he has ever had the honour of flying, with amazing responsiveness and the ability to go places comfortably. For every one that made their way to Brakpan to see Scully fly the Mushshak, there was an added treat, Scully was more than willing to sign copies of his newly released book “Punching Holes in the Sky”.

Length: 7 m

Wingspan: 8.85 m

Height: 2.6 m

Wing area: 11.9 m2

Empty weight: 646 kg equipped

Max takeoff weight: 1,200 kg normal

kg utility

900 kg aerobatic

Powerplant: 1 × Textron Lycoming IO-360-

A1B6

4-cylinder air-cooled

horizontally

opposed-piston engine, 200 hp

Propellers: 2-bladed Hartzell

HC-C2YK-4F/FC7666A-2, 1.88 m

diameter constant-speed metal

propeller

Maximum speed: 127 kn at sea level and 1,125 kg

Cruise speed: 110 kn

Stall speed: 54 kn

Never exceed speed VNE : 197 kn at 1,125 kg

Endurance: 5 hours 10 minutes at 65%

power,

at sea level, with 10% fuel

reserve

Service ceiling: 13,500 ft

G limits: +4.4 -1.76 (utility MTOW)

+6 -3 (aerobatic MTOW)

Rate of climb: 1,020 ft/min

Time to altitude: 6,000 ft in 9 minutes 15 seconds

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