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“Talk to Me Goose” The Birth of a Mustang

By Rob Russell

Thursday 24th Feb saw another exciting step in the ¾ sized Mustang build, of Gareth Van Kets, take place. The first running of the engine on the aircraft, and Flightline Weekly was privileged to be there to see it.

Gareth, a Boeing 777 pilot with Cathay Pacific Airways, has always had a passion for the Mustang fighter aircraft. He gained, his passion from his Grandfather, who was witness to the first Mustang P51, built in the States, arriving on UK soil, during World war II. His grandfather passed the passion down to Gareth.

His dream had been growing since he was still at school. It was in February 2014 that he met with Rob McFee, then the only owner of a ¾ scale P51 Mustang, in South Africa. The relationship and discussions with Rob inspired Gareth and he was determined to have one as well.

In December 2019, he flew to the States to visit Titan Aircraft Manufacturers. There he met with John Williams, the owner, who took time to show him around the factory and what they were building there. The ¾ scale P51 Mustang. His need to own one grew strongly from that visit and in early 2020 things started to get serious. He thought about building his own one, but after much research and speaking to many people, who had built or bought home-built aircraft, he met with Robin Coss, of Robin Coss Aviation, situated at Cape Town International airport.

Robin was given the task of building the P51. The aircraft arrived in the Cape in July 2021 – in a container -and the build started. But there were inevitable delays, as several parts and components were missing from the kit. But that did not deter Gareth and Robin. Mike Marriott later partnered with Gareth and has been involved in the build ever since.

Those in the industry will know that Robin has an outstanding reputation when it comes to building aircraft. And he certainly continued this passion with this project, He and his staff have done an amazing job.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks was the paint scheme. After looking at hundreds of options and schemes, Gareth and Robin eventually decided on the one which the aircraft is now painted. The scheme was largely determined by the Top Gun movie and ironically, Tom Cruises’ full-sized Mustang has a similar paint scheme. The words “Talk to me Goose” were also derived from the movie.

The project has been moving along at a fast pace, being built at Robin Coss hangars and after running the engine earlier this week, the prop was mounted and the first run-ups took place.

The engine is a Chevy LS3 6.2L V8, delivering an impressive 480hp. A few minor problems were encountered, but these will easily be addressed and sorted out a successful run ensured and there was much excitement buzzing around the apron.

Robin and his staff can now carry on doing the final touches to the build and it should only be a matter of weeks before it takes to the skies.

Exciting times are ahead for Gareth and for the building team at Robin Coss. May you have many happy hours with her.

Interestingly since Gareth acquired his P51, Rob Mc Fee has been inspired to rebuild his P51, which was seriously damaged in an accident a few years ago. So within a few months, there could be two ¾ scale Mustangs flying around South African airspace.



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