Thanks so much to Jeff Ayliffe who visited our pilots and for doing such an amazing radio interview with them! Your hand stand looked incredible on our AT802.
Jeff Ayliffe Interview
From Jeff Ayliffe:
At last, with just one day to go, I got my special aircraft shot! Thanks to Christo Theron for setting this up, and to my brother Jono for taking the pic.
The AT-802 is a single engine air tanker, formerly built as a crop sprayer, it is converted into an 800 gallon, aerial firefighting configuration. As a huge tail dragger, it’s extremely difficult to fly, and this aircraft was in action 2 days ago, fighting a fire in the Kaaimans. At the stick was Gerrit Le Roux, who was amazing in his willingness to show me around his ‘office’ and allow me to do a (very careful) handstand on the leading edge.
As a skydiving instructor in Pietermaritzburg in the 80’s, I spent many long hours with the bomber and spotter pilots over season, and in the process, developed friendships with a rare breed of men, a closely bonded group. One of them is Rob Taylor, whose son Hylton Taylor helped me pack my parachute as a young school boy. Hylton is now a top pilot, flying the Thrush.
Sadly, I have lost friends who have died bombing fires.
It’s an honor today for me to be doing my penultimate handstand to pay tribute to the work that these pilots do, and in memory of my friends who are no longer here- Mark Zank and, ‘Kiwi’ Dave McGregor.
To the firefighting teams, both on the ground and the spotter, chopper and AT-802 pilots, thank you for your courage. May I wish you a quiet season.