A special birthday for a special lady

By Willie Bodenstein


A couple of weeks ago a got a call from my friend Hilton Wolff inviting me to a birthday party for a very special lady. Since it was not just any special lady I immediately said yes. The lady in question was Hilton's Pakistani Aeronautical Complex AC MFI-17 Mushshak.

In 2006, Hilton heard about the Mushshak that was allegedly in the country. She apparently was brought in as a demo model for the SAAF that then was in the market for a basic side by side trainer. Hilton phoned a General Steyn who confirmed that initially twelve were ordered but then things went wrong and the order was eventually cancelled and the demo that was delivered, stayed, housed in a hangar at Wonderboom Airport.

He immediately started looking for her. It eventually took him about a year before he found her hidden away in a hangar at Wonderboom and it was love at first sight. There and then he promised himself that one day she was going to be his, little realising that it would eventually take eleven years. With the assistance of Paul Weinberg, he eventually traced the owner and put the deal together and in 2017 he bought her.

On Wednesday 7 April, a number of us got together at Hilton's hangar at Brakpan/Benoni Airfield to celebrate not just her birthday, but also that of Hilton's, whose was the day before. Hamburgers, cupcakes and refreshments were on offer and taking pride of place was a birthday cake with her picture on it. The birthday girl stood proudly at centre stage, looking absolutely immaculate with her Happy Birthday tinsel decoration along one wing.

Scully Levin, no introduction needed, who were type rated on her a month or so ago took her up with Grant Timms in the right seat and proved, that although she may not look it, that she is actually acrobatically rated. Unfortunately, it was overcast which did not make for good photography.

We all know how much Hilton, a keen vintage car collector, loves his Mushshak. If he does not fly her for fun, he and fellow Brakpan hangar and Aťrospatiale Alouette III owner Rob Osner fly her in the immensely popular Speed Rally series.

What a lovely morning it was. Here's to many more for the both of you Hilton. Shall we do it again next year?

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