By Willie Bodenstein (Photos by Willie Bodenstein and supplied)
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The Pietenpol workshop at AirVenture, Oshkosh, USA. Photos by Willie Bodenstein
Louwtjie Vosloo joined the SAAF in 1971 as a trainee radio operator after finishing school. After having qualified, he was at some stage or another based at various basis until 1975 when he ended up at 35 Squadron as a radio operator in Shackleton's.
Louwtjie and his Sky Scout.
In 1978 he resigned and started a career as a civilian and in 1979 he decided to begin his PPL and enrolled at Avia Flight School where he earned his wings. However, with time, he allowed his licence to laps until 20 years later when his son wanted to start flying. The two of them joined the Defence Force Flying Club based at AFB Swartkop where they started their training.
At that time, Louwtjie became involved with the Friends of the SAAF Museum where he was the supervisor of the Shackleton project, served on the committee and became vice chairman.
Together with Joos Cloete and Jacobus Gertenbach, they revived the dormant Vliegtuig Tuisbouers Assosiasie (Aircraft Homebuilders Association). It was during this time in 2006 that his wife came home one afternoon with a local aviation magazine that had a report of four Pietetenpols that was then stationed at Jack Taylor Airfield in Krugersdorp. Louwtjie later told Joos about the article and Joos told him that there was a Sky Scout for sale in Centurion just down the road from the AFB.
There are two versions of the classic Pietenpol; the more common two-seater Aircamper and the lesser-known single seat Sky Scout. Bernard Pietenpol was a prolific designer and builder of aircraft, completing no fewer than 20 aircraft between 1928 and 1966. He designed and built his first Model A Ford powered aircraft in 1923 and flew the first prototype Aircamper in 1928. He specifically did not want to build a Bi-plane as he felt that the design and rigging would be too complicated for the average homebuilder. In 1966 he converted the six-cylinder air-cooled horizontally opposed Chevrolet Corvair engine for use in aircraft.
Collection the Piet and the original VW engine. Pics supplied
The Piet at AFB Swartkop. Pic Ray Barber.
Taxi runs with the VW engine at AFB Swartkops. Pic supplied.
Louwtjie's interest peaked, he made an appointment, the price was right and he bought it. When he bought it, she had an VW engine and as far as he was concerned the engine looked good and he thought the power sufficient. Then he found the USA based Pietenpol Group. He joined and the group was adamant that a VW engine was not good enough to power a Pietenpol.
The Continental A65 replacement
The new Cowling before painting. Pics supplied.
It took a while to get her airworthy Louwtjie said. She was essentially finished but the outstanding work was such that one actually could not see any progress and that can be demoralizing. In the meantime, Juri Keyter who was the owner of one of the four based at Krugersdorp, sold his to Roel Stausebach, a fellow club member. Coincidently Roel decided to re-engine his Aircamper with the more powerful 100hp engine and Louwtjie bought the 65hp A65 Continental from him for his Sky Scout project.
The Piet at Rhino Park. Photos by Willie Bodenstein
The years went past and eventually she was completed. By then he had moved her to Rhino Park Airfield. Now it was up to Louwtjie to get his tailwheel rating. The first problem was to find an instructor rated on the Sky Scout and the second problem was that she is a single seater taildragger. The tailwheel conversion was easily solved as a friend of his had a tailwheel Bushbaby based in a school at Rhino and he assisted Louwtjie with his conversion which he did. After eight hours, he was happy to sign him out for his tailwheel rating.
Taxi runs at Rhino. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't conducive to flying. Pics Willie Bodenstein
As for the type rating, the legendary Cyril Manser came to the rescue. He had the rating on his license and rated Louwtjie who by then was quite familiar with ground handling of the Sky Scout. One clear day with almost no wind he took off, did a circuit and landed. The Sky Scout Louwtjie said is a docile aircraft in which nothing happens at speed. Because she is powered by a certified engine, he only had to do 25 hours proving flying. The Sky Scout is not an easy midday flyer and our high altitude does not help. One also tend to avoid windy days so the time in which to do the 25 hours ran out before Louwtjie could complete the 25 hours and when he started again, he had to start from the beginning.
In 2021, he had finally flown the required hours and today has accumulated approximately 35 hours of flying in her.
Three of the FAKR Pietenpols. Photo supplied by Juri Keyter
Fourof the FAKR Pietenpols. Pic supplied.
The following is a list of the Pietenpols in South Africa. Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of others or what the status of those on the list are.