Editor’s note: This article first appeared on ByDanJohnson.com.
I first ran into Stefan Coetzee and KFA at Aero Friedrichshafen, my favorite light aircraft show in Europe. I was caught by the clever name. Easy to say, “KFA” sticks in your mind like a catchy tune.
Kitplanes For Africa sounds like a company making aircraft that should have superior bush capabilities. It was a handsome aircraft and I felt readers would enjoy it but they had no American representation at the time so I filed the discovery away under: “Promising.”
The bigger and more accurate picture is that KFA is yet another light aviation success story for South Africa*.
Almost half-way around the world, South Africa fell out of many conversations once the apartheid struggle finally ended in the 1990s. Yet despite years of ugly headlines, the country’s interest in aviation has been strong and building. Companies are producing lots of aircraft. (The Aircraft Factory alone produces 20 Sling aircraft each month, and has plans to increase to 30, employing almost 500 personnel.)
KFA was begun roughly when apartheid ended, so it shares no history with that difficult period. However, this timeline also illustrates the 30 years in business this builder has been active. More than 300 of their Bushbaby designs were sold and Coetzee reports strong business today.
Welcome to America…via Canada
An early enthusiast in the Americas was Canadian Vince Scott, a six-foot-eight tower of a man… and yes, he fits. Even his entry looked straightforward. For someone of my average stature, Safari XL looks huge inside. Coetzee enjoyed referring to “Hamburgers,” hinting at Yankee pilots who enjoy a good meal or three every day. Those well-fed pilots will love this enlarged bird. In fact, I think most pilots would look admiringly upon the large interior volume of Safari XL.
KFA Explorer [Credit: Dan Johnson] The gray-over-black Explorer looks familiar to Oshkosh attendees. I overheard more than…read more www.planeandpilotmag.com