View Full Version : KOTM February 2017 Jonathan Holland's Model 3

02-01-2017, 10:25 AM
I am a farmer in the UK, and I learned to fly when I was 17. That was 27 years ago now. Like many of us, I did the usual route of Cessnas, Pipers and various other four seat metal gas guzzlers, and it was when I visited a local airfield at the age of 21 that I first saw a Kitfox. I recall thinking how pretty it looked, and how the chap who had just stepped out of it after landing looked far happier than I did when I got out of my Cessna 172! I had a chat with him, and I was sold. The Kitfox was ideal for me, going between farms, dropping in on friends' farms, and always providing a good challenge to fly well, with enough responsiveness to keep me looking forward to strapping her onto my back and going somewhere!

I have had two other Kitfoxes before this particular one, but when I saw this one tucked away in a barn in Suffolk county, and only owned by its original builder, I just knew what I wanted it to be for me. She was a lovely standard Mk 3, with a grey head 582, a GSC prop, and was unbelievably light, weighing in at 481 lbs empty!! The fabric was lovely, the owner was genuine. She had been kept indoors since she was born, and I couldn't get my cash out fast enough when I realised how she flew!


I got her home, and the first thing I did was order the Grove gear from Kitfox. It transforms the aircraft, and it arrived a few weeks later, with all the hardware to install it. Immediately, she felt like she was becoming what I wanted for my perfect Kitfox.


I flew her for 6 months, and soon decided that, going against all my sensible reasoning (!), that she deserved a 912. Why? Well, it was a simple decision. The 582 had already been overhauled, and it was having a few starting issues. The fuel burn was higher than I ideally wanted for my longer trips, and no matter what I did, I couldn't get over the fact that there were 2 stroke fumes coming into the cockpit somewhere. One afternoon, in a moment of rash thinking, I landed her at my home farm, folded the wings, and took the engine off, advertising it that night on our UK equivalent of Barnstormers. It sold within hours, so there was no going back now!

Kitfox supplied all the 912 installation hardware, and I found a mid-time 912UL for a good price. My wife went ballistic when she saw how I transported it home in the car! :-)


The first thing I did was install a fresh set of all round glazing as it was a bit scratched and tired in places, and harvest wasn't for a few weeks at that point, so I had the time. Windscreen and doors were all done in two days, and I found it very easy.



The engine installation was relatively straight forward, and I am lucky to have a good pal who has better experience than me with this kind of thing, and he did most of the brain work. During harvest, I was working 15 hour days, and things slowed up with the Kitfox progress, but as soon as the harvester was back in the shed, we got back on to it.


The engine and hardware all fitted well, and the only unexpected issue was the requirement to adjust the ring cowl so that it fitted better. The picture shows that I had to get a specialist fibreglass expert to extend the ring cowl by 1.5 inches, just so that it was a perfect fit. Maybe I'm obsessive, but at least I can look at her and see no bad angles!!!


I enjoyed the panel work that was quite easy, and my friend did the wiring. I'm a simple VFR person, so I don't go for the clever electro-gizmos I'm afraid!!


We did install a new header tank behind the seat, to make more room behind the seats where the cylinder one goes - this was relatively easy, and after a small annoying union weld fuel leak, it was all sorted and ready to go.


Finally, after an independent inspection, she was cleared for flight! I flew her alone to start with, and I will never forget how she went up! Ok, so my Kiev propeller pitch might have been a bit fine (5600 rpm static), but crikey, did she go!!! After that flight I coarsened the prop up and got the static to around 5300, with 5400 as climb rpm which is ideal. She gives 1,500 fpm climb solo, and 1,000 fpm at max weight. She will cruise at 85 mph at 4800 rpm, and 95 mph at 5200 rpm. I am very pleased with this.

First flight with new engine: https://youtu.be/wQEXxRDBbZg

I absolutely love her now, more than ever. She feels more balanced, more spritely, and as if she really is 'up on the plane' when straight and level now, compared to with the 582 when she felt a bit like it was always working hard.

She is a keeper!! After the expended hours, blood, sweat, tears and money she has consumed, she's not going anywhere without me for a long time!! She likes dropping in to see farming friends when they are planting, just as much as she likes heading off on a trip somewhere.

If anyone out there is wondering about whether they should buy one, I am now that person I met 27 years ago with a big smile on my face!!

You only live once, and if you're reading this forum already, you need to buy a Kitfox if you don't already have one.

The final finished product photos!!


02-01-2017, 10:29 AM
Thank you Jonathan for your submission for KOTM. You did a beautiful job on your model 3. Love the first flight video from the beautiful grass strip.
My first Kitfox was a model 3 with 912 80 hp Rotax. It was a blast to fly.
Enjoy every flight.:)

02-01-2017, 03:53 PM
That is a great story, well told Jonathan! Your airplane is beautiful - Congratulations!

02-01-2017, 09:10 PM
Gorgeous Kitfox, great story. Thanks for sharing! :)

06-04-2017, 06:48 PM
Hey Jonathan: Brand new builder here: what an inspirational story for a new guy like me. Have just begun working on the wings. My new neighbor just happens to be an AP mech; lucky me! Can't wait to experience what all you veteran flyers are talking about, and btw, living on the water have plans to one day put her on floats! ciao Bruce

08-30-2018, 01:37 PM
Amazing story. Great looking plane. Happy Flying !!!


10-07-2018, 11:22 AM
Saweet! Thank you for sharing!