Monday, 22 December 2014

Titan Tornados of New Zealand

The Titan Tornado was originally designed by John Williams in the early 1990's and kits were manufactured by the Titan Aircraft Company of Austinburg, Ohio (and still are).  The original Tornado model was a single seater but the Tornados that we have had in New Zealand have been two seaters (apart from one single seater that I will detail at end of this post).  The aircraft's fuselage cage is made from 4130 steel while the fuselage boom, empennage and the cantilevered stressed skin wings are constructed of aluminium.  This was advanced consruction for a microlight in the early 1990's.

The Tornado II is 19 feet long (5.79 metres), the wingspan is 23 feet 6 inches (7.16 metres) and the wing area is 108 square feet.  The engine can be from a Rotax 608 to a Rotax 912, which give a cruise speed of between 110 and 125 mph and a stall speed of around 35 mph.  Empty weight is around 440 pound (200 Kg) and WAUW is 998 pounds (449 Kg).

We have had eight Titan Tornado II's (plus the one Tornado I) in New Zealand to date, as follows:

The first Titan Tornado to appear on the register was ZK-JGT (c/n MAANZ/557 - it must have also had a Titan serial number but that is not recorded), which was registered to Ian Todd Marine and Sports Ltd of Rotorua on 4/3/96.  It had a Rotax 912 engine.  Ian Todd was the New Zealand agent for Titan Aircraft and there was quite a flurry of Tornados registered in the second half on the 1990's.  Sadly, Ian Todd died in the early 2000's and local Tornado activity waned.  It is photo'd above at the 1996 SAANZ flyin at Matamata. It was cancelled on 23/10/98 and sold abroad.

ZK-SDR (c/n D95618COHK0193) which was registered to S D R (Robin) Reid of Hastings on 20/5/96.  The Titan serial numbers look intimidating but the interesting bits are the year of manufacture (the first 2 numbers), the motor size (but sometimes this doesn't tie up?), the OH is for Ohio, the next letter is K for kit or F for Factory built, and the final 4 digits are the kit number.  From the c/n it had a Rotax 618 engine.  Robin Reid sold ZK-SDR to the Christchurch area where it was involved in a forced landing accident at Amberly Beach after which the damaged aircraft was bought by Kim Twentyman of Christchurch on 10/6/97.  It was cancelled on 29/1/01 but is a long term rebuild project by Kim, who kindly sent the above photo taken on 16/12/14.

ZK-TNB/TNC (c/n D955618COHK0191) was registered to Barrett Pharmacy Ltd of Hamilton (Trevor N Barrett) on 14/8/96  It has a Rotax 912 engine and is photo'd above at the 2000 SAANZ flyin at Matamata.  It was sold to J N Sanderson of Katikati on 14/11/03 and was re-registered ZK-TNC on 29/11/04 to allow Trevor Barrett to register his new Alpi Pioneer 300 as ZK-TNB.  Finally it was sold to A D Powell of Katikati on 23/5/06 and it is currently inactive.

ZK-RSR (c/n D96912SOHF0246) has an interesting history.  It was first registered to Robin Reid of Hastings on 27/1/97.  As you can see from the c/n it is a factory built example so Robin and Ian Todd flew to the Titan factory in Ohio to pick up the aircraft and then fly down to the Sun N Fun flyin at Lakeland in Florida.  The aircraft incorporated several New Zealand modifications including a new seat back fuel tank, an engine cowling an Airmaster ground adjustable propellor and an aerodynamic addition to the front wheel spat.  These modifications were well received in America.  After attending the Sun N Fun flyin in March 1997 they flew ZK-RSR across America to Southern California and then back to Arizona from where the aircraft was shipped back to New Zealand.  The flight took in 33 airports and covered 3,881 miles.  The above photo by flyernzl shows ZK-TRT in its across America colours, at Kerikeri in 1998.

Ownership of ZK-RSR transferred to Robin Reid's widow H R Reid on 5/10/99 and then to V B Booth of Auckland on 17/5/00.  It was briefly cancelled on 12/4/10 but was re-registered on 11/11/10.  Finally it was sold to M A Farr of New Plymouth on 8/2/12.  Murray Farr bases the aircraft at Stratford where it is very active, and it is photo'd above at the 2014 Black Sands flyin at Raglan on 8/11/14.  It is now fitted with an Airmaster in-flight adjustable prop that was manufactured by Bram Waters.

ZK-JHJ (c/n 95582COHK0192) is powered by a Rotax 618 accoding to the decals (but a Rotax 582 according to the c/n?).  It was first registered to the Van Bennekom Verdonk Syndicate of Rotorua on 20/2/97.  It is photo'd above at the 1998 SAANZ flyin at Matamata. Its registration was revoked on 3/5/01 but it was re-registered agin on 1/12/01 when it was sold to A G Carter of Murupara.  On 22/12/09 it was sold to T Cacciamani of Havelock, with whom it is still current.

ZK-JKD (c/n D98800COHK0295) was first registered to Ian R Todd of Rotorua on 3/6/98, and it has a Rotax 912 engine (you can just see the ian Todd engine cowling covering the engine and the aerodynamic addition to the nose wheel spat in this photo.  It is photo'd at the 2000 SAANZ flyin at Matamata.  On 2/11/02 ownership changed to T N Todd of Rotorua then on 17/6/02 to Tipua Enterprises Ltd of Ohope (R and L St John), and on 20/12/02 to J H Shore also of Ohope.  Its registration was revoked on 15/4/05 but it was re-registered on 11/7/05 when ownership transferred to the AEG Trust of Hamilton.  On 9/8/06 ownership transferred to Network Product Distribution Ltd of Auckland, with whom it is still current

ZK-KAA/ZK-PTP/ZK-KAA (c/n D97912COHK0271) was built by Kim Twentyman for Kevin A Ashby of Kaiapoi, and it was first registered on 17/2/00.  It was sold to P J O'Donnell of Levin on 24/10/01 and he re-registered the aircraft as ZK-PTP on 2/11/01.  (Peter O'Donnell has owned a series of microlights that he has registered ZK-PTP - the first was ZK-KAA which reverted to ZK-KAA, the second was Ultravia Pelican ZK-PLP which reverted to ZK-PLP, and his third aircaft is the recent RANS S 7S ZK-PTP).  The aircraft was sold to M J S Wilkins of Taupiri on 3/6/04 and was re-registered back to ZK-KAA on 4/6/04.  It then had a series of owners on the West Coast - M R Smith of Westport from 19/6/08, M L Pfahlert of Hokitika from 8/6/11, D R Baker of Greymouth from 30/4/12 and M L Pfahlert again from 19/5/13.  Finally it returned home to Christchurch being purchased by R O Byfield on 10/7/14, and it is now hangared at Rangiora.  The above photo was taken at Hokitika on 8/1/14.  It can be seen that it has larger wheels and tyres, and a cargo pod underneath (this was a factory mod).

ZK-LOT (c/n D97912COHK0259) was built by Rodger J Ward of Christchurch and was first registered to him on 3/4/07.  It also has a Rotax 912 engine and is based at Rangiora where the above photo was taken on 1/12/09.  It is still current.

And now to our only Titan Tornado I.  This is a single seater that is not much smaller than the Tornado II with a length of 18 feet 3 inches (5.56 metres) and a wingspan of 20 feet (6.01 metres).  It is powered by a Rotax 503 engine which gives a cruise speed of 95 mph.  Empty weight is around 375 pounds (170 Kg) and MAUW is 660 pounds (299 Kg).

Our only Titan Tornado I is ZK-TRT (c/n T97503COHK0260), that was built by Trevor R Tollison of Wairoa and was first registered to him on 27/1/00.  I believe that Trevor never flew the aircraft but he did complete it.   Trevor is photo'd taxying the completed aircraft at Wairoa in 2002.  Thanks very much to Trevor's son Richard Tollison for the above photo.

It was sold to P J Karl of Ohaupo on 6/4/06 but before the official change of ownership it sufferd and engine failure on take off from Ohaupo and the undercarriage was damaged in the ensuing forced landing.  It was repaired however and on 10/4/08 ownership changed to E A Cameron of Christchurch.  It changed hands again, to W L White of Christchurch on 13/1/10.  Around this time it was noted for sale on Trade Me, where the above photo of it was sourced.  Finally ownership transferred to A M Smith of Winchester on 30/12/11 and I believe the aircraft is being returned to airworthy status.


  1. Hi. Just a slight correction - RSR has an Airmaster in-flight adjustable prop which was manufactured for it by Bram Waters.

    1. Thanks for that kkiwi54. I have adjusted the text accordingly.

  2. Hi ZKTRT is now up and flying again. Just some changes to the MAUW for this aircraft it is 750lb 340kgs I will send you a photo
    Cheers Art