Tuesday 5 July 2016

Australian Aviation Works J6C Karatoos of New Zealand

The Karatoo was designed by Jesse Anglin of Hendersonville, North Carolina and first appeared in 1982.  (Jesse Anglin designed several homebuilt aircraft including the J3 Kitten, the J4 Sportster and the low wing retro styled Spacewalker).  The Anglin J6A Karatoo was powered by a Rotax 503 or 582.  I always thought that it was an Australian design and that Karatoo was an aboriginal word, but Karatoo does not seem to have a definition.  Norman Aviation of Quebec in Canada further developed the aircraft and then the Karatoo was further developed by Australian Max Peters who had developed Subaru engines for aircraft use.  It has since been  manufactured in kit form by several Australian companies and is currently produced as the J6C by Serenity Aviation.

The Karatoo is constructed from a 4130 steel tube framed fuselage and wooden wings, all fabric covered.  Its length is around 20 feet (dependent on the engine used), wingspan is 32 feet 6 inches and the wing area is 146 square feet.  The empty weight is between 580 and 650 pounds dependent on the engine fitted, and MAUW is 1200 pounds (544 Kg).  Engines can be from 65 HP to 100 HP, and with a Rotax 912 engine cruise is around 80 knots.

We have had three Karatoos in New Zealand to date, as follows:

ZK-KTO (c/n J6 673P).  Construction was commenced by Vincent Kilsby of Coromandel and the project was later sold to Mike Small.  It was first registered on 28/8/01 as a Norman J6 Karatoo to Michael GA (Mike) Small of Rangiora.  It originally had a Subaru EA 81 engine with a short cowling, as in the above photo taken at the 2004 SAANZ flyin at Tauranga.  It was re-designated as an Australian Aviation Works J6C Karatoo on 15/4/03.  It was damaged in a heavy landing at Loburn Abbey on 21/6/07.

It was repaired and re-engined with a Rotax 912 engine in October 2007, and is shown with a longer engine cowling in the above photo which was taken at the 2009 SAANZ flyin at Ashburton.

ZK-KTP (c/n J6 673P) was first registered to David B McPherson of Oxford on 19/4/05.  It also started off with a Subaru EA 81 engine and the short cowling as in the above photo taken at Rangiora on 27/3/06.

It also was re-engined with a Rotax 912 engine, in August 2010, as shown in the above photo taken at Rangiora on 4/1/13.

ZK-KTN2 (c/n J6 661P) was first registered to Nigel B Forrester of Dunedin on 1/11/10.  Paul Woodley of did a lot of the construction at Rangiora where the above photo was taken on 14/1/11.  It can be seen that it has an extended undercarriage.  It was damaged at Middlemarch on 22/5/11 but is still currently registered.

There is another Karatoo under construction at Rangiora so we shall see another example of the aircraft in the future.


  1. ZK-KTO cobstructuon was started by Vincent Kilsby and his nephew Mike in Coromandel. Vin passed away so the project was sold to Mike Small in Christchurch. The main structure was all welded up and the wings assembled. The wings were supplied in kit form from Max Peters in Melbourne and were his J6C modification to the original Jesse Anglin drawings.

  2. Thanks ave8rr. I didn't know that. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I am Vins Nephew Mike. Now living in Bundaberg. Own and fly a Vans RV-9A VH-LAT
      I also own a Piper PA-17 Vagabond. I believe this is the only example in Aus/NZ
      Cheers Mike

  3. KTO is based in Rangiora still - pretty close to flying again - I know the guys have been working on it, but not sure the exact details. KTW (not mentioned above) is also based there, which I have just renewed on after a 6yr absence from flying. I believe there may be two others currently under early construction.