I built my “first” Skyhawk simulator back around 1999.  The shell was built by the RNZAF Museum at Ohakea for use in an exhibit, but wasn’t really very accurate in terms of dimensions 🙁

As built, with it's new seat
As built, with it’s new Ejection Seat

As the project went along More and more bits were modified, or replaced until it didn’t look that much like the original.

At the 2003 Wings Over Wairarapa Airshow the cockpit made its public debut.  After *much* rushed paint and graphic application she went to the show looking a million bucks (even though I looked more like a trodden in to the carpet dog turd…. I had the flu!)

I wish I could find the bigger version.....
I wish I could find the bigger version…..

Although I was pleased with the result, I was never all that happy with the compromises required to use the existing shell, so 2003/2004 the old A-4 was broken down and the good bits were harvested for use in future projects….

Fast forward to October 2005.  New job, new city.  Started work for Pacific Simulators and was told by an un-named director of the company “You wont want to build yourself a cockpit when you work on them all day…”.

November 2005.  Work starts on my new cockpit.  After building my first A-4 I discovered that having a single seat sim was great, except when you had friends around.  You can’t take anyone for a fly, so if someone doesn’t know how to fly you end up leaning over the canopy rail trying to show them how…. not very satisfactory at all!
SO… the new sim was going to be a 2 seater (I figure I only have, at most one friend, so it should work out swimingly!) a post Kahu Upgrade TA-4K Skyhawk.  Which, for the un-informed, is a locally modified Skyhawk with F-16 Avionics and Radar, plus a wide angle HUD.  A bit like the “Fighting Hawk” mods these days.
The choice of aircraft was a no-brainer really, its glass cockpit and HUD make it easier to build than an all-steam cockpit, and of course, it’s local, the RNZAF operated them from 1970 to 2001.

The decision was made to build the main structure from steel, a material I know, plus incorporating as much of the cool technology that was available through my work as I could.  Since the move from a low-tech company, to a reasonably high tech one, I have learned lots about CAD and CNC manufacturing…

So that brings us up to the start of the current TA-4K Project.  A collection of build photos is online, click the link TA-4 Photo Albumn to have a look.

By SeanG

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *