By Graeme Gordon
Production of the Atlas C4M, codenamed 'KUDU' by the military, ceased in 1974. The beast served as a paratroop jump ship, light transporter, ground force attacker armed with wing mounted rockets, and also as a rugged bush strip VIP transporter.
Whilst possessing excellent short field landing capabilities, it's 340hp supercharged piston engine was never enough for short field take offs, nor in fact, for the many purposes this ruggedly built aircraft could have excelled in either. The powerplant has remained the Achilles heel of the KUDU to this day, severely limiting it's effective lift capacity, it's ceiling, as well as making it notoriously thirsty.
The KUDUS will always invoke memories aplenty, good and bad. They have earned their place in the history books, and, with the recent birth of the 'ATLAS ANGELS', that is where they shall remain.
The ATLAS ANGEL looks remarkably similar to the KUDU. However, a closer look reveals the significant differences. The longer nose cowlings complete with two new huge eye level exhaust gas outlets barely manage to conceal the Walter 730hp turbine engine lurking beneath. The nose cone as well as the propeller blades seem to have doubled in size. The twin cargo doors have been replaced by a single rearward sliding door large enough to launch a linked 8 way exit. The uncomfortable floor is now one smooth level rubber surface.. The old steam powered avionics have been replaced by a beautiful brand new Garmin communications stack. The interior has stainless steel grab railings. There is a large composite step spanning the new exit. This ATLAS`ANGEL looks like a skydiving dream machine.
The first ANGEL's engine was successfully started on Tuesday 3rd February 2009 at Wonderboom airport. Look out for a new sleek silver bird in the skies overhead drop zones. The first flight is due before the end of February and the excitement is amazing
Who will be the lucky jumpers who will forever be able to boast that they were the very first out of the first of the new ATLAS ANGELS?
Will it be ready for Nationals? No promises but at this year’s AFFC, you bet…