Message 17.06.2024

Mini PC-24! – Andrew Herzfeld is building a super-class Super Versatile Jet

“Every aircraft I build takes me to a new and even more challenging level” says model aircraft builder, Andrew Herzfeld. Beyond seeing his latest model of a PC-24 ambulance jet take to the skies, Andrew is also aiming to collect donations for the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia RFDS. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.

Andrew’s passion for model aircraft goes all the way back to his earliest childhood, when he and his family used to live in a two-storey house overlooking Perth Airport in Western Australia. As a young boy, the veranda was Andrew’s favorite place for launching his paper aircraft into the air – with varying degrees of success! “Some crashed immediately, others flew quite a distance before landing in our neighbor’s yard, or in the treetops”, says Andrew, smiling. In addition to these early attempts at flying his creations from home, he regularly attended the local model aircraft club. “Occasionally, someone at the club would give me pieces of model aircraft which had suffered particularly bumpy landings. I took them home, looked at how they were made and generally tinkered around with them. I learnt a lot doing that.”

After leaving school, Andrew began working life as a cray fisherman. Some time later, with a group of friends, he set up his own model aircraft club at college to teach anyone who was interested how to fly model airplanes. “It’s a hobby with a lot to offer – it’s a fun, practical way for young adults to learn about physics, geometry and aerodynamics. They also have to acquire patience and precision! In short, flying model airplanes is great for mental and physical health!” Andrew obtained his commercial pilot’s license in the 1990s, and then went on to work in various roles at Perth Airport.

The PC-24 ambulance jet

After the success of his previous model, the world’s largest jumbo jet (Boeing 747), Andrew was often asked what he was going to build next. His own long history of illness and an accident which happened to a close friend in a remote desert area in southern Australia, made the 56 year-old more aware of the need for the RFDS’s services. “The fast, efficient, reliable response of the RFDS saved my friend’s life. That was the moment I knew my next model would be a PC-24 ambulance jet. It’s my way of paying tribute to the RFDS, its staff and the life-saving service the organization provides.”

Andew knew that the RFDS fleet is largely made up of Pilatus aircraft, and began searching the website for suitable plans. The RFDS Western Australia allowed him access to its main hangar at Jandakot Airport in the Perth area to help him faithfully recreate the PC-24 in as much detail as possible. “The RFDS supported my project right from the start, giving me plenty of opportunities to look at the original aircraft. I was allowed to take measurements – and the RFDS even helped me to get hold of the paint for the original livery”, Andrew tells us. He also had a chance to talk to the PC-24 crew, who gave him advice and tips about handling characteristics.

Due to its size, the model had to undergo a thorough testing and certification process to meet the strict requirements of the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), and for liability insurance. “My aircraft has now passed all the necessary inspections. I’m currently waiting for final approval before flying the model from Wagin Airfield in Western Australia”. There is no fixed date for the maiden flight as yet. “I’m often asked when my PC-24 will fly for the first time. I can only answer: ‘As soon as the wheels leave the ground!’”, smiles Andrew.

Donations for the RFDS

As well as flying his model, Andrew also wants to visit schools with it to raise awareness of the importance of the life-saving services provided by the RFDS, and to collect donations. He has already raised over 40,000 Australian dollars since last August, all of which will go to the charitable organization.

Although Andrew’s illness has taught him to live in the present, he already has ideas for an upcoming project: “I’d love to build a giant-scale version of the other Pilatus aircraft in the RFDS fleet, the PC-12”. For now, though, a turboprop engine of the right size is not available. But the model airplane industry is developing fast, and Andrew can well imagine the necessary resources will become available within a few years. In the meantime, his PC-24 will keep him busy! “At the end of the day, model aircraft flying is a fantastic hobby which helps me stay positive. There are few things better than seeing a model aircraft built with my own hands take to the sky!”