Big Upgrades Unveiled for Beast - The AC175 Battlewagon Taildragger, by Ragwood Refactory!

 Jeff “Jeffro” Whiteley in Beast at High Sierra Fly-in STOL Drag Races. Photo by Karen Hansen Photography
 Jeff “Jeffro” Whiteley in Beast at High Sierra Fly-in STOL Drag Races. Photo by Karen Hansen Photography

Exciting news straight from Kyle Bushman's Facebook page! The legendary "Beast," a highly modified Cessna 175 Taildragger conversion under the care of the Ragwood Refactory, is gearing up for some major enhancements.

By Anitra Goddard, , STOLNation

Photo by Kyle Bushman
Photo by Kyle Bushman

Fuel Efficiency Takes Flight:

The planning stage is in full swing for a split-header fuel tank and a rear smoke oil tank. Addressing the inefficiencies of the 175's original design, the team aims to capitalize on the 10 gallons of previously unusable fuel by incorporating a gallon header tank. This ingenious move not only maximizes fuel utilization but also introduces more head pressure during STOL runs.

Photos by: Kyle Bushman
Photos by: Kyle Bushman

Optimizing Weight Distribution:

Currently laden with 40 pounds of lead in the rear, "Beast" is set to shed this weight with the introduction of the new tanks. The rear smoke oil tank, ranging from 5-8 gallons, will replace the existing bulky smoke tank in the rear baggage compartment. This strategic move not only enhances performance but also allows for a more balanced Center of Gravity (CG), especially during solo and light flights.

Photo by: Daniel Lucas Hoecker
Photo by: Daniel Lucas Hoecker

Extended Range and Alaskan Dreams:

The upgrades promise to add more gallons of fuel, extending "Beast's" legs for longer journeys. The removal of excess weight coupled with improved fuel efficiency might just be the key to making the dream of conquering Alaskan skies a reality! Will we see them in May for the Valdez Fly-in and STOL Competition’s 20th year?! 

Jeff “Jeffro” Whiteley in Beast racing STOL Drag on Dead Cow Lake Bed for High Sierra Fly-in. Photo by Karen Hansen Photography.
Jeff “Jeffro” Whiteley in Beast racing STOL Drag on Dead Cow Lake Bed for High Sierra Fly-in. Photo by Karen Hansen Photography.

Fuel Pump Addition:

Acknowledging the need for a fuel pump when running on header only, the team ensures a comprehensive solution to maintain peak performance during STOL operations.

As we eagerly anticipate the continued evolution of "Beast," the #20 Cessna, under the skilled hands of Jeff "Jeffro" Whiteley and the visionary Kyle Bushman, it's more than just a series of upgrades—it's a personal commitment to soaring beyond boundaries and a testament to the boundless spirit of aviation. And remember folks…

“With Great Smoke, Comes Great Responsibility”


About Kyle Bushman:

Kyle Bushman started flying remote control airplanes at a young age and found he enjoyed fixing them as much or more than flying them. He started flying at age 14. Restoring and watching his first aircraft fly away between 2013 and 2014 gave him the sense that "there is nothing in this world like building an airplane with your own hands and watching it fly for the very first time."

He went to A&P school right out of high school and received his training from Lane Community College. 

His mentor is his grandfather, Ralph Halderman, who always pushed him in a positive direction.

In 2013 Bushman went to work for The Ragwood Refactory with founder Tim Talen, and learned everything he could. Talen was restoring antique aircraft and Bushman thought the time was right to get into antiques before the information and knowledge was lost. After two years Talen decided to retire, and Bushman made the decision to follow his passion and make The Ragwood Refactory his own.

Nominated by Joshua Levi Knowlton, Field Mechanic, Hillsboro Aviation and 2017 AMT Next Gen Award Winner: "Kyle first soloed an airplane at the age of 16. He started A&P school at 18. At the age of 23 he took over The Ragwood Refactory antique aircraft restoration shop in Creswell, OR. He currently owns a 1949 Ryan Navion, a 1943 Navy N3N biplane, and three rare 1938 Cessna 165 Airmaster projects that are in various stages of restoration. He is now 25 years old and quickly becoming one of the leaders in the world of antique aircraft restoration. He always opens his shop for kids and makes himself and his planes available to people who are curious about aviation. He has restored several award winning aircraft already and his attention to detail is second to none. I've known and worked with Kyle for about seven years now and cannot think of a more deserving person for this award. He works extremely hard for very long hours every day. Kyle has a big heart and is extremely honest and he never cuts a corner. I trust his work and his word. He is the epitome of what the aviation industry needs in order to grow in the 21st century."

To give back to the industry he is a strong advocate to people around him, letting them know there are unlimited opportunities in aviation. "There is a huge need for people willing to learn and if you are that person, you can write your own ticket."

Penned by AviationPros for 40 under 40 Airport, Airport Business

About Jeff "Jeffro" Whiteley: Certified STOL Drag Pilot and Owner of "Beast":

 Photo by Carl Costas
Photo by Carl Costas

Jeff "Jeffro" Whiteley is not just a pilot; he's a seasoned aviator with a rich background that spans various facets of aviation. Certified as a STOL Drag pilot in 2021, Jeffro has proven his expertise in Short Takeoff and Landing competitions, showcasing his exceptional skills in precision flying.

His journey in aviation began in the United States Air Force, where he served from 1989 to 1994 as an enlisted aircraft armament systems specialist. During his military tenure, Jeffro worked on renowned aircraft, including the B-1B bomber and F-16, handling both nuclear and conventional weapons. This experience laid the foundation for his deep understanding of aircraft systems and operations.

Transitioning into civilian aviation, Jeffro earned his Sport Pilot certificate in 2009, marking the beginning of his civilian flying career. His passion for aviation led him to achieve a Private Pilot Certificate in 2012, further expanding his capabilities in the skies.

In 2015, Jeffro added another feather to his cap by obtaining a Tailwheel Endorsement, demonstrating his proficiency in handling tailwheel-equipped aircraft. This specialized endorsement reflects his dedication to mastering diverse flying techniques and aircraft configurations.

With a total flight time of 1100 hours, Jeff "Jeffro" Whiteley brings a wealth of experience to the cockpit. Beyond his accomplishments as a pilot, he owns and operates an ATM/amusement machine route, showcasing his entrepreneurial spirit .

Jeffro's commitment to excellence, honed through years of military and civilian aviation experience, is evident in his role as the pilot and owner of "Beast." As he continues to push the boundaries of STOL flying, Jeffro remains a prominent figure in the aviation community, inspiring fellow enthusiasts with his skill, knowledge, and passion for the skies.

About "Beast" - The AC175 Battlewagon Taildragger:

 Photo of Jeff “Jeffro” Whiteley p
 Photo of Jeff “Jeffro” Whiteley p

"Beast" isn't your average aircraft; it's a formidable flying companion that embraces the wild side of the skies. This 1958 Cessna 175 Taildragger, skillfully revamped by the Ragwood Refactory, has undergone some serious upgrades, evolving into a true icon in the realm of Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) aircraft.

With a Continental O470k engine featuring ported/polished high compression pistons, "Beast" boasts a robust 280 horsepower—enough to give your flight a thrilling edge. The MT 83” reversible pitch Propeller, complemented by leading-edge slats and titanium gear, turns every flight into a dynamic experience that defies expectations.

Navigating diverse terrains with ease, "Beast" cruises on its substantial 35" Alaskan Bush Wheels, ensuring a secure grip on the earth. Weighing in at 1550 pounds empty and supporting a gross weight of 2800 pounds, "Beast" is a sturdy companion ready for the challenges of the untamed skies.

Backed by sponsors like MT Propeller, Tempest, McFarlane Aviation Products, and Bushman Built, "Beast" stands as a testament to reliability and performance, acknowledging the practical side of its impressive capabilities.

In the media spotlight, "Beast" has been featured in Plane and Pilot Magazine in their May 2020 Issue with a captivating story and cover photo. AOPA Magazine in the June 2020 issue delved into the intriguing tale of "Beast," while Flying Magazine showcased its charm on the cover for their January 2022 issue, solidifying its status as a visually striking and iconic aircraft.