- Jan 18, 2009
- Dunlavin, County Wicklow,Ireland
there was a legendary story of an Australian CAA inspector, who had to make a long road journey by car and there wasnt a whole pile of exciting scenery to look at, on his long journey. So, when he spotted an aircraft ahead, appearing to land on the road, it peaked his interest. Landing on the road in outback Australia is not unusual but even so, most people tend to use dirt or gravel runways. It became apparent that the pilot was doing circuits on the road and he watched as the guy flew some competent circuits and then landed and taxied to a nearby house. The CAA guy went over and asked about the aircraft, which appeared to be a Cherokee....................... Upon close inspection, it turned out to have a Chipmunk propellor, matched to to what turned out to a be a gearbox from a vehicle axle, fitted to the front of a Lycoming. The control cables appeared to be fence wire, several instruments were cobbled together into a loose arrangement in front of the pilot and the wings had a fairing outboard of each leg, where the outer and inner wing sections appeared to have been joined. When the CAA guy looked under the fairings (commercial alloy sheet), he saw that the spars had been welded together. At this point, he identified himself to the man and asked about the aircraft's origin. It turned out that the guy had always wanted to fly, was endlessly fascinated by aviation but being a lowly employee on a sheep station, didnt have much money but was good with his hands.............................. A Cherokee was found on a scrapyard, which had gone between two steel fence posts, hence the "three-part wing". It had a functioning engine but no decent usable propellor, very little in the way of instruments and just enough of a windshield and remaining perspex that it could be flown. The guy welded the spars together, replaced any needed cables with fence wire, cobbled together a reduction system for the non-matching propellor and got the whole contraption going. When asked about flying lessons, he admitted that he'd had none (formally) but had flown many times in sheep station aircraft and had recieved some unofficial tuition, to the point where he felt confident that he could carry out a safe circuit. He had a well-worn book about learning to fly and he was using that to teach himself the finer details, but by that time, he could fly competent circuits. The CAA guy said that it broke his heart to have to ground the guy because it was a clear example of the little guy having "a fair go" ( a concept etched in the heart of every Australian), a lot of what the guy had done was mechanically clever and he was harming no-one.