Plane flies out of time warp

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (NOV 15/96) - One of Yellowknife's oldest aircrafts is in the air again after a 25-year hiatus.

Owner Scott Coggan recently finished more than a year's work restoring the 1945 Taylorcraft single-engine plane and took it to the airways for the first time since 1971.

An aircraft maintenance engineer with Ptarmigan Airways and a pilot, Coggan bought the antique in September 1995 to refinish and fly as a hobby.

"Airplanes are so expensive to rent these days, it's just as well to buy your own," he says. "I bought it to fly on sunny days."

The plane has changed owners eight times since 1945, when it flew to Yellowknife straight from the factory in Alliance, Ohio. Owned by Associate Airways, the plane was used to check ice between Hay River and Yellowknife when ice roads were still the main transportation system in the North.

Coggan has no intention of selling the aircraft after the work he's put into it. With only 1,800 flying hours on the aircraft, he says, it's in immaculate shape.

"It's hard to put a dollar value on it because of the amount of work so many people put into it."

He bought the plane from Gordon Swanson, who did the majority of work. Coggan also received help from several engineers, including Phil Howard, who will take flying lessons in the antique next summer as a return favor.

Completely refinished, every part of the aircraft has been rebuilt. Coggan says most of the work was done when he got it, but he put the finished pieces together, including the wings, which were unattached.

Dan Jones was the first to take the plane for a test ride. He is also training Coggan how to land the plane with its older-style landing gear.

While most aircraft haven't changed much over the years, there are some minor differences on the Taylorcraft, including a wheel on the rear of the plane instead of the front and a wooden propeller that's started by hand.

"The plane has been in the Yellowknife area it's whole life," he says. "I think that's the most interesting part -- it's a Yellowknife plane -- hasn't been anywhere else."