Pilot builds bush plane from scratch

Some assembly required: Blaine Carlson is seen at work on his four-seat bush plane. He first started building the plane eight years ago. Built for floats

Some assembly required: Blaine Carlson is seen at work on his four-seat bush plane. He first started building the plane eight years ago. Built for floats

By CHARLES TWEED

The times may have changed, but local aviator Blaine Carlson is trying to do something very similar to what the Wright brothers accomplished back in 1903.

Cut from the same cloth as the Wrights, a throwback homegrown boy who likes to work with his hands and know every inch of the instrument he’s building, Carlson has meticulously built, crafted, and poured his heart and soul into his four-seat bush design aircraft.

“When I started this program I thought it was going to be a lot shorter than it was, but here I am eight years later and I guess you just keep plodding along.

And when you see what you’ve done, it makes it all worth it,” said Carlson, who is a commercial fixed wing pilot and aircraft maintenance engineer.

Carlson undertook the project in May of 2002 and admits it hasn’t been without its challenges.

“A few times it was almost daunting, I almost wanted to get rid of it and go on and get something new that I could fly. But with lots of help from friends and a patient and understanding wife (Val), it makes it a lot easier.”

The plane itself has a bush design, weighing approximately 1,500 pounds and is built for floats, skies and wheels. It has a 38-foot wingspan, is 20 feet long and is powered by a 180 hp Lycoming engine. Carlson expects the plane to reach speeds of about 100 mph but won’t know for sure until it’s up in the air.

“I expect to fly around February or early March but first I have a mountain of paperwork and an inspection from the Experimental Aircraft Association. After that you have to fly 25 hours off by yourself, before you can take passengers with you.”

The prospect of finally getting the airplane up in the air is one that excites Carlson.

“Aviation is always what I wanted to do,” he said, “I built it right from scratch, out of my head.” As for where he plans on flying when the plane finally becomes fully operational, “I built it so I could mainly just fly around in the back country.”