Monday, January 8, 2018

Guy Savoie's Zenith STOL CH 750, C-FRYA: 85-year-old retired doctor builds airplane from scratch • And it only took him 1,000 hours

Savoie became enamoured of planes as a kid in the 1930s. Seventy-eight years later he built one of his own.

A dream 78 years in the making has come true for a New Brunswick flying enthusiast.

Guy Savoie, an 85-year-old retired surgeon from Edmundston, recently completed building his own plane from scratch and flew it for the first time in November.

Savoie's love of aircraft was cultivated at a young age, even though his upbringing was well removed from planes.

"I was born in Saint-Quentin and there was no airport there," Savoie said.

Childhood fascination

Savoie's interest in planes was inspired, in part, by the Second World War.

He told CBC's Shift that he would see lots of pictures of airplanes in newspapers.

This sparked the young boy's imagination.

"We used to fabricate small airplanes with pieces of wood and so on at school and at home," Savoie said.

He has been flying since the early 1960s and received his pilot licence in 1967. Although he'd never built a plane until now, he always had access to one.

"I've had one or two airplanes ever since," said Savoie.

He said he wanted to build a plane since the '70s. But being a bachelor and a surgeon, he couldn't afford the 1,000 or so hours it would take to build.

He waited until he retired.

A surgeon's hand

Savoie's pride and joy Is 95 per cent aluminum and held together with 10,000 rivets.

While you wouldn't expect there to be much overlap between surgery and building a plane, Savoie always kept his medical training in mind as he worked on the project.

"When I was learning to become a surgeon … they used to tell us that we should put every stitch in as if the life of the patient depended on it," Savoie said.

"I took that project similarly … the life of this airplane depends on it."

Last building project

Savoie said he will wait for the weather to warm up before making another journey in his airplane.

He plans to fix up a couple of planes but has no plans to build another from scratch.

"I don't think I will proceed with another project that length of time," Savoie said.

"I want to be putting the time on flying from now on."

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