Alice Campbell Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Havre native Larry Larson will be taking to the skies soon in his new plane that he built. Larson began building his Chinook Plus 2 fixed-wing experimental airplane in January 2008 and finished it September of that year. The finished plane now sits at the Havre-Hill County Airport waiting for warmer weather when its lack of a heater won't be so noticeable. While he waits for spring, Larson has performed a few taxi tests to get the feel for the plane. Larson said he will probably perform "six or seven taxi tests before it (the plane) hits the air." The tests will maken sure that all the gauges work properly, and that he can Comfortably control the plane at 50 miles per hour. Larson said every plane is different, so each takes some getting used to. The Chinook Plus 2's engine is in the rear of the plane instead of in the front like the ones Larson obtained his pilot's license in. "Instead of pushing the plane up, the gas pushes the nose down," he said, adding, "I've just got to keep practicing." Despite the drop of the nose whenever the plane is given gas, the plane has a glide ratio of 10:1 meaning it moves forward 10 feet for every foot it drops. The average glide ratio is 7:1. Larson began his flying days with a powered parachute he bought as a factory demo. "I used to take it up for photo shoots," he said. All the airtime in his parachute inspired Larson to take his flying to the next level and build a small plane. He chose a Chinook Plus 2 fixed-wing experimental airplane from Aircraft Sales and Parts, a Canada-based aircraft parts store specializing in ultra-light models. The kit came with all the things he needed to build the finished product. Mainly, Larson, along with his friends Willie Hurd, Tony Dolphay and Wayne Silvan, put the "skeleton" together, covered it with fabric and then painted the plane. "My friends have a few ideas about stuff to put on the plane, but I'm not sure I want to do that yet," Larson said. He did add a duck decal to one wing to personalize his project. The parachute required no pilot's license to fly, so he spent three weeks in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington obtaining one this summer. "Usually it only takes two weeks. It took me three. I'm a little older," Larson joked. Look for Larson in his new plane this spring. It will likely become a staple of the skyline since he's planning on keeping it for a while. "I think I'm going to stick with this one (plane). It was fun but it was a lot of work," Larson said of the building process. Even though he's afraid of heights and said, "As soon as I take off I close my eyes," Larson is looking forward to flying again. "It'll be great," he said, unlike his experience at the Seattle Space Needle. "In an airplane you don't get that fear because you're in control," he said. Hopefully when he takes to the air, the birds will keep their eyes open. For more information on the Chinook Plus 2 fixedwing experimental airplane, go to www.ultralight.ca.