Bill Ohlson’s kit plane arrived at his house in a box. Now, the pilot is in the process of getting his plane certified as airworthy after 14 years of working away at the project.
He’s taken the plane up for its first few flights, saying “it felt good,” to be up in the air with it for the first time.
The occasion of the first flight, said Ohlson, wasn’t a grand one with spectators.
“If you have family and other people there, it distracts the pilot.”
About 14 years ago, Ohlson purchased the Kit Fox S5 two-seater plane from a factory in Idaho.
The plane, except for the engine which was sent later, arrived in a 4-foot by 4-ft. by 16-ft. crate.
Now, the white plane with blue and yellow trim is fully built and measures about 23 feet long with a 32-foot wing span.
Ohlson, who built the plane himself in his shop, explains that the wings fold so the plane can be transported on a large flat-deck car trailer.
Ben’s Towing hauled the plane to the Salmon Arm airport from Ohlson’s Blind Bay home.
The first 25 hours of the plane’s flight time, explained Ohlson, must be flown within a 25-mile radius of the pilot’s “home airport.” Once the 25 hours have been completed safely, Transport Canada will certify the craft as airworthy.
Ohlson has owned one plane before and often flew to jobs when working as an oilfield consultant.
He would sometimes commute by plane to jobs in Alberta and Wyoming. He’s had his pilot’s licence since 1966.
The pilot was inspired to build his own plane when a neighbour did so.
The end result, said Ohlson, is a plane that is equipped to fly into major airports, like the one in Kelowna, for example.
“Buying a certified plane is so expensive. There are some really nice kits out there,” he explains.
The inspection process is a lengthy one, said the pilot, who does not have any special trips planned after the certification and initial flight hours are complete.
Building a kit plane usually takes a few years, said Ohlson, who spent much longer working on his Kit Fox due to working overseas for long periods of time. Sometimes he was in India or Thailand for months on end.
“One year, I was out of the country for 11 months,” said Ohlson, who has always liked building things. Now, he goes almost daily to the Salmon Arm airport, where the Kit Fox is in a large Cover All hangar.