Kitset plane takes off to mark Canterbury aircraft builder's final flight


Canterbury Recreational Club Members Doug Anderson (left), Wayne Wilson and Ray Corbett with the...
Canterbury Recreational Club Members Doug Anderson (left), Wayne Wilson and Ray Corbett with the TCP Savannah S light aircraft ZK-SGM they helped build for the club. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE
Sierra Gulf Mike – taking off runway 25.

With that simple call over the airwaves the latest addition of the Canterbury Recreational Aircraft Club’s fleet of aircraft took to the air recently, marking the final chapter in one member’s long association with the club.

Club member and enthusiastic aircraft builder Graeme Main, the GM in the aircraft’s registration number, sadly didn’t live to see the first flight of SGM. He died in June 2023.

He approached the club several years ago with the idea of members building a TCP Savannah S light aircraft.

This project would give members experience in gaining hands-on skills in building an aircraft kit while learning how one goes together, he said.

The skills gained would allow members to carry out their own maintenance in the future, save them time and money and provide enjoyment along the way.

Graeme also pitched the idea as a way of building club spirit through sharing the joy of building something together.

And so late in 2022, a large crate arrived from the TCP factory in Italy, containing one kitset aircraft, all the aluminium and steel parts already shaped, and a big bag of rivets, plus a very large and detailed manual on how to build it.

What came later from local sources were the Rotax 100HP engine, propeller, radiator, and paint.

The labour came from a core team of keen aircraft builders from within the club, helped out by many of the club's 260+ members.

Former club president and member of the building team, Doug Anderson says Graeme was an advocate for self-built planes.

‘‘He loved the Savannahs, they are a very capable and a very forgiving aircraft to fly. 

‘‘The many owners of Savannahs here in the club have done a lot of work to their aircraft, modifying them with factory approval to suit the New Zealand flying conditions here. But Graeme just loved building them.”

For all who took part in the build, Doug says there is a strong sense of achievement.