Kev Christian is definitely a ‘hands on’ sort of bloke.
“I’m not much good with reading and writing, but I have always been good with my hands.”
Well, the 27 Macleay Island resident has definitely been ‘good with his hands’ with his latest venture.
Kev enjoys taking on various tasks, building things from scratch.
He hand built his Beelong Street home, and recently he decided to take on a special project and build the replica of one of the worlds’ most famous aircraft.
It is the Bleriot, an iconic aircraft of the pioneer era of aviation.
In fact it was Louis Bleriot who made the first flight across the English Channel in a heavier than air aircraft on 25 July, 1909. The achievement was one of the most famous accomplishments in all of aviation.
So why do it?
“Well, it was just something to do,” a very laconic Kev told The Friendly Bay Islander.
Kev didn’t even bother to look up the dimensions of the original Bleriot or work to a plan or any designs.
“I worked it out from just looking a the pictures.”
His is not an exact recreation of the original aircraft.
“I just decided to put it together with some stuff I had around the place,” he said.
To say that Kev has come up with some pretty interesting bits and pieces in building the Bleriot, is somewhat of an understatement.
The undercarriage consists of BMX bike wheels he found on the side of the road.
He has used a 4x4 aluminium pole for the centrepiece of the aircraft.
Parts of an aluminium fence have been used for the tail plane frame and elevators.
A BMW motor bike screen is the screen to protect the pilot from the wind, and a plastic seat he ‘found somewhere’ is the pilot’s seat.
Aluminium strips he fashioned run across the wings and, unlike the original versions of the Bleriot, Kev has added flaps for greater safety at takeoff and landing.
The wings are so big, that it will perform like a big sail, powered by a 24hp Honda engine, that Kev will add some extra ‘grunt’ to.
The whole thing is held together with stainless steel wires and bracing.
He intends to cover the wing surface with a gossamer material, stretch it, than seal it with a plastic wrapping material he learned about while ‘trucking’ in Western Australia.
“It makes a very strong and light surface material,” he added.
Kev’s version of the Bleriot is amazingly light, and will probably be around 100kg when completed. The original Bleriot was 210kg.
So far the project has cost around $700!
It may be another 12 months before it is completed, and then Kev Christian has to work out what he is going to do about flying it.
Fortunately, the entire craft can be ‘flat packed’ and easily transported, which may probably be to Caboolture Airport where there is an active historical aircraft group.
He is quite willing to hop in the seat and ‘give it a go’ himself.
Air Safety Regulations may yet prevent that.
Whatever happens, the Friendly Bay Islander will watch with interest.
In the meantime there is a possibility that Kev’s Beelong Street home could get a new name to go with so many others in the famous Macleay Island street.
Beelongintheair, is our suggestion!
• Kevin Christian fitting the engine to his Bleriot aircraft. INSET (small): A Bleriot in flight.