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Chevak watches as student-built LSA takes flight

Rob Stapleton

Chevak students and family members gathered in brisk conditions to watch as the Rans S-6S Coyote took flight over the tundra, after receiving its airworthiness inspection and certification. The aircraft was built by Chevak High School students as part of an aviation course offered by the school located on the tundra in western Alaska.

“The aircraft was beautifully built and was obviously the pride of the aeronautics class at the school,” said Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) John Davis.

Chevak teacher Ryan Walker, a Certified Flight Instructor and commercial pilot with an A&P authorization, guided the class in the construction of the aircraft.

The Rans S-6S Coyote II project, which started as a Quick Build kit, is a two-place, side-by-side seating, single-engine high wing aircraft, which can be built as either a tail wheel or tricycle landing gear Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) powered by a 100-horsepower Rotax 912 ULS.

Davis, who is also the builder of three Van’s RV aircraft and the treasurer of the Experimental Aircraft Association in Anchorage, commented about the event and the aircraft.

“The aircraft was flown on its maiden flight by Walker at the conclusion of school that afternoon under perfect conditions, and the performance of the aircraft, particularly at 20 below zero, impressed the assembled crowd,” Davis said.

Davis, originally from Australia, pointed out the circuitous route he had to take to make the journey to Chevak, a village of 950 people in western Alaska, on March 24 to do the inspection.

“As a side note - for those who think a DAR is hard to find, to reach Chevak I started with a 7 a.m. Alaska Airlines flight on a 737 to Bethel, then an ERA Cessna Caravan to Chevak,” Davis said.” To make the return I flew in a Caravan to Bethel, then a final leg on a 737 back arriving at 10 p.m. into Anchorage.”

Walker targeted the aircraft’s completion date as late March, and has promised to fly the aircraft to Anchorage late in April -- weather permitting -- so that participants, pilots and aircraft owners can view the aircraft at the Alaska Airmen’s Association 2011 Alaska State Aviation Trade Show & Conference on April 30 - May 1.

The completion was on schedule but the airworthiness inspection was a bit late due to weather. Davis had planned to make the trip early in March but had to wait two weeks to make the journey to Chevak. The trip was worth it for the students and the community.

“I believe this aircraft may be the furthest-west certified Amateur-Built to be constructed, and the students and all involved should be very proud of their achievement,” said Davis.

Contact Rob Stapleton at robstapleton(at)alaska.net.

[Editor's Note: Walker also posted a lengthy video of the maiden flight to his Vimeo page. You can view the video here.]