Aviation buff crosses item off bucket list with flight over Saskatoon in WW2 plane
Local aviation buff Don MacPherson has flown in a variety of aircrafts, but he had never stepped into a 1942 de-Havilland Tigermoth - until Wednesday night.
Riding in front while the pilot maneuvered the bi-plane from the back seat, MacPherson, 76, zipped across the Saskatoon skyline, catching his first glimpse of the Chief Mistawasis Bridge, his home near Market Mall and the bird’s-eye view of the South Saskatchewan River.
“It’s been a lifetime ambition to fly in an airplane like this,” MacPherson said. “And for a very short time I had the controls and it felt pretty good. I’ve flown a lot of airplanes; that was different.”
The smell of the plane was like perfume, he said.
“Never smelled one like that before. It had a little bit hydraulic fluid, little bit of brake fluid, little bit of gas, little bit of exhaust, I loved it.”
Once in the air, flight controls were turned over to him and with a slight move of the joystick, the plane would turn.
“A big chunk of it is very visceral, you feel it, sense it and I think it would take a while but I would get used to it,” he said.
The de-Havilland Tigermoth was primarily used as a training bi-plane for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Thousands of people trained on it before moving on to bigger, heavier planes.
For MacPherson, the Tigermoth has always been an icon in Canadian aviation.
“I took a step into history is what I did and it felt like I was there … it was quite awesome, it was quite a feeling,” MacPherson said.
Lloyd Epp piloted the Tigermoth for MacPherson. Communicating through a headset, Epp said knowing MacPherson and his experience flying, he wasn’t nervous passing the controls to him.
“I don’t let go until he takes control so somebody always has control of the airplane, and he just took it an maneuvered it around a little bit, tried a couple of little turns and he did fine,” Epp said.
The aviation museum is offering flights on the Tigermoth for a $250 donation. On Sept. 28 pilot Dale Tiedeman is taking the bi-plane to Bradshaw’s Air Strip just south of Carrot River, giving anyone interested a chance to step into the Second World War plane for an evening or morning flight. Advanced reservations can be booked by calling the museum at 306-651-7247.
If you’re like MacPherson and love flying, he said this is an opportunity not to be missed.
“If you like airplanes you got to be in this one,” he said.
“Number one on the bucket list.”