In 2016, MAF volunteers Andrew and Denise Macdonald were handed photos of a sad-looking Cessna 172S due to be shipped from Australia for use at MAF Scotland events. Thus began their search for the perfect trailer!
Having once loaded a smaller Cessna on to a trailer at a Clan Gathering, we had an idea of what was needed. Our initial research showed this 172S weighed less than a tonne and wouldn’t require a heavy trailer — rather one with a single axle, extra-long chassis that was easy to set up and manoeuvre.
The solution — a boat trailer!
In March 2017, we first saw the Cessna ‘in the flesh’ in a barn near Perth. The wings, nose cone, engine and propeller had been removed and the interior dismantled. Despite a few wounds to its fuselage — a result of flying help, hope and healing to remote PNG communities — we could see this veteran wasn’t quite ready for retirement.
Plan A was to winch the plane on to the trailer, support the fuselage, remove its wheels and store all the component parts on the trailer.
Back at our Trail West base in Oban, modifications to a boat trailer included numerous brackets and fasteners and alloy ramps. Then came our first change of plan.
We decided to attach the fuselage to a custom-made trolley and all would be well — at least, that was our hope!
In July, Denise and I took a transporter trailer to Perth and, with Andy Martin’s help, we loaded it up and towed it to Oban, with a view to transferring the aircraft onto its own new trailer and making some final adjustments.
Alas, there were numerous issues with this and we had to abandon the trolley idea and move on to Plan C, namely, make the plane a fixture on the trailer by attaching the fuselage to custommade brackets. These were quite a challenge as they had to leave sufficient clearance for storing the detached tailplane underneath the fuselage.
Weeks of trial-and-error rolled into months until January 2018, when most of the missing parts were delivered. Access plates were fitted, seats reinstated and a spare wheel located. Almost nine months after collecting it, the plane — and its trailer — are finally ready for public performance.
We sincerely hope you enjoy the finished product!