Ward Taylor works on his P-51 Mustang while getting orders from retired Second World War pilot Franklin Wilkinson.

Ward Taylor works on his P-51 Mustang while getting orders from retired Second World War pilot Franklin Wilkinson.

Local enthusiast builds Second World War replica plane

Ward Taylor is building a replica North American Aviation P-51D aircraft.

Local pharmacist Ward Taylor has long been fascinated by both the history of the Second World War and airplanes. So when he had the opportunity to combine these passions and embark on building a replica fighter aircraft, he jumped at the chance.

Last year he purchased a partially complete P-51D Mustang kit plane. “I was lucky to find the kit plane in the United States for a great price back when the Canadian dollar was around par. My Dad even picked it up for me in Pennsylvania and drove it all the way to the Kootenays in a rented U-haul,” said Taylor. The North American Aviation P51 Mustang was a long-range fighter escort that was used during the Second World War. It helped to ensure Allied air superiority during the war, ultimately contributing to the defeat of the Nazi regime.

The original owner/builder was a retired engineer who had completed around 50 per cent of the build before he decided sell the project for personal reasons. “It turned out to be a real score,” added Taylor. “Being an engineer, his workmanship has been meticulous.”

Taylor has been joined by another local enthusiast who has previously built kit-planes and has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to building experimental aircraft. “It’s amazing to see his skill and patience as the project develops,” said Taylor. “It’s a great learning experience.” The airplane is now at about 75 per cent completion with controls, avionics and engine installation remaining. He hopes the project will be complete by late fall.

Taylor already has a pilots license and plans to gain flight hours in the aircraft and eventually fly it in airshows. He is thrilled to hear talk of an airshow possibly coming to the Castlegar Airport. “I’ve heard some rumours and I don’t know if they are true, but I’m sure I’d be one of the first to buy my tickets,” he said.

Taylor invites anyone that shares his passion to swing by his IDA pharmacy in Castlegar, New Denver or Kaslo for some “hanger-talk.”