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Rick Church

Rick Church Bio

I began my aircraft maintenance career in 1960 at age 6 when I helped my AME father recover a Taylorcraft aileron. From that point forward I was interested in aviation.

After school I signed up for training at BC Vocational school, and in the meantime took a position as cleaner at CP Air heavy maintenance hangar at YVR. Once completed training in 1976 I was hired at Pacific Western Airlines, working on Boeing 707,727, and 737, as well as Convair 640 aircraft.

Unfortunately, airline work was too unstable for a guy with a young family so during one layoff I took a position of Base engineer in Sandspit, Queen Charlotte Islands, now Haida Gwaii. The fleet there consisted of DH Beaver and Otter aircraft, and well as Grumman Goose sched aircraft whenever work was need on our base. I started pretty much the day I got my license.

After two years there I returned to PWA and at the same time I took on my first major rebuild project, a Cessna180 with landing gear ripped out and associated wing, tail, and fuselage damage. I worked under a B license engineer for this project, although I did all the work, and in the process obtained my own B category license for structural repairs, later changed to S license. I worked two jobs at this point, one at the airline and the other my own repair and maintenance business.

Once again laid off from the airline I took a job as director of maintenance at a small regional airline, Burrard Air, and a short time later moved to Wilderness Air, where I eventually bought into the airline. In 1998 we sold Wilderness Air to Pacific Coastal Airlines, and I retired for the first time at age 43.

I kept busy building my own Cessna 140, travelling the world buying aircraft for my good buddy Dan Wuthrich at North Cariboo Air. I also did two rotations to help Dan out with maintenance on his Twin Otter and Beech 1900C in Khartoum Sudan, in Africa.

I also volunteered heavily at the Canadian Museum of Flight in Langley, rebuilding and maintaining vintage aircraft, mostly WWII and prior training aircraft.

In 2004 I started my maintenance shop, Langley Aero Structures as a working hobby but it quickly got out of hand and outgrew two hangars before buying my own building that the company currently operates out of at Langley Airport.

Two years ago, I sold LAS to two of my long term employees and the company continues to operate in good hands.

Backing up a bit, I learned to fly in the early 80’s on a Cessna 170B that I had done a restoration on for a friend, in exchange for the use of the aircraft. I obtained my PPL in 1984 and my CPL in 1986. Right after my PPL I started flying a Maule M-4, then the first of many Cessna 180’s.

Over the course of my flying career, I have flown close to 50 types, from DH Tiger Moth, Fleet Finch, to Boeing 747, 767 & Airbus 330 Simulator. I have conducted ferry flights as second pilot from SE France in a King Air 200, and from Johannesburg South Africa to Langley BC for import, both for North Cariboo Air. I have flown 58 different Cessna 180/185, in all configurations of powerplant, STOL kits, floats, skis, oversize tires etc.

My current aircraft is a 1968 Cessna 180H, with Robertson STOL, P Ponk engine of 280 HP, oversize tires in summer and hydraulic wheelskis in winter.  I purchased this aircraft as a wreck from an insurance company as a wreck August 2007 and rebuilt it myself with the first flight May 2009.

Over the years I have owned either personally or through my various companies several 180/185, Beaver, Islander, Navajo, Beech King Air A100, 200 and 1900C, Cessna 140, 172, and several other aircraft bought as wrecks but not rebuilt.

The majority of my flying experience has been tail draggers and floats, and a lot of off airport operations. I probably have about 1000 landings on river gravel bars, mostly the lower Fraser, and have flown skis off an on since about the mid 1980’s, although most of my ski time is more recent.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to salvage and recover, sometimes from remote areas several wrecks or sunken aircraft, and have sadly lost a few friends and acquaintances along the way. Each of these events added to my own experience, by way of learning from others mistakes, or sometimes just from “Shit happens” scenarios.

I started this off with a story about my dad, and Ill close in the same manner. Luckily my dad is still around, and occasionally sends me accurate wooden carvings of WWII vintage aircraft he carves to keep himself busy, all from memory, as a child growing up in Norwich, UK during the battle of Britain and all through the war. He emigrated to Canada in 1950.