Christine and Steven Mogg with the plane built entirely in their double-car garage. (ABC News: Elise Pianegonda)
In Steven Mogg’s garage in suburban Canberra — along with some superglue and cans of paint for the odd touch up — are spare parts for a plane.
When Mr Mogg turned 50 he made a bucket list, but he was just as surprised as anyone to find that building a plane was an item he ticked off.
As a former RAAF engineer, Mr Mogg has always been interested in aircraft and wanted one of his own since he “found out it was something you could do, that it was a thing”.
And he said almost anybody could build a small plane in a standard-sized garage.
“You just need to be able to fit one of the wings,” he said.
“People build them in single or double car garages — though single would be a bit tight.
“People build them in their lounge rooms.”
While obtaining the DIY plane kit online was pretty straightforward, the construction was another story altogether.
“Perseverance is the skill you need. It’s a lot of little pieces, putting them together over a lot of time,” Mr Mogg said.
“It’s basically drilling a hole and putting a rivet in it over and over again.”
Kit sat untouched until the house was painted
Mr Mogg said the kit came with clear instructions and no special skills were required to build the plane. (ABC News: Ian Cutmore)
Mr Mogg’s wife Christine said it did not faze her that her husband took on the mammoth task of building a plane, as he had various hobbies throughout their lives.
But she said the kit sat untouched for nine months because painting the outside of their house took priority.
The plane was named Charlie as tribute the inventive streak in some of the men in Mr Mogg’s family. (ABC News: Elise Pianegonda)
“There was a bit of a list already of things that needed to be done,” Ms Mogg said.
“So there was some negotiating.”
Once underway, it took Mr Mogg about three years to build the Zodiac XL plane.
And in doing so he joined a tight-knit community of Canberra plane builders — an estimated 20 people tinkering away in garages across the city.
It also inspired a new goal — flying his own plane across the country.
“I wanted to fly around Australia,” Mr Mogg said.
“That was the general idea when you’re spending your time drilling holes in aluminium.”
Flying from Brisbane to Broome as part of Outback Air Race
A charity race to raise money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service provided the perfect opportunity and motivation to complete the build.
In August more than 40 teams will fly from Brisbane to Broome as part of the Outback Air Race — the Moggs are the only Canberra entrants.
“It’s a way to give back to community,” Mr Mogg said.
“The little bit of flying I’ve done already, you get the sense you need the Royal Flying Doctors, because if something happens to you out there, there’s a lot of nothing.”
The husband and wife team are just under $1,000 shy of their $4,000 target, but nationally more than $100,000 has already been raised for the event.
The Moggs’ plane — named Charlie after the inventors and builders in Mr Mogg’s family — has also passed all its checks and was cleared for take-off.
But Ms Mogg said it was a daunting experience watching the test flight from the ground.
“You see too many movies and they all have big fireballs, so I was hoping there wouldn’t be anything like that,” she said.
But Mr Mogg said safety was on his mind the entire build and a few parts were even made twice or three times, because they did not quite work out exactly as expected.
“He doesn’t want to come to harm and he doesn’t want me to either,” Ms Mogg said.
“I trust he’s done the best he can and we all have a time to go I guess.”
Mr Mogg said some pieces of the plane were built numerous times because they did not fit as flush as he would have liked. (ABC News: Elise Pianegonda)