Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Swedish Guy Who Built the Airplane

We have been looking for land up around the village of Cochran. That is where the "Swedish Guy Who Built the Airplane" lives. We have been hearing about him since our very first visit to the island.

We first heard the story when we were sitting drinking an icy glass of juice in the small east coast village of Petite Soufriere. This pretty little village clings to a hillside at the end of a winding road. We felt quite happy finding this spot to sit in the shade and drink juice with the locals, watching the sea. One guy smiled and said to me, "I work up in Cochran. There are lots of white people up there. You know, that is where the Swedish Guy Who Built the Airplane lives." (FYI, In Dominica, "lots of white people" means more than one.)

That was our introduction, but over the years we have repeatedly heard about S.G.W.B.A. Now I do not know the truth of the story, but I will share what we have heard. Apparently, this fellow built an ultra light aircraft in the mountain village of Cochran (elevation 1650 feet) hauled it down the winding narrow roads of Dominica (!), attached the wings, and flew off. The story I heard was that he flew to the States. Of course that may have been embellishment, artistic license. But it is a great story, and I have enjoyed it each time I have heard it.

There was, in fact, a Swedish community up in Cochran founded by some intrepid Swede who divided land into lots and sold them for vacation homes back in the 60's. These original owners have mostly retreated back to Sweden in their elder years. But the S.G.W.B.A. still owns a house there. We heard he might sell, so we went tramping around to have a look. Hmm. Mighty close to that steep edge... But still. We later got his email address to send an inquiry.

I got a nice email back. S.G.W.B.A. is not sure he wants to sell.

It might have been fun to live in the house of a local legend. I mean, how many Swedes build aircraft on small tropical islands and fly away? And we would always have an interesting story with which to greet visitors. I can just see Mr. Wizard with his chest puffed out, "This house was once owned by the Swedish Guy Who Built the Airplane. Let me tell you the story..."

Update: there has been a documentary made about S.G.W.B.A. called Celebration of Flight.

livingdominica: and have I told you the story about the American woman who lost her mind when her farm slid down the hill?


Billy said...

first i have heard of this. is all good. maybe he could build one for me.

Jen said...

If you run into someone from Cochran, Billy, they will tell you about it. I keep imagining the plane going down that narrow winding road. Amazing.

A friend in Giraudel said...

I have met him on different occasions, because I was interested in his French car, a Citroën 2CV (very environment friendly, by the way). He told me about the building of his plane (not an ultra-light, but a “regular” one-engine, as far as I have understood). After finishing it he had to take it apart to put it in a container for shipment to the USA. He had it registered and sold there. A documentary has been made about his very adventurous life and the building of his plane, that had its premiere last summer on a festival in the USA. If you google his name (Daniel Rundström) you will find the whole story.