More Light Planes … Fun to Fly and Fun to Learn About

Cliff Sawyer’s modified Cessna L-19 in its jig during restoration at Sioux Lookout circa 2005. (Richard Hulina)

Having covered on our blog the story of Rich Hulina’s fabulous little “Super 150” C-FRFT, another Sioux Lookout Cessna story is worth the telling.

Cliff Sawyer learned to fly in Minneapolis in 1971. By that time he and his wife, Roma, had come to Canada and were running Cliff and Roma’s Wilderness Camp. In 1989 Cliff bought a damaged 1963 Cessna 185C (c/n 1850674) in the US. He hauled it north and put it into George Allen’s Sioux Lookout maintenance shop for an end-to-end rebuild.

‘0674 ultimately emerged as a sparkling rebuild. As C-FEWE it now became your typical fishing and hunting camp workhorse and to 2009 had flown about 1500 hours. ‘EWE uses a 300-hp Continental IO-520 (original Ce.185: 260-hp Continental IO-470) and has a Robinson STOL kit.


C-FEWE hibernating for the winter at Sioux Lookout on February 6, 1992. (Larry Milberry)

As the years went by, Cliff wanted a plane that would be more for fun than work. He knew that there was a weather-worn frame of an ex-US Army Cessna L-19 in the bush near Atikokan. Although it had sat out for about 25 years, the frame was undamaged, so Cliff bought it with an eye to a restoration.

Back in Sioux Lookout, Cliff had a jig made and the same process started at George Allen’s. Gradually a handsome little plane took shape, but it was quite the hodgepodge of parts. The vertical tail was off a Cessna 185, the horizontal stab from a Cessna 172. A hefty Continental IO-520 engine was installed (the original 1950-vintage US Army L-19 had a 213-hp Continental C-470).


Months later and the L-19 is starting to look rather pretty in the busy Allen Airways hangar. Then, C-FICI as gorgeous as an L-19 could ever look, ready and willing to fly. (Richard Hulina)

As C-FICI, the much-modified “amateur-built” Cessna L-19 took to the air again in 2006. It’s a real favourite, and logs about 300 hours yearly. ‘ICI’s a lot more fun than ‘EWE to fly among Cliff and Roma’s six outpost camps, but each plane serves its purpose.

Wings covered against ice and snow, and skis installed, C-FICI sits ready for some fun winter-flying. (Richard Hulina)

Cliff Sawyer’s amateur-built L-19 on floats at Sioux Lookout. (Richard Hulina)

The Canadian Army operated the Cessna L-19 from 1954 to 1973. In 2013 veteran Canadian Army L-19 pilot, John Dicker, recalled: “We operated a total of 29 Cessna L-19s (Nos.701-725 and 732-735). 732-735 were a later buy from the US Army mid-1965. We also operated six L-19Ls (Cessna 182s): 726-729 were D models, 730-731 were F models).” Following their frontline years, many of the survivors became Air Cadet glider towing planes with civil registrations. Here is L-19E 119732 ready for a mission from Uplands (Ottawa) on June 9, 1972. It later flew as glider tug C-FTGU. (Larry Milberry)

3 responses to “More Light Planes … Fun to Fly and Fun to Learn About

  1. Thanks for this post! I was looking for info about L-19s being used as bushplanes, either on floats or skis, and you’ve got both!

  2. Larry: We actually operated a total of 29 Cessna L-19s (701-725 incl and 732-735 incl). 732-735 incl were a later buy from the US Army mid-1965. We also operated six L-19Ls (Cessna 182s): 726-729 incl were D models and 730-731 incl were F models). For what it’s worth. Best regards. JohnD

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