|Al and Andrea Trepanier with C-GONE, their Spencer Air Car. (photo by James Wynbrandt)
By James Wynbrandt
August 1, 2013 - With its skull and crossbones paint scheme and iconic shape, the amphibious aircraft parked in the Homebuilts camping area (Row 310) here at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh looks like a pirate's Republic Seabee. But C-GONE is a Spencer Air Car, designed by the Seabee's creator, Percival Spencer, and was intended to incorporate a number of improvements to the predecessor amphib.
"This was Spencer's last design before he passed away," said Andrea Trepanier of Nanaimo, British Columbia, who owns the aircraft with her husband, Al.
Though never put into production, some 50 Spencers were plansbuilt. C-GONE is the only airworthy Spencer in Canada. As for the aircraft's distinctive artwork, created by Mike Wilkey, "I asked a buddy if he could do nose art, and he sent this," Al said.
C-GONE was built in 1991 but not finished. Later a group of pilots in Edmonton, Alberta - Al among them - purchased the aircraft and completed the project. When the group wanted to sell the amphib, Al bought them out.
The Trepaniers have stopped at Oshkosh on their return from a Cross-Canada Century Flight that took them from Vancouver to Prince Edward Island. "This is the longest trip it's definitely ever taken," Andrea said.
The Trepaniers also own a Mooney M20K 252, and Al has previously flown to AirVenture with the Mooney Caravan, but this is Andrea's first visit to Oshkosh. "Coming in was easy-peasy, a piece of cake," she said.
Powered by a 300-hp Lycoming IO-540 engine, the Spencer cruises at about 110 knots. The wooden aircraft carries about 100 gallons in its sponson fuel tanks, enough for five and a half to six hours of flying. "It's quite comfortable - we load all this gear in," Andrea said, pointing to the couple's camping equipment.
But don't expect to find the couple relaxing under the wing. Since arriving, "I think I've seen everything - the Seaplane Base, toured the Warbirds area, been to vintage helicopters...," Andrea said.
As for her husband, "Al went to town; he got all sorts of goodies, and found a tool he'd been looking for for years," she said. "He's like a kid in a candy store."