By Diana Bowley, Of the NEWS Staff - DEXTER - On any given summer day, friends might find James Edes of Dexter either sprawled on his back working on the undercarriage of an airplane, treading two miles on Dexter's side streets or playing a round of golf.The slender, tall man is not one to let himself get bored nor is he ready to give in to old age. At 83, Edes admits his body is not as limber as it used to be, but it _hasn't prevented him from _enjoying life.
"Old age is keeping your mind busy at all times," the longtime licensed pilot said during a recent interview. And for the past two years, his mind has been occupied with building an experimental aircraft called the Osprey 2, a small amphibious plane with a big engine, at Dexter Municipal Airport.
"For an 83-year-old man, he's climbed under and around and worked on his belly and back on this airplane," Doug Clukey, a local pilot, said Saturday. "He's put a lot of hours in seven days a week, four to five hours a day. It's unusual for someone his age." His only break is for dinner and a nap, Clukey said.
Even though Edes knew he likely would never fly the airplane because of his more than 6-foot frame, he purchased the partially assembled airplane and set to work. The purchase came at a time when his late wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. "I wanted something to keep my mind busy and it did," he said, thanks to the help of friends Stan Berube and Clukey, both of Dexter.
Edes said he found an advertisement for the airplane on the Internet and learned that the seller had a "pretty reasonable" price on it. He enlisted the aid of a friend and the pair flew to Newport, Vt., to take a look at the airplane. It was all Edes needed. He bought it, borrowed a doublewide trailer, loaded it and hauled it to Maine.
Completely assembled today, the airplane has passed Federal Aviation Administration inspection and has been issued an airworthiness certificate. Now all it needs is a pilot who will fly the airplane within a 25-mile radius of Dexter for 40 hours so it can be certified to carry a passenger. Edes is even willing to part with the airplane.
Aside from the difficulty of getting his long limbs in and out of the small cockpit, Edes recognizes that his flying days are limited. "I've got 3,000 hours in and I've had enough."
Now Edes is thinking of other projects that will keep him busy. "I'm never willing to do nothing. I'll keep busy to the bitter end," he said.
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