What happened...Did Dick Edgington's RagWing 4 plane ever fly?

 

August 9, 2023

This photo of George and Shirley Wermling was taken in 2018 shortly after they bought the plane started by Dick Edgington in 2004. The plane was near completion but learning he would never get to fly it the Wermlings did not complete the plane

The recent story I wrote about approaching my tenth anniversary as a writer for the "Journal" set me to thinking about some published stories that are still incomplete. I decided to revisit some of those old stories and see how they turned out.

One of the first stories I recalled was about the unfinished homemade airplane Chinook resident Dick Edgington was building before he died in April, 2016. Edgington bought the plans in 2004 and quit the project, per his son Danny Lee, about 2012 when his eyesight failed. I wrote in 2016 about the plane, still in pieces in Dick's former residence on Pennsylvania Street in Chinook.

I wrote a second story about the saga of the RagWing 4 replica a few months after the plane, plans and parts, still not completed, were sold to an 80+ year-old plane-building enthusiast in Great Falls. George Wermling, a retired electrician and skilled builder, bought the plane "because I could see the person who was working on it was an accomplished craftsman. The price was right so I bought it." That was in March of 2018. At that time Wermling, assisted by his wife Shirley, was well in to the project and "hoped to have the plane flying by September (2019)." George Wermling died in December 30, 2020.

The RagWing 4 is basically completed

I was recently in Great Falls with some spare time and visited Shirley Wermling. Now her son Rick lives with her as a caregiver. I explained I was trying to find our if George ever flew the plane started nearly two decades ago by Dick Edgington. Rick said, "No, he never flew it but he did get it together. His shop was too small but he took everything to a friends larger space and put it together. It was not totally finished but was close to completion."

He went on to explain that his dad decided not to complete the plane when he realized he would never get to fly it. Five years ago when I wrote the last story about George Wermling he planned to fly the plane in a few months. He also told he was having heart issues and was facing heart surgery. His health challenge convinced him he would never fly the plane.

This photo shows the completed exterior (except for the tail) of the plane started by Dick Edgington in 2004. George and Shirly Wermling, of Great Falls, bought the unfinished plane and planned to fly it by September , 2019. George Wermling died in December, 2020 and having purposely not completed the plane.

And there was a financial reason not to complete the plane. Son Rick explained, "Dad told me he was afraid if he completed the plane, sold it and then some tragedy happened to a new owner some liability might fall back on Shirley. He didn't want that to happen so he just stopped working on the plane."

The plane is now in pieces back in the Wermling's smaller shop. I asked about pictures and Rick thought a minute, then said, "I bet he had pictures on his phone. Let me go get it and we'll look." Sure enough, George had taken several pictures of the RagWing 4 together. It appears nearly ready to fly. "But," Rick explained, "he was just starting to 'balance the weight' of the plane, a process that allows it to fly in a neutral state without having to adjust with the controls." The tail section is not painted and a photo of the cockpit showed some of controls still to be completed. Rick Wermling said there were no immediate plans to sell the plane.

So, to date, the answer is: "Dick Edgington's plane has never flown." And there are no immediate plans to complete or sell it

 
 

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