'I built my own Second World War Spitfire plane'
JOHN Kelman set himself a task to build a Spitfire aircraft in 2003.
Last month, the Gootchie farmer took his 13-year achievement into the sky for the very first time.
"When I landed it I just thought 'wow, it really does fly'," he said.
"It was a little scary."
The aircraft's first trip was from Mr Kelman's farm to Maryborough Airport.
Since then, the Second World War replica has had plenty of air time.
"It's now done 13 landings," Mr Kelman said.
Mr Kelman's Spitfire replica is slightly smaller in size than the original design used during the Second World War.
And of course, its other difference is that it uses modern technology to fly that was not available in the 1940s.
To make the plane, Mr Kelman originally purchased what is known as a Spitfire aeroplane kit.
"It was basically just a lot of aluminium in a box," he said.
For the now 79-year-old, it meant Mr Kelman started making the Spitfire at age 66. Thirteen years of construction may seem like a lot, but for a structure that needs such precision, a long time is "the norm".
"Some people take 20 years to build them," Mr Kelman said.
Sometimes he would make a lot of progress on it, and sometimes it would be sitting in the shed.
"I would go to an aviation show and see a Spitfire, then go home and put a few good weeks of work into it," he said.
Nothing could stop him from seeing the project to the end - not even a stroke.
"It wasn't a serious one, but it did delay the process."
Though farming was Mr Kelman's main career, and he still runs cattle on his property, he was also a pilot all his life and has had a fascination with Spitfires.
"They're such an iconic plane, and many say, the prettiest," he said.
His mum was actually friends with Nancy Bird Walton - a well know Australian aviation pioneer.
With the Spitfire now fully functioning, he is looking forward to taking it the distance.
"I have a property in the Northern Territory, and I want to go there on the plane," he said.