The plane where it was initially found on Long Island.

We’ve all dreamed it. Phillip Lechmanski and pilot friend Jaime Cogan lived it. They found a vintage Cessna rotting away on an island and brought it home for just slightly more than a song.

To be specific, it took $4,000, and of course they’ve spent a good bit of money already on this 1957 Cessna 172, includ­ing a new engine. But how would you like to find a $4,000 172 today?

“I was a student pilot at the time,” Lechmanski said. “It was at Gabreski Airport, which is KFOK on Long Island. My friend Jaime Cogan, who is also the co-owner of the aircraft, is a captain at North Ferry, one of the two ferry companies that shuttle vehicles to and from the small island on which we live.”

A few years now, the original owner of this plane was a passenger on Jaime’s boat. One conversation led to another, and eventually, the former owner “told us where the plane was, and we wasted no time going to look at it. He said, ‘If you give me $4,000, it’s yours,’ and we jumped at that chance, of course.”

The plane was fixable enough to be flyable at first, which allowed Phillip and Jaime to get the plane from Long Island to Shelter Island, New York. The former plane owner’s mechan­ic told Lechmanski why the plane was abandoned. “I spoke with the IA who used to work on the aircraft, and the reason it was more or less abandoned is because the front strut, the piston, had rust pitting and it was unable to be repaired,” he said. “They couldn’t re-chrome it and they couldn’t locate a replacement, so they gave up on it and left it in the weeds.”

Lechmanski found that part himself. “I found a yellow tag nose strut on eBay, and it wasn’t tremendously expensive,” he said. “It was kind of serendipitous.”

This photo was taken while servicing the strut, hence the board under the front tire.

Lechmanski and Cogan, who also owns a 1956 straight tail, added some steering rods from McFarlane while it was still on Long Island, and they “went through the fuel system and threw a battery in it, and we borescoped the engine. It didn’t have any corrosion that was noticeable. The engine started almost immediately on the first try.”

The engine was a Mattituck Teledyne engine, meaning it was made in the Mattituck, New York, factory (Teledyne used to make engines there until that factory was shut down in 2012). “This aircraft used to be based out of Mattituck, and it only had 169 hours on all six new Millennium cylinders,” Lech­manski said. “So the engine was in good-enough condition.”

Once the plane got to its current home of NY03 (a 1,600-foot grass strip on Shelter Island), the duo determined the engine needed to be overhauled. Lechmanski and Cogan have now replaced it with a rebuilt, low-time engine from BAS Part Sales in Greeley, Colorado (

“We’re just in the final stages of an engine change, along with several upgrades including, but not limited to, a new McFarlane fuel selector, Steve’s Aircraft gascolator, Air­wolf remote filter mount, Airforms powder-coated baffles, overhauled carburetor, and a factory-new propeller, among other things,” he said. “Save those little baffle springs! Mc­Farlane does not make them, and they are not easy to track down. Jaime was able to locate some springs from Jerry and Candice at Jerry Meyers Aviation. They were a pleasure to chat with, and actually ended up sending us what we needed at no charge! They specialize in Continental engine parts, and I can­not say enough good things about them — wonderful folks!”

Lechmanski likes these older 172 models. Here is his ad­vice if you’re thinking about one.

  • “Take care of that strut! It’s extremely difficult to find replacements for 1957 aircraft.
  • These older 172 Planes fly great. They are lighter than later models and have a slightly lower landing speed.
  • The first-generation 172s have good visibility out the windscreen.”
Phillip and Jaime with their island find, looking forward to this flying season.

Click on a photo for a pop-up slideshow.

The plane where it was initially found on Long Island.
“This picture is upon landing at Shelter Island.”
This is the firewall before and after it’s been painted and reassembled. “Prep of the metal and treatment of the corrosion I think is #1 in importance here. You have to get the right kind of primer and paint on it, that would be #2, because you don’t want to go through all this work and then have the corrosion continue to grow underneath the paint.”
There was actually very little done between the first photo and these, but by this time, the plane is running. “This was the airplane after we got it put together — sitting on its wheels, the engine had been running, and it was annualed. This is still prior to its first flight. So we got the aircraft in flyable condition at Gabreski, and then we flew it to Shelter Island.”
The rest of the photos are at Shelter Island, and there is a new engine put in after it gets home to Shelter Island. “I found a lower-time used engine, with good log books, from a salvage yard,” Lechmanski said.
The work now begins in earnest at Shelter Island. “In this picture, we’ve now redone the brakes, wheels, and tires; tubes and brake lines; and all of that. Jaime and I did almost all of the labor, having the A&P supervise and sign off
where necessary. The wheels were overhauled, the bearings were all redone, new brake discs and liners, the calipers were overhauled, the brake lines are all-new. The tubes and tires were donated by a friend who has a champ at the field. He used to own an old 172, and he had brand-new tubes and tires in his hanger.”
George DeMar, the IA, cleans up after a mess. This is the engine that got the plane to Shelter Island, but is about to be replaced.
Here’s the new engine bolted on for the first time, with an engine from BAS Part Sales in Colorado ( “They were fantastic. I am thrilled with their service, and they even called me to ask how everything was going. It’s a lower-time used engine that came from a flight-school airplane.”
Here’s the new engine bolted on for the first time, with an engine from BAS Part Sales in Colorado ( “They were fantastic. I am thrilled with their service, and they even called me to ask how everything was going. It’s a lower-time used engine that came from a flight-school airplane.”
“I replaced all of the baffling material with the powder-coated set from Airforms ( with new cowl seals. It’s a pretty nice upgrade; it helps keep the engine cool.”
One area where there hasn’t been work done yet is the panel, which is essentially the same today as when the owners found it. The interior is next on the list, not the panel. There are a few upgrades on the panel, including new radios, but the big avionics upgrade is to come.
The seats are the same as when the plane was found. Lechmanski believes they had been re-covered at some point.
Snoopy was found in the plane, but he had to be returned to the previous owner.