Why are we so attracted to the Coot amphibian? As I ask this question to new builders lately, I get a variety of replies. Some are intrigued by its wing-folding feature, while others find the overall Coot design to be instantly likeable (lovable?). A few newcomers do a careful analysis, and come up with figures that fall short of their desires, either in terms of cabin space or load-lifting capacity off the water. Some of them remain interested bystanders, while others pass on to building land-planes. I often sense an agonizing period of sorting out priorities and making difficult decisions.
Back when I started to build a Coot in 1972, these decisions were easier to make. The Coot had no competition in the homebuilt market except for the Volmer Sportsman and the Spencer Aircar. There were no Coot projects for sale back then, because we were all just getting started. We simply bought the plans from Molt and had at them, deciding only how many difficult-to-make parts to order from him.
Recently I tallied up the number of plans that Mrs. Taylor sold by counting the typed names in her little red book. She had organized them by country and state, and not surprisingly, most of the names were from states and provinces in the western part of North America. For example, she listed 90 from California, 85 from Washington, and 42 from British Columbia. Ontario came in with 85, and the total number, worldwide, was 1,008.
I am often asked how many Coots have been built and flown. By my accounting, about 70 have flown. The second question most often asked is: how many are flying right now? That's a matter of conjecture, but I often guess about a dozen. That shocks many people, so they immediately want to know why so few are flying. Well, many of them are getting old. Others are being rebuilt after a hard landing or other mishap. Then comes the toughest question of all: why have so few Coots been completed?
I tell these questioners that hundreds of 3 x 5" filing cards fill the bottom drawer of my desk, cards filled out when builders call and ask about the newsletter. I've tried to keep in touch with them, but the older ones got older still, entered nursing homes and their phones became disconnected. The dream of flying a Coot has inspired a thousand, but was only fulfilled by determined builders who were fortunate enough to be reasonably healthy.
Years ago Warren Eding told me not to worry about it. Some people, he said, order the plans just to admire the drawings, with no real intent to build. Others build with no intent to fly. So we shouldn't take the numbers too seriously.