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Pilot makes propeller home's hub

Posted: November 25, 2013 - 1:00am
In this Nov. 13, 2013 photo, Andy Lyon poses next to a DC-6 aircraft propeller that he incorporated into his Fairbanks, Alaska home as a ceiling fan. (AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Eric Engman)  Eric Engman
Eric Engman
In this Nov. 13, 2013 photo, Andy Lyon poses next to a DC-6 aircraft propeller that he incorporated into his Fairbanks, Alaska home as a ceiling fan. (AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Eric Engman)

FAIRBANKS — There are a lot of custom-built homes in Fairbanks, but Andy Lyon almost certainly has the only one with a ceiling fan as the centerpiece.

That fact says more about the fan than the house. Above the living room, a Douglas DC-6 propeller slowly spins, moving air through the handsome wood-accented building off Chena Ridge.

Lyon designed his house specifically to accommodate the 131/2-foot propeller. For Lyon, a pilot and the director of maintenance for Everts Air, it was a chance to bring his love of aviation home.

The idea had been half-seriously discussed before among the mechanics at Everts, and Lyon said he decided to make it happen when he planned the design for his house. When he began building in 2006, Lyon made sure the 27-foot-high ceiling in his living room was big enough for the giant fan.

“Since nobody had one and I’m innovative, I decided to let it rip,” Lyon said.

Lyon took the propeller from a salvaged Everts-owned DC-6 parts aircraft, then figured he spent about 80 hours fabricating a 1/2-horsepower engine to make it spin. Although the typical pace is leisurely, Lyon said it can make a serious gust if put on top speed.

Lyon and five of his friends came over to hoist the beefy propeller onto a scissors lift, which was used to push it up to the top of the towering cathedral ceiling above the living room. It’s heavily bolted to a ceiling beam, a must for a 600-pound blade that hangs above the sofa.

“I did put a safety cable on it, just in case,” Lyon said.

From the second floor, the whirring gears of the massive structure give a better sense of its scope. Lyon’s done some research online, and believes he’s the only homeowner in the U.S. who has made the DC-6 propeller-to-ceiling fan conversion.

After spending seven years working on the home, Lyon finally completed it last summer. In a twist, he decided the newly finished 2,472-square-foot building was too big for him — Lyon has moved to a smaller place along the Chena River, putting the home up for sale.

Lyon’s real estate agent, Bennie Colbert, said he starts his discussions about the home by mentioning its specialized cement-block style construction. That conversation pretty much ends when people walk in the living room and see the unique apparatus above their heads.

“People walk in and say ‘Holy moly, look at that,’” Colbert said with a smile. “Everyone thinks it’s real cool.”

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