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Bensen Days Gyroplane Fly-In 2011

By Tim O’Connor, EAA 714900, for Light Plane World

Scott Lewis
Scott Lewis at Bensen Days 2011
See the photo gallery

Every April for the past 38 years PRA Chapter 26 (Sunstate Wing & Rotor Club) has hosted an event called Bensen Days at an airport in Florida. It’s named for Dr. Igor Bensen who helped start the homebuilt aircraft market, created the Popular Rotorcraft Association (PRA), and worked with the FAA to create the experimental and Part 103 ultralight regulations. The fly-in was held last month at Wauchula Municipal Airport in Wauchula, Florida, and included the ever popular Cluster Cluck competition.

Dr. Bensen is no longer well known outside of the gyroplane community, but in the world of personal rotorcraft he is well remembered.Attendees from all over the United States as well as Labrador, Canada; Venezuela; and even New Zealand gathered for this year’s event in his honor. As you would expect, gyroplanes and homebuilt helicopters typically attend Bensen Days, but all aircraft are welcome. This year powered parachutes, trikes, and fixed-wing aircraft attended the event.

Bensen Days attracts attendees from the north looking for a taste of warm Florida weather to shake off cabin fever, so the event is typically scheduled for the week after the Sun ’n Fun International Fly-In & Expo to allow vendors and pilots to attend both fly-ins with one trip.

Many contests and awards are held and presented at Bensen Days, such as the famous Cluster Cluck egg drop, spot landing contests, and more. This year a brand-new award tradition has begun – the Excellence Award for Service to the PRA. The award is a 12-station plaque with a namespace open for 12 years of winners. The first winner and thus the first name on the new award plaque is Scott Lewis, the president of the PRA Board of Directors. Scott has quickly and successfully modernized the PRA and brought the organization back to its roots, supporting the personal rotorcraft sport as well as its pilots, vendors, manufacturers, instructors and fans.

If you missed Bensen Days 2011, check out the official website at www.BensenDays.com, and make plans to attend in 2012. Don’t miss the EAA-featured photo album and these YouTube videos from the 2011 event. Other personal rotorcraft events open to all aircraft types and fans are: PRA International Convention, August 2 to 6, Mentone, Indiana; Rotors Over the Rockies, June 9 to 11, Brigham City, Utah; and Ken Brock Freedom Fly-In, September 23 to 25, El Mirage, California.

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